Health, Nature, New England, Snow, Winter

Hurricane Preparedness 2011: Smartphone Up!

The smartest thing you can get for hurricane preparedness is an off-grid charger for your cell phone.  A cell phone — particularly a smartphone — can serve as “find me” whistle, flashlight, information channel, family finder, and so much more.  Remember that smartphones especially have a short battery life.  This cannot be over-emphasized.  Nokero’s solar charger is good, see details here.  Or go to your nearest Sprint store or Whatever store or go to Best Buy and see what they have.

A serious hurricane in New England?  My father sat through a hurricane in 1938 that took down almost all the trees around Lake Sunapee, New Hampshire — where the family had a summer house.

new england hurricane 38 new hampshire
1938 hurricane in NH - photo by Peter Roome http://www.flickr.com/photos/roome/

EMERGENCY KIT  From experience, then, the Sensible Yankee hurricane emergency kit includes basics.  You can get through just about anything with:

  1. two gallons of water (supermarket)
  2. your eyeglasses/contact lenses/sunglasses/reading glasses
  3. your meds
  4. a sleeping bag or blanket or warm winter coat, pillows are nice
  5. non-perishable food (eg, canned food with can opener, Twinkies, Powerbars)
  6. extra flashlights and batteries
  7. Swiss Army Knife

Online, it appears the government preparedness instructions haven’t changed much since 1938.

FEMA has you storing up “moist towelettes” (?), a dust mask (?), a NOAA Weather Radio (no one under 40 knows what that is) and traveler’s checks (what?).

Suggestion: start with phone and off-grid charger and our Sensible Yankee list, above.  Then add stuff from their list if you have an encyclopedia, historical reference guide, and a lot of time to identify dated items and shop at 12 different stores and wait in line at a bank for traveler’s checks (again, what?).

OVERNIGHT BAG  Pack, because you may need to evacuate or you may not be able to find your stuff under stress.  Pretend you’re going camping for 3 days and pack accordingly.  Include toothpaste, toothbrush, medications, vitamins, clothes; all the things you normally need.

If you’ve never been camping, pack as if you’re going to the wrong side of Detroit for three days and staying in a half-star motel with no fridge or running water.  Bring your own blankets, sheets & pillow.  Leave your strappy high-heeled sandals behind.

CHILDREN  If you have small children, and it’s not possible to travel to a safe place, then collect your gear and put it all in one place:  a safe, windowless room, as if you’re about the load the car for a 3 day camping trip.  Now you’re ready to evacuate if you need to, and you know where all your stuff is either way: your clothes, water, food, cookstove, candles or lanterns, etc. are all in one place.

Treat it like a fun camping-trip sort of adventure — kids often react to these things the same way you do.  For details and (you guessed it) a more extensive list of obscure stuff, see http://www.ready.org.

FLYING GLASS  Most injuries in a serious storm come from flying glass and debris, usually puncture wounds.  This is one of those incredibly obvious things we don’t think of.  So:  during the actual storm, keep away from windows and exterior doors.  This is for real.  The basement or closet or bathroom is likely safest, e.g., rooms with fewest portals to the outside.

PETS  Put pet food, leash, an extra gallon of water, their favorite blanket, and their favorite chew toy in a plastic garbage bag — put it in the trunk of the car — with their crate — now or as close to now as you can.  We emphasize now because pet care is the easiest to ignore in an urgent situation and as a result causes the most heartache.  Don’t even flirt with it.  Here’s more from FEMA on pets — but we didn’t have time to read all that.

UTILITIES   If a serious hurricane is coming your way and you own your home or are responsible for your home, shut off your utilities.  Here’s how.

If you’re like most people under 40 who only read 40 words of any given web page and never read the manual:  get a neighbor to come over and show you how to shut off utilities.  People like to show off what they know and you get a custom lesson — you also get to find out what a monkey wrench actually is, and how to use one, which is kind of fun.

Junk in the trunk  On a preparedness note, if you’re not a New England native, you may not know this:  in northern winter months from September –> May it’s imperative to always have in your car anyway:

  1. a blanket or sleeping bag
  2. old but still functional hat, mittens, gloves
  3. old wool sweater, just in case
  4. an old (super-warm) coat you wouldn’t wear unless you had to
  5. at least one flashlight, loaded with good batteries, preferably two flashlights
  6. Swiss Army Knife (canopener, screwdriver, knife)
  7. water bottle (you may need to fill it)
  8. off-grid smartphone charger

Believe me, you’ll feel better having these things.

Here’s FEMA’s take: http://www.fema.gov/help/widgets/prepared_hurricane.html

The truth is that if you have a cell phone and an off-grid charger, you can just call for help, company, or pizza delivery.

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