On my way to work this week they had a commercial on the radio reminding everyone that hurricane season is approaching and to help the recent transplants get prepared. My mind immediately went back to 5 years ago when we were recent transplants to Houston and I sure wished someone had helped us out. We didn’t have a clue what to do, and even worse, we didn’t even realize we were about to get hit by a massive hurricane. Between unpacking boxes and just giving birth, the last thing on my mind was prepping for a disaster. Well… it hit us, and it hit hard. I don’t want you to have to learn the hard way like we did, so I put 5 things you should GET-UP & DO BEFORE a disaster strikes!
Be Aware of Disasters!
As I mentioned, I didn’t even know that Hurricane Ike was headed our way. I went to check the mail and noticed that all my neighbors were outside boarding up their windows and some were even packing-up and heading out. I finally couldn’t handle it and called my husband at work to let him know all the strange things our new neighbors were doing. He at least knew there was a hurricane coming and after hearing about their preparations he decided that maybe he should stop by Lowe’s on the way home. Well… that was a joke and the reason why I’ve stressed doing these things BEFORE a disaster comes your way. Because if you’re lucky, you’ll get to stand in a 3 hour line fighting over a few pieces of scrap wood!
So the first thing on your to-do list is to Read-UP! Educate yourself on what the common disasters are for your area so it doesn’t come as a total shock. Do you live in an area that is more prone to wildfires, earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, or anything else? If you’re not sure, take a look at this chart to help you know what hazards might affect your area! Knowing before-hand will keep you from waiting hours in line hoping that you can buy an over-priced generator!
Secure Your Home!
Once you know what disasters might come knocking on your door, you’ll want to figure out ways to keep them from busting it down. Of course there are instances when there is nothing you can do as you watch your home wash away, but in most cases you can do a few things to help keep your home intact even during a disaster. Most importantly, these are some ideas to keep you and your loved ones safe!
We’ve had our house flooded before and it can be costly, so if at all possible try waterproofing your home. Construct flood walls to stop the water before it reaches your home, or install a sump pump in your home if flooding is a common threat. Keep anything electrical above the flood zone; you don’t want to run the chance of getting electrocuted!
If you have a bunch of crazy boys like mine you probably already know the best way to prep your home is to bolt EVERYTHING to the ground and walls, even bolt your home to its foundation if possible. You often don’t know when an earthquake will hit so maybe displaying your Grandmother’s china is not the best idea either. Anything breakable, or at least things your care about, should be placed where they will be protected. Also, if your home has experienced an earthquake before you may want to have it inspected for cracks in the foundation or other issues it may have caused and get them repaired quickly!
The main thing to do if your area is prone to tornadoes is you need a safe place in your home to hunker down. The best option is to have a safe room built, but you can also find shelter in the basement if you have one, or go to the center of your home where it’s most protected.
Fire-proof you home as much as possible if wildfires are a threat! Use fire-resistant treated wood & materials when you build a home if possible and put important documents/items in a fire-proof safe. Outside the home make sure to not leave your dried-up Christmas tree or other items that could catch fire quickly and fuel the flames! You might want to have a hose handy too, you never know when you’ll get a chance to play firefighter!
We went ahead and cut-boards to match all our windows and anytime there is a hurricane headed our way we pull them out and clip them into place. Remember to mark which windows they go to, or else you’ll have fun playing the guess where the 50 lb board goes game (as you can tell we’ve played it a few times)! Also, anything you care about, make sure to bring it inside. No matter what, a fallen tree is going to find your car, or your favorite chair is going to end up in your neighbor’s yard!
Have an Alternate Power Source!
Power is usually the first thing to go in any situation, so having an alternate power source can make life after a disaster a little more bearable. A popular option is a generator, but remember you need gas to keep it going and they are extremely noisy. We used our generator primarily to run the refrigerator and freezer for a few hours each day to keep the food fresh until the power came back on. Unless you have a large generator and lots of gas though, this is a temporary fix and not something you’ll realistically be able to plan on for much longer than a week.
There are lots of other alternate power sources, but the main reason I have a generator is to be able to keep my food fresh long enough so if I need to I have time to preserve it. Knowing how to preserve the food in your freezer is one skill worth learning! Then you don’t have to worry about throwing away cheese, meat, butter or anything else if the power is out for an extended period of time – you’ll be able to preserve it instead!
The main issue I ran into when the power went out is I had NO way of cooking any food. Even though I had enough food to last us a few weeks, dried pasta is just not that appealing! I’ve since learned about some powerless cooking options and have experimented with them so the next time I’m without power I’ll be eating pizza and cookies :) Below are some of my favorite options I’ve tried, but find 2 or 3 that work for you!
POWERLESS COOKING OPTIONS:
- ROCKET STOVE – A stove that only requires a couple sticks to cook a meal.
- APPLE-BOX OVEN– An oven made out of a box, uses charcoal to cook.
- VOLCANO – Very versatile, it can be used as an oven, stove, or grill.
- WONDER OVEN – This works like a crock-pot, but without any power.
- SUN OVEN – Needs only the Sun to cook your food.
Get the Basics to Survive!
FEMA recommends that every household have at least a 2 week supply of food and water, but yet the average American only has 3 days! Depending on the disaster, sometimes relief/aid can take a week or more to arrive and when you’re hungry, cold, and tired EVERY DAY makes a difference (especially when you have whiny kids who don’t understand). If you need help getting a 2 week supply of food, check-out the 5 steps I used to get mine.
The checklist below is a great place to get started with stocking-up and getting the necessities!
- WATER – At least 14 gallons per person.
- You can also fill-up Bathtubs or use Waterbobs.
- FOOD – Meal plan at least 2 weeks worth of food.
- POWERLESS COOKING – Have 2-3 ways to cook your food.
- GAS – Fill-up all the cars & have some extra for the generator.
- SURVIVAL KITS – 1st Aid Kit, 72 Hour Kit, Emergency Bag
- OTHER SUPPLIES – Phone w/ cord, water filters, heat sources, clothing, blankets, etc…
Have an Evacuation Plan!
In some instances, there is no choice but to pack-up and get out of Dodge! Where will you go? What will you take? Do you have a gathering place or way to contact family members if you get separated? Does everyone in your family know your plan? Does your community have an evacuation plan, or signals to warn you about possible threats?
These are all questions you need to ask yourself, because you just never know when you might need to pack-up your wagon and get out!
By doing these 5 things, you will have the confidence you need to take care of your family no matter what the future has in store. You maybe a newbie at this, but you’ll look like a pro (at least better than I did with my 1st disaster ;)
Many of you have survived through disasters, so I would love to hear about your experiences and thoughts! Is there any advice you have for disaster newbies?