- Jan 14, 2007
"How nice - to feel nothing and still get full credit for being alive." - Kurt Vonnegut Jr. - Slaughterhouse Five
The May chat thread.
Let's talk about hurricane season.
- June 1st marks the beginning of the Atlantic Hurricane season. Some of this info generalizes to general natural disaster preparedness and some of it’s a bit hurricane specific, but hopefully even if you live somewhere that doesn’t get any sort of cyclones, this gets the gears turning for either better preparing or verifying that you’re well prepared for whatever may come your way in the future. This isn’t exhaustive, but I tried to cover everything I could in the space allotted. Chip in with whatever advice you’d like, and feel free to either post questions in here or PM me if you think I might be able to offer some additional info. Also, if I’m just outright wrong about anything or you think something should be changed, let me know and I’ll edit the OP.
- Who are you preparing for?
- First and foremost you’re preparing for everyone you’re directly responsible for. That’s yourself, your immediate family, anyone you’re a caretaker for, pets, and anyone else I’m forgetting.
- Secondly, you’re preparing to minimize your impact on your community. Being in a position where you don’t need emergency assistance is a prerequisite to being able to offer help. Getting ready well in advance of a storm means you’re not putting pressure on supply chains during an emergency.
- Thirdly, having extra supplies on hand puts you in a position to help other people locally or regionally. Monetary donations can do a lot of good after natural disasters, but when people need drinking water, food, or hygiene supplies because they’ve lost everything, donating relevant goods does more immediate good than money, especially if local stores are closed, damaged, or looted.
- There’s a lot of flexibility here, but you need to be able to handle a power outage both for safe storage and cooking. If you’re rocking a generator, you can keep a deep-freezer running for as long as you’ve got fuel, but it’s still prudent to have dry goods and canned goods on hand. If you might need to evacuate, make sure you’ve got stuff you can eat or easily prepare on the road, at a shelter, or at wherever you’d be evacuating to. Be mindful of any specific dietary requirements or medical conditions that limit food options. A lot of kids, in particular, will outright refuse to eat unfamiliar foods under stress so make sure you’ve got food that’s comfortable (even if it’s not “comfort food”) for everyone if possible, and especially for younger kids. Barring health issues, you don’t really need to worry much about nutrition beyond basic macronutrients during the time span of a hurricane, and if you’re really worried about it, multivitamins are cheap.
- Needs - Basic common sense is keeping at least a few days worth of potable water stored at all times assuming you’re not living in a place the size of a prison cell. It’s great for boil water advisories, water main failures, if your water gets cut off because your deadbeat neighbors got theirs turned off and the lines are mislabeled (happened to me during grad school), or other emergencies, so it’s not just a “hurricane season” thing. I’d advise a minimum of 3 gallons per person per day, at least one (preferably at least two) of which is intended for consumption without filtration or boiling. You can bathe or flush your toilet with pool water, but it’s not suitable for drinking or cooking unless excess chlorine has evaporated out and it’s been rendered safe.
- Packages of bottled water are convenient but expensive. I keep some on hand because I have visibly bad tap water at work and I’ve been in the position to load bottled water into a trailer headed to a disaster zone without having to make a run on a store. The thicker bottles handle longer term storage and higher temperatures better. You’ll actually see thinner bottles look partially empty over time because vapor’s escaping.
- The easiest way to store water at home is to rinse out 2L soda bottles thoroughly and just fill them with tap water. No, you don’t need to treat the water. No it doesn’t need to be rotated. The bottles are incredibly durable and thick, easily carried by most kids and adults, and it makes it easy to figure out how much water you have on hand. They don’t explode when dropped, and they pour well. Assuming you or someone you know buys 2L bottles, that’s hands down the most cost efficient way to store water.
- Larger containers are useful but cumbersome. I’m comfortable carrying two 5 gallon jugs, but keep in mind that’s over 80 lbs and not everyone’s going to be able to do that, especially without risk of dropping them. Really, anything bigger than about 7 or 8 gallons should probably be considered a “team lift” or handtruck only option. A 55 gallon barrel is great, but it also weighs about 460 lbs when full of water. Anything past the 15 gallon (125lb) size should generally be assumed to be a “use in place” container which means you’ll need specialized equipment for accessing it.
