It’s been an odd week for Central Virginia: a 5.9 earthquake earlier in the week, several significant aftershocks, swamp fires and now Hurricane Irene is bearing down on the East Coast. While it’s unlikely that my county will experience an actual hurricane, we are expected to be hit with tropical storm force winds and significant rain. Around here, that usually means no power for at least a day. During Hurricane Isabel, many were without power for days, many for weeks. Fortunately, the media talks about these looming crises non-stop so there was ample time to prepare. The last thing I want to do if disaster hits is panic because I’m unprepared especially as I have a Type 1 diabetic to look after.
Don’t Assume Anything
Yes, we all know the media can “over-exaggerate” and we may have become desensitized to threatening forecasts and pending disasters. However, earthquakes happen unexpectedly and hurricanes can turn on a dime. It’s difficult for weather people to predict actual outcomes. So assume the worst and pray for the best. Conspiracy theories that I’ve seen on Facebook and Twitter claiming that the government and the media and (really??) even the retail establishments are blowing this out of proportion bore me. The last I heard, these institutions were made up of people and people are inherently good. I doubt they all collaborate to cause pandemonium just to sell a loaf of bread. The point is, if you see dire predictions over and over, believe them and get ready.
Although this seems like a no-brainer, you wouldn’t believe the stuff that people buy during a crisis. Alcohol, of course, seems to be a huge seller. Be smart. Don’t drink during a hurricane or any type of disaster. If a tree falls on your house, if your roof blows off, if windows break, you will need your wits about you. People buy frozen foods too! Why? If you lose power, guess what? Those tater tots are gonna go bad. Be smart. Buy stuff that is non-perishable: peanut butter, granola bars, instant coffee (yes, it will be cold unless you have a gas hot water heater but it will still be caffeine which you might need), cans of tuna. You get the drift.
Prepare for power outages by doing all your laundry while you still have electricity. Make a big pot of coffee, cook up some frozen food for breakfast. Do anything you can do to get prepared in advance. If nothing happens, you have some good food, clean clothes and ample caffeine for the day!
If you waited too long to get supplies, don’t bother going to places like home improvement stores or big retail discount stores. Go to your local pharmacy. People avoid those because the prices are higher but who cares if you pay twenty more cents for a battery when you really need one. I found a great LED book light on the Walgreens shelf for less than $10!
Keep one stocked. Add to it as time and money permit. I wonder about people who need to rush out to buy a flashlight during a storm. They cost a buck - go get one now. Have candles and hurricane glass containers to keep them in. Buy matches or a good lighter. Know where your tarp is in case you need to cover up a window. Have a tool kit with a hammer and some nails. I know that my attic floor is just several sheets of plywood - you bet if I need to board up a window, guess what is coming up?? Fill some pitchers up with water. If you have alcohol to drink, you might not think you need it; but if water is contaminated, you will. You are going to want to wash, flush your toilet, and have water on hand for your pets. Even fill up the tub - you’ll be glad you did.
The best app I ever got for my phone was a document scanner. It cost about $5.00 but you take a photo of your important papers and then the scanner turns it into a PDF which you can save or email to yourself for safe keeping. I scanned my insurance papers (both home and auto), phone numbers and my pet records. I also did a quick video of everything in my house for insurance purposes.
So you can’t control the weather, you can’t control the hype; you pretty much can’t control anything except the way you react to things. If you have most bases covered, you can still stay sane during a crisis so you can focus on taking care of yourself and your loved ones.