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Letter: Thoughts on Prepping, Harvey & Irma

HJL,

Thanks in part to my experience learned from living through Hurricane Dolly years ago and also thanks to this Blog my family and I were mainly prepared by the time Harvey hit. ( We live in the Houston Metro Area). We shared our knowledge with neighbors and like everything else, some listened, some asked for help and info and some…well…they already knew everything. We came through everything very well. However a few things stand out:

  1. This has been posted a million times but I will say it again. Life is simpler by far if you have preps in place. We have a “Hurricane” box with flashlights, batteries, hand crank emergency radio, ponchos, et cetera. It was in good shape except the D cells were dead. We went to buy D cells. However a local store had only one package of D cells left, which I bought. This leads me to a tip. I was able to get D Cells from a local drugstore. Because people went there for meds and stuff and never thought to check for batteries. All Grocery stores and hardware stores were picked clean of D cells and had only limited AA and AAA batteries.
  2. Need groceries but your store just ran out? (Cause you weren’t prepared, or you mostly were but just needed one more thing?) My wife discovered that in our neighborhood almost no one remembered that Super Target has groceries. They had groceries after everyone else was out. They were also the first store stocked after the storms passed for the same reason. People mobbed Walmart and Kroeger., but didn’t think about Super Target.
  3. A save your life tip. If you are going to bug out, go! If you are going to stay, stay!! It is a bad things to ride the storm out on the highway or worse be swept away. This is what those who left during the middle faced. People traveling for whatever reason after the storm hit were by far the ones who died! Get out! Or stay! If you have to climb on top of your table because you have 3 feet of water in house do it! Just don’t go anywhere until the storm is over.
  4. If you stay remember to fill bathtub with water. Cause you may lose water.
  5. Have Cash! Credit cards often don’t work!
  6. The one tip that is not life and death but could make you a lot more comfortable? Get some 8-10 inch battery powered (Camping) fans! If you lose electricity it will get hot! However, even a couple of fans can keep things bearable. (I was born in the summer and no one had air-conditioning. We had fans. For days or even a week or so you can go back to that if needed). A generator and all is nice but not everyone can afford one. But most can afford at least one or two fans.
  7. Something that has been said before but was proved time and again. Have protection for your home and family! Please have a gun or two. If not at least have pepper spray and a ball bat. There have been several cases of people going door-to-door claiming to be from police, FEMA, or whatever. They weren’t! They were strong arm robbers. Some rushed in when you opened the door. Some noted you had just evacuated “thanks to their Help” and came back an hour or so later to rob knowing you are gone. Lock your doors. Should “police” show up dial 911! If they sent an officer to your home they can verify. If not…well you already have them on the phone to report the thugs on your doorstep.

We were blessed! Power only blinked once and water went out but for less than an hour. However, As Irma approaches the East Coast…stay safe. If you aren’t ready yet…what are you waiting for? – GL

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#1 Comment By Suburban On September 8, 2017 @ 6:51 am

If I could have my way everything would run on AA cells. Unfortunately many of today’s wonderful LED flashlights run on AAA cells. We have almost nothing that runs on C or D cells. Given the difference in performance between the old D cell Maglites and modern LED flashlights we retired our old Maglites. We have one radio that runs on D cells, but that is it. With a minor amount of effort you can eliminate the need for C or D cells. Why not simplify your life and preps?

#2 Comment By anonymous On September 8, 2017 @ 10:11 am

Down in humid south, losing A/C makes for a very uncomfortable night’s sleep without it. So those camping battery powered (D Cell mainly) fans are very useful. You can run an overhead line above your sleeping surface and have a better night’s sleep.

#3 Comment By Kate On September 8, 2017 @ 12:00 pm

We switched all our flashlights to those using 18650 (hand carry) or AA (headlamps), and our vehicles all have DC-powered battery recharging stations. The very last flashlight using C batteries was just recently discarded, when the batteries leaked and acid etched the circuit board.

#4 Comment By RT On September 8, 2017 @ 12:29 pm

A micro fan that operates off a USB power bank is

USB power bank fan for $2

4

#5 Comment By RT On September 8, 2017 @ 1:29 pm

Please delete the previous post mangled by a keyboard error.

#6 Comment By Benjammin On September 8, 2017 @ 12:40 pm

Yes, I have two battery powered fans that have USB charge capability. The batteries are 18650s, so I can use them as battery chargers as well for my higher end LED flashlights if need be. Or I can run my fans on my USB battery bank. The fans were $6 a piece at Walmart. A fully charged 18650 will run my fan at medium speed for about 4.5 hours.