- Since hurricanes aren’t surprises (assuming you’re paying attention) you can get away with last minute water storage for hygiene needs. (Note: You still should have drinking water on hand for everyone at all times, because that’s part of being a responsible adult.) I’ve yet to come across a more sensible or cost effective option than 5 gallon buckets with lids. Some people just fill their tubs, but I’ve seen too many tubs just drain over the course of a few hours and having an open container of stagnant water in a prolonged power outage sounds like a great way to get sick and breed mosquitoes. A stack of a few 5 gallon buckets and lids can sit in the garage or closet (or can be used for storage normally and emptied in an emergency) and be filled within an hour from a sink sprayer or garden hose.
- Depending on where you live, shelter’s either going to be your residence or somewhere you’re evacuating to if things go as planned. There’s a lot of variables here, but if you’re in an area likely to take damage, you want to secure your home as best as you can beforehand and have supplies on hand for repairs afterward. I rent, but I was spared a lot of headache when my bathroom skylight started leaking just because I had some plastic sheeting on hand and could channel the incoming water into the tub. Hurricane shutters, plywood, tarps, etc. are all significantly easier to get and/or get installed a month before a hurricane than a day before.
- If things don’t go as planned, you may be sleeping in a vehicle, a tent, a community shelter, or somewhere else. I’d advise considering what the worst case scenario is and how you’d approach that, and make decisions from there, but keep them tempered in reality. If you think you might be evacuating, at least rough out where you’d go and what kind of arrangements you’d make in that scenario. Maybe it’s finding campgrounds that are further than most people are willing to evacuate to. Maybe it’s keeping a few addresses and numbers for hotels or motels that are wherever you’d head so you can call before they get booked. Maybe it’s just asking friends or family elsewhere, “Hey, if there’s a hurricane, can I come stay with you if I have to leave?”
- Whatever your plan is, if it’s even remotely convenient or obvious, assume other people are trying to do exactly that same thing, and adjust accordingly unless you’re ready to be one of the first people out. Where I live, before Hurricane Michael, you could see on gas buddy which stations were on the evacuation routes coming out of Florida because every single one of those gas stations was out of unleaded. On the way out, people bought out road trip supplies from all of the Walmarts and on the way back they bought out chainsaws and other equipment for clearing debris or demo work.
- A “Blackout Kit” is a collection of equipment specifically for power outages and not for daily use. I’d highly advise building one and putting it in a tote. I built blackout kits for several family members that included flashlights, head lamps, LED lanterns, batteries, and some small inverters along with some chem lights. I actually have more than one at my place, but I’m also kinda “into” this. In a blackout kit, batteries are not stored in devices. They will self-discharge and corrode. I’ve had this happen too many times and I try to only keep batteries in things I’m using regularly or actively testing.
- Flashlights, at minimum, are one per person in the household. This is your go-to for navigation so you’re not tripping in the dark, and during a power outage, everyone who’s old enough to not eat batteries keeps theirs with them at all times. These should be something that won’t roll away on a flat surface (like a bathroom counter while you’re trying to do your business in the dark) and should get at least 12 hours of runtime out of a set of batteries.
You need at least one flashlight that’s on the higher brightness end. This isn’t a weapon light. This is for looking at stuff that’s far away. This is for assessing damage to your home at night, finding a pet that ran off, signaling to first responders, etc. This doesn’t need to be something that can run for hours and hours, but avoid the ones that have an auto-shut off because they can’t handle their own heat for two minutes or set them to a lower brightness if that’s an option.
