Are you preparing for extreme weather events? Due to the destabilization of the earth’s climate, there are likely to be a lot more crazy weather events. Here are a few things to consider and ways to prepare for these.
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When does a weather event become an emergency? The answer is whenever a situation is a potentially fatal or extremely damaging to you, your family or your property. This means that it varies A LOT between people, areas, homes and even countries.
Depending on where you live, available local resources and community, buildings and emergency preparedness of your locality will really shape how you assess and prepare. First, list available resources that you can use or make available readily in case of a rapid emergency situation. Second, make sure you have a few basics to be able to deal with a variety of situations.
Below are some questions you should answer. Preferable you write them out on paper in the event of a prolonged power outage when you may not be able to access electronic lists, numbers and more.
- Where is the nearest evacuation center/large arena? How long would it take you under normal circumstances to reach it?
- What are the numbers for emergency authorities? Water? Gas? Electric? Poison control?
- Where is the nearest hospital?
- How close is your nearest neighbor?
- What is the number for cable, internet and/or satellite?
- What is the local evacuation route, if warranted?
- Do you have the number for Red Cross? FEMA?
- What is the location and number for a local homeless shelter? Battered women’s shelter?
Consider the following items to keep on hand that can be applied to a variety of emergencies. You may want to consider having these available at all times to cover several circumstances you and your family might face.
- First aid kit
- SOS feature on phone/smart watch
- Clean water
- Bug out bag
- Children’s clothes/bottles/diapers/car seats/formula
- Lighter (and fluid)
- Copies of important documents
- Fireproof safe
- Protection (bat, firearm, sharp knife)
- Hand crank radio
- Credits cards
- Insurance cards
- Canned food and manual can opener
- Physical maps
- Duct tape
- Rubber bands
- Trash bags
- Heat blanket
- Pliers or wrench
- Dehydrated food
- Preserving food you have to last a long time
You can find a very comprehensive printable from ready.gov.
Weather Related Emergencies
As you may know, there are LOTS of ways in which weather can make a situation serious or deadly. If you do not have a self-sufficient, off-grid homestead (and even if you do depending on the situation) you will may need any one of these things for a while.
We will go over the different kinds of weather related situations, including some we’ve face here. There are definitely things I had not considered when they arose so each one has been a learning experience.
Almost all weather emergencies may require evacuation. Things like storms, fires, hurricanes, tsunamis, tornadoes, etc. lend themselves to more predictions. Sometimes they come on suddenly, but hurricanes in particular are tracked well all the way from Africa. The key for them is that the path may change which means you may prepare for nothing or suddenly need to prepare.
Over the hurricanes season of 2020, Louisiana, where I live, had landfall for FIVE storms. A record. I do not live on the coast, but in a coastal state with low elevation (just 100 feet above sea level) and we definitely can get hurricanes up here. Though usually when they arrive they are down graded to tropical storms, but not always. One of the hurricanes was a Category 2 storm when it hit Northwest Louisiana.
Hurricanes are destructive and can ruin entire swaths of infrastructure and homes. Roads, power lines, water mains, homes, buildings, etc. can all be destroyed. Generally this only goes so far in from the coast, at most around 100 miles. However, we live 450 miles inland and still had category 2 hurricane hit.
Steps and prepping you should do for a hurricane:
- Secure the outdoors, bring in or tie down outdoor furniture, especially lightweight things
- Cover windows with plywood or other secure materials
- Have emergency food and water available
- Have a route for evacuating already mapped out, including retrieving children and pets
- Be vigilant in watching the radar. It is not unusual for a storm to take a quick turn or even speed up
Snow/Ice Storms in the South
For those of you who live in locations where snow is a regular part of your winter, you likely have the infrastructure to handle snow, ice and below freezing temperatures. This is not the case for much of the Southern portion of the United States. Here in Louisiana we do not have snow plows, vast road salt availability and the correct plumbing to deal with extreme cold events.
In February 2021, over 5 inches of snow and ice fell and stuck for over a week. Leaving many people in the south without electricity or water. In this kind of extreme, try to prep in advance. Unlike hurricanes and even tornadoes, this is not one unit but a likely set of storms on a front that will be preceding the area. We prepared by buying water, plenty of canned goods and did not try to drive on any of the ice or snow.
If this is your situation, prep will be similar to other events with the exception that you should be prepared to stay at home. Here are some items for extreme cold or heat you may want to have on hand:
- Generator – be careful with these, make sure it is outdoors and well ventilated. Several people died from improper use of one during a hurricane here in Louisiana
- A lot of water – when we lost water here, we had to melt snow to flush toilets. Get way more water than you think you will need if it is expected to be a long time without water
- Charge everything
- Have battery operated and hand operated radio and lights
In the event of a wildfire, take all the above steps and preparations with a few additions. Likely the fire will be being tracked by the local fire department so keep an eye on where it is and where it may be headed. You cannot prepare a home to survive a fire outside of having a fire break. A fire break is an area around your home you either wet down very thoroughly or cut back from brush and plants to keep a small barrier between the dwelling and a fire.
Additional things to have for a fire:
- Animal carriers for all pets or the ability to release animals like horses so they can get away
- A bug out bag. Try to keep one by the door or in your car to leave in just a few minutes. Sometimes, like a tornado, there is little warning.
- Remove all dry and dead shrubbery
- Shut off AC and gas lines before evacuating
- Leave the lights on for firefighters
You can find more information from Cal Fire on preparing for fire, especially an evacuation.
Common sense and staying safe
In any circumstance, the weather can change almost immediately leaving you and your loved ones with few options and little time to move/evacuate/prepare. For this reason, keep those things you normally need available to you charged, ready, on site and stored somewhere. The car is a good option for many people for water, first aid kits and a it has a radio.
Be vigilant, look to your neighbors on what they are doing. Check the radar and news regularly. Find out what you can as quickly as you can in order to be safe. If you see something unusual, make a note and respond the best way you can. Be safe!
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