Hurricane Preparedness

posted in: Red Herrings | 1

Hurricane season started on Monday, June First. Are you ready?

Here in Texas, hurricane season is kind of a big deal.  Or, at least, it is to this kid from the Heartland.  Of course, most of the time, we have plenty of time to prepare because you see these things coming from a long, long way off.  Still, it’s better to be prepared early rather than competing with everyone for bottled water, bread and canned food.
So far, since I’ve been in Houston, I’ve been through one horrible tropical storm, and near miss and one actual hurricane.  The tropical storm taught me where to buy my house, namely the one house we looked at that wasn’t pulling out carpeting after the flooding.  The near miss and the hurricane taught me to be a little better prepared.  So, every year, I try to spruce up the supplies I have and make sure I have fresh “survival food”.  I also try to post a little something about how we should get ready, as a public service of sorts.  And, of course, it helps me gather links together in one place that I find helpful.

There are a couple of philosophies when it comes to hurricanes.  Mostly, it’s either stay or go.
If you stay, you need to think about what you need to get by for an extended period of time.  Most emergency preparedness sources suggest that you need to have food, water and other supplies for at least 72 hours.  San Francisco has a great resource, SF72.org, that is specifically designed to help people in that city prepare for disaster.  Of course, the basic principles can be applied almost anywhere, and there’s a section of the site dedicated to helping people take the SF72 template and customizing to their own city.  If you haven’t done any prep work at all on your disaster survival stash, this is a great place to start.  Another great place to look for ideas, although I think the list is a little over-board and dated, is the 2012 Doomsday Survival List from Money.  This was a list put together by a pretty extreme prepper who was convinced that the world was going to end in December 2012 for some reason.  In any case, it’s a pretty complete list for people who are fairly pessimistic, but it does cover most contingencies and considers a long-term disaster.  If you’re in the Houston area, like me, the city has their own disaster preparedness site, Ready Houston.  It’s a good site and they offer a free DVD you can use to help you plan for emergencies with advice specifically for the Houston, TX area.  They have videos on the site, too, as well as links to training other places, like FEMA.
One thing to consider if you have pets, for instance, is what to do with them during an emergency.  FEMA has a training course for helping you with your animals in an emergency situation, which I found via the Ready Houston website.  (They also have a more general, but, apparently, pretty complete course in general emergency preparedness.)

If you decide to make a run for it, you’ll want to put together what’s alternately called a “go bag” or a “bug out bag”.  Personally, I feel the name “go bag” seems less paranoid and crazy-survivalist sounding, but it amounts to the same thing.
The idea is simple, really, it’s just a bag with all the things you need for anywhere from three days to a couple of weeks, ready to go on a moment’s notice.  Not unlike a hospital bag for a pregnant woman, the main thing is that it’s packed and ready so when panic hits, you can just grab the bag and, well, go.  Again, you can take this as far as you’d like, assuming anything from temporarily relocating to another city and staying in a hotel to running off and hiding in the woods for a couple weeks.  It’s up to you.  But, either way, consider what might go into that bag.  For some good examples, check out Scott Kelley’s Bug Out Bag on Kinja, who even provides links to what he bought so you can get it easily, too, and the oddly less woodsy approach to a bug out bag by American Rifleman Magazine.  Remember, it ultimately comes down to just being ready for what ever you think might happen wherever you are.

I would also suggest that you have some long shelf-life food on hand, like every good IT guy has in his desk.  I particularly like Millenium Food bars, actually, since they provide a lot of calories and energy with a five-year shelf-life.  Also, they don’t taste bad at all!
Something I’ve been meaning to do is scan important documents, like my home-owner’s insurance policy and my various credit cards and IDs and put them all on a LaCie PetiteKey USB Flash Drive that I keep on my keys, in case all the original documents get destroyed while I’m not at home.

So, in short, the idea here is to be like the Boy Scouts, prepared.
Have you gotten ready for hurricane season yet?  Start now!