I would highly advise at least one flashlight that has an extremely low-light mode that you can keep on for days. My EDC flashlight is my EDC flashlight not because of some turbo retina-burner mode but because it’s got a “firefly” mode that’ll run enough light to read by for 14 days on a single AA alkaline battery. This is the light you have for when something else fails. It’s there when you need to do a battery change on another flashlight before sunrise. It’s an orientation beacon and something you can partially dark adapt to, and it’s dimmer than what you’d use to walk around on unfamiliar terrain.
- Headlamps are nice but most are designed to run on AAAs instead of AAs which means they’re designed to either be dimmer or run for shorter periods than a comparable flashlight. They’re invaluable when doing repair work, and they’re definitely easier to cook by or do other manual tasks than a flashlight. I’d recommend one for everyone in your household who’s actually going to be expected to do stuff during a power outage.
- Something like a camping lantern that’s designed to light up an area really helps restore a sense of normalcy and removes the attentional spotlight issue you have with flashlights and headlamps. You can get away without this if you’re on a tight budget, but they make things a lot more comfortable and social and I assume they’d be more comforting to a child than a flashlight. Ideally, you’d have some way to hang these from the ceilings. 360 degree options are generally meant to be in the middle of a room while 180 degree options can either be set in the middle of a room or put at an edge and propped up.
- Chem lights (glow sticks) might be a decent option for kids, assuming nobody’s chewing on them, but they’re not great for task lighting. Where they’re uniquely nice is that they’re not ignition sources, so they’re good if there’s a gas leak or spilt fuel. They’re a one-and-done and pretty heavy on waste, so I view them as a third-tier option or something I’d be happy to hand out to all of my neighbors if there’s a sub-one-day power outage.
- A general note about lighting from a vision researcher: With the exception of some critical tasks (like first aid, damage inspection, finding lost kids/pets, etc.) you generally need significantly less light than you think you do. Getting mostly dark adapted takes about 15 minutes, but in as little as 2 or 3 minutes you’ll find that you can do basically everything other than read low-contrast text and perform fine color discrimination with less than 1% fo the lighting you’re used to having in a room...unless you’re approaching cataracts or have some other visual issue. People are drawn toward bright flashlights for outdoor use and spot work inside while you’re otherwise light adapted, but the LED flashlight that’s 1/5th as bright and runs 5x longer is both more practical and more comfortable indoors 99% of the time.
- I would personally benchmark the following for batteries: Four weeks without power. Something battery efficient runs 24/7. Everyone’s running one flashlight 12 hours per day. Everyone using a headlamp is doing so for 6 hours per day. At least one area lighting device runs 12 hours per day. If you know what your equipment is rated for, you should be able to figure out how much you need in batteries. Personally, I can run alkalines for about 3 months if things really went sideways, but with rechargeable options I have on hand, I could theoretically run emergency lighting for a few years before things got iffy.
- Try to avoid candles or any other light source that requires fire during any natural disaster where the fire department’s not going to be available for a while. Save those for when you remember that your homeowners insurance covers fire but not flood damage.
- Natural gas is great if you have it. The natural gas grid is incredibly stable and has very high reliability assuming you’re not in an area that’s gotten an earthquake.
- Propane is essentially a natural gas connection without grid-tied natural gas. A dual-burner propane camp stove is probably the most comfortable option for home use. Propane is heavier than air, so large tanks should be kept outside. The smaller 1 pound bottles can be reasonably used indoors assuming you check for leaks. Bottle-top burners are cheaper but less stable and not suited to heavy pots or pans. There are adapters available to let you run most propane devices intended for 1 pound bottles with 5+ lb tanks, but they’re not suited to bottle-top burners, lanterns, or other devices that are intended to sit directly on top of a bottle. You can get away with just using a propane side-burner on a grill, but you’ll be both pissed and wasting fuel if you’re trying to boil a pot of water on a rack meant for grilling burgers.
- Butane is more expensive than bulk propane (5+ lb quantities) but can be close to price comparable to the 1 pound bottles of propane. Butane stoves typically take 8 oz (or some metric approximation) cartridges, and most are single burner affairs. If you’re going to get one, I’d highly recommend finding one that comes with a propane adapter (which is a hose and an integrated regulator for attachment to a 1 pound propane bottle). Butane’s safer to store indoors because the cartridges are smaller, but that also makes bulk purchases more expensive.
