A little Irene Emergency Prep UPDATE

I don’t know if Glenn Reynolds was ever a Boy Scout, but he is always mindful about emergency preparedness, and the coming hurricane has him Johnny-on-the-spot with useful links on getting ready, and I’m sure he’ll keep adding to it, so check him out.

Over here, we’ve been a little slow on the uptake. My Eagle-Scout-Creating husband, who is ridiculously busy at work looked up dazedly from his desk last night and said, “are we all set for this storm?”

“I think we have some tins of tuna. Pretty sure,” I said. “And, peanut butter and…maybe some Nutella.”

He sighed and returned to his report, saying, “alrighty then, glad you’re up on everything; I knew you would be!”

In truth, we were a little better prepared than that. This morning I hard-boiled 18 eggs, and then took an inventory and found the staples: Bread, milk (liquid and powdered), more eggs; check! Pasta, beans, tuna, sardines, crackers, coffee, grains, candles; check. Flashlight and Batteries; check. Brandy; check. Wine; check. Medical kit; check. Scrabble board; check. Cookies…Cookies?

I have been told by an authority that one must have cookies in supply during a hurricane. These, we did not have.

So off I trundled to my least favorite place in the world, the grocery store, where normally staid suburban New Yorkers were going out of their minds, laying in a months’ worth of provender. People buying giant slabs of Jarlsberg cheese, ordering whole pounds of ham, turkey, roast beef and baloney from the deli cases — buying gallons of milk and various meats and I thought, “silly folk; when the power goes out for a week, all those perishables will become a hassle for you. Buy rice and beans, and fruit. And Guinness, which is good for you! And cookies!”

Seriously, though, a few recommendations for the storm and aftermath. We’re not experts, but we are Scouters, so here’s what we know:

– If you have an ice-maker, start storing ice and making more. If you don’t, go buy bags of ice NOW, not later, when everyone else is trying to, and put them in your freezer, so if you need to rely on a cooler, you’ve got your stuff. You can also fill empty 2 liter soda bottles or large ziplock bags with water, and freeze them.

– Drinking water. Get lots. Fill your empty soda bottles with tapwater now, while you know it’s good. Again, with the ziplock bags — use them. If you have a clean trashcan, line it with heavy plastic bags and fill them with water, too. While the storm is raging, if you think you’re going to lose power, give the bathtub a good scrubbing and then FILL IT with water and then tell your kids if they play in it, they will have to drink it later.

– Fill your propane tanks; if you have a fireplace, get some wood inside. Yes, it’s summer, but you may have to cook in that thing.

– Don’t forget your pets! Make sure you have an adequate supply of dog/cat food (and snacks) so you don’t have to go out.

– Get your laundry done now. Especially if, like me, you have a kid headed to college on Sunday (now Monday) who still hasn’t packed. Knot a cord and whip that child until he/she has every piece of clothing they need washed and dried and folded away.

– Harvest what you can from your garden before the storm hits. This may be the last harvest you get.

– Charge everything that can be charged, gas up the cars and hang tight.

– Make sure you have bathroom tissue. Also, paper towels, paper plates and paper cups and plastic utensils; you don’t want to be wasting water supplies on clean-up unless you are super-well supplied. If you feel guilty about it, you can compost the paper goods, later.

– Pray ‘em if you know ‘em.

Melissa Clouthier, who as been to this rodeo a few times, has a supercomprehensive list of things to bear in mind or in home. I confess I hadn’t thought of bleach or cash.

I have been glued to Brendan Loy’s excellent weathernerdy twitterfeed, and recommend it to you. He’s kind enough to take time to answer questions, and everything!

UPDATE: Some tips that can save your life

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • JeffC

    I live on the Gulf Coast and here are some additional bits of advice:

    Stay away from anything perishable! You’ll lose it anyway if you are without power for more than 24 hours.

    Go easy on making the ice, if you are without power for several days, you won’t use it all.

    Make sure you have extra water on hand to use for flushing the toilet. What happens if something disrupts the water supply?

    If you don’t plywood your windows, hang blankets on the inside to muffle the noise and to slow down any glass that could fly in should something hit and break the windows.

    Hurricanes will make your house make very strange noises (our moans and sounds like a semi putting it’s breaks on). Understand that and try not to freak out about it…there’s not “getting prepared” for that one.

  • cathyf

    My FIL spent 35 years as a supermarket meat manager in central Pennsylvania, and some of his best stories were the crazy storm hoarders. One time there was a forecast of a snowstorm, and the locusts had come and picked the shelves bare. Two frazzled housewives got into a screaming match over the last tube of anchovy paste.

    I checked your list — you forgot your anchovy paste!

