Editor’s Note: This is part 2 of The Semi-Official Humorless Twit 2003 Hurricane Season Un-Preparedness Guide. Part 1 appeared in the May, 2003 issue.
September’s a little late in the hurricane season to be talking much about hurricanes, but hey, I’m sure many of you remember late-season storms from recent years. That said, what better time than the present to continue with The Semi-Official Humorless Twit 2003 Hurricane Season Un-Preparedness Guide.
If you missed the first installment, it appeared in the May issue. I know, I know, now I’m making you dig out your old copy. But you see, if you were like me, it would be framed and hanging on the wall or something so you’d know where you can find it at all times!
We left off last time at the end of “Important Hurricane-Related Terms…”
A big question for many South Florida residents when a hurricane threatens is whether or not to evacuate. There are a number of factors you should consider first:
Do you have some place to go? Hotels are going to fill up fast when a hurricane threatens. Can you stay at the house of a friend or family member, such as that freeloading brother-in-law who always seems to show up at your doorstep unannounced and ends up staying for a month? If so, this is the perfect opportunity for payback!
Have your escape route mapped out, along with alternate routes. You already know how bad traffic is down here during normal conditions, so imagine driving during an emergency. Be prepared: take a gun with you (so you can force other drivers out of your way) and make sure your horn works so you can blast anyone driving slower than you. In fact, now might be a good time to get that super-loud truck horn you’ve always wanted.
Listen to TV or radio for the order to evacuate. If you live in an announced evacuation zone, be prepared to move when the order comes. In fact, be prepared to move anyway so you can be in front of everyone else and then drive at just ten miles an hour to make them angry.
Make sure to bring important supplies with you. You’ll need the following:
-“Other” drugs, if you know what we mean (nod, nod, wink, wink).
-Bedding, pillows, your security blanket, your teddy bear, your Scooby-Doo slippers, etc.
-Bottled water, flashlight, battery-operated radio, first aid kit, extra batteries, other “necessary” battery-operated devices you absolutely can’t go without.
-Car keys, maps, devices for breaking into and hotwiring your car (or someone else’s in case your car is badly damaged as a result of the hurricane).
-Important documents including your driver’s license, Social Security card, marriage and birth certificates, divorce certificate, proof of residence, insurance policies, divorce certificate, wills, divorce certificate, deeds, divorce certificate, tax records, divorce certificate and divorce certificate.
You’re going to need some essential items to make it through a hurricane and through the period of recovery after the storm. Unless you’re 100 percent sure you can mooch from a friend or neighbor, you should probably get these items now. Waiting until a hurricane watch or warning are announced means you’ll be fighting with everyone else in South Florida who procrastinated, including us, to get what’s left over at the stores. Including such wonderful items as pork rinds, generic store-brand powdered milk and the last tiny, dirty, squished bottle of water, priced at $10.
Here’s what you should have in the event of a hurricane:
-A first aid kit. This should include some sort of cleansing solution for wounds (such as hydrochloric acid), an ointment to aid in the healing of wounds (such as Preparation H) and a supply of those bandages with the cartoon characters on them.
-Any prescription medications you might have. Try to get at least a 30-day supply–you never know if looters might get to your nearby drugstore after the storm and then it’ll be some time before you can get more of your medications.
-“Other” medications. Hey, a hurricane is stressful, why not relax when you get the chance?
-Bottled water. Most experts suggest one gallon per person per day, for a minimum ranging up to ten days. Of course, if you’ve been into a Publix or Winn-Dixie after a hurricane watch is announced, you’ll swear the so-called “experts” have told people to get a lifetime supply of bottled water. Then the one person who buys all the water in the store has the audacity to want to return his one thousand gallon jugs of water after the hurricane watch is lifted. And he’s usually in front of you in line with all that water the next time you visit the store. Jeez! Seriously, here’s a little-known fact (and one that will help you avoid the situation mentioned above): you can go to a camping supply store, sporting goods store, or the sporting goods department of a department store and buy plastic water containers for use during a hurricane. Just don’t fill them up until a hurricane watch is actually announced–the water can get bacteria if it’s stored too long. Of course, for some people, that might not be a bad idea, as bacteria are probably the only culture they have.
-Canned food. Make sure to get enough to last several days for your whole family. And get stuff your family will actually eat, such as “potted meat product,” Spam, Vienna sausages, lima beans and beets.
-A non-electric can opener. You’ll need this to enjoy your “potted meat product.”
-Rainwear. You might also want to get wading boots, in case it floods. If you’re still reading this column, get chest waders too because we know how to pile the “stuff” on.
-Battery powered radio, flashlight, and any other devices you might consider “essential.” And don’t forget to get plenty of batteries to last a few days–nothing like being in the middle of a particularly fantastic, um, er (almost forgot this was a family publication) and the batteries die.
-Special items for babies, disabled family members, elderly and your pet(s). Make sure you have plenty of carrot baby food for your baby so he/she can spit up in orange. And don’t forget food, water and toys for Fido or Fluffy–just don’t get those annoying squeak toys for your dog or, without power to run the A/C to mask the sound, you won’t get any sleep.