- Isobutane and other gas mixes are generally intended for backpacking “stoves”. While the propane and butane stoves are typically bulky and heavy by comparison, there are isobutane burners that will fit in a pocket. There’s a heavy learning curve on cooking beyond boiling, but these are a good option if you think you’d have to evacuate and would need to cook on the road because they’re very compact and less prone to leaking than either butane or propane. The fuel’s significantly more expensive than any other gas option, though, and there are very few burners available in budget-friendly prices which are intended for more than boiling water.
- Alcohol burners are prone to producing carbon monoxide compared to gas burners, and spilt fuel doesn’t dissipate at all, so I’d be very wary of using these indoors. The fuel is generally considered safe to store indoors, but denatured alcohol is outrageously expensive in some areas (the cheapest I’ve seen it where I’ve lived is about $16/gallon) and isopropanol will produce soot that’s incredibly difficult to get off of pots. I’d highly recommend using this exclusively outdoors, in which case you’ll definitely want a windscreen. Be extra wary around kids or pets because you’re basically cooking over a molotov cocktail.
- Solid fuels should absolutely never be used indoors. I’m putting these above wood only because they’re easier to get going, which is important in an emergency. Typically these are some sort of heavy hydrocarbon that’s sold in tablets that are sealed in plastic or foil. They have a tendency to soot up pots and most of them apparently have a pretty foul smell, so you may want to use them far away from dwellings or anywhere you’re going to be spending time outdoors. Solid fuel tablets are generally intended for backpacking and/or emergency use, so they may be worth considering if you might have to evacuate.
- Wood may either be something you have to purchase and store or something you have in abundance depending on where you live. If you’re planning on cooking over wood, I’d advise a gasifier stove. They’re significantly more fuel efficient and produce far less smoke. This is where we really start to get into fire safety concerns beyond the obvious. Wood and charcoal will both kick out embers which can set other things on fire, so you need to have an appropriate area cleared around your fire and a way to deal with embers. Obviously, if you have a wood burning stove in your home you can rock that, but otherwise wood’s outdoors only unless you really want to try cooking in a fireplace but that sounds miserable during a power outage in the summer, IMO.
- Charcoal is pretty inefficient because it’s partially pre-combusted wood. If you have a charcoal grill, it’s a solid idea to grab some extra charcoal, but I cannot in good conscience recommend it as a preparedness fuel otherwise. It’s messy before you burn it, it’s useless while wet, and it’s probably the most expensive way to heat food this side of a flameless ration heater.
- Solar’s at the bottom of my list because I have no personal experience with it yet and it depends on you having sunlight. If you want to give it a whirl, go for it, but unless you have zero interest in reliably heating water at night or while it’s raining, don’t make it your only option.
- HAVE A FIRE EXTINGUISHER.
- I’m going to assume that you know about the “danger zone” for storing perishable food. The easiest way to weather a short-term power outage is thermal mass. 2 liter bottles filled with water or water bottles thrown into a freezer far enough in advance to become blocks of ice will buy you time. Having blocks of ice in your fridge will basically (yes, there’s a temperature gradient in your fridge) keep it around 32F until the ice has melted. The same goes for your freezer, but that’s less impressive. If the power goes out, move some block ice into your fridge and eat your ice cream or other stuff that won’t handle a thaw. Then, when meat starts to thaw, move it into the fridge (assuming you’ve got some ice in there) and get ready to cook it. Obviously you can ignore this if you’re running a generator or an inverter to power your fridge/freezer.
- Vulnerable people/pets: You may be able to handle sweating out a 105F humid day, but that kind of weather kills small children and the elderly because they have more difficulty thermoregulating. Evaporative cooling can help if you have extra water stored, but to put it bluntly, if you’re responsible for someone who can’t handle high heat, you need a plan to get them air conditioned or otherwise keep them cool enough to be safe.
