I’m taking a bit of a break from discussing hypnosis related topics today to discuss hurricane preparation. I am also, as you see, posting this drastically early as I normally post on Sundays. While I do pre-schedule the blogs, I think this is important to go out before the hurricane. The post on James Braid has been moved out to October.
With Hurricane Irma having already made landfall in the islands and eyeing Florida and not terribly long after Hurricane Harvey hit Houston, a friend’s post on Facebook made me realize how people just don’t understand how to prepare for hurricanes.
My family has been in Hollywood Florida for nearly 60 years. I was born there and grew up there. We had hurricane prep courses every year in elementary school until we could recite things in our sleep and so that we could help our parents prepare for the season.
We knew when the power was likely to go out. A lot of power lines are stable in even a category 1. Senior year of high school, I drove in a category 1 hurricane that made landfall because Broward County still had not called off school by the time I left my house. We didn’t board the house. We didn’t even tend to lose power at a category 2 most of the time. We would only board the house for about category 3 and higher.
Here are things that Floridians were taught as children to how to prepare for a hurricane so we can help our parents when the time comes and most importantly, we don’t freak out. If you keep the kids calm and teach them to help instead of teaching them to panic, things are much safer and lives are saved. I had a severe anxiety disorder as a child and hurricanes were the one thing I never worried about.
At the beginning of the season (May/June), take a brief inventory of your shelf stable foods and batteries. If you don’t have enough for 1-2 weeks foodwise, go out and purchase. Remember you want things that require little to no prep. Some like getting MREs. I think they are overpriced, but they will last several years. If you look in my pantry and utility cabinet, you will see I have normal Tuna, completely prepared and stable precooked tilapia in several different styles (ideally one should heat them but they are fine if not), salmon, peanut butter, different sauces, shelf stable milk, several boxes of cereal, soups, chocolate, and lots of drinks both alcohol and non-alcohol. Utility closet has a container of batteries and more food (actually that is where the peanut butter is if I can be honest). I buy things on clearance and save it. I don’t even still live in Florida (Georgia remember) but this behaviour is completely ingrained in, just as the school system intended. Most of this would be used in cat 3 and higher. Really you are also avoiding price gouging.
As you see a hurricane ready to hit in a few days, reassess what you have and need. Know where your first aid kit is and be sure it is stocked. Make sure any Rx drugs you need you have. My kit will be different from your kit and mine is overkill for a standard hurricane in general, but I am an EMT so have more advanced training and am frequently on emergency medical response. (I was in Emergency Medical Response for Hurricane Matthew and I’ve volunteered again for Hurricane Irma.)
Know where your hurricane lantern is or get a flashlight it really doesn’t matter. Lanterns are better though. Confirm you have batteries for it. I don’t like candles but you can use it. If you have or use a radio that has a battery, make sure it’s ready to go. Board up all the windows for bigger hurricanes. Shutters are better, but if you have to use wood, you can but it’s really not ideal. If you have pets, make sure they have spare food. Normally this isn’t an issue because people buy food in bulk for pets anyway. Start pulling in anything outside. Consider doing laundry and such now when you are under a watch just so in case you have issues with water later at least you have clean clothing although really it’s the last thing I worry about in a hurricane. Some people insist though.
Store 72 hours worth of water for drinking. You want about 1 gallon per person per day. You are unlikely going to use it all as I know no one who actually drinks it, plus you are likely going to still have drinkable water for a while. Recommend also buying something like a drinking water tablet. You can get a pack of 50 for $6 on amazon and each pill disinfects 6 gallons for drinking. If you don’t want the pills, you can boil the water or buy a life straw. In order to save yourself a bunch of money when storing water, either reuse old milk jugs or get a huge plastic storage tote and fill it. Some people just fill a tub and use that for toilet water, I assume because they don’t clean their tubs. I remember Mom cleaning the tub before Andrew hit and we filled it with water. If you use the storage container, they tend to be cleaner and it’s easier to get over the psychological block of drinking from the tub. I personally never cared. Make sure you have some water for the animals too although I have spare from my water so I don’t worry about it. If needed the dogs can drink the water I stored and I can have a beer or something. Beer and other spirits are helpful to have even if you don’t drink because they can be used to help clear wounds.
