Photo: Wikimedia Commons
By Lee Flynn
We as humans seem to think that we control the world. Sure, we’ve killed off most of our natural predators, subjugated various inhospitable environments, and just all around turned the earth into our own personal playground. But while we strut around like we own the place, nature is biding its time. That’s right; all of our tanks, jets and atom bombs aren’t worth a bent nickel when faced with the power that drives the planet.
Take hurricanes, for example. Hurricanes are nature’s way of reminding us just how fragile we are. We may give them sweet sounding names like Sandy or Katherine, but that doesn’t make them any less dangerous. They’re basically storms, except that they can grow to the size of a continent, and like to drop smaller disasters such as tornadoes and floods as they go. So, if you live in a high hurricane risk area (South, East, and Southeast United States, we’re looking in your direction) you need to know what you can do to increase your chances of survival.
How do you prepare for a storm that can simultaneously rip off your roof and dump thousands of gallons of water on your head? Well, you start by packing together some emergency kits. As amazingly adaptive as humans were back when we tamed fire, we tend to rely pretty heavily these days on our shelters and amenities.
The most basic things you will need are food, water, clothing, bedding, first aid supplies, battery operated lighting, and tools. Also, consider wrapping all of your supplies in plastic sheets, to prevent them from getting wet should flooding occur. It would also be wise to invest in an inflatable raft large enough to carry your family and some supplies, just in case.
You should also pack some communication gear, such as hand crank radios so that you can stay informed on developments with the storm. Work with your family on preparing an emergency plan, so everyone knows what to do before the storm actually hits.
As the storm approaches, stay tuned into the National Weather Service, just in case they recommend an evacuation. Of course, once they do, the roads out of town are going to become pretty congested. So if things are starting to look bad, you could always pack up the family and leave without an evacuation order. If you can’t make it out of the danger area, then at least head for high ground. Just remember, it’s better to be caught by a hurricane at home than in a car; most hurricanes give hours of advanced warning before they strike, but not all of them do.
3. Hunker down
If you are at home when the storm hits, then try to get your family to the safest part of the house. If possible, retreat to a basement or cellar. Pack yourselves into a windowless room, and remember to bring supplies. If you don’t have any windowless rooms, a large closet could suffice. Otherwise, find a large room and huddle down together in the center as far away from the doors and windows as possible.
Reinforce all of your doors and windows beforehand, either by using purchasable paneling and shutters, or by nailing heavy plywood across the openings. If the wind manages to break through a window, then it will get into the house and push upwards against the roof.
Additionally, wind can bring amazing amounts of rain into your home in seconds, causing flooding. If you live in a mobile home or on a houseboat, gather your family and your emergency kits, and head to a shelter; strong enough storms have been known to pick up trailers and toss them around like Frisbee, and boats are going to be smashed into the coastline as the hurricane makes landfall.
4. Don’t be fooled
As the eye of the storm passes over your position, things will likely become eerily quiet. The wind will stop, the rain will cease, and the sun might even come out. This doesn’t mean that it’s safe to head outside. Wait for the “all clear” from the National Weather Service before you peek your head up.
5. Pick up the pieces
Believe it or not, most of the deaths and injuries associated with hurricanes happen after the storm has passed. Carbon monoxide poisoning, generally from misused portable generators, has caused more hurricane related deaths in the past few years than flooding. Falling limbs and electrocution from downed power lines are also big hazards, and people have been known to injure themselves from falling off of roofs during cleanup.
Above all, try to stay calm as the storm approaches. Just make sure that you’re prepared and your hurricane survival kit is well stocked, and you should be able to come through it all with nothing more than a mess in your yard and a story to tell your friends.
Lee Flynn is a freelance writer interested in helping others develop self reliance through food storage.
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