I know I need to write a nineteen week update, but I’m in the middle of Tropical Storm Lee (which is nothing to write home about….wait, I am home) and some of you guys went through Irene and may be affected by Katia. I just wanted to share some of the things I’ve learned over the years… And some of this should be common sense to you guys.
1. If you live close to coastal waters, get inland. Seriously. Rule number one: listen to the warnings. Katrina still haunts us down here in Louisiana because so many people didn’t.
2. Get ready. Prepare for at least three to five days without power. Know if you’re in an area prone to flooding. Get batteries and food at least two days before everyone else will think about it. You will want a radio to find out what’s going on when everything else has gone down. Fill up your car and keep it full. If you have to get out in bad weather, it helps to have a few extra pounds in your car – a bag of potting soil or cat food in the trunk. Have enough medication for the storm. And do your laundry.
3. If you’re evacuating, please, people, don’t leave your pets behind. If you’re not, keep them inside.
4. Secure things outside that might blow or be damaged by falling debris and trees. If you can park your car in a garage or enclosure, do it.
5. If the area you live in tends to flood even moderately, a pair of wading boots is a good investment.
6. Charge your stuff. Cellphone, Kindle, iPad, you know.
6.5. If you have a friend out of town who can monitor the weather for you and keep you up to date thru text messaging, let them know exactly where you live. Knowing about a tornado warning when radio stations have gone down could be life saving.
7. If you’re running a portable generator, keep it away from the house, with the exhaust pointing away from windows. Carbon monoxide can kill you in your sleep. Refuel the generator only when it’s cooled down. Have your fuel supply full beforehand, of course. If the extension cord you’re using feels hot on the cord or the plug, you’re trying to pull too much power through it and it’s a fire hazard. Use a cord with a higher power rating, and the shorter the cord the less voltage you will lose over the cord’s distance. Having a window unit air conditioner run by a generator was a blessing during our last hurricane, but even with 5kw of generator power, it wasn’t enough to run the unit without overheating the cord. Aim high with your wattage if you buy one. And watch your oil levels.
8. Permanent, whole-house standby generators are safer than portable generators. Again, stay clear of the exhaust, and make sure everything is in working order before the storm hits. If you’re considering a whole house generator, think about the chance of flooding too. Ours is on a foot of cinder blocks to keep water away from the engine. As a side note, if you live in the south and have a whole house unit, “quiet mode” for the weekly exerciser will kill your generator engine – it has something to do with the humidity/air pressure down here and how it affects natural gas combustion. Change it to normal mode or get your contractor/maintenance people to do it for you.
9. Stock up on things to do for you and the kids if you have any. Books, puzzles, games… Our family tradition is putting coins in rolls. Pray the rosary as a family. Have a Bible study night. Life without power gets boring pretty quickly.
10. Pray. Whenever a storm hits, there is always a reason to pray.
Did I miss anything?