This isn’t going to be the usual Freaky Friday because there’s a lot of freaky things predicted in the near future or the next few months, and I just wanted to chat about that. The main reason I’m writing this is that my mom (who is 88 years old) lives in West Melbourne, Florida by herself and is planning on sitting out Hurricane Dorian in her own home. Now, Mom has a great home with hurricane shutters, a new roof, and week’s supply (at least) of food and water – but her decision is still freaking me out. I invited her to come to my house – I even bribed her with cookies and other good things to eat. She told me that she’d take a “rain check.” (Yeah, you can see where I got my sense of humor.) She does have good neighbors and friends in the area (who I am grateful for) who will check on her and help her – but it’s still a nerve-racking experience.
So, I’m going to take my anxiety out on all of you. Let’s talk about the strange and unexpected. Actually, let’s talk about preparing for the strange and unexpected. I probably can’t come up with all of the ways something unexpected could happen to you – but I bet I could come up with a lot! But, really, this is something that you should do. (This is one of those “in the middle of the night” conversations you have with yourself when you can’t sleep. 😊 ) Seriously, think about some worst-case scenarios and then come up with ways you would solve them.
Let me get you started:
- A storm comes through, knocks down all the power lines, and the power company texts you to tell you that there won’t be power for 24 hours – what do you do?
- Add four days to number one.
- Add below zero temperatures to number two.
- Add an elderly neighbor to the mix.
If any of you mentioned that you’d just go to Walmart, Sam’s Club or Costco strike that off your list. If the power is out for you – it’s probably out for them too. And, if it’s not out, (as recent news broadcasts have shown) there will be nothing left on the shelves once you get there. So, for the sake of this scenario – let’s say you have to stay inside your home or within your property boundaries. (Unless you’re checking on the elderly neighbor.)
What are some of the basics you need?
Water. Did you know that the human body can only last 100 hours without water, but it can last 30 to 40 days without food? This is based on a healthy adult. We really need water. We need water for drinking, for cooking, (that dehydrated food tastes terrible without it) for cleaning and for, um, flushing. Obviously, the flushing water does not have to be the same quality as the drinking water, but the bottom line (excuse the pun) is that water is important. And don’t forget your pets – they need water too.
Do you have to run out and buy a bunch of cases of water before every storm?
No! You can store water in bathtubs, cooler chests, pitchers, swimming pools, pots, pans, – anything that’s clean and will hold it. But it’s vital that you think of some way to have water in case of emergency.
Food. You want food not only for the nutritional value, but also in times like these some comfort food goes a long way. Hard candy is a nice comfort food that you can keep stored for a while. But if we’re talking delicious and nutritious, peanut butter is a high protein food that you don’t have to cook. (Unless, of course, you’re allergic to peanuts – then don’t.) Crackers, sausage, and cheese are other snacky options. Try to find staples that are high in protein and don’t have to be refrigerated, like beef jerky. Keep extra cans of chili, ravioli, beef stew or tuna in your cabinets, just in case of emergency. (Make sure you have a hand can opener – a power one won’t be much help if the power is off.) And make sure you have enough for at least three days, and more is always better. I remember going down to my husband’s grandmother’s cellar – she had jars and jars of fruits, vegetables, and even meats stored in Mason jars, ready to be popped open and eaten. The people in that generation really understood what it was to be prepared.
Last basic: a source of heat. We have a wonderful woodstove in our main living area. I can’t tell you the number of times we’ve had the power go out in the winter and we’ve been very comfortable because of the heat of our woodstove. If you have a fireplace, think about getting an insert. The problem with fireplaces is that more hot air goes out than comes in. A kerosene space heater is another possibility, but make sure you read the directions and keep it away from flammable items and in an area that has some ventilation. If none of these are options for you, start collecting blankets. Wool blankets are scratchy but piled on top of other blankets, they will keep you warm. Get warm socks (a good idea for everyone) and dress in layers.
Sit down as a family and talk about the things you need to prepare for
(Even if you’re a family of one) – especially as winter is just around the corner. Write down scenarios – from being stranded at work or school – to having to leave your house in a matter of minutes because of a natural or manmade disaster. Do you have a bug-out bag? Do you have a get-home bag? Are your valuable papers in Ziploc bags so you can either just grab them when you have to leave, or if there’s water damage to your home, they’ll be protected?
Finally, pay attention to forecasts and warnings. We often regret underestimating Mother Nature and sometimes, sadly, those who’ve done that don’t get a second chance to try again. Your house and your stuff are not more important than your life. I’ve been through a major house fire, so, believe me, stuff can be replaced – your loved ones cannot.
I have to say, when I’m prepared, these kinds of things are a lot less freaky! I’m hoping it’s the same for you.