Anyone who lived through Hurricane
Katrina will tell you that being cut off from the outside world
can be a terribly frightening experience. The numbers
vary, but by most estimates, roughly 1,800 persons died as
a direct or indirect result of Katrina. As you prepare for
a hurricane, keep in mind that for awhile, you will need to be your own
police, fire and emergency medical service until things return
to normal. You need to
be prepared to protect yourself and your family from looters,
intruders, or just the idiots who like to run amuck when
disaster strikes. To learn more about training on firearms
in your community, check the National
Rifle Association training web page. You should also
attend a Community Emergency Response course to learn the basics
of first aid and how to safely fight a fire should you be faced
with that situation. Check the Citizen
Corps web site for a course near you.
As you prepare to weather a storm, you
should be prepared to take care of yourself, your family, and
your pets for a period of at least three full days. Many
government agencies have adopted the slogan "The first 72
(hours) is up to you." However, if you're only prepared for
three days, and help doesn't arrive as expected, you may find
yourself very hungry and thirsty! Even then,
"help" may arrive with warm water and government issue
military-style meals. It would be
wise to have provisions on hand for at least a full week for the
entire family and pets.
Things You Should Do Soon
If you have large trees that have
overhanging branches that could fall onto your home, then you
should have those trimmed back early in the season. Any
dead or dying trees may need to be entirely removed.
You should have already cut and marked
plywood that will be used to cover your windows. Half-inch
plywood is probably the thinnest that you should consider using;
five-eighths inch is even better. Be sure to mark the
plywood on both sides to save time during installation. If
you have a brick exterior on your home, then you may consider
using Plylox Hurricane Window
Clips instead of having to drill into the brick. If
you have a home made of stucco, or have windows that aren't
surrounded by brick, then you may wish to consider
Windstorm Products' PanelMate
fasteners. They have a wood screw thread on one end and a
machine screw thread on the other, allowing you to install the
anchors ahead of time, then affix your window coverings quickly
and easily with just a wing nut. And by the way, don't bother to use masking
tape to cover your windows. It adds no strength, and only
creates a mess that will need to be scraped off after the storm.
Another highly vulnerable part of your
home are the garage doors. It's not unusual for garage
doors to get blown in or sucked out in a hurricane. Once
the garage doors are compromised, that allows a perfect funnel
for the wind to enter the residence and do even more damage,
such allowing the roof to more easily blow off. I tried
building braces for my garage doors out of lumber, and it was
one of the longest, most frustrating projects of my life!
I spent well over forty hours and $200, and ended up throwing
them away. Instead, I now use Secure
Door vertical bracing system for garage doors. They
are relatively easy to install (though a hammer drill is
recommended for the garage floor anchors), lightweight, and easy
to store. They can also be purchased at Lowes.
To keep from completely losing all of
those valuable photos, you may consider scanning them onto
either a portable hard drive or CD. You might also back up
your home computer files onto a USB external drive, or use some offsite archive service.
If you don't have flood
insurance, you should evaluate your flood risk and consider purchasing a policy
today. Most homeowner policies don't cover flood
damage. Remember that there is a thirty day waiting period
before the insurance will go into effect, so now is the time to
buy. Also, keep in mind that flood insurance may not
afford the same level of coverage as your conventional
home-owner's insurance. For instance, my policy has a
pretty low cap, and does not offer replacement-level coverage.
Thoroughly document all
of the valuable items in your home in case you need to file an
insurance claim. Receipts are typically the best proof of
purchase, but a narrated video of the contents of your home may
also be acceptable by your insurance provider. Photographs
are also a viable option in most cases. Check with your
insurance provider if you have questions. Store
this information in a safe place away from the home, such as a
safe deposit box.
The Storm Approaches
As soon as a named storm enters the Gulf of Mexico, you should
keep the gas tanks filled on any vehicle you may need to
evacuate. Whenever a storm threatens, I fill up my tank
every single day until I have to evacuate or until the storm is
no longer a threat.
As the storm approaches, you must complete your last minute
preparations. Keep in mind that anything left unsecured
outdoors will become a missile in the high winds of a
hurricane. Even a trampoline can act as a sail and fly
through the air with deadly force! And speaking of
trampolines, the most common question I get on this website is
about how to secure a trampoline in a hurricane. So here's
the answer: Remove the large, center mat and store it
indoors. Then, flip the trampoline frame upside down and
secure the frame to the ground with several screw-in ground
If you have a garage, park
your vehicles inside to protect it from flying debris. If
you do not have a garage, then at least park where it is least
likely that a tree limb, billboard or utility pole will blow
over on it.
Out The Storm
You should ride out the storm in the most secure part of your
home. Most experts recommend an interior room without any
windows. Make sure your emergency lights and radios have
fresh batteries and are readily accessible in your safe room.
If it looks like your home
is going to flood, consider turning off your
electricity at the breaker box. If there is already rising
water near your breaker box, be sure to stand on a non-metallic,
non-conductive stool or ladder to reduce the chance of
electrocution. If your breaker box is outdoors, you should
probably go ahead and turn off the power before the rain begins.
