Hurricane Preparedness in the Sunshine State- Part 2 , by D.H.

We are continuing to look at general preparations for a hurricane. Those of us in Florida are used to these, but many are not. In this article series, I’ve already covered the topics of the bug-out bag, sheltering in place, foods,water, and hygiene. Let’s move on, continuing with health, which is very important.

Health

Ensure you are in good health before the storm hits. My young daughter threw up at dinner two days before Hurricane Ivan hit in 2004. I made my wife take her to the doctor the next day; she was diagnosed with appendicitis and had an emergency appendectomy. If you’re not well, see a doctor. Emergency services will not be able to reach you for days after the storm passes because of debris and flooding, which clogs the roads.

Stock up on all your meds. This may sound like common sense, but many people run out of essential medications and have died because of it. The pharmacy may not open for days or even weeks.

I recommend every home have at least a basic first aid kit and the knowledge to properly use it. The Red Cross teaches basic first aid for a nominal fee. Many items, such as aspirin, bandages, anti-diarrhea meds, et cetera can be purchased at Wal-Mart or a local dollar store. Purchase these items as part of your normal preparation. Wash all clothes, sheets, towels, and dishes, and make everyone gets a shower before the storm hits. You will be sweating profusely over the next few days, and clean sheets smell good as you’re lying on them in the dark listening to the storm rip the shingles from your roof.

Safety

If your local authorities tell you to evacuate, heed their warnings. Marathon, in the Florida Keys, took a direct hit. The loss of life was minimal, because most people down there evacuated to the mainland.

Common sense must prevail to maintain your personal safety. Stay inside while the storm is approaching. You will probably be watching the storm approach on TV until the power goes out. Have your lanterns and flashlights ready to go, full of oil and with fresh batteries. Stay away from windows. A tree branch flying through the air at 70 mph can kill a man, not to mention create lacerations from shards of glass. Avoid the temptation of going outside when the eye of the hurricane goes over your house. Yes, the winds have died down for the moment, but your neighborhood will have broken branches, downed power lines, and other debris lying about. If you get injured, help will not come until it’s safe for emergency crews to leave their shelters. After the eye passes, the winds will return to hurricane force again.

I do not recommend open flame candles because of the fire hazard; instead, oil lamps are a far better choice and can be purchased at Wal-Mart, Bass Pro Shops, et cetera.

Generators

Just because you have a few hundred dollars to spend on a generator doesn’t necessarily mean you should have one. Before you add oil or gasoline, read the instruction manual first. This may seem self-evident; however, after every hurricane in Florida, people die from carbon monoxide poisoning. Under no circumstances put an operating generator inside an enclosed space, whether it is a garage with the door open, a lanai, or a porch. Generators need to be outside. If you’re concerned about thievery, and you should be, chain the generator to a fence post or even a tree (if you still have any). Most small generators purchased at Home Depot or Lowes will not power the entire house, especially the air conditioning. Having a generator power up your house is like urban camping.

Wire House For Generator

If you buy a generator before the storm hits, I suggest having a licensed electrician wire your house for it. Have the electrician go over the proper way to use your new generator. First, you must turn off the main breaker to keep from back-feeding a power line, which can electrocute a lineman. This will significantly delay the restoration of your power. Second, turn off all the breakers on your breaker box. Since most inexpensive generators are about 5,000 watts or less, turn on the breaker for only what you need at that moment. For example, turn on only the breaker for the kitchen. This will power up the refrigerator, lights, and microwave. Cook your meal, and get your fridge cold again. At night, turn off the kitchen breaker and power up the living room to watch a DVD with the kids. At bedtime, turn off the living room breaker and power up the bedrooms with their ceiling fans; you’ll still wake up sweaty but cooler. Otherwise, you will have to use extension cords. You will have to ration fuel as electricity may be out for weeks.

Do not try to wire your house for a generator, unless you’re a licensed electrician.

Post-Storm

I do not recommend leaving the safety of your house until the winds are less than 35 mph and it is daylight. Power will probably be out, which means streetlights will be off and the risk of injury heightened.

Clear Debris

If your street is flooded, your neighbors and you must clear the drains of debris. Don’t expect help from your local government. It’s up to your neighborhood to make your street passable. All hands on deck!