Ok now you are under a warning and it’s gonna hit. Charge ALL THE THINGS. Notice how I am suggesting charging things really just before the hurricane hits. I’m sure you realize how fast a phone can drain and l-rd knows no one has a landline anymore. If you can dig up some of those spare cell phone batteries and store them. When you are charging ALL the things, make sure your pets go out and I would even suggest keeping them on a leash even if you are in the backyard because animals want to escape the storm and if they escape they might die. Your house is probably the safer place but they really don’t know that. While reminds me, if you do have outside pets, try to bring them in. Let’s say they aren’t housebroken, put them in a room where they can’t destroy anything. Yea they are going to pee and poop inside but it is more localized and probably better than leaving them out in the storm. If you have like big animals like horses, I hope the barn is stable and built. I legitimately have no idea what farmers do for livestock (Florida is number 3 in cattle but I don’t know as that isn’t covered in standard prep.) Top off your gas tank. If you are under evacuation do your best to leave. Get a few bucks from the ATM although that will be entertaining since no one knows how to make change anymore and if you are going to a restaurant, many of them will be no better off than you.
So the storm is hitting and you are hungry and the electricity is still on, I personally go eat the stuff in my fridge which would be the first to go in a long term power outage. If you do lose power, only access the fridge for a short amount of time. Like as in it would be best if you knew what you wanted and knew exactly where it was. Since some medications ideally should be kept temperature controlled you want to make sure you know where they are in your fridge too. You want to assure everything stays cold enough. Some people in order to assure their frozen stuff stays frozen, will use additional blue ice packs or something similar. You know the type of packs. It can’t hurt, but might be overkill. We didn’t have power after Andrew for like a week or so and all our frozen stuff was fine simply because we never opened the freezer and we didn’t do any special prep. Honestly since we had no electricity we couldn’t heat the food anyway! All we could do was eat ice cream which would be the first to melt anyway. Your freezer can usually maintain an appropriate temperature for a few days if it is working properly.
Don’t waste your phone battery. Do try to get periodic updates though so an emergency weather radio is a “nice to have” if you don’t have a battery operated one. You can get a hand cranked one if you want. Take this time to sleep if you have no power. In my case, calm insane dogs. If you do have power, play board games with family or read a book. Storms don’t last forever. If you go to the bathroom, you want to conserve water too. “If it’s yellow let it mellow, if it’s brown flush it down.”
If outside gets really super calm, it might just be the eye. Now would be a time to have a VERY quick potty break for your dogs. Rush back inside as it’s the winds around the eye which are the most powerful. Wait for more information for weather.
When storm is over, assess for damages. Call your family. Call your insurance. Don’t pay price gouging. People are greedy and you are just encouraging the behaviour.
Now that I gave you a bunch of tips to help yourself, I want to also encourage you to thank those who had to remain at work.
Both my parents worked for the media. My father worked for Channel 7 WSVN and was there on skeleton crew during Hurricane Andrew to assure you were able to get updates. My mother was luckily sent home early from her radio job just a few hours before the hurricane hit only because they knew she had a minor child at home (me) and that they knew my Dad was going to be at the station. Some of the unsung heroes are the media.
I also want you to make sure you respect people like the EMTs, Police, Firefighters, and those who work at other medical services like hospitals (so doctors, nurses, etc) to assure you are safe. They are still at work during the storm and may be missing (and worrying about) their families so that you don’t have to worry about yours.
If anyone has additional tips they want me to include, drop me an email.
Born and raised in Hollywood Florida and survivor of multiple hurricanes, Melvin S. Marsh is a certified hypnotherapist in Augusta, Georgia. He performs hypnotherapy appointments both in person and worldwide via Skype. He can be reached at http://www.afterhourshypnotherapy.com or afterhourshypnotherapy @ gmail.com . If you found this blog useful, feel free to become a patron on Patreon.