Survival tips - Preparing for storms, emergencies, disasters & natural catastrophes
Hurricane Wilma

Preparing for a Major Storm

"An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure"

When you are going to be in the path of an impending storm of any serious nature, you can minimize the disruption to your life by preparing in advance. This is especially true when there is a widespread power outage, which as we all know, is not uncommon.

Here are some tips that may be helpful -- think of this as a kind of checklist. Many of the things you would want to have on-hand are readily available at your local hardware store or at places like Walmart, and in most cases, they will last for many years. Should your area be in the direct path of the storm -- or if you get hit by some other sort of disaster -- you will greatly benefit if take these suggestions seriously...

  1. Fill up the gas tanks for ALL your vehicles before the storm hits. Also, get at least one 5-gallon heavy plastic container (with funnel) and fill with gas (store in a very safe place!). After the storm passes, you can pour that gas into your tank.

  2. In case you have to evacuate, have detailed maps of the area, and lay out alternative exit routes.

  3. Use tie-down rachet straps from the hardware store to secure everything outside that could end up blowing away or being damaged by high winds.

  4. Fill up a LOT of plastic containers with drinking water in case the water supply is interrupted;

    (Note: many of the things below can be kept year-round in large plastic storage boxes)

  5. Get at least one Coleman lantern, plus matches, extra mantles & fuel. Some people prefer the kind of lanterns that run on disposable propane gas cylinders rather than liquid -- get whichever you prefer.

  6. A backpack in case you have to carry supplies to another location;

  7. A small one or two burner camping cook stove and fuel (these are also available for use with disposable propane canisters);

  8. Or if you already have a gas powered barbecue grill, get at least one if not two extra tanks of propane. Remember to never use this sort of thing inside -- they require proper ventillation.

  9. Flashlights with LOTS of extra batteries, and a few candles (used only for backup -- they make the rooms dirty with soot plus can be a fire hazard);

  10. A battery operated portable AM/FM radio, and also a NOAA weather radio (inexpensive at Radio Shack). Also, battery powered fans for relief from the heat; Hurricane Wilma

  11. If you have a chain-saw, get plenty of gas/oil mix and have an extra chain on hand.

  12. Paper towels, face wipes, hand sanitizer, toilet paper, trash bags, bleach, zip lock bags;

  13. First-aide kit, and if you take medications, get extra prescription(s) filled for any that are absolutely essential to your health;

  14. Inflatable mattresses (self-inflating makes it easier to use) and a bicycle pump;

  15. Water purification tablets;

  16. Have enough canned, dried, or vacuum packed food to last several days (nothing that requires refrigeration), AND, a non-electric can opener;

  17. Don't forget pet food!

  18. Keep lots of ice in the freezer, and have a couple really good insulated large camping coolers (not cheap styrofoam). If the power goes out for any length of time, pack the most valuable food in the coolers with the ice, put them in the coolest part of your house (usually the basement) and cover with heavy blankets.

  19. Have a disposable camera handy for pictures after the storm of any damage.

  20. For anyone on a city water system, fill your bathtub with water. If your power goes out or the water lines are broken, you can still flush a toilet by pouring the water in with a bucket. And it wouldn't be the worst idea to place 50 gallon trash cans outside to catch additional rain water, in case the water in the tub runs out.

  21. If you still have a regular telephone line to your house, make sure you have a phone that does not have to be plugged into an electrical outlet. You can get a basic touch tone phone at the Dollar Store for about $10.

  22. Have at least one extra fully charged battery for your cell phone.

  23. Get a 100' roll of clear window plastic, in case windows are broken by wind or flying debris. Also, a heavy-duty staple gun and duct tape. Hurricane Wilma

  24. A portable generator of course is invaluable if you want to have access to at least minimal electricity. Be sure to get a long top-quality extension cord with multiple outlets, so you can run the generator outside (never in the house!).

    You'll need to know the capacity of the generator, and the exact electrical requirements of any appliances that you may want to run (inadequate power can quickly ruin the appliance). You can read about various models at [Northern Tool]. A portable 1000 watt (very small) generator starts at about $225.

  25. Portable car charger battery unit (available at Walmart for about $65), plus a 12 volt DC to 120 volt AC converter (Radio Shack) -- to run a small lamp, fan, etc;

  26. If you live in an area that frequently floods, always have an adequate supply of sandbags, plywood and lumber to protect your property.

  27. You might also want to have some inexpensive "Walkie Talkies" (in case your loved one has to brave the outside, without you).

  28. Have cash on hand in case ATM's go out;

  29. If you are really serious about survival when there is an event that causes long term outages, then get a crank style flashlight & radio (do not need batteries), plus a [solar oven];

  30. Finally, put important documents such as insurance papers, a property list with serial numbers, deeds, property photos or video, and wills into a safe deposit box; then put copies of all of those papers plus a list of contact phone numbers (of people close to you) and medical instructions into a waterproof bag, and place that inside of your evacuation kit, in the event of a worse case scenario.

Suggestion: Do not store any items with the batteries inserted, to avoid damage from battery leakage. Keep the batteries in a separate small container or zip lock bag.

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