  • http://yahoo/facebook/gmail Clarita Glomski

    Excellent. I don’t live on the East Coast, I live in Texas where we suffer a drought, but this is a keeper just the same. Thanks sister. +++

  • Roz Smith

    Have a land line phone that doesn’t need a power exist and a paper copy of numbers to call to tell loved ones you are OK. After the Joplin tornado some people had trouble contacting family because all the phone numbers were on speed dial or stored on devices that needed electricity.

    The tools you will need afterwards like the gas grill, chain saw, extra tall ladder, etc. won’t be useful if a fallen tree squashes the utility shed where they were stored.

    Solar LED landscape lights are about $3 or less each. Stick them in the ground the morning after, bring them in at dusk and you’ll have lights in each room until the following dawn.

  • Andrew B

    My parents were both children of privation, so we were prepared for emergencies 24/7/365. Our larder was filled to bursting with canned soup, Spam, evaporated milk coffee. All my father had to do to prepare for a major storm was to make sure there was both clear and brown liquor in the house, turn the picnic table upside down and bring the candles up from the basement.

    My greatest worry now is that I no longer have a gas stove. Many were the times that my mother was the only one in the neighborhood who could cook a hot meal, since all the neighbors had switched to “modern, efficient” electric stoves. How I wish I had her old gas range now!

    [I remember the "big blackout" of, what was it, 1964 -- my mother (who was an awful, awful cook) was able to put something together using some sort of meat and canned Franco-American gravy, thanks to our gas stove. The mean was never duplicated but in my memory it was one of the best, tastiest meals she'd ever put together...and I'm pretty sure it was because it had been flavored with Adventure! -admin]

  • Cherie

    Make sure you check on any elderly or disabled neighbors or family members. Make sure they have medications they need, and all items mentioned above. Storms are a scary time to be alone.

  • Andrew B

    Ah, the Great Blackout! My father, like so many others, was trapped in New York City. My mother, who always regretted not having been able to travel west in a wagon train, sprang into action. She boiled up vast cauldrons of pasta, concocted some sort of elaborate sauce and recruited my older brother to haul it up and down the block in my red wagon, making door-to-door deliveries to our neighbors.

  • http://www.rockportconservatives.com/ Ruth H

    You can bathe in the tub if you plan to use the water in it for bathing AND then for flushing, just keep a bucket on hand to dip it and then pour into the toilet bowl. We have two tubs, we live on the Texas Gulf Coast and that is the plan for our house. We have a 3500 gal water collection tank, it hasn’t filled with rain in a long time but the well water we fill it with runs on 220v, the pump with which we the get water from it runs on 110v and our little generator can handle it. We have a propane grill we can use for cooking, and we are way too overstocked in the pantry to EVER starve.
    Good luck to all you people who are looking into the storm, we are all praying and pulling for you.

  • Win Nelson

    A friend of mine told me, when I was checking in on her and she on me, that the best advice if a hurricane is coming is to eat the ice cream, in case the power goes out.

  • http://www.ponderingpenguin.blogspot.com Karen Townsend

    Hugs and best wishes for your bout with Irene. I know exactly what you are going through and it’s not a good time. My Eagle Scout son heads back to college Monday, too.

  • http://www.emergency-survival-skills.com/ Emergency Preparedness

    Ha – I like the ice cream part! If you have a canner and canning jars on hand, you can always can the meat if it thaws out in the freezer. I can’t believe the amount of food that gets thrown away when it could simply be dried or canned after it thaws out!

  • Nancy Berube

    My aunt Sr. Irene died about 10 years ago. I think it’s about time she start working on some miracles for beatification. I’m praying to her to cause Hurricane Irene to veer out to sea. I think that would be an impressive first miracle. It’s doable.
    My West Point Cadet is home for another week before heading to France for a Semester there.
    So, Sr. Irene, pray for us.

  • Jan

    Great tip: Use GSE, grapefruit seed extract in any water you want to drink 1-10 drops kills anything biological (won’t help chemically poisoned tho) but doesn’t hurt you at all. Also is great to kill germs (diluted – very potent) on injuries. Remember the First Aid Kit, and not just the small ones – have lots of extra guaze and tape on hand. Also, the Car Charger units: (Charge now! ) charge cell phones; get converter that has one end [car charger male end / other end three hole socket female end] then you can use small appliaces/lamp in the car charger unit. If you plan on cooking on wood fire stove, put some small tables nearby from which to work. If you have to immerse a rag in your standing water, don’t wring it out back in water. Try not to contaminate water source with various immersion devices – use only one, and don’t immerse the handle where you are touching. Use secondary [bowl, pots] water sources for cleaning, not main “clean” source.

  • http://www.hermitofbardstown.com Stephen Taylor

    I agree, cookies are a must in all stressful situations. I’m doing a prayer vigil until Irene passes by.