- Medications that require refrigeration are something you need to plan for in advance separate from your fridge. I’d probably start with block ice of some sort in a really good cooler (or a small cooler inside of a larger cooler). The only good long-term options I know for this involve having some way to generate power, but the most energy efficient one is actually going to be a portable ice maker running off of either a generator or an inverter.
- Fun fact: You can help slow the warming of your fridge or freezer during a power outage with blankets. You need to make sure they’re not on the hot side when the power comes back on, but blankets are just insulators and you probably don’t need them during hot nights without AC, so drape them over the fridge/freezer and help keep the heat out.
- Other fun fact: Throwing out the entirety of the contents of a fridge and a deep freezer is probably significantly cheaper than getting treated for the crap you’ll end up getting if you try eating food that’s spoiled. The day I bought my chest freezer, I told myself that if I ever knew the contents had spent enough time at ambient temperature, I’d just seal the lid with duct tape, push it into the bed of my truck, and drop that horror show off at the dump.
- Most people dealing with hurricanes have to worry about cooling instead of heating, but nights are colder than days, northern areas are typically cooler than southern areas, and hurricanes don’t all hit mid-August.
- Depending on where you live, blankets, extra clothing, and a way to cook food might be all you need.
- I live reasonably near the gulf coast, so I’ve got two small indoor-safe propane heaters and that’s basically it.
- Depending on where you live, you may have natural gas, fuel oil, kerosene, wood, or other options. Just remember that you need appropriate ventilation and safe fuel storage.
- Priority 1 - Phone. USB battery packs are fantastic, but there are a lot of duds out there, especially on the cheap end. The features you want to look for are capacity, charge speed (both charging the bank and charging your device), and build quality. There’s no way around it: Higher capacity banks are bigger and heavier and more expensive. Also keep in mind that nominal capacity figures tend to be overestimates (especially since mAh ratings are often given for cell voltage which has to be boost converted to 5V and drops capacity). Avoid anything that can’t handle at least 2A output and try to avoid anything that can’t handle at least 2A input, as it’ll take ages to charge. Keep some spare cables and a spare charger with them if possible.
- Priority 2 - Lighting. What this means will vary with what kind of lighting options you have, but every time there’s a hurricane in the forecast I watch people panic buy flashlights then 24-48 hours later, remember that they actually need batteries and panic buy those. If you’ve got rechargeable lighting, you’ll want battery packs. If you’re going to be intermittently using a generator or inverter you can charge NiMH cells. Maybe it’s just grabbing an extra pack of alkalines. Plan sensibly based on what your lighting situation is.
- Priority 3 - Creature comforts. If your plan for entertainment for yourself or your family during a power outage involves electronic devices, you need to be able to power them. I’ve got a UPS that keeps my modem and router running during intermittent power outages. The battery packs I have on hand are enough to keep my tablet running 24/7 for a week or more, but that’s probably overkill. For any device you want to run during a power outage (or on the road while evacuating), figure out what it’s draw rate is, multiply it by the needed duty cycle for the device, and then multiply by however long you’d need to keep it running. Have some form of appropriate stored power accordingly.
- A lot of battery banks will advertise solar panels, but these are almost always incredibly anemic due to limited size. I bought one on a whim about a decade ago and eventually figured out that it took the panel about 3 days to charge the pack from dead. You can get fold out solar panels, but remember that they’re rated for perfect skies and full sun, so consider them a backup to battery banks or a way to extend what power you have during a long outage. One of the cheapest things I can recommend is an adapter that will turn a pair of alligator clips to a 12V socket. This allows you to run a car charger off of a battery without having to have keys in the ignition, which can be significantly lower power draw than having the electrical systems running so you can use a socket in the vehicle.
- If you have a medical device, you need to plan around that based off of its current draw, voltage requirements, and use rate. You might be able to handle going a few days without a CPAP, but if you’ve got someone on an oxygen concentrator, you need to be ready for a power outage or evacuate in advance.
