Hurricane Preparation

May 8, 2013 by | Be the first to comment »

Hurricane Sandy and other recent hurricanes have taught us two things: 1.) the average American grossly underestimates the power and devastation that a natural disaster can bring, and 2.) the average American is shockingly unprepared for even a minor disruption to their soft, cushy lifestyle.

Most people think of themselves as rugged and self-reliant, but when the power is out, they are being devoured by mosquitoes, and Starbucks is closed indefinitely, they tend to end up in the corner, shaking, feeling sorry for themselves, and crying. Most people are wildly delusional.

Those of us who survive, and even thrive through natural disasters do so not because we’re superheroes, but because we’ve invested the time to prepare ahead of time. We’ve kept our bodies in excellent shape. We’ve stored enough food, water, and supplies for our families. And most of all, we’ve learned the necessary survival skills and developed the mental toughness to utilize those skills.

Preparing for a hurricane is really quite simple; you need only to follow a few basic steps and have some supplies and equipment on hand.

The first thing you need to do is establish mental toughness ahead of time. Stay healthy and in shape, challenge yourself regularly, practice using your survival skills before you need to, and occasionally conduct trial runs where you shut off your power and water, living though a weekend as you would through a hurricane.

If landfall of a hurricane is likely, follow the recommendations of emergency management personnel. I remember watching the weather reports leading up to Hurricane Katrina’s landfall and being stunned by the drunk buffoons continuing to party despite being advised to evacuate. They all ended up suffering; many paid for their stupidity with their lives. If the emergency management personnel suggest that you leave, and you have enough time and a way to get out-of-town, do it.

If you are going to ride out the storm, make sure you have enough food and fresh, clean water for your family. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) recommends a minimum of a three-day supply of food and one gallon of water per person per day. I recommend more—a lot more. I won’t disclose specific details, but my family can survive for several months with no outside intervention. Make sure you store non-perishable foods, such as canned goods and/or freeze-dried foods because they will stay safe and edible without refrigeration. Don’t forget powdered formula if you have a baby, and pet food if you have a pet. You can stock bottled water, water jugs, 55-gallon barrels, or in a pinch, you can even fill your bathtub just before the hurricane hits and water is shut off or becomes contaminated. The standard American bathtub holds 42 gallons of water.

Once your food and water needs are met, ensure that you have the following:

  • First aid supplies
  • Hygiene supplies
  • Flashlights, candles, and chemlights
  • Radio
  • Batteries
  • Cookware and utensils
  • Disposable knives, forks, spoons, plates, and cups (there is no need to waste precious water washing dishes)
  • Manual can openers
  • Grill, camp stove, or fire pit
  • Fuel (propane, charcoal, wood, fuel tablets, etc.) Regardless of the type of fuel you burn, be sure to burn it outdoors. It will produce carbon monoxide; an oderless, colorless gas that can quickly kill occupants.
  • A boat, canoe, or raft
  • Coolers
  • Lots of ice (it will last longer than you think, and can keep food fresh, people cool, and reduce swelling of injuries)

You also need to ensure the structural integrity of your home. This means packing sandbags around all doors to keep flood waters out and screwing plywood to windows and glass doors to prevent deadly flying debris. Also, there is a myth that opening your windows will equalize the pressure and cause less damage—do not do this! Once hurricane winds get into your home, it won’t be long before it’s filled with rain and deadly flying debris, so keep all openings sealed. When a hurricane does hit, be sure to take refuge in a sturdy inside room without windows; a bathroom or basement are ideal.

After the hurricane passes, take care when you venture outdoors. There will likely be standing water, fallen debris, and downed power lines. And that’s just the start of your problems because unprepared people may be willing to do anything for basic necessities like food and water, while opportunistic criminals will be, well, opportunistic criminals. You are armed, right?

Melanie Swick (a.k.a. Survival Chick) grew up wanting to be a rocket scientist, but when she realized she that required way too much math, she took to her second dream—spending time in the wilderness. Today, when she's not hiking, camping, or hunting, she's blogging about it. You can connect with Melanie on Facebook.

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