Saturday, August 27, 2011

Home Safety: Hurricane Irene Edition

We were evacuated from our vacation in the Outer Banks three days early because of Hurricane Irene.  I decided last minute, since we were going to be in town, that I should run the Patrick Henry Half Marathon.  In the hurricane.  And now, I am sitting inside my house hoping that I can type this post fast enough before we (hopefully do not) lose power again.

We have everything pretty readily available for any sort of hurricane, tornado, or rain storm that may cause a power outage.  We live in a pretty rural area right outside of Richmond and since we are not close to a major neighborhood, can be prone to losing power.

At any rate, I thought now more than ever would be a great idea to post some ideas on what to have available for any sort of natural disaster that may come your way.  In 2003, Isabelle hit Richmond and my husband (then boyfriend, when I was in college) lost power for two weeks.  Thankfully, we have family in town and he could crash there, but I can't imagine what it's like if you don't have a back up plan.

A generator.  We do have one, but unfortunately aren't smart enough to check it regularly.  It is currently not working so we are borrowing my in-laws in case we lose power again.  When we built the house, we made sure the electrical panels were accessible in the garage, especially since we have a built-in fridge and can't plug it directly into a generator.

Water and dry food.  Richmond is known to shut it down, close stores early, and sell out of any and everything you will need two days before the first inch of snow hits the ground, so it is best in this town to always be prepared (do you like my shout out to the Boy Scouts of America?).  We were initially not supposed to be in town this weekend, so we made sure to use up everything that would go bad while on vacation.  It was an instant reminder of why you should have back ups on hand at all times when Jeremy went to Kroger and found a bunch of empty shelves.  Not one banana or loaf of bread.  We weren't freaking out yet, just trying to stock back up on the essentials.  On a separate note, we are also on a well and should always keep bottled water on hand in case of a power outage.  The well will eventually run dry if the power is out long enough.  Don't forget about the little ones or pets either - milk or formula, baby foods, and pet food are not to be left out!

Alternative light source.  Think candles, flashlights with new batteries, lighters, and oil lanterns.  Any and all of the above will do.  You do not want to skimp on these and you want to make sure you know where they are at all times.  There is nothing worse than fumbling around in the pitch black looking for something you need.

First Aid Kit, prescriptions, and basic necessities.  Basic first aid supplies are great, but any specific medications you take on a regular basis should be considered a necessity if you need to take shelter in the "safe spot" in your home.  I would also grab anything you feel you could not do without for an extended period of time.  For example, in our home, that would be diapers, wipes, and some entertainment for the little ones.

Personal information.  This may sound morbid (I certainly thought it was after hearing the news instruct anyone staying in the Outer Banks to put all of their personal information in their left shoe), but it is so very important to have your ID, insurance information, ICE contacts, and deed to your house on you just in case you need to evacuate or are left stranded.

Cash and gas.  Make a withdrawal from the ATM and fuel up your vehicle, just in case you need to hit the road.  

I am no expert in safety, hurricanes, or weather, but felt compelled to share our list of things we have gathered or realized we should gather this weekend.  After all, you probably aren't quite tired of hearing about Irene yet, right?

Side note:  I lost power seven times while writing this and it took me four hours.  Sweet.

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