Check On Neighbors

Check on your neighbors, especially the older folks, single mothers, and handicapped. Help them out if you can. If anyone is injured, take them to the nearest firehouse or police station so they can be triaged. Avoid the desire to cruise around in your car and ogle at the damage. First responders will need to clear roads of fallen trees, direct traffic (as most stoplights will be inoperative), and assist with emergencies. There is no reason for you to be out and about the day after a hurricane passes; nothing is open anyway. Hurricanes bring out the best in people… and the worst.

Be Prepared For Looters

Looters will start looking for easy targets after the storm. If you have a pistol, strap it on your hip. It’s not brandishing while you’re on your property. (The cops are already busy.) You don’t need to be Rambo looking for a fight, but for the next few days your neighbors and you are 911. Looters are looking for easy pickings; they do not want a confrontation.

Conclusion

Hurricanes are natural disasters of incredible strength. They blow the roofs off of the strongest buildings, throw small ships around like toys, and rip 100-year-old pine trees from their roots. These storms are not to be trifled with. Do not underestimate them; they are often unpredictable and usually spawn tornadoes.

Have Photo ID For Agency Service Help

FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) and the American Red Cross can help immensely by providing food, water, shelter, and financial assistance. Use these services, but keep in mind it may be days after the storm has passed before they can provide assistance. You may have to show identification to receive some services, so have a photo I.D. with you at all times.

Inspect, Photograph, and Begin Cleaning Up

Begin cleaning up your property as soon as it is safe to do so. Inspect for damage, and photograph it for the insurance company. If your roof is leaking, nail a tarp over the holes to prevent further interior water damage.

Stay Away From Downed Power Lines and Prepare For No Electricity

Treat every downed power line as hot, and never attempt to move a downed line. Power outages here in Florida during Hurricane Irma lasted from a few hours to a few weeks. The utility companies will try their best to restore power as soon as possible, but after a big storm they will be overwhelmed. The hardest part of the post-storm is no electricity for days or weeks. Inconvenient? Yes. Life-threatening? In most cases, no. But you will still sweat.

Expel Wild Animals Taking Shelter

Be careful of wild animals that have taken shelter on your property. Raccoons, possums, and snakes are looking for higher ground and often hide amongst the debris. Expel any wild animal inside your house to prevent injury.

I have been through twelve hurricanes in my life, and I take even category 1 storms seriously. Hurricanes are not abnormal weather phenomena. They happen every year, and some do make landfall in the U.S. Be prepared at the start of hurricane season and you won’t have to make a mad dash to Wal-Mart two days before the storm hits.

Hurricane Preps Adapt For Any Survival Situation– “Be Prepared”

Yes, I like electricity, air conditioning, and Internet as much as the next person. But one can adapt to life without them. Though this article is based on my experiences with Hurricane Irma, it can be used for any survival situation. The basics of food, water, and well-being are the mainstay of any abnormal situation. We live in a dynamic world. Hurricanes and other disasters, both natural and man-made, will always be a part of our lives.

Like the Boy Scout motto says, “Be Prepared.”

See Also:

SurvivalBlog Writing Contest

This has been part two of a two part entry for Round 73 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The nearly $11,000 worth of prizes for this round include:

First Prize:

  1. A $3000 gift certificate towards a Sol-Ark Solar Generator from Veteran owned Portable Solar LLC. The only EMP Hardened Solar Generator System available to the public.
  2. A Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate. This can be used for any one, two, or three day course (a $1,095 value),
  3. A course certificate from onPoint Tactical for the prize winner’s choice of three-day civilian courses, excluding those restricted for military or government teams. Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795,
  4. DRD Tactical is providing a 5.56 NATO QD Billet upper. These have hammer forged, chrome-lined barrels and a hard case, to go with your own AR lower. It will allow any standard AR-type rifle to have a quick change barrel. This can be assembled in less than one minute without the use of any tools. It also provides a compact carry capability in a hard case or in 3-day pack (an $1,100 value),
  5. Two cases of Mountain House freeze-dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources (a $350 value),
  6. A $250 gift certificate good for any product from Sunflower Ammo,
  7. Two cases of meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value), and
  8. American Gunsmithing Institute (AGI) is providing a $300 certificate good towards any of their DVD training courses.

