For those who know me, they know I do not verbally say the “H” word (hurricane) and the only reason I’m even typing it is because I’m doing this blog post and if I didn’t then nobody would know what I was talking about!
Having been through too many to count, I’ve gotten to the point now (for the last 4 years or so) that I do not speak it nor want to hear about them!
I think Wilma was the breaking point…she left us without power for a loooooooooooong time and leaky roof and others prior to her left apartments and condo’s I’ve lived in damaged or inhabitable.
I’ve been affected from one end of the alphabet to nearly the other…Andrew to Wilma…
From June til November we are in hurricane season here in Florida. Ironically non-Floridians envy Floridians and are disillusioned by fun in the sun types of summer days all summer long. Reality is it rains nearly every afternoon around 2:30-3 p.m (just in time for when you need to go get the kid(s) from school!) on a daily basis from July through September.
In my earlier years in South Florida, I didn’t really pay attention to hurricanes or what would happen during them or after. Looking back at my place near the beach that got trashed in Andrew, I really took no precautions at all. I packed up my son, who was a toddler at the time, and we went inland to friends of mine. We were under mandatory evacuation since we were directly on the water. But, yet I didn’t do anything to prepare for it (the apartment, belongings, food, water, nothing). In my defense, I was young and simply didn’t know better.
Now, many years later and many hurricanes later I know what has to be done…though there won’t be the need for any preparations for this year since there will be NO hurricanes in South Florida this year! (I’m confessing it and receiving it to be so!)
But, for those who do want to know some ways to prepare for hurricanes (or any other natural disaster for that matter) in an environmentally friendly way here are some quick tips for you:
When most people prepare for their food needs, they think “junk food” and “processed foods” since they have to have nonperishable items to eat…but it doesn’t have to be junk. There are many options available that are not nutritional garbage. You can get organic fruit snacks, nuts, seeds, granola bars, trail mix, dehydrated foods, nutrition bars, etc.
Key point is that nonperishable does not necessarily mean junk/processed food.
Cooling & Heating Food: If you want a green way of cooking, you should have or make a solar oven. If you have a solar oven, it’ll reduce your need for using a propane or charcoal grill to heat any food items you want. If you do experience power loss, leave items in refrigerator and refrain from opening door unless you must do so.
If a power loss is lengthy, you’ll need to keep drinks, food items cool so make sure to have insulated coolers on hand and reusable ice packs and move items from refrigerator to insulated coolers.
Power: You may want to get a Power Pocket or other solar recharging device so you’ll be able to charge cell phones (though they may or may not work, depending on the phone service), radio, other small electronics including rechargeable batteries. They now even have solar battery charging bags that are designed specifically to handle the high demands of multiple cell phones, tables, iPads and other electronics.
Radio & Flashlights: Wind up radios and flashlights are good to have on hand. Now a large variety of solar powered flashlights, LED lanterns and wind up radios and flashlights are easily available for you to purchase. If you can’t bring yourself to use the wind up crank style flashlight, at least prepare ahead with rechargeable batteries for your flashlights (or get solar portable lights mentioned below). Make sure to have plenty of spares already charged as well. Solar charged flashlights, wind up flashlights and LED lanterns are much safer than candles, so opt for other options rather than using candles. Wind up radio’s will keep you abreast of any updates, information regarding the storm, outages, etc.
Solar lamps & lights: There are now a large variety of portable solar headlamps and other lighting for your needs when the power’s out. Additionally, solar lawn lights are an attractive addition to your landscaping they can come in handy during power loss (provided they survive the storm).
Water: The “authorities” say that people should plan on one gallon of water per person per day (though nobody can predict how long an area will be out of water). This doesn’t mean to run out and buy all the bottled water you can, thus eventually adding to the plastic bottle problem that is rampant in the U.S (even though every time there’s a hurricane warning the news shows everyone crowding the stores and empty shelves where water bottles once were).
You can contain tap water in buckets, jars, bottles you have on hand to use for washing & brushing teeth, etc. Have separate containers for water you’ll use for cooking and/or drinking consumption. Don’t forget to have drinking water for your pets as well. If you do have to purchase water in bottles, please make sure to recycle the bottles when you’re done.
Plywood: Yes, if you don’t have hurricane shutters you’ll need plywood to cover the windows of your home. Again, every year you see on the news masses of people fighting for plywood in the stores. If you’re planning on being in an area that may be at risk of hurricanes, consider keeping the plywood for seasons to come. This way you’re not going out in the crowds every year. Plan ahead, cut the wood to fit over windows, patio doors and number them so you know which piece goes where for easy installation. During the year when you’re not in need of them, you may be tempted to use for a project which would be the green thing to do since you’d be repurposing it but just remember when season comes again you’ll need to replace it prior to the insane crowds who are last minute preparers.
Shatter resistant windows: Ideally, if you can afford the hurricane proof, shatter resistant windows that would be the way to go. Then you wouldn’t need plywood or hurricane shutters. If I had a house, I’d prefer these over other means since I truly hate being cooped up in the dark, not knowing what’s going on outside. At least with these, you’d still be able to see, get light and know what’s going on!
Generators: There are portable solar generators available but you would have to have it prior to anything happening and it’s not exactly cost effective for the general population right now. But, it is an option.
If you’re fortunate enough to have solar power or wind generators then you’re one of the lucky ones who will have power while the rest of your neighborhood sits in the dark waiting for power to be restored. But, again solar and wind systems are going to have to be thought out and installed prior to anything happening. It’s a worthy investment and usually the state as well as federal government offers some type of rebates, tax credits for having solar, alternative power systems integrated in your home.
Then we have the regular gas run generator. You’ll still be the envy of the block if you have one and your neighbors don’t. If this is your only option, then be prepared. Have gas on hand for it and if possible do not run it constantly. Additionally, make sure you do NOT keep it in your house or where the exhaust can come into the home. If you have it in your garage, then make sure the garage door is open at all times (even if only a few feet open). There needs to be circulation and a way for exhaust to escape.
Pets: I already mentioned making sure you have water allocated for your pets. You also want to make sure you have pet food in a waterproof container. Additionally, make sure you have a carrier or kennel to take them in if you should have to evacuate. Proper identification should be on their collars as well. If in the awful event your pet got separated from you, you’ll want to ensure that when they’re found that you can be contacted.
If you do live in an area that may be affected by a hurricane, make sure to get their preparedness guide and stay up to the minute on any updates, information regarding any storm activity in your area.
These are just a few quick tips for you to be able to remain green, yet prepared during hurricane season (though once again, I’m going to confess there will be no need for any of these this year and for years to come in South Florida)