You should never leave
your home during the hurricane unless it is a life or death
emergency. As Ron White so aptly stated, "it's not that
the wind is blowing, it's what the wind is
blowing." The smallest and most seemingly harmless
objects can prove deadly when flying through the air at 100
miles per hour!
In a typical hurricane, roughly 59%
of the deaths are due to fresh water flooding. And of
those who die in freshwater flooding, 80% walked into or drove
into the water where they drowned! So perhaps the most
important post-hurricane advice I can give is to stay away from
flood water if at all possible. Do not venture out into
the water unless you have to evacuate your home. And never
let your children play in flood water. Beside drowning,
the waters may contain dangerous bacteria, snakes, fire ants and
a host of other nasty things that can ruin your day! Flood
waters can also blow off manhole covers, which can result in
drowning if you step into a manhole hidden by the water.
In addition to the hazards
presented by flood waters, you should also be very careful
around downed power lines. Though they should be checked
by a lineman before being energized, you never know what may
happen in the aftermath of a storm. Report fallen power
lines to your local power company as soon as
In your home, leave your
breakers turned off until after the power is restored in your
neighborhood. This is very important, since the process of
restoring the power often results in electrical surges throughout
your home. These surges can cause permanent damage to
sensitive electronics and your air conditioning system!
|Board or shutter windows
|Bring emergency repair tools into the house
|Bring in outdoor pets
you have outdoor pets, make sure you bring them in so
you don't have to search for them before the
storm. Animals can often sense a storm and may run
away from home to seek shelter.
|Charge batteries on emergency repair tools
( cordless drills, saws, etc.)
|Clean tubs thoroughly and fill with water
to use for personal hygiene and toilet flushing
sure to test your tubs ahead of time for leaks. A
small amount of calking around the stopper can be used
to create a temporarily seal.
|Cover emergency supplies and/or generator
in garage to protect them from water damage
|Park vehicles away from trees or poles that
could fall in a storm
|Place emergency food in waterproof
container and move up from floor level
|Remove anything outdoors that could fly in
you have a pool and don't have enough room for lawn
furniture in the garage, consider carefully placing it
in the pool.
|Unplug any sensitive electronic devices
(such as televisions, computers) that could be damaged
if the electricity begins to flicker.
supplies such as baby food, diapers, baby formula,
bottles, medicines, etc.
of various sizes to fit flashlights, radios,
sure to test your devices ahead of time to determine
how many batteries will be required to power them
for a week or more.
or other religious material of your choice
opener - Manual
banks will be closed and ATMs will fail if they lose electricity.
Get plenty of small bills!!!
sure it's fully charged!
tsp per gallon of water will help purify water in an
list of family and friends
sure to jot these down in case your cell phone
battery is dead and you have no way to charge it.
or Ice Chests: Coleman-type cooler to keep food cool
having two coolers: One for ice and food that will
be opened often, and one for just ice that can be
kept shut except to remove ice.
Touching dry ice with the bare hands can
cause severe burns!
only high-quality tape, such as 3M or Scotch.
Cheap tape will ooze out the adhesive when
exposed to summer heat.
glasses or contacts
pair of glasses or contacts
at sporting goods stores
for wet/dry vacuum
you have to run your wet/dry vac in the house to
pull up flood water, a musty old filter can stink up
the whole house. Keep a fresh one on hand for
gallon garbage can (for holding water to flush the
a 3 "D" cell Maglite® (I prefer the LED
version). It's rugged,
dependable, and can double as a defensive weapon if necessary.
bags - Box of 30 or more
mil or stronger
extra gas on hand may be worth their weight in gold.
Be very careful when storing gasoline around
your garage or home!
Several bags for daily use
and buckets for clean-up
plates and cups
reduces water needed for washing plates and cups
sheeting or drop clothes
garbage backs can be cut along the seams and use in
tanks for gas grill
Battery operated AM-FM radio
NOAA Weather radio.
the ones with the long, telescoping antenna;
they work better in fringe areas. Click
this link to obtain the NOAA
SAME codes for your area.
or boots: Hiking boots or walking shoes
at sporting good stores. Hang the container from a
tree and enjoy a hot shower.
outdoor food preparation.
Do not use indoors!
for keeping beverages hot
Battery operated black & white
that your old analog TV is useless now that all of
the broadcast stations have gone digital.
volt to 120 volt AC inverter
at sporting goods supply stores
Red Cross recommends at least one half gallon per
person per day for seven days.
may be best in large containers (that have been
sterilized before filling) or five gallon
Drinking. The Red Cross recommends at least one half
gallon per person per day for seven days.
purchasing individual bottles (such as Ozarka).
This reduces waste and dirty drinking cups by
allowing everyone to have their own bottle. I
recommend placing several of these in the freezer
before the power goes out. The bottles will
freeze without cracking. If the power goes
out the ice will help keep the freezer cold longer. When the ice melts the water will stay in the
container and you still have drinkable water.
Other water (for flushing toilet, washing hands,
water is great for flushing toilets.
30 gallon plastic trash bag can transform a dirty
trash can into an acceptable container of wash
hand cleaner / Sanitizer
Bite (for relief of itching)
soap or hand sanitizer
may be working outside to clean up debris or make
repairs. Mosquitoes are especially plentiful after a