We’re in the early stages of tropical storm and hurricane season, with a recent landfall event on Oak Island and reports of a serious storm’s arrival on the Gulf Coast this week already in the news. Unfortunately, Sanford and Lee County are no strangers to severe weather and the impact of power outages and severe water and wind damage. Before our news reports of empty water, bread and milk shelves at the store take place later this year, let’s consider some ways to plan ahead and minimize severe weather impacts in your home. Particularly if you live in a flood-prone area, here is a combination of familiar and creative approaches to consider.
Charge your devices, stock up on batteries and non-perishable foods, and know where to find flashlights, in the event you need one in a darkened house. When you plan that one last grocery store run, here are some items worth putting on your list: insect repellent, paper plates and utensils, duct tape and more canned food. If your store is out of water, look for juices and other healthy options to keep the family hydrated. Be sure to buy a non-electric can-opener if you don’t have one.
Take advantage of your access to electricity and make some extra ice. By filling your freezers with airtight bags of ice and closed plastic bottles of frozen water/ice, you can use these to cool down when the power is out. Want to think outside the box? Use your washing machine as a cooler as well. You can fill it up with ice and close the lid to keep items cool. And don’t worry about what to do when the ice begins to melt. Remember, washing machines are designed to drain water. In a similar way, if you are on well water, take advantage of the calm before any threatening storm to fill bathtubs with water. It will come in handy if you lose power at some point.
Put science to work, to light darkened rooms more effectively. Here’s a cleaver idea … Tape a flashlight to the bottom of plastic water bottle, with the flashbulb light aimed at the water above it. You wind up creating a lantern-like effect and cast much more light in the room than a flashlight can by itself.
Finally, store your valuables and water-sensitive items carefully. Plastic bins, garment bags and plastic sheets can help minimize water damage to clothes, shoes, books and the like. If you’re really worried about flooding, store your small electronics and important documents in your dishwasher and close it up. As in the case of our washing machine example, dishwashers are designed to safely keep water in and out.
Are you interested in more ideas, or want to make sure you haven’t overlooked anything? Visit the Red Cross website for a complete Hurricane Preparedness Checklist.