September 7, 2017

Preparing for my umpteenth hurricane

At this writing, a Category 5 hurricane has aimed its entire force toward Florida, so we’ve been making preparations all week. This isn’t new for us. We’ve weathered so many hurricanes – from Camille in Biloxi to Matthew in Florida - I’ve actually lost count.

This time, though, my husband and I live in a 112-year-old house. Since a huge magnolia tree resides outside our bedroom window, we may need to sleep in our basement – a rare space in Florida, but I'm grateful we have one. Getting it and everything else ready, however, takes time, planning, and experiences, such as brushing my teeth with Pepsi, that have helped me know what tips to share! For instance:

If you’re in the path of Irma or any other storm, remove and store away lawn furniture, yard toys, garbage cans, and other outside items as soon as possible. Left outdoors these will become projectiles, hurling through space and into a roof or window. Also:

• Keep your prescriptions filled and medications with you.

• Keep a list of important phone numbers with you, including business cards from your insurance agent and others you may need to contact.

• Keep important papers and photos with you. You might also scan these and save to Google Photos. If you have a lot of photographs or scanned files, this will take a while. (My 3,000 photos took 3 days to upload.)

• Pack an overnight bag or large purse with the above items and plenty of cash in small bills. If the electricity goes out, stores won’t be able to swipe your bank or credit cards.

• Have at least a couple of jugs of water per person. This is crucial if you have an electric-powered well pump or if you live in a flood zone where water supplies will likely be contaminated.

• Pack your freezer with fresh water frozen in various sizes of containers. These blocks of ice take longer to melt than those bags of ice you probably won’t be able to find anyway. The freezer section of a fairly new refrigerator will usually stay cold longer than most coolers, plus water from home is safer to drink than melted ice from a bag.

• Stock up on canned goods, fruit, bread, and other foods that don’t require refrigeration.

• Cook up meat in your freezer, then refreeze meal portions that can be eaten if merely thawed.

• Have a battery-operated radio on hand. This is vital, so you can keep up with the storm’s progress, find out where to go in an emergency, and stay informed about conditions in your area.

• Stock up on flashlights and batteries of the correct size.

• Top off your gas tank. If electricity goes out, pumps can’t operate. Also, it may be a while after a big storm before gas supplies return.

• Back up your computer files. A flash drive will do, but I loaded my Word files onto OneDrive and Google Docs.

• Fill large pots and pans with water and cover. You might need this water to flush a toilet, wash up, and, yes, brush your teeth.

• Have a bag of charcoal and/or a filled container for a gas grill to use for cooking or making coffee. After several hurricanes with no coffee for days, we got a stainless steel coffee pot for campfire use – best coffee I’ve ever had!

Most of all, pray! Thank God for being with you. Let your family and friends know where you’ll be, and stay safe.

Mary Harwell Sayler, ©2017

If you have other suggestions, please add them in the Comments section below. Thanks and blessings.

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