Hurricane Ivan is barrelling down on us on the Gulf Coast. We expect him to start showing us what he’s made of Wednesday. Tomorrow, Tuesday, everything is shutting down as people evacuate. We think we are staying put. With no income coming in right now, it is expensive to leave and we have lived here long enough to know that a hurricane can turn at any moment. We’ll wait and see how dangerous it looks, then head to a local shelter if need be.
You, too, should have an emergency plan and at least a list of what to buy for an emergency. Here, we get warnings about our storms, so we don’t have to keep the hurricane items on hand at all times. If you live where tornadoes and earthquakes are, you’d want to keep these items around:
oil for lanterns
boxed food like crackers
grill or other cooking device
water to drink
water in your tubs
important papers ready to go
Now, I’ll tell you some things I am doing on a limited income, since some of you also may not be able to just go out and buy all of those things:
1. Look at what you already have, for example:
- I don’t have enough candles, but I do have candlemaking supplies. Since I will have power for the next two days at least, I will make candles rather than purchase them.
- We’re making do with our under-cabinet kitchen radio rather than buying another one. We will just unscrew it from the cabinets to carry it throughout the house with us.
- I’m baking bread and making cookies. We don’t have the extra money to buy convenience items already made. I will store the baked items in containers like Tupperware. I will make some healthier items like whole wheat bread and blueberry muffins.
- Rather than purchasing water, we are going to fill pitchers and water containers with the drinking water that we can get out of the faucet now.
- We don’t have a tarp, but we have a roll of plastic that we bought for Hurricane Opal years ago. We’ll use that if need be.
2. Natural disasters create a mess! Don’t start out with a mess, or it will be much worse for you. Start now to clean the house:
- Mopping and vacuuming.
- Do all the laundry.
- All important paper items need to be stored in waterproof containers. We are using some Rubbermaid totes that we have already.
- Pick up loose items that will hurt your feet when you walk around in the dark when the power is out.
- Put books and other papers in waterproof containers or at least get them off the floor if your storm is a watery one.
- Do the dishes.
- Make the beds.
- Straighten up anything you can. With the power out, you need everything to be already in its place so you can find it when needed.
3. Be prepared. If you have the luxury, as we do, of knowing a storm is coming, you can start getting ready days ahead. Here is my list:
- Charge the chargeable flashlights.
- Charge the cell phones.
- Charge the digital camera and clear it for ample storage after taking photos of the house (pre-storm) for insurance purposes. Email those pictures to someone in another state for safekeeping, or create a photo CD and keep it with the important papers.
- Bake items now for eating when the power is out.
- Have insurance and emergency information in a place where you can find it easily.
- Pack a bag in case you have to get out fast. Put in a change of clothing for everyone, snacks, water bottles, and a special blanket or animal for the kids.
- Pack another bag with important papers and medications along with your purse/wallet, car keys, and cell phones. You will grab this bag if you have to evacuate.
- Email or call someone to let them know of your plans.
- If your emergency is a water one, dig any needed ditches for water run-off, clear gutters, and have a tarp ready.
- Have a plan for the outside animals. Our chickens are going to the garage (yuck!) if they are in danger from the high wind speeds. Bring in the cat and dog in plenty of time.
- Fill Ziploc bags now with water and place them in the freezer. They will ice, keeping the freezer colder longer if the power goes out.
- Fill prescriptions and place medicine in the bag mentioned above (g).
- Fill the gas tanks of the cars (gas stations can’t pump without power).
- Get some extra cash out of an ATM (ATMs don’t work without power).
- Gather any loose items from the yard (we have lawn chairs, a deck box, and planters) and place them in the garage or in the house.
- Cover windows, if you are preparing for a windy storm, with plywood. If you can’t do that, as we cannot this year (plywood is too expensive for us now, and all stores are out of it anyway), then create a plan for what you’ll do if the windows shatter. For example, as soon as the power goes out, we are moving the television to a safe room without windows. We will move the living room furniture into safer rooms, also.
- Create a “Storm Central.” We will create a space in either our master bathroom, which is large or in the hallway. We will bring in blankets, pillows, snacks, water, emergency lighting like flashlights and candles, games to play, my crocheting needle and yarn, the radio, paper, and pen, and the children will each bring a small bag filled with their favorite toys.
If I think of more things to add to this list, I will. I hope all of you stay safe. If you read this before Hurricane Ivan comes to the Florida/Alabama border where we live (around September 15, 2004), please say a prayer of safety for us. I rather love a good storm as it reminds me of the power of God. But I don’t like a deadly storm, nor do I like the mess it causes.
(Originally published on my 2004-05 Keeping the Home blog)