Monday, July 29, 2013

Pop-Up Storms Jog Survival-Kit Thinking

What do you have in your disaster kit? Or do you have one?

If you live along the seacoast, you certainly should have one. But here along the coast of the Carolinas, it is all too easy to become complacent when one tropical wave after enough dissipates way out in the Atlantic before becoming a hurricane. Perhaps adding to a false sense of security were the brush-bys by Hurricanes Irene and Sandy in 2012 prior to those storms devastating portions of the northeastern United States.

Some day again, one of those big storms will have our name on it, as Hazel did in 1954. Will we be prepared?

Today came a small reminder of Nature's power that perhaps made some coastal dwellers think about what can happen when much rain falls in a short period of time. After stifling humidity, we had pop-up thunderstorms that instead of just passing through stuck around for three hours or so. They unleashed torrential rains -- sometimes at a 2-inch-an-hour pace -- and yielded lots of lightning strikes. Poor Superdawg was so upset she would not eat until three hours after dinnertime -- and then only because her favorite dish of baked chicken was there to entice her to her Science Diet.

The storms flooded sections of several busy roads, including heavily tourist-traveled Ocean Boulevard and Kings Highway (business U.S. 17). And in one down-home eatery, Mammy's Kitchen, diners at one point were stuck inside as water entered from the front and back of the building, according to WMBF News.

With this kind of havoc from just a few hours of heavy rain, can you imagine what 24 hours (or more) of hurricane-generated torrential rain would bring? And that's not even talking wind damage.

These thoughts caused me to take out my Emergency Management Disaster Kit Checklist. I'd award myself no better than a B-minus on preparedness.

Not to go down the whole list, but here are some samples:

NOAA weather radio -- got it.

Flashlight and extra batteries -- I am forever misplacing our flashlights, and the family is forever raiding the emergency battery supplies. Need to keep all this in a sealable plastic tub along with other supplies.

Manual can opener -- no prob.

Non perishable food -- our pantry stays stocked.

Rain gear --- I actually don't have any, not even for non-emergency use. I just put on old shorts and a "T" and enjoy the splash-down. Not sufficient -- not for tropical weather.

Cash -- what's that?

Tools -- yep, we keep a toolkit handy, even though I'm not very handy at using the tools.

First-Aid Kit -- Have one that's been raided numerous times. Need a fresh one kept only for emergency use.

There are many more items, but perhaps one that should be of the highest priority is a two-week water supply amounting to 1 gallon per person per day. That is to take into account the likelihood that municipal water systems may be messed up for quite some time. So for just two persons, that's 28 gallons of water that should be on reserve. My DW has taken to storing empty two-liter Coca-Cola plastic bottles in the garage. In the event a named storm approaches, we fill them up. i haven't done the math, but that is a start toward having an emergency water supply.

The folks at Whistle Creek out in Colorado who produce those fine walking and hiking sticks out have a fun twist on survival kits --  They call it: "25 Survival Items in a Sardine Can!"  Here it is:

"25 survival items in a genuine air-tight, waterproof, crushproof sardine can. . . Go fish with the hook and line, find your way home with the compass, boil water in the can for your tea and sugar, use the first aid supplies to survive the wilderness. Even includes duct tape, matches, whistle, signal mirror, razor blade, fire starter cube, chewing gum, salt, and a safety pin. Put one in your car, motorcycle, fishing vest, backpack, bike, etc. . . . "

Those are some useful items for campers and hikers, but also of potential use in the aftermath of a big storm. Matches in a waterproof container? Absolutely!

                                      © Robert G. Holland   2013

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