I know this may get a little boring, but I will be reposting the basic disaster readiness diary daily this week as Irene approaches the East Coast.
No, it ain't here yet, but it's coming, and that right quick. Please, use this head start. Why spend a frantic day rushing from the grocery store to the gas station to the home center, when a little prior planning NOW can make you the best-equipped survivor on the Coast?
It's a good time to go through the checklist and up your supplies, get your neighbors' cell phone numbers (and their evacuation plans, their out-of-town families' numbers, etc.).
The basic checklist:
Flashlights, batteries, candles. Battery-operated radio and/or TV. More batteries. An idea from one Katrina hand: those solar garden lights can be out all day and brought in at night.
Canned, dried food. At least a week of drinking and cooking water. Some 5 gallon buckets of washing water.
Medications. With less than a week before the storm reaches the US, there is still plenty of time to refill your prescriptions. First aid kit should be checked and refilled now. While you're at the grocery/drug store, toiletries should be topped off, too.
Money. As in cash. In the words of George Bailey, it comes in handy down here, bub.
Important papers (deeds, titles, wills, insurance), discs, etc. into the strongbox. Pulling the hard drives from the desk top should wait until the last minute.
Personal poisons. Booze, tobacco, etc. If you don't indulge, good for you, but remember, they make great trade goods.
Got a genny? How you fixed for gas?
Cell phone. Account paid? Plenty of pre-paid minutes, if that's how you roll? A couple of those one-shot rechargers are a good idea, though for under $30 you can get a solar charger shipped today.
Matches, propane, charcoal. All the things you need to cook without the grid.
Catch up on laundry--all the bedding, towels, sleeping bags, etc.
Wash all the dishes, storage containers. Not a bad time to re-up on picnic supplies like paper plates, plastic ware, etc. You may be feeding the neighborhood.
Ice. One great way to store water is to pack your freezer with filled gallon jugs. The frozen gallons last lots longer than little cubes. Pack 'em in. Jeez, what about ice chests? Good time to get 'em out and get 'em washed.
If you eat, you gotta, you know... How's your toilet paper stock?
How's your tool situation? All your cordless tool batteries up to charge? Got an axe? Crowbar? Sledge hammer? Heck, are your pocket knives sharp?
Rainy day basics: boots, slicker, waders if you've got 'em.
Shelter repair basics: tarps, visquine, rope, duct tape.
Some misc. memories:
Coffee, filters, canned milk (ugh). If you buy whole bean coffee, grind a pound the night before the storm. Nothing more frustrating than looking at a pound of coffee beans and no way to grind 'em.
Take out the trash. Get as much to the curb this week as you can, while there's still a pickup to come. You can't leave it out in a storm.
Pay. The. Bills. Get any upcoming bills in the mail now, so that they get to their destination or out of town before the storm. Phone, power, insurance. Even with the services non-existent, Accounts Receivable miraculously still works. Probably in India.
There are plenty of other details to consider, whether you're a stayer or a goer. Avail yourself of the wisdom in emergency planning diary series by alpha geek. drbloodaxe offers some good insights. Also, do check the Red Cross and FEMA emergency preparedness links in sarahnity's Frugal Friday emergency diary. I've posted a brief "Be Prepared" diary myself.
Don't worry. You have the leisure to click those links and read those posts. And make and check your family's list. This is one storm that we can safely predict will visit us somewhere along the coast. Thankfully, there's time to get ready. Use it.
Thanks for listening. Be smart, be safe, be kind.
(PS--Should the storm come nowhere near your neck of the woods, you'll be that much more ready and confident for the next challenge. And no smug complacency from people far away. The farther you are from the last hurricane, the closer you are to the next blizzard. Or earthquake. Or wildfire. Or. . . Be prepared.)
(PPS--If you are advised to evacuate, do so. Your ass is more important than your house.)
(PPPS--As Fabian commented on the original posting of this list, if you're leaving, empty the fridge and leave the door open. Really. You haven't really lived until you've duct-taped a maggot-covered refrigerator and hand-trucked it to join its thousands of fellows at the curb. Spare yourself.)
The Evacuee's Dilemma: To Unplug or Not Normally, when evacuating for storms, I shut off the main breaker on my electrical service panel. No possibility of shorts and burned wires if stuff gets wet.
I have, however, heard a decent (not convincing for me) argument for leaving the power on, at least one circuit: Wherever you are, you can call your house before returning and, if your answering machine picks up, you know the power's back on. Not enough to overcome the safety argument for me, but I can see why people do it.
One thing you absolutely should do before leaving: shut off the gas. Not only does this reduce fire danger, but, should there be widespread flooding, water in gas lines will not be in yours, alleviating the need to hook up a compressor and blow air through all your lines before the mains come on again. Do it.
Thursday addendum: One important bit I forgot in yesterday's post: If you are predicted to be in an area of significant wind damage, you may want to pick up a tire patch kit and a 12-volt (cigarette lighter plug) air compressor at the auto parts or home supply store. A friend passed us this advice before we made it back after Katrina and it saved us untold dough.
There are four roofing nails in every properly installed shingle on every roof. They don't stay there.