Second Prize:

  1. A Model 175 Series Solar Generator provided by Quantum Harvest LLC (a $439 value),
  2. A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training, which have a combined retail value of $589,
  3. A gift certificate for any two or three-day class from Max Velocity Tactical (a $600 value),
  4. A transferable certificate for a two-day Ultimate Bug Out Course from Florida Firearms Training (a $400 value),
  5. A Trekker IV™ Four-Person Emergency Kit from Emergency Essentials (a $250 value),
  6. A $200 gift certificate good towards any books published by PrepperPress.com,
  7. A pre-selected assortment of military surplus gear from CJL Enterprize (a $300 value), and
  8. RepackBox is providing a $300 gift certificate to their site.

Third Prize:

  1. A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21 (a $275 value),
  2. A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard, and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206,
  3. Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy (a $185 retail value),
  4. Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security, LLC,
  5. Mayflower Trading is donating a $200 gift certificate for homesteading appliances, and
  6. Two 1,000-foot spools of full mil-spec U.S.-made 750 paracord (in-stock colors only) from www.TOUGHGRID.com (a $240 value).

Round 73 ends on November 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical “how to” skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

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7 Responses to Hurricane Preparedness in the Sunshine State- Part 2 , by D.H.

  1. Roadkill says:

    Speaking of power lines and flooding. Clearing drains is great, but not if the flood water is energized. Be very careful when entering water after a storm.

  2. Gman says:

    Buy oil lamp for boats. I have used them for year when I was in Alaska. They are not cheep.Perko were the best when I was building boats.

  3. Pangaea Envrionmental says:

    Just to add a extra bit of perspective to our new residence of Florida. As your post here lays out the importance of preparation and more importantly the realities of those ‘preps’. Living in deep southern MiamiDade, South Florida gets all supplies from the North of us. Typical hurricane pass West-East or East-West. Irma came straight up the peninsula. This perfect storm scenario changed many ‘prepared people’ and was a wake up call for those who do the minimum. If Irma had maintained her strength, goods and services would have been months rather than a week. Irma had ALL of Florida in her grip not just a couple of unlucky cities. Real quick on the typical Generator mistake. All of the consumer, HomeDepot, Lowes, BJs, Costco etc, generators are rated @ 120v. In simple math when you buy that Mac Daddy 10,000Watt with a whopper 60Amp plug, you are actual only able to get 30Amps @240. We all want the generator to run a AC in South Florida. ACs are 240V and range from 34-50Amps. The air conditioner compressor will not be able to work its magic. Bottom line be ‘prepared’ with knowledge when you make high cost preps.

  4. Jmustang says:

    Good post. I’m a native Floridian so Irma wasn’t my first rodeo. Having several young children, we felt the need to be well prepared for the storm and aftermath. What I learned was A – Florida is probably hard to habitat long term without electricity (the heat, lack of air conditioning and mosquitos), and B – don’t underestimate post hurricane injuries. My then 9 month old took a fall the day after the hurricane which was bad enough she needed to be taken the hospital due to concussion. This ended up being a real pain due to the downed trees, power lines, etc as well as the overloaded hospitals. We simply weren’t prepared for that situation.

  5. cook says:

    The small,5000 btu window units are 99$ at wal-mart(or were).They will usually work from the smallest gennie or solar set-up,even an inverter off the car.Not life saving,but after working all day clearing trees,fences,etc…post Irma…to get a few hours rest in a cool,dry room made me more alert and efficient the next day.

    I also had a older”trimline”corded phone..never lost phone service when other people couldn’t get cell service.Was able to show a few people they still had internet,they just needed to power the modem and router/wi-fi…which I could do with a car inverter and extension cord.

  6. 2J3 says:

    Some thoughts on a generators:
    1. Don’t forget a grounding wire. Figure out where you are going place the generator and where your grounding rod is to determine its length.
    2. Always secure or its gone. Obtained one of those large ground screws for tying you huge dog in the backyard. Screw it into the ground and place the generator on top of it. Secure the generator to the ground screw with the shortest piece of heavy duty chain and a heavy duty lock. Forget anything with the word “MASTER” on it the idea is to be unable to maneuver the generator off of the ground screw with out unlocking it.
    3. Buy one of the adapter cables which converts the 220 volt outputs to three 120 volt outlets.

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