As I write this, Hurricane Irma is making landfall at the tip of Southern Florida. Here in Georgia, current projections say my home, and family, are lucky enough to not get hit by the storm at its most powerful, but it’s now tracking to be a Category 3, hopefully a 2, upon its arrival in my quiet little town.
That means I’ve got precious little time to get my house, and wife (who is joyously in her third trimester of pregnancy) ready for just about anything. Being in this line of work means I’ve already got a fair amount of the emergency preparation work done, but as I’m sure many of our readers can attest, dangerous situations rarely play out the way we anticipate, and even those of us with a good deal of training in how to handle a high stakes situation can benefit from reminders now and again.
So as I prepare my house, gather supplies, and plan for our evacuation in the event we need it, I’m acutely aware that there are probably a number of you currently doing the same. After the devastation we witnessed in Texas, it’s probably safe to say that no one in Irma’s path is taking the storm warnings lightly, but just in case you need a few reminders, let me share my own efforts and strategy with you.
I’ll spare you the basic emergency supplies list; we’ve written about it before, and government sites like FEMA offer excellent and easy to use ones that you can find here. Instead, I’ll focus on what often doesn’t get covered in these lists, and some of the weird things I’ve picked up over the years.
Get all kinds of water ready
When I was a kid, my family’s home got walloped by Hurricane Bob. While lots of folks found their homes in shambles, or missing altogether, however, we were fortunate enough to still have an intact house to come home to. Unfortunately, power would be out for some time.
In his aged wisdom (terrifyingly, I think my dad was my age at the time) my father had filled both bath tubs in the house before we left, aside from the water rations he’d already set aside. That tub water could have served as emergency drinking water in a pinch, but its real value was for cooking, and for forcing our toilets to flush when it became clear that we had access to a new source of clean drinking water.
Make sure you have one gallon of water, per person, per day as a rule of thumb, and you should maintain at least enough supplies for three days. Aside from that, a tub full of water, for instance, can really make life a bit easier in the aftermath of the storm.
My house always has a bunch of canned goods in it. I’ve been waiting my entire life for Red Dawn to become a reality, after all – but because my wife is pregnant, I found myself reassessing my food storage. While I’ve always previously operated under the assumption that in a survival situation, I’d eat whatever I have to in order to survive, I find myself unable to stomach the idea of subjecting my wife and unborn child to that same fate – so I made a late night run to Walmart to pick up some meal-like canned goods she might like better than another helping of dog-food looking chili. It cost a bit more, but she’s worth it – and you are too.
With that in mind, look for calorie-dense foods when shopping. Make sure to check calories per serving as well as the number of servings per can. You’re likely not going to be able to close the can back up and save any for later, so calories per can is really what counts. A person can survive on not a whole lot in the way of calories for a fair amount of time, but if you’d like to make it to the other side of Irma without being a completely miserable person, try to ensure you’ve got a bare minimum of 2,000 calories per person per day, and preferably something closer to 3,000.
Have an evacuation plan
If you’re in an area with mandatory or strongly recommended evacuation orders, follow them. Waiting it out at home might feel like the more comfortable way to ride things out, or more cost-effective, but ultimately, it’s an unnecessary risk. There are no such orders or recommendations for my area yet, but I’m planning already for the chance that it comes down.
My brother, his wife, and their son live about a half hour south of here, and a close family friend and his wife live about an hour North. We’ve been keeping each other apprised of our preparations, and have a plan to evacuate that includes linking up with one another and heading to safety at a friend’s place in Kentucky. I recommend that anyone else in Irma’s path do the same.
Pack a three day bag with everything your family needs, and keep it close by in case you need to enact that evacuation plan sooner, rather than later.
Get gas now
When the power goes out, gas pumps stop working. Having cash on hand will help you do business on your way out of town, but a full tank of gas will get you out faster. If you’re able, go fill up today, so you’ll be able to make it through the lines of traffic that will incredibly slow your escape, without running out of gas in the middle lane on the highway.
And of course, above all, be proactive. For many of us, we’ve made careers out of surviving hairy situations, so we may be tempted to look Irma in the eye and see who blinks first just for the sake of pride and ego… but this isn’t the time. Your family is counting on you, and the first responders that will be tasked with saving your proud ass from the storm would rather not have to pluck you from your roof, no matter how cool the footage ends up looking on Facebook the next week.
Be safe out there, guys.
Feature image courtesy of the Department of Defense
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