#7 Comment By Robert Moffett On September 8, 2017 @ 1:18 pm

Spray bottles that will mist you can help you keep cool plus be used to take a tedious shower if you have very little water. I cooked after Andrew with a lid from a mayonnaise jar and alcohol, I removed the heating element from the stove and put the lid below. Lay a gallon jug on its side and crack the lid and let water drip and you can wash your hands with very little water.
Buy some earplugs when you go to the store for plywood. Once the wind starts shrieking it does not stop for hours. You will not be used to not having AC, drink lots of water and your hands and eating utensils clean.. Don’t think of it as a disaster, think of it as camping out. Help your neighbors and try to smile. people will not forget help in time of need. Learn how little you really need. Work early in the morning and late in the evening when it is cooler.If you have clean running water you have civilization. Don’t be disheartened, you are descended from a race of survivors. happy camping.

#8 Comment By RT On September 8, 2017 @ 1:31 pm

A USB fan like this: [1] will operate off of a USB power bank or a laptop. They can be found for $2 at Walmart

#9 Comment By Butch On September 8, 2017 @ 1:41 pm

Harvey…Irma…Mexico…the western United States is on fire… I tried to remind a couple of my neighbors here in Puget Sound about the need to be prepared for at least two weeks with no outside support. Like talking to a fence post. One said they’d just come to my house. i never discuss what we’ve done to prepare for (name your crisis), but told him if he shows up on my doorstep, he needs to have a list of what he’s bringing to help my family. Otherwise, don’t bother.

#10 Comment By Wheatley Fisher On September 9, 2017 @ 3:59 am

Hey Butch, there are more of us in the PS than you think. Link up. Take CERT classes. Guard your stuff from those neighbors.

#11 Comment By Old Sarge On September 8, 2017 @ 2:15 pm

Just read on another post. Put valuables inside your dishwasher when the big storm hits. It is waterproof, and attached to your cabinets!

#12 Comment By MHL On September 10, 2017 @ 11:58 pm

This suggestion sounds good until you have to clean stagnant water out of the bottom of a flooded dishwasher. I’ve seen lots of them with water inside after a flood. Much better to seal valuables with a food sealer or in the large storage bags meant for winter clothes storage and the place them in as high a location as you can.

#13 Comment By Mark On September 8, 2017 @ 2:51 pm

Long ago I converted all my D Cells to an adapter that fits 3 AA’s into a D. Everything I have runs on AA or AAA. Everything.

I have many rechargeable AA and AAA batteries, and several ways to charge them off grid (car batt, solar, hand crank).

#14 Comment By me On September 8, 2017 @ 2:51 pm

Can’t take credit for this but saw it on another blog. Person was upset because all of the stores were sold out of bottled water. Suggestion was t0 buy zip lock bags and store water in them while you still have running water.

#15 Comment By Sean On September 8, 2017 @ 4:38 pm

One of the many down-sides of the latest hurricane in Texas is that the people with the lowest IQ have showed up in the Dallas area, some to permanently relocate to this area after being displaced and losing everything. They will further drain the local economy and schools, and add to the crime. The flooding doesn’t ruin just the immediate area, the ripples are felt hundreds of miles away.

#16 Comment By Not So Free On September 9, 2017 @ 12:19 am

How many of those are the same people who left New Orleans after Katrina?

#17 Comment By Roger On September 8, 2017 @ 5:21 pm

How about having waders, so you don’t have to walk in waist deep polluted waters. With only short and flipflops. Just saying, saw so many volunteers in Harvey, saving people, but what of their on safey?

#18 Comment By Idahoser On September 8, 2017 @ 6:21 pm

a big old Mag Lite can be converted to an LED bulb. Great light that lasts for ages on D cells!

#19 Comment By Not So Free On September 9, 2017 @ 12:22 am

I did that to mine years ago. Picked up the official one at a show for $5.00.
Still using the same batteries. (Yes I open it and check for leaks every so often.)
I use it maybe once a week or so.

#20 Comment By James Morgan On September 8, 2017 @ 8:45 pm

I’ve had three D cell Mag lites with LED bulbs from Lowe’s (39 dollars) that I keep in my work truck. The batteries have leaked in every one of them and ruined them. I now use only AA lights now.

#21 Comment By old nc prepper On September 8, 2017 @ 9:30 pm

was near local HD yesterday and decided to stop in to check on flashlights, etc for my sons and their wives. #1 son NCNG is being deployed for prepositioning of supplies, etc here in central NC. #2 son is a “I’m coming to your house” type. Anyway store was packed, all battery racks at front of store were empty of D’s and most of C’s. Every generator, every gas container were also gone. However in back part of store there were end caps that still had D’s. So today I go into town to get cash (just in case), dropped propane tank at both houses along with flashlights, batteries, and 5 gals gas/diesel and will hope for best.

Called two friends and offered spare gas cans if they needed them. One is an electrical contractor and he was trying to deal with a flood of people who couldn’t understand why he couldn’t come and install switches to tie generator into the home power panel. We both had a good laugh at that type of prep.

#1 son was deployed to Fla. in 92 for cleanup after Andrew and brought back a lot of horror stories that seemed to have been forgotten.

Even though our area is on the fringe of Irma I’m moving ammo/weapons into the house. Wife is doing final inventory of food/water and other essentials. We will hunker down and hope for the best. At 70 yrs of age we will also do a lot of praying for Tx, Fl, and Ga.

