After going through Hurricane Ike blasted through Galveston and the Houston area last year, here’s a few tips that I think could be helpful. These tips are more about comfort, rather than emergency or medical-related. Chances are, you’ll probably survive if you:
- DON’T stay in Galveston or along the coastal areas – That’s just plain foolish. If the storm surge is really bad, you’ll probably be calling for help very fast, and you’re putting other peoples’ lives in danger to save you, when you should have left while you had the chance. It costs lots of money, time, and potential lives when you strand yourself out there. If you live there, put all your most valuable possessions in some safe or hiding place that can last, and vamoose.
- DON’T stay outside – Debris can hit you, you might be swept off your feet by the wind, knocked in the storm surge, etc. Better safe than sorry, but still there are people that actually do this. Unless there’s some emergency inside the house, like a fire or a murderer or whatever, stay inside!
- BE CAREFUL with your energy generator – There was a good number of articles where people put generators in their garage or even their house, and people got sick or died from carbon monoxide poisoning. Don’t do that! Keep it outside under a tarp or something.
- DON’T evacuate if you live in Houston – If you live in Houston, there’s a very good chance you’ll be fine. If you pack up and hit the road, you’ll just be adding congestion to the freeways for the people fleeing from the coastal areas. People from the coastal areas NEED to evacuate, and pretty much all Houstonians, especially those from the northwest, do not need to evacuate.
- HAVE enough supplies to last – Plan for at least 2 weeks. Get a good amount of food, water, and gasoline. Store it somewhere safe. Consume as little as possible.
Follow those 5 things, and you’re very likely to live. It’s just common sense! Unfortunately, a lot of people just don’t have it, at least judging by the Chronicle and TV stations.
Now if there’s a weather report and it seems very evident a hurricane is coming, here’s what you should do BEFORE THE STORM:
- GET JUST ENOUGH supplies – I’m talking about food, water, and gasoline lasting for 2 weeks. For foods, I’d suggest non-perishables like bread (good for sandwiches), bagels, snack chips, pretzels, crackers & spray cheese, Ramen Maruchan noodles, and stuff like that that require little preparation, heat or water. For drinks, get water bottles (save the bottles to refill them from a clean tap later), sodas, and a well-insulated cooler to store most of the drinks in with ice. It’s was awfully hot during Hurricane Ike last year, and a cold soda would have been great. Make sure your first-aid kit is fully stocked, have flashlights with spare batteries nearby, a radio, have a little suitcase or folder with your most important documents at hand if you need to evacuate, etc. DO NOT get more than what you need. It is absolutely annoying when somebody buys practically all of one product, that could probably last him/her for years! This is not the end of the world, and if you’re one of those people that purposely hoards supplies to sell at outrageous prices, then you probably are committing some crime.
- CONSIDER STOPPING AT convenience, restaurants and outdoors supply stores – Supermarkets are good too, but don’t forget these. A bad hurricane may lose power to the area for quite awhile, and it hits convenience store owners hard when many of their products that need to be chilled go bad, OR their stores are easily robbed by bad guys who steal a bunch of merchandise, of course without paying. So you might be able to strike a bargain with them for lower prices. These guys have a lot to loose if nobody buys anything. Restaurants will also have a loss if a good number of food spoils, so again, you might be able to get a good bargain. Also, these places can be less crowded, especially the independent stores. Outdoor equipment stores, like Academy or REI, have a good supply of things you can use to live without power for awhile. They’re worth looking at too.
- CLEAR THE YARD of potential flying objects and board windows – Take anything that could possibly hit a window from your yard, and store it in a shed, garage, or inside the house. That way, you don’t have to buy a new window. Duct tape is NOT effective in protecting your windows. Any debris with the right momentum can still shatter shards on the edges. Get boards, and do the x shape if you don’t have many. It’s best to buy these even before there is a chance of a hurricane, because Home Depot or Lowe’s might run out by the time you get there. If there’s anything precious near the windows, move them away, and avoid sitting near them when the hurricane is in force. If you see a neighbor or someone on the street leaving such potential flying objects, tell them you think it should be moved away, because you wouldn’t want it to hit yours or anyone’s windows. Of course, if they refuse, and it does happen to hit yours or anyone’s windows, speak up and they’ll have to pay for the damage or whatever.
- TAKE CARE of any responsibilities you have – Like if you need to return a book to the library, pay some bill, return a DVD, or whatever, you should do it before the storm. I think most government institutions and businesses are lenient and will give a few extra days or a week after the storm to take care of your responsibilities like Hurricane Ike, but it never hurts to do it as soon as possible, just in case.
DURING THE STORM
- Finish any non-perishable products – Anything that will probably go bad when the power goes out for a long while, should be taken care of first. Milk, yogurt, meats, and others should be done with, so it’s not a waste. Consider it as possibly the last hot meal you’ll have for awhile.
- Do whatever you can do with the power still on – Watch the weather reports on TV for visual information, read the paper for more info, use the bathroom, cook more food, etc. Charge your laptops, cellphones, or whatever while you can. If you’re like me, and had a transformer blown somewhere nearby the area, then it might be WEEKS before the power company fixes it. It took 2 weeks to get power back here.
- Catch some ZZZZ – Take the opportunity to have some rest, especially if the power goes out. Not much else to do.
- Play games or read a book – Take the time to play some games, and brush up your skills. Read a book you’ve been meaning to read for awhile.
- Watch the activity going on outside – Stay at a safe distance and make sure it’s boarded up well enough.
- Listen to radio reports – If the radio station still has power or is on back-up generators, maybe you can hear what’s going on or to watch out for.
- Contact relatives and the workplace – Check to see if everybody is all right, and see when you start work again if they know yet.
- Survey any damage – Hopefully there’s little or no damage. Take snapshots of anything damaged that you could give to your insurance company. Maybe they’ll give you the money, maybe they won’t. Best to find the damage as soon as possible.
- Don’t leave your home unless it’s necessary – Don’t leave right away after a hurricane has passed. Let the road people clear up any debris or trees on the road, and let employees return to their business to assess any damage or to start opening up again. If many things are down, you’re just creating traffic issues if you left for a dumb reason like you wanted to check how everything is. Consider biking or walking carefully if you want/need to go anywhere.
- Repair or clean up your own yard/house – Better now than later
- Don’t flood phone lines – Don’t bother calling a bunch of places to find out: “When will my power come back on?”, “When will the garbage pick-up begin?” etc. Those are questions that will probably be answered on the radio or TV station, and you’re only keeping them busy by asking stupid questions. Giving them a call won’t make any difference in the speed of services coming back to you.
You pretty much know what to do from then on there. The KEY to doing well in a hurricane is:
- Prepare early – Don’t wait until the last minute to get supplies, materials, and prep the home.
- Don’t kill yourself by doing something stupid – Look back to the 5 ways I mentioned up there
- Don’t be a nuisance – Take away potential flying objects in your yard, and don’t muck up the roads and phone lines unless it’s necessary
Just follow these 3 ways and you won’t be so awful during a big bad hurricane in Houston.