MY STORM SURVIVAL STRATAGIES: FRESH THINKING
While writing two previous blogs about hurricanes, “Hurricanes And The Country House” and “Storms Affecting Your Budget“, I received inspiration from local stories that covered the aftermath of Hurricane Michael, a Category 5 super storm which devastated Gulf Coast communities in the month of October, 2018. We were also impacted by the high winds as well going over the top of our house, but that particular weather event only caused a power outage for about 48 hours or so. We were fortunate to have no damage to our house, property, or vehicles parked outside. Our neighbors weren’t so lucky. A tree fell and took out their overhead power line.
Except for the lack of an oven and cooktop, I felt we were pretty well prepared. However, I must admit some of my preparedness depended on a favorable outcome (or divine blessings if you value faith in the Almighty). Things could have taken a turn for the worse if fate so chose to move the storm directly towards us.
Knowledge is an important factor in survival tactics. The more you apply proper strategies to help get you through a disastrous event, the better chance of you making it through unscathed, or with minimal impact on your life or living conditions. Many people fail to heed the proper types of advice that is provided for them and either wind up dead, severely injured, or situated in a decidedly compromised environment with few options left when the storm is over.
What If The Electrical Power Is Gone?
I have been through so many hurricanes and tropical storms, I have become used to the inevitable fact that I am going to lose power. Since we stock a lot of frozen foods in a freezer, and the refrigerator is usually pretty much full of food all the time, losing it scares me the most. Since we live in a severe weather prone area of the Florida Panhandle, we don’t even need a full blown hurricane to take our utilities out.
I have a 23 year old generator that I purchase new through a rental company because I wanted to have the same type of reliable equipment for my use that they provided for their customers. Along with the many jobs I used it for on construction projects, it has saved my bacon through numerous storms when the power lines to my house went dead. In all that time, I only took it in to be serviced once, and that was when I let it sit idle for so long that the old stale gas clogged the fuel lines and I needed to have the whole thing checked out.
I usually try to run it once a month, but I let that preventative maintenance procedure lapse for too long, and recently, it was crying for attention. When I started it, the 8hp motor ran okay for a minute or so, but then it began to hunt and sputter before eventually shutting off on its own.
This told me that the fuel system had a problem. Humbly following the online repair manual, I removed the air cleaner and the carburetor, disassembled it, and found that the fuel entry point into the float bowl pot was completely blocked by old fuel residue.
After reaming out and spraying the inside of the metal tube with Gumout Carburetor Cleaner, I carefully put everything back together. Then I changed the oil which was pitch black. When I started it up, it ran like new. Then I cleaned up all the residue on the exterior and sprayed a fresh coat of paint on the outside to make it look like it did when I first bought it.
If all this sounds silly, it’s because I have learned to take care of the tools and equipment that take care of me. During that last hurricane, I started it up around 11:00 am each morning and let it run until 11:00 pm at night. Since we were not using any electrical gadgets while sleeping, nor opening or closing the refrigerator/freezer doors during that time, the plan worked to perfection and all the food survived the ordeal.
Why Am I Telling You This?
Because I don’t have to. It’s no skin off my back if I survive and you don’t. But I have chosen to format this website to share my experiences with people and give them insights into what I have learned.
So many people I have talked to have either lost all the food in their refrigerator or freezer or been unable to cook because of loss of power. Even a BBQ is useless if you depend on a propane tank that runs out of gas. On top of that, they ran out of water because their well pump was also affected when the power went out and they failed to prepare for water storage in advance.
I didn’t make preparations for Hurricane Irma, like I should have. The statewide storm in 2017 that ripped through Central Florida hit our area as well. Fortunately for us, it affected the Panhandle to a lesser degree when it veered off towards Jacksonville, a city located on the east coast of Florida. I knew I couldn’t play the same game with Hurricane Michael, because all the weather reports predicted it was coming straight at us. So, I took heed of my current status and did the following:
- Got plenty of gas for the generator and vehicles.
- Strung extension chords through the house from the generator to critical areas or appliances that I wanted to keep running when the power went out.
- Filled the bathtub full of water because we have a well pump onsite that quits when it is not fed with electricity.
- Set up a propane fueled Coleman stove to cook on, even though it had limited capacity. This was my choice at the time because my full-sized BBQ and separate outdoor cooker unit were still in storage in another state.
So What Is My Fresh Thinking About These Devastating Storms
I am not waiting for a hurricane or tropical depression to develop in the Gulf of Mexico or Caribbean or come spinning off the west coast of Africa any more. While, doing my weather research for the next season, I became attuned to the fact that an El Niño type of year could mean the possibility of record temperatures being set globally, including those in the waters off the coast of Florida.
Since the presence of warmer waters threatens to fuel bigger and more destructive storms, I have listened more intently to meteorologists spewing forth predictions of 5 to 8 major hurricanes for a typical season. When I wrote this blog, a powerful tropical storm was hovering off the coast of North Carolina, 15 days ahead of the official start of the hurricane season.
Now that we all have been living within the restrictive confines of a worldwide pandemic, there will be less opportunities to get out and prepare at the last minute. It behooves everyone to take heed of this current situation and make plans accordingly. There are usually shortages of many essential items at grocery stores as soon the news first comes in, so trying to find what you need when a monster is just off the coast may prove futile.
With so many jobs having been eliminated, preparatory funds will be challenged for many households. If one were to use limited funds for supplies now, instead of on frivolous items that are not needed, the potential impact would be lessened considerably.
So these are just some daunting thoughts and meaningful guidelines to share with you. I don’t have all the answers and some of my own planning will go awry. All I can do is help those readers of my blog to get ready, whether they live in Florida, Texas, Louisiana, Japan, Vietnam, Malaysia, or what have you (yes, I do have a number of followers from Asian countries). It’s their choice, and yours, to make efective use of the information provided.
To wrap up my dissertation, I will point out that I have done the following for the next hurricane season:
- Brought my generator up to good working condition.
- Organized all my extension chords for easy deployment.
- Have fuel cans and vehicles filled with gas.
- Prepared my bathtub so it can be filled with water to flush the toilets with.
- Obtained my BBQ from storage, cleaned it thoroughly, exchanged the 10 year old propane tank with a fresh replacement, and made sure it works properly.
- Continue to maintain a 2 to 4 week supply of groceries.
- Have collected empty 5 gallon buckets to have on hand for storing water and flushing toilets.
If that isn’t enough, it is close. Your situation can be too with a little initiative. Remember, any one year can be decidedly different from the one before it, no matter what early predictions are spewed forth on the weather channels. You just need to be one step ahead if the worst one comes to pass.
I am requesting that my readers click on the links provided and download a sample read of each book and give a review on Amazon. You will have free access to the first four chapters of each book. My hope is that you will like the story lines enough to obtain either an eBook version or a paperback copy that you can put on your bookshelf as a masterpiece when you are done. FATE STALKS A HERO I: RESURGENCE, FATE STALKS A HERO II:THE FIJI FULCRUM, and THE SAGA OF HERACLES PENOIT. I will be giving excerpts on these works in upcoming blogs to familiarize you the reader with exciting details about the contents of each one. Thank you!