Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Hurricane Kit

Florida, as you likely know, is prone to lie in the path of hurricanes from year to year. Orlando, thankfully, is inland enough that it rarely feels the full force of the storms. From what we've heard of hurricanes in Orlando, they're basically an excuse to hunker down, wait out a power outage, grill frozen pizzas, and empty liquor cabinets or wine racks. Windows don't get boarded and it sounds like it's pretty much just a severe thunderstorm with rains that may or may not fall horizontally. The last year there was major impact to Orlando was, I believe, 2004 when three hurricanes, "highlighted" by Charley ripped through the state in succession.

Regardless, if you know my wife, you know she's errors on the side of "planner." So while she was at the office today learning about all of the prep being done for business continuity purposes in the event Isaac impacts Orlando, she quickly googled "Hurricane Kit" and before I knew it I was at Target after work.

I had heard stories of lines at gas stations, runs on plywood at Home Depot or Lowe's, and general chaos at grocery stores. Since Isaac isn't expected this far north until at least Monday (and as of now there's a good chance it will be significantly west of us), I figured I'd get a jump on the rush and get things taken care of. When I walked into Target, well, it was pretty much like any Thursday night at Target. No panic. No rush. Just a bunch of suburbanites provisioning their homes with standard Target things. I immediately knew I'd be mocked by people far more experienced in these types of situations than myself.

What was on my list? I'm glad you asked. Here's the actual shopping list with my comments:

Flashlights… buy some nicer ones… maybe get one that is a ‘free standing one’ that could be put on a table and get some that are heavy duty.. get some cheap ones so that we can have in each bedroom/floor, etc.

I couldn't really figure out why we needed flashlights for each bedroom and one for the upstairs. We only occupy one bedroom and the upstairs contains one room that we rarely, if ever, use. The odds are pretty good that when the power goes out, I'm not going to be in the bonus room. While stocking up on flashlights, a lady approached me in the aisle while she was talking on the phone. She said (into the phone), "I'm in Oviedo and there's some guy stocking up on flashlights." I interrupted and played the new guy card, she was only half listening and accused me of trying to either take the flashlights out of state or sell them for a huge markup on the street corner. I ended up buying four flashlights. Seems like an appropriate number.

Batteries for flashlight

Flashlights come with batteries. Next!

Flame wand + matches

I wasn't sure what a "flame wand" was. Apparently it's one of those extended lighter things you can light a grill with. I'm not sure why we would need these items since candles weren't also on the list but I figured I wouldn't ask that question.

Bottled water.. either single bottles also some jugs for easier storage

I suppose you can never have too much water. We've heard it's also smart to fill your bathtubs with water so you can do things like wash and flush the toilet in the event water service gets disrupted. Using water to flush a toilet makes me miss trekking in Nepal and the various pit toilets utilized in the small villages during tea breaks where a little water and gravity was all you needed to flush. Regardless, I like the idea of separating my washing, pre-flushing, and consumption water. I went ahead and bought both bottles and jugs.

Food.. need stuff that doesn’t require microwave or gas even…likely canned food.. soup, veggies, etc.. gross yes but realistic.  Use your best judgment.

If by "best judgement" you mean create an excuse to buy "Chef Boy-R-Dee Raviolis," then yes, I used my best judgement. I supplemented the Chef with black beans, corn, Progresso soup, and Clif Bars. My money, if we ever need to break into the hurricane kit, is on the Clif Bars and raviolis mysteriously missing.

Bag of ice

I guess a bag of ice would be helpful to fill coolers in the event we need to save food. I wasn't sure how much room we had in the freezer and was going to the gym after Target. I'm guessing a bag of ice wouldn't have survived.

Hand held radio or battery operated radio  Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both

I had really low expectations for this and don't really know how necessary it is (it's quite likely that any Floridians reading this are aghast with my ignorance and this type of radio is the hurricane kit equivalent of taking a mirror to a desert island so you can start a fire). Luckily, there was a battery or hand crank radio with a lamp located next to the flashlights. One cool thing, in the event we're out of power for a few days, is that there's a USB charger so you could theoretically charge a cell phone with the hand crank. I just hope Lindsay's arm doesn't get tired while I'm playing Words With Friends. I felt pretty proud of myself for this one (of course, if this isn't the "mirror" of the hurricane kit, those same Floridians are mocking me for the waste of money that is a hand crank or batter operated dual purpose radio and lamp).

Whistle (to signal for help)

Seriously? I vetoed this.

Black garbage bags (2 boxes)

I wasn't sure why we needed two boxes. It seems like 60 garbage bags would suffice for whatever we have in store for a hurricane that's not terribly likely to impact us.

What does one do with all of these things? In our house, we decided to put them in a Rubbermaid bin in a corner at the bottom of the pantry. I'm not sure exactly why we couldn't just eat the other food in the pantry, but if it makes Lindsay comfortable, if makes me comfortable. Some things are better just left alone.


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  2. Have just learned about Isaac (we're not very "up" on weather news right now) ... hoping it is as gentle as it can be! Glad you've got the extra garbage bags ... you never know!