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Natural disaster preparedness.

Sunday, 28 October, 2012

Several folks I follow over this little network of ours are in the path of Hurricane Sandy, and assuming the warnings are as much blather as everything else we hear from political types this time of year. I fear many of these well meaning people are about to learn a valuable life lesson. I sincerely hope only that.

The first rule is, and especially with stronger or larger hurricanes which do not arrive without warning, get the hell away from the storm if at all humanly possible. Head inland. Possibly north or south, away from the projected impact zone of the storm. If I were in a low-lying, poorer or recently built part of the Washington Metro I would have been on the road to Pittsburgh by Saturday afternoon.

Collect everything which cannot be replaced and GTFO.

If you must stay, have the following at hand:

One gallon of bottled water per person, per anticipated day of emergency. Anticipate a minimum of 72 hours for things to just stabilize once the disaster clears. Additional gallons for the animals in your life. Fill the bathtubs with water, but use this water only for toilet flushing. Remember, if it’s yellow it’s mellow. Brown? Flush it down.

Baby wipes for sanitation, assume there will be no running water. Minimum of 20 per person per day. You can’t really go overboard on this.

There will be no running water. Plan accordingly. Do you have clean clothing for the next week for everyone? 

Food which requires neither refrigeration nor cooking and ideally very little to no water for its preparation. Over plan on this, assume you have 20% more people for 20% more days to tend to. Remember the animals! If you do a monthly food run for your animals as I do, this would be a good time to restock.

Get potato chips. They help the body retain water. Avoid caffeine as it dehydrates.

Assume there will be no electricity or gas service. No hot water. No cooking by conventional means. No refrigeration. No ice, not even at retail outlets if any remain open. No furnaces or heat.

Use propane or charcoal heat outside only. If you must, boil water then bring the hot water inside.

Collect people and their supplies if possible in one location, if for no other reason just for the collective heat.

Presume a minimum of four days of absolutely no shopping of any kind whatsoever. What stores that may be able to remain open and replenish shall be overrun. Ever seen heavily armed guys pacing around the parking lot of the Harris Teeter? You will.

Top off the tanks of all the motor vehicles on site. Collect additional fuel if you have appropriate containers available. Remember funnels to transfer fuel to vehicles made after 1994 and some others. A siphon may be useful. If you believe you have propane heated devices which may be useful, keep supplies on hand.

Collect all of your legal documentation in a waterproof container. If you must evacuate carry this with you.

In the event you are in a mandatory evacuation area and elect to stay, have your social security number and legal name written on your torso with black permanent marker to aid in your post-mortem identification. Limbs are too likely to be lost.

This is not especially fashionable, but have on hand at least one battery-powered AM radio. In the event of a proper disaster, even today, radio shall provide a vital link to important information and community services. Discover the EAS primary station in your area, and keep the radio tuned to that station. Be certain to have enough batteries on hand to last for the duration. I know rechargeable batteries are in vogue and ecomental, but this isn’t the time for that.

If at all possible keep additional, fully charged batteries for your phones. Potentially power only one phone at a time in a multi-phone household. You may use your automobiles to charge the phones. In the event of travelling by car, utilize this time always to charge as many phones as you have outlets in the car.

Candles and other emergency lighting. Those cheap crappy lanterns are ideal. You can place the lantern on a tabletop facing up and light an entire room adequately. Buy those huge bags of cheap candles from the hobby stores. Do remember proper holders or candelabras.

Make certain your working clothes, boots, gloves, etc are available and in good condition. You may have to help. You may need help.

If at all possible, attempt to enjoy the relative absence of first-world distractions. Don’t forget the board games stored up in the closet, or plenty of condoms and lube depending upon your inclinations.

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