Everywhere in the Southeastern part of the country…well, at least from Louisiana to North Florida, people are rushing around trying to get their hurricane preparedness kit in order right now. It’s no secret, Southeasterners are procrastinators. I have no doubt there are people that live in my area of the country who are Johnny-on-the-spot prepared for hurricane season in March, but for the vast majority of us, that is just not so. I’ve weathered 7 hurricanes, three of them Category Four or Five, and STILL don’t get my stuff together until a storm is bearing down on me. I was without power for almost two months after the season of 2004, which saw four landfalling hurricanes in Florida (I was in all four), and yet…I still wait. A lot of it is, those of us who have been through it, grown up with them, know how to improvise.
For those of you that DO like to be prepared, I decided to write about hurricane preparedness in the spirit of procrastination since ideally I should have written this prior to June 1st! Considering that Tropical Storm Isaac is being predicted to make landfall in Louisiana today or tomorrow (and the fact that I should have gone shopping for my kit before he sideswiped us this past weekend), here is a handy list of things you should have available in your house if you are in a storm path. This works for all manner of storms, even northern storms (you just have to add alternate heating sources and blankets to yours), and some of the things are handy to have around in the middle of the year as well.
- Flashlights (fun for scary stories as well)
- Spare batteries for all battery operated items in your home
- A car power converter/inverter – they make your car lighter or power outlet into a regular household outlet
- Non-perishable food for three to four days (canned meats, fruit, dry cereal, non-perishable milk, etc)
- Bottles and bottles of water (for drinking only. Fill up tubs and sinks for cleaning purposes). A rule of thumb is a gallon per person per day. Figure three to four days.
- A first aid kit, with prescription medications for illnesses.
- Extra gas for your car
- A generator. I really can’t stress this enough. Yes, they can be fairly expensive, and you may not even use it in a season, but I learned to appreciate mine when I was standing in a line at Grainger for 12 hours in 100 degree weather, waiting to purchase one after Hurricane Charlie.
- A portable fan. No, people in the south don’t always have portable fans. We always have ceiling fans.
During the summer of 2004, when we were just being slammed with a hurricane pretty much every two weeks, we tried to make it fun for the kids in the family. We all crowded together into our house (in-laws and us) and pretended we were camping. We are champion campers, and are used to being out camping with no power. We have propane stoves, and mastered the art of keeping ice as long as possible. If you find yourself in a hurricane (cyclone, blizzard, etc) just remember to stay calm, and keep your smarts about you. After the storm has passed, make the best of a bad situation, and stay careful!