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Surviving A Hurricane

Hurricane Damage in New OrleansHurricane season starts June 1st. While most hurricanes occur in September, now is the time to get prepared. There are things you need to have on hand and preparations to make. The best advice is to evacuate; however, if you do find yourself in the aftermath of a hurricane, survival will be the order of the day.

Be assured that relief agencies Such as the Red Cross will try to bring aid and assistance in as soon as the storm has passed, but it will take time. Power lines and fallen trees will block the roads that haven't been washed away. In addition, they must determine the kind of aid that is needed. It takes time.

Hurricanes last for at least a few hours. The rebuilding lasts for weeks, maybe months. Get used to roughing it. You will probably spend one to two weeks without electricity, telephone and running water. Unless you are flooded, you will probably still have natural gas, but don't count on it.

Lacking the above utilities, you will be without communication, refrigeration, electric appliances, safe potable water and sewage service; this will mean that gas stations, grocery stores and retail merchants will be closed also. Assuming that you have shelter, you will need clean, safe water, a method of cooking (and boiling water), and a supply of food. All work will be manual, and there will be risks of injury from the damage caused by the storm.

Some things to prepare for:

No Electricity

  • Batteries for flashlights, radios, etc.;
  • Stock your refrigerator and freezer (fill empty spaces with containers or water/ice if necessary) to preserve your food;
  • Electric kitchen appliances will be useless (if your range is electric, have a barbecue grill handy);
  • "Strike anywhere" matches, candles, fire starters (even a magnifying lens);
  • Manual hand tools.

Make sure that everyone is safe! Check for damage. Look for broken glass, sharp objects, damaged roof, leaking gas, dangerous debris, and check for fallen power lines. You may be without electricity, but fallen power lines may be live, and could kill. If you see any, don't touch, but post warning signs.

No Water

  • Have a supply of safe drinking water, and a larger supply of water for washing, etc.
  • Have a supply of ordinary bleach.
  • Have provisions for catching, filtering, disinfecting and boiling rain water;

Obtain safe water
Assume that all water (including tap water) is contaminated. If you had a supply of bottled water on hand before the storm, it will be okay, as long it was not in flood waters. Other sources of water should be filtered, disinfected (you can use household bleach) and boiled. Disinfecting tablets may be purchased at most sporting goods retailers. Water can be made safe, also, by adding a small amount of common chlorine bleach to clear, filtered water (about 12 drops per quart, let stand for a few hours). Just make sure that your container has been disinfected, also.

You should have filled bathtubs and large containers of water to be used for washing and cleaning, also. If necessary, you can collect rain water for these purposes, as well as for cooking and drinking. Just make sure that you gather the cleanest water available.

No stores open for business

  • Keep your gas tank filled.
  • Keep a good supply of canned and non-perishable food on hand.
  • Have adequate First Aid supplies.

Conserve food
Conserve food, and obtain safe drinking water. If your refrigerator and freezer were full, your food should be safe for several days. Avoid excessive opening of the doors, in order to maintain the temperature.

Plan your meals
Your first meals should be from perishable foods in your refrigerator, especially meats and fish, since they will be the first to spoil, otherwise. When these items from the refrigerator are finished, begin using those items from the freezer. Your canned goods should be saved for last. They will be safe.

Starting a fire is important
Starting a fire is important, but can pose a danger. We are not used to having candles or open flame in the house. Carelessness could result in the loss of what is left; but fire is important for cooking and boiling water. An outdoor grill or Bar-B-Que pit would be excellent.

If there is an abundance of perishable food, you could cook it in a large container, and keep it on the fire, adding clean water and food regularly. This is what some primitive peoples do, since cooking food remains safe much longer than food at room temperature. Seasonings such as salt and pepper help preserve the food, also.

There will be much work to be done, using saws, prying tools, etc. Keep the First Aid kit handy. Hopefully, things will return to normal before you need to start hunting and gathering!