Longfellow once said, “Into each life, some rain must fall.” When it comes to hurricanes, that’s certainly an understatement. Andrea and I are anticipating the arrival of Hurricane Irma. This is actually our second hurricane together and both of us have seen our fair share of foul weather. We’ve been watching updates and getting prepared. Therefore, I thought it would be a good idea to share some of our experience and a few tips along the way.
One of the things that come with a major storm such as this is a flood of misinformation. I read an article this week that said that scientists want to create a category 6 status to properly evaluate it, and that Irma means “War Goddess” in German and it’ll wipe entire states off the map.
First of all, even though Irma is one of the most powerful hurricanes in recent history it’s not going to be a category 6. One big reason as to why there is no such category is that hurricanes capable of reaching over 157 mph (Cat 5) don’t do so for long.
While a major storm isn’t something to take lightly, it doesn’t mean that everyone in Florida needs to evacuate. If that were the case, the highways would look like a sprawling mass of cars. Panicking, especially on Facebook, is not something anyone should do.
One of the reasons I decided to write this post is to make sure that people can have a plan of action ahead of time. The worst thing to do is not to prepare for tropical storms and hurricanes. The National Hurricane Center states that two keys to weather safety are preparing for the risks of a storm, and acting on those preparations when officially altered.
Hurricane season officially starts on June 1st. This gives plenty of time to get things here and there that can help to build an emergency supply kit.
If it’s a few days out before the storm, your local store may be out of these things. However, maybe Amazon can come to your rescue. A little Prime helps one prepare. I’ve supplied links to most of the items on the list
The Department of Homeland Security recommends the following:
- Water – a 3 days supply. 1 gallon of drinking water per person
- Food – 3 day supply of canned goods, and non-perishable food
- Battery powered or hand cranked radio
- First aid kit
- Extra batteries
- Duct tape
- Moist towelettes
- Garbage bags and plastic ties
- Tool kit
- Manual can opener
- Maps of your local area
- Cell phone with chargers and a backup battery
Having a bathtub filled with water is also a good idea. This can be used to supply water for the when nature calls. Just have a container that can be used to fill the tank. As long as the local pump station still works, everything should be OK.
In a perfect world, you should be able to assemble an emergency kit a little at a time and be ready when a storm comes. Of course, this is not a perfect world so we’ve had to make a few supply runs this week.
Mad Dash to the Store: Fury Road
One thing I learned from visiting stores, is that as early as one week out, bottled water was in scarce supply. One store even had a couple bouncers to make sure that each customer only got two cases. If stores are completely out of bottled water, the next best thing is to get sealable containers and fill them from the tap. Wash out a gallon milk jug really good if you must. With the water sealed, it can be placed in the fridge and good to go.
Another good idea is using sealable sandwich bags (such as Ziploc) to store water. These can be filled a bit and placed in the freezer. This way if the power goes out, it’s packed with ice bags and food stays cold for longer.
One important thing is to remember is to be mindful of our emotions. We’re all on edge, and a bit worried about what the storm may do. If you don’t see something you want or need in the store, move on. If someone is doing through the 10 items or less lane with 12 items, let it go.
Help Your Kids Cope.
Most importantly, be mindful of the little ones. Sure, maybe the average Floridian has seen their fair share of hurricanes in their lifetime. However, their kids could have seen what a hurricane did Houston last week and could be stressed out.
I’m not a doctor. However, if your child has had some problems sleeping lately, or their eating habits have changed, they could be concerned about the storm. It’s a good idea to begin a dialogue that’s age appropriate. This isn’t so much about what you’ve experienced, but what concerns they may have. Let them know you’ll be safe. They’ll likely be learning how to deal with the storm based on your actions.
If you happen to live in an area where you will be impacted but don’t have to evacuate:
If your child likes to write, maybe they can keep a journal of the storm as it happens. This could help them to gain perspective and look back on the next time a storm hits. If they like to draw, allow them to express themselves and get their worries out through art.
Get those board games ready or even a good RPG session. Games can help pass the time when the power goes out.
If you do have to evacuate:
Make sure to prepare their emergency supply kit. If they have a special stuffed animal, making sure that their little buddy if with them will help them cope.
For more advice, the National Association for the Education of Young Children prepared an article called Tips to Help Children Cope With Disasters.
Most importantly stay informed, stay prepared, and don’t panic. Facebook is likely to be a fountain of misinformation concerning the storm. Oh, and don’t put tape on your windows. Someone that does this is more likely to damage their windows pulling the tape off them.