Monday, August 29, 2011

Hurricane Irene and How We Prepared

Today is a beautiful sunny Summer day here in Rhode Island. It is also the day after Hurricane Irene, which I am happy to say, did not do much damage to our home or property. We were lucky. Our hearts go out to those who were not so lucky, and to those who are left with no power and a major clean up.

I am able to write this because our power was restored early this morning. Yesterday we drove around the area and saw some giant trees uprooted and branches across roads, driveways and everywhere else. Power lines were down and we returned to a dark house. Of course, being a Candle Maker for a living meant a beautifully candle lit home. We played Scrabble and had a couple of cocktails and listened to the last of the storm winds blow through the leaves on our trees.

I thought I would document some of the ways that we prepared for Hurricane Irene. Maybe some of our ideas will help you prepare for power outages, hurricanes, earthquakes, or other natural disasters where you are left to your own resources until your town is back up and running.

1. Water: We filled many containers with water for drinking and for washing up. Also for flushing toilets and cleaning dishes. We make beer and wine so we filled our carboys and buckets and cook pots with water for drinking. We filled wash buckets and drink tubs (the kind you fill with ice and drinks for a party) for flushing and washing. We also filled the bath tub and lots of bottles that we placed in the fridge and freezer.

2. Hygiene: In addition to stocking up on baby wipes, hand wipes and disinfecting house-cleaning wipes, we filled a big container with a spout and placed it next to the sink. This allowed us to wash our hands and brush our teeth with a "faucet" and really helped! It was easy to refill and made using the sink feel a little more normal. We also used paper plates (I know...the environment...but this was to avoid FILTH people!).

3. Light: Several days before the storm, I went to the store for batteries for two large flashlights, only to find that they were out of all batteries besides AA and AAA. In case of this type of "oops" on preparing while everyone else was preparing...I recommend also having two smaller flashlights on hand that you can replace batteries in when the large ones fail, or you can't get batteries for them. Another GREAT thing to have on hand is a battery operated magnetic tap light. Those are the funny little round lights that you press down and light up small spaces with. Place them in each room near a candle and matches or a lighter so that you can use it to illuminate a space while you light your candles. Which brings me to Candles! Keep reading...

4. If you get to the grocery store too late and the shelves are bare of candles, I have a secret for you. Go to the canning section of the store. Yes...I said the CANNING SECTION. You will find boxes of Gulf Wax. Gulf Wax comes in four slabs or four bars. The trick is to get some 100% cotton string around the size of a wick (because most of us don't have 100 feet of wick lying around). When you get your gulf wax home, seperate the slabs or bars and us a lighter to soften some wax to stick onto the wick. Press the slabs or bars of wax together around the wick and viola! You've got a long-burning candle. Be sure to place EVERY candle into a hurricane vase or into a container that can handle wax drips. It is easy to remove wax from glass by popping it into the freezer for a few minutes. Keep candles away from windows or other drafts. Keep them away from curtains and blow them out or bring them with you as you change rooms. NEVER LEAVE A CANDLE BURNING UNATTENDED! If you have time to prepare, buy long-burning candles (natural wax like soy or beeswax burn the longest and cleanest) and get yourself a lantern that takes long tapers. Lanterns are awesome...cuz you can bring them with you everywhere you go...including outside in the wind.

5. Stuff to store in your Safe Room (fewest windows, load-bearing wall):
  • flashlights
  • batteries
  • candles
  • lamps
  • cook stove
  • fire extinguisher
  • breathing mask
  • rubber gloves
  • wipes
  • paper dishes
  • non-parishable food (jerky, peanut butter and crackers, juice, vitamin water, water, canned food, etc)
  • can opener
  • rope
  • chainsaw (and gas)
  • a generator if possible
  • ice
  • cooler to avoid opening your fridge and freezer
  • hand sanitizer
  • paper towels
  • evacuation bag containing clothing for a few days and bath/towel supplies
  • pet carriers on hand for evacuation along with food for all pets for several days
  • first aid kit
  • medications for every member of your household, including pets
  • gas up your cars
  • charge all electronic batteries (computers, phones and other devices)
  • rotary phone (yep...they don't need electricity and if your phone lines are not down, you can call out or receive calls without using up cell phone batteries!)
  • battery operated/ hand-crank radio
There are probably things I am forgetting off-hand, but just picture having no running water, electricity or heat source for several days. Add to it that there has just been a disaster that could have caused damage to gas lines, windows, trees, roads and so on. If you have no access to medical help, food or water, what will you need to survive?

The fun side of things...where is your deck of cards? Board games? How about a few good books  you've been meaning to read. Magazines or other reading/writing materials you can use for entertainment during daylight hours or by candle light.

Well, that is my first crack at this post. I may add to this as I think of other bright ideas we either had, or wish we would have to endure the storm and resulting loss of power.

What are your suggestions? Add them in the comments section!

1 comment:

  1. This is a great blog chapter. You should send this as a letter to your newspaper. You might consider a wind up radio and trouble light. They generate their own electrical past and can get one through several hous of otherwise "disconnected" life.
    Mr Tom