#22 Comment By Zac On September 8, 2017 @ 10:37 pm

Keep in mind that an alkaline D cell holds 8 times as much energy (watt-hours) as an AA cell.

Watt-hour capacities for typical alkaline cells:

AAA: 1.41
AA: 2.60
AA eneloop rechargeable: 2.52
C: 9.56
D: 20.83

#23 Comment By Skip On September 8, 2017 @ 11:29 pm

I agree that double AA batteries are the most useful and most of my lights are powered by them.
Great ideas though today from the comment section.
I need to build a good battery bank with solar charging.

I also have had “D” leak and destroy flashlights. I now do not store batteries in my flashlights. I seal batteries in pressure vacuum bags.

I even had one of these bags leak but it was contained.

#24 Comment By pilgrim On September 9, 2017 @ 12:32 am

Regarding batteries, I have decided to consolidate on just AA (Alkaline and Enloop rechargeable) and 18650 Li-ion (for the long lasting, bright lights). AAA do not last long enough, and D cells are overly large and NiMH versions are just coming out. I prefer the 18650 (about the size of 1 1/2 AAs) instead of D.

Fenix is one company that offers a variety of high intensity LED flashlights, headlamps and camp lanterns run on 18650 batteries. These are brighter and last many times longer than similar AA lights. I use AA for radios and low power LED pocket lights. A headlamp is the most useful light for doing repairs and chores in the dark. One powered by a single 18650 battery can run for 10 hrs at 150 lumens or several times longer at a still useful 40 lumens, plus it has a very intense 400 and 900 lumen capability for emergency, searching, navigating.

The USB battery packs are an excellent idea. RavPower and Anker make quality ones from pocket size to external drive size that can recharge phones, batteries, etc. several times.

A Charger such as the XTar VC4 or VP4 is affordable yet charges AAA, AA NiMH as well as18650, D, and other formats.

#25 Comment By John On September 9, 2017 @ 12:40 am

NiteIze bulbs in my C and D cell Maglites.

#26 Comment By Bigguy On September 9, 2017 @ 3:29 am

For flashlights that were damaged by leaking battery’s I have found Balistol work well to neutralize the acid ,I have saved several expensive flashlights by cleaning the acid damage up with Balistol and I have followed up checking the insides afterwards with no signs of continuing acid erosion

#27 Comment By David On September 9, 2017 @ 3:33 am

Most all of my leaking batteries the last few years have been Duracell Copper tops. Enough so that I will not buy them, or the commercial styles of them. Most leak before they run out of juice.
Have other people had the same problems?

#28 Comment By Wheatley Fisher On September 9, 2017 @ 4:03 am

I buy Kirkland batteries. No more Duracells!

#29 Comment By CM On September 9, 2017 @ 10:41 pm

I no longer buy Duracells. Had several flashlights with AA duracells dated through 2018 stored in a temp controlled area. 90% of them leaked destroying $200 in flashlights. Lessons learned – don’t store batteries in your unused flashlights, check the batteries monthly in your emergency lights where batteries are kept installed (I set automatic monthly calendar reminders) and be very careful to document when you submit warranty claims to Duracell as the process needs to be followed to a T. I found out the hard way and they have lost me as a customer. I read somewhere they may have had a bad batch with 2018 expiration dates.

#30 Comment By Zac On September 9, 2017 @ 10:37 pm

In most cases, alkaline batteries leak when they are reversed biased. This occurs because the capacity of each individual battery(cell) is not identical so one battery will discharge completely before the others. The easiest way to avoid reverse bias and resulting leakage is to replace the batteries a bit early. You lose a bit of the battery life that way, but it avoids leakage.

#31 Comment By John Sloane On September 12, 2017 @ 6:24 pm

Having been in the path(s) of Hurricane Irma I recommend reading “US Forecast Models Have Been Pretty Terrible During Hurricane Irma” at Arstechnica.com.
The European forecast was better than our American models. Could this be partially because we’re still using Fortan computer programming for forecasts?

#32 Comment By J On September 18, 2017 @ 12:39 am

I have an old plastic toolbox full of spare batteries. Irma hit us hard so I ended up using over 20 D-cells and maybe 12 AAA and 8 AAA batteries in various devices. My geni is reserved for keeping the fridge and freezer contents from getting warm.
The best use of the batteries was a 10″ fan that took 8 D cells. It saved my sanity and allowed me to sleep. It was 86-88 degrees at 3AM with max humidity most every night – I can’t sleep in that kind of weather. We lost power from Sunday afternoon until Thursday night. Not bad for how hard we got slammed…
Amazingly 12 of the D cells had ‘dates’ on them of August 2011 – Eveready batteries. All were still rated in the green on my battery reader.
My advice? Get 2-3 LARGE battery operated fans, a large stock of D cells to swap out and a decent cell phone recharging battery backup. Cheap ones don’t last – the one we use charges my phone from 40% to 100% using around 15% of its charge. Recharge all of them in your car when out and about and you will be fine.