- Health and Sanitation
- Have a first aid kit, any needed prescription medications, toilet paper, and the ability to at least do rudimentary self-cleaning for the duration. I would highly advise a stash of paper towels, hygienic wipes, and some method of using some of that water you’ve stored that’s more efficient than just pouring it out of a cup onto yourself (even if that’s just a bottle with some holes poked in the lid).
- At least one box of contractor trash bags and some gloves. You don’t want the contents of a spoiled fridge sitting in your kitchen for a week. If a window breaks, you want something that’s not going to get shredded when you put broken glass in it. If the sewer or septic doesn’t work, you can use them so you’re not crapping in the yard. Lots of applications, none of them pleasant, but all of them more pleasant without them.
Something to add to this is female sanitary supplies. Are you an awful goon who isn’t anywhere near someone with a reproductive aged uterus? They’re still WAY up the list of things that you can give to neighbors in a crisis to be a good dude.
If you do have any women you care about make sure to get the products and brands that they prefer, as the middle of an evacuation isn’t the time to discover what the difference between “heavy” and “light” tampons is or that Always pads are intensely uncomfortable for them but Kotex is fine.
- If you’re a TFR regular, you’ve probably got firearms and basic self-defense covered, but keep in mind any regulations if you’re going to be evacuating. AFAIK, literally no storm shelter will allow you to bring firearms for the obvious reasons. If you might be evacuating with a stash of guns, make sure that’s not going to cause problems with your hosts, especially if they’ve got kids/prohibited posessors/mentally ill people in the house.
- To whatever degree you can, make your home an unlikely target for bad actors and the storm itself. Drawn blinds/curtains keep opportunistic eyes out and reduce how far/fast broken glass goes. Get everything tied down or inside if it could go airborne or walk off. Keep in mind that there may be a point where emergency services of all kinds just straight up won’t get to you until after the storm’s done and/or roads are cleared.
- Sadly, some of the worst human beings show up during and after hurricanes. I remember watching a live stream of Miami police arresting people breaking into department stores DURING hurricane Irma, and slapping them with extra charges because officers had to go out after them DURING a hurricane. People posed as relief workers to rob unattended houses and perform home invasions after Sandy. Keep your wits about you afterward and remember that everyone’s on edge.
- Other than small children or anyone who’s profoundly disabled, everyone should have a job during an emergency. Not only does this get more things done quickly, but it reinforces the sense of agency that keeps people positive in difficult times.
- If you’re evacuating in coordination with someone else and you’re traveling separately, you need routes coordinated in advance and contingency plans for being separated by traffic or temporarily losing cell communications if networks are overloaded or you’re driving through a dead zone.
- Evacuation routes should be planned with redundancies. I had to tell a colleague who was leaving in advance of one recent hurricane that he’d need to plan a different route because a jack-knifed semi-truck was on fire across one of the primary highways he takes.
- You can potentially save yourself a lot of hassle if you have some documentation on hand. Being in front of the curve for reporting utility outages (especially if there are downed power lines or something else that’s dangerous), starting insurance claims, booking tree removal or repair services, etc. can save you a tremendous amount of hassle later on.
- You’ll want written contact info for anyone who’d be checking up on you, in case you’re separated from your phone for some reason. That way they don’t think you’re dead when you’re not.
- All important documentation should be stored in a way that protects it from damage, especially water damage. It’d also be prudent to back up your important digital records off-site in a way that makes them easy to retrieve quickly.
- If your evacuation plans are more complicated than “drive straight to [someone’s place]”, you should have routes planned, contingency plans for booking hotel/motel rooms (keeping in mind that pet-friendly places are harder to find), gas stations marked out, etc.
- Evacuation & Bug Out Bag/Go Bag
- Let’s address the elephant in the room: A lot of people have absolutely moronic crap they’ll never use in their “bug out bag”. This isn’t Red Dawn, it’s a hurricane. You’re looking to have the basics of what you’d need to handle whatever period of time you’d be on the road plus basically taking care of yourself once you’ve gotten to wherever you’re going (storm shelter, friend or family’s house, motel/hotel, etc.) If you’ve got a hatchet and snares instead of the equipment to charge your cell phone and some singles and quarters for vending machines or doing laundry, you should probably rethink that.