-Instructions on how to shutoff power, water, gas and other utilities to your home. Conditions may be bad enough for you to have to shut these items off on your own, so make sure you have instructions and you know how to do it. This of course will help you avoid embarrassment in case, for example, you turn the wrong valve to shut off the water and instead you get squirted right in the face.
High winds are perhaps one of the most dangerous aspects of a hurricane. High wind can toss debris through your windows, breaking them. It can knock down trees and telephone poles, causing destruction to whatever they fall on. It can tear the roof off your home. Or, in the case of politicians, high winds can indicate many promises were made but none kept (after all, hurricane season lasts until November, when elections take place).
Here are a few things you should do to be ready for the winds a hurricane brings:
-Get hurricane shutters or buy 1/2-inch thick plywood now. You’ll need to protect your windows from flying debris, and the proper way to do that is either to get hurricane shutters installed or to cover your windows with plywood at least 1/2 inch thick. If you choose shutters, get them installed as soon as possible. Some shutter installation companies may have so much work they might not be available immediately. So call now. If you choose plywood, measure your windows then go get the plywood now. If you wait until the last minute, the nearest lumberyard might not have enough balsa wood left to make a few toothpicks, never mind sturdy plywood for shuttering windows. You’ll need to install anchors near your windows and drill holes in the plywood so it can be installed quickly when the time comes. And don’t forget to label each piece of plywood with the window it’s supposed to cover. Trying to play “mix and match” with your windows and plywood while a hurricane is bearing down is no fun.
-Trim your trees. Make sure to remove dead or diseased limbs from your trees. Also, you may wish to trim limbs strategically, so wind blows through your tree. This will keep the tree from toppling over when the winds get strong. A hint: you may wish to leave this job to a professional. We’re sure you’ve seen plenty of examples of trees being trimmed down to nothing more than tall stumps by well-meaning but inexperienced homeowners.
Okay, you’ve made your preparations as listed above and now you’re hearing on the news that a hurricane is threatening South Florida. So, what to do? PANIC!
No, just kidding. Actually, if a hurricane is truly on its way (as opposed to being willed towards South Florida by certain TV weathercasters), government officials will first announce a “Hurricane Watch” and then possibly a “Hurricane Warning.”
If a Hurricane Watch is announced, you should do the following:
-Keep listening/watching the news for the latest hysteria, er, we mean, information on the hurricane.
-Be ready to bring in any lawn furniture, outdoor decorations, trash cans, potted or hanging plants, plastic pink flamingoes, lawn jockeys, etc., so they don’t get picked up by the wind and slammed into your home.
-Be ready to cover your windows. If your plywood or shutters are stored, get them out and blow the dust off of them. This is also a good time to paint smiley faces or whatever on your plywood. But whatever you do, don’t bother with tape. Taping windows isn’t going to keep them from breaking. If you don’t believe this, tape up a drinking glass and drop it. Just make sure you’re not barefoot when you try this.
-Gas up. We mean your car, not you. Gasoline might not be readily available after a hurricane. But if you bought a lot of canned beans and forgot the Bean-o when you got your hurricane supplies, another type of “gas” will be abundant after the storm.
-Check your supplies. Make sure you have enough food, water, batteries, medications, paper airplanes, etc., for everyone in your family, and make sure they’re in good condition. If not, this is the time to fight the crowds at the stores. If you bought plastic water containers as suggested under the section “Hurricane Supplies,” make sure they’re clean before you fill them up with water.
If a Hurricane Warning is announced, you should do the following:
-PANIC! Haha, just kidding.
-Keep listening to the news as they whip people into a frenzy.
-Be ready to evacuate if the order is given for the area you live in. And don’t be like us: make sure you leave with everything you need.
-Finish up your preparations as listed under “Hurricane Watch” above.
-If you’re not in an evacuation area, stay home and as far away from the windows as possible.
-Beware of the hurricane’s eye; it might just peak in on you. Seriously, they eye is deceptively calm and only sticks around for a few minutes. Don’t go outside unless you have to make an emergency repair, and even then, don’t stay outside for more than a few minutes. The worst part of the storm usually hits immediately after the eye passes, so be careful.
-Beware of tornadoes. Yes, as though you don’t already have enough to worry about, hurricanes can and often do spawn tornadoes. Be careful with tornadoes, as they are a lot more powerful than hurricanes. Fortunately, they tend to be very short-lived. Kind of like this column if we keep up with lame premises for a topic. Such as this one.
Now that the hurricane has passed and hopefully, you and your family are okay, what should you do? The following list has a few hints:
-Keep listening to your radio. No, not the music stations! Keep your radio tuned to news for important information on what you should do.
-If you evacuated, wait until authorities say you can return. It might not be safe to return before that. For example, you might be “mistaken” for a looter and shot by that neighbor who loans you tools you never return.
-Check your home for damage. Then call your insurance company as soon as you can. This will give them a head start on your claim–and less of an excuse to stall.
-Be careful with candles. Candles may be a good way to provide light at night after a storm, but be very careful with them–the last thing you need now is a fire. Flashlights are safer. Besides, with flashlights, you don’t have to worry about wax drippings on your dog.