Timely Hurricane Hints from someone who’s been there and done that:
FIRST: DO NOT RUN GENERATORS INSIDE THE HOUSE OR IN THE GARAGE, PERIOD. Every storm, someone dies of carbon monoxide poisoning, and usually takes someone else with them. Now that you’ve read this, there’s NO EXCUSE.
SECOND: Don’t use your phone to stream movies and similar stuff. Bandwidth will be jammed for days. Text whenever possible, rather than calling by voice. It will keep the phone system open for emergencies. Even cell systems get clogged up. Texts are more likely to go through anyway.
You can charge your phone in the car (watch your gas; the motor doesn’t have to be running if you have a decent battery). You can also charge it from a Universal Power Supply after unplugging it from the wall and unplugging the computer and printer, etc. It won’t run them long, but it will charge a phone several times even if the UPS (APC) is pretty old.
1. When prep is finished, BE SURE to take a good shower before the hot water dies. It will probably be your last warm one for several days. Believe it! This storm will take down trees and power lines all over the state of FL, and most likely in GA and SC too.
2. If you’re at the store, pick up some Woolite or other cold-water washing detergent. No power = no washing machine and no laundromat. In a pinch, use liquid hand soap or TINY amounts of dish detergent. Did I say TINY amounts?
3. You will need hand sanitizer, too. Lots. Your water supply may be compromised. You can still use it to wash, but use sanitizer afterward. THIS IS ESPECIALLY IMPORTANT IF YOU ARE IN AN AREA WHERE FOLKS USE SEPTIC TANKS. Water leached from septic tanks by flooding can contaminate both surface water and wells.
Halazone tablets or 5 drops of Tincture of Iodine to one quart of water, shaken and allowed to sit for an hour, will get the nasties out of your water if needed. Use 10 drops if the water is cloudy.
You can filter crud out of the water through a microfiber towel, doubled paper towel, or coffee filter, but it will not purify the water; just makes it look better. ONLY A REVERSE OSMOSIS SYSTEM will purify water without adding chemicals as mentioned above.
4. Remember: NO COMBUSTION LIKE CHARCOAL FIRES OR CANNED HEAT WITHOUT VENTILATION. Not likely, given there’ll be no A/C, but it needs mentioning.
5. Get some dead tree books, or charge up your e-reader. You need to keep your phone charged for emergencies. Don’t read on it unless you have lots of backup charging available. Turn your screen to the lowest usable level. It uses more of your battery than anything else on the phone. Use the kill feature on your phone to put unneeded apps to sleep.
If you have apps on your phone that are eating up power, just uninstall them for the duration, then reinstall later. You probably don’t need them, anyway. Yes, even Facebook!
6. Don’t depend on cooking or heating, and certainly not on refrigeration. Canned beans taste fine with a little vinegar and spices and there are lots of foods that you’d normally heat up that are just fine cold, like canned cord and packaged custards, Spam, some sausages and cheeses, and so forth. Use your imagination. Shop accordingly.
7. This is a great time to get to know your neighbors. Many hands make light work. Just before hurricane Wilma, everyone on our floor got together and pooled our perishables we had on hand for a huge feast! It was incredible fun, and we all bonded more than we had in the previous several years.
8. Try not to bitch. It brings you down, and everyone around you. If you can’t lighten up, talk to one person about it and get it out of your system.