  • Barry Hudock

    And while we’re at it, don’t forget an extra prayer for the many folks in the storm’s path — the number is surely in the millions — who simply can’t afford all the extras that so many people are recommending to have on hand, and who must simply hope for the best.

  • Mark L

    Two pieces of advice

    1. Run from the water, hide from the wind. A modern building in good shape will *not* get blown over by hurricane winds. If you are in a building higher than the possible surge tide, stay put. You are safer there than in a car trying to evacuate. If you are in a building with an elevation lower than the possible surge tide, evacuate, even if, in theory, the water will only get a foot or so above the floor. There are things called waves that batter down houses.

    Staying put if your home won’t get flooded is important — even if you are in an evacuation zone. Politicians set evacuation zones to protect themselves, not the public. Politicians are more concerned about the bad optics that occur when some fool walks out during the storm and drowns in a ditch than the risks to their constituents trapped on a jammed highway 50 miles north of their jurisdiction. So they set evacuation zones far in excess of what is needed.

    It is not just about you. It is about your neighbors, too. Fools that evacuate unnecessarily — especially those that leave an area well inland because they prefer to avoid the inconvenience of doing without electricity for a few days clog the roads, preventing those that actually *need* to go to higher ground from reaching safety.

    Hurricane-spawned tornadoes might destroy a house, but they get worse inland. You cannot run away from them because they will track you across a state. I know. We almost got hit by hurricane-spawned tornadoes in Austin after we evacuated from Galveston County one time. And there were no tornadoes in my home town.

    2. Get the biggest open-topped container you have, fill it with water, and put it in your freezer a day or two before a hurricane arrived. If it is fully frozen, a five gallon block of ice will keep your freezer chilled for a week, if the freezer isn’t opened. Useful whether you stay or go.

  • http://coalitionoftheswilling.net Mr. Bingley

    Insta linked to us a couple of times, but it doesn’t hurt to look at this again.

    Lots of hard-earned tips.

  • GP Hanner

    Hey. How ’bout some fishing line and hooks so you can catch carp in the soon-to-be-flooded sloughs?

    Naw. It could get that bad.

  • http://www.thecottagechild.blogspot.com the cottage child

    Knot a cord and whip that child until he/she has every piece of clothing they need washed and dried and folded away.

    LOL, don’t wait until college looms, start in Jr High, rinse, repeat, until they leave your home.

    Very nice list. We live in a “not a drop to drink” community – if it’s clean, we put fresh water in it. And then, of course, Guinness and cookies.

  • http://www.ilike.com/artist/Ritchie+the+Riveter Ritchie The Riveter

    To add to Mark L.’s advice, it’s also about our first responders when it comes to staying vs. going.

    Do make sure that there is NO chance you won’t have to run from the water, before you decide to stay in the face of an evac order … for your rescue can put your rescuers at great risk.

    I couldn’t believe it this morning, watching News12 (the cable company’s exclusive channel that focuses on Long Island) and seeing them interview a lady who is staying in her 7th-floor oceanfront apartment on Long Beach. I’ve driven by this building … and there is a high probability that it will be an island by tomorrow; any rescue would have to be by boat — in the face of waves that normally would break well away from that building.

    As for me, I am over two miles inland from the Great South Bay … with Fire Island, about three more miles out, between the bay and open ocean. Flooding for us should be minor at worst, but we are prepared for an extended power outage (not including cookies, but including chocolate!). As long as our windows hold up (and there are no tornadoes), we will shelter in place.

  • http://Dumbolddad.blogspot.com Dedicated_Dad

    My best tip: pack any extra space in your freezer full of water-bottles.

    First, the more full it is, the longer it will stay frozen!
    Second, it’s easy to move some to the’fridge to keep it cool too…
    Lastly, when they thaw you can drink them, and they’ll still be COLD!

    They can last through many freeze/thaw cycles, so you can use them over and over!



  • http://houseofzathras.com Mrs. Who

    I’m a life-long Gulf Coast resident and have been through many hurricanes. All of these items are good…but you also need ‘hurricane undies’. 100% Cotton. If you are without power for several days in the hottest days of summer, they are very, very necessary to your comfort.

  • http://caseyknits.wordpress.com Casey

    Candles (in big, heavy holders) and flashlights (and lots of batteries for those) are also essential.

    Something to do that doesn’t involve electricity or leaving the house is a good idea too – I have my knitting, boyfriend has books to read – because honestly, the last thing ANYONE needs in a natural catastrophe is to sit there panicking about the world coming to an end (I’ve seen a lot of this online over the past 2 days). Distract yourself, fergodsakes. Think of it as Mother Nature’s way of telling you to take a day to sit around, relax, eat ice cream, and finish that book. ;)

    I’m so glad someone else has the “WTF are you buying perishables for??” mentality. I’ve never understood the logic.

    [I forgot to mention that one can create a candle from a can of crisco and some string... -admin]