- Your basic “bug out bag”/go bag should really be centered around the stuff you’d want to have with you if you got an unexpected call letting you know that someone you cared about was in the hospital and you needed to be there ASAP.
At least one change of clothes, some basic hygiene supplies, the means to charge your phone (a spare cable at minimum, preferably a spare wall and car charger included, and ideally a USB battery pack, too), some food you can eat without heating, a reusable water bottle with water, some small bills and quarters, and any individual essentials (like medications) or important comfort items that are practical to transport.
- If you live in an area where you might have to evacuate because of a hurricane, you need to be prepared to answer “What am I taking”, “How am I securing it”, and “What can I do to minimize risk to what I’m leaving behind” and then prepare accordingly. You probably can’t fit everything you own into whatever vehicle(s) you’d be using to evacuate, so you’re going to have to make choices, and you’ll make those choices better if you’ve already made them before a major stressor.
If you’re going to be loading the bed of a truck with everything you’re trying to take with you, it’d probably be helpful to have storage totes or something else to keep them secure from the elements and make them at least less easy for potential thieves to see. Having something to keep your important documents organized in advance minimizes the risk of you either leaving something you need behind or having something you forgot stolen. If you’re planning on throwing a suitcase full of clothes for everyone in a house full of kids into the trunk, you might want to see if you can actually fit everything in there.
If you’re at risk of a storm surge, getting things higher is likely to keep them drier. Putting items in bags, totes, etc. can help reduce risk further. You might even preemptively throw out (or preferably offer to people who are staying behind) perishable food so that you have one fewer thing to deal with when you get back if the power was out.
- All of this is highly dependent on geography, your home, and what you have inside it as well as how much you can reasonably transport and on what amount of notice. You can leisurely load a cargo trailer a week before a hurricane comes, but if you’re given mandatory evacuation orders with an hour deadline, you’ll probably be scrambling by comparison, especially if you haven’t thought about this in advance.
- Your first line of communications is your cell phone, period. Cell systems are surprisingly reliable, and while it’s good to have other options, your first step of getting communications sured up should involve making sure you can keep your phone charged and dry.
- If you plan on coordinating your efforts with anyone else, some basic handheld radios (FRS) would be a solid idea. This can be especially helpful if you and someone else are coordinating a multi-vehicle evacuation and might be driving through cellular dead zones.
- A whistle’s a decent idea for the money if you may be trying to coordinate a group that’s spread out or have to signal for help. There are actually “hurricane whistles” that are designed to be loud enough to hear in storms, but I’ll warn you that you should cover your ears before blowing into one if possible. (Learned that the hard way.)
- If you have something else for communications (like if you’re an amateur radio operator or have some sort of satellite communication equipment) make sure you can power it and keep it dry. After hurricanes, if communication systems are spotty, a lot of volunteer amateur radio operators end up coming to help local emergency services. Their priority will be coordinating emergency communications, but when there’s available bandwidth they can often relay personal messages out either by voice or through an e-mail system called Winlink. Having phone numbers or e-mail addresses written down (in case your phone’s gone or dead) might be the difference between someone wondering if you survived and them knowing you’re okay or need supplies or whatever the circumstance may be.
- It’s a hurricane, not the end of the world. Hurricanes do kill people and disrupt lives, but they don’t appear out of nowhere and they’re the best predicted natural disasters today.
- You have the ability to take actions now that will make your future more comfortable in the event of a hurricane.
- Depending on where you live, you should expect it to be anywhere from days to weeks before outside help can arrive, and you have an ethical responsibility to prepare as well as you reasonably can for yourself and anyone you’re responsible for. Assuming you’ve done that well, you can be in a position to do real good for people in need, and that makes communities more resilient.
- We’re all in this together. Be patient, be kind, be careful, and prepare.
poeticoddity fucked around with this message at 23:42 on Jun 1, 2020