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A Hurricane Survival Guide for Urbanites

Prepare for the worst. Hope for the best. Buy some chips.

Many of us are jaded by the media in regards to natural disasters. Hype brings us to panic a half dozen times every winter when we are promised a blizzard--yet only a few flurries arrive. So when something really ‘bad’ really does loom, many of us would rather brave the elements than the lines at the , or . We feel like it's the media’s cry of “Wolf, wolf!” once again. 

When it comes to preparing for the worst case scenario, I've been learning that “it is better safe than sorry.” With a little camping experience and survival education, I've come up with a few simple steps can be taken in every household that could save you a good bit of money and aggravation if, in fact, the worst comes to pass.  And, if we merely experience another rainfall with no power outages or major damage, then these preparations will not go for waste. They're good buys either way.

10 Pre-Hurricane Preparations:

  1. Drinking Water: Whether you buy a few cases of bottled water, a few 2.5 gallon water containers, or grab empty juice bottles out of recycling to clean and fill them with tap water--load up. You should have a minimum of one gallon of water per person in your household for a worst case scenario of three days. So a family of five should have stored 15 gallons of water for drinking. 
  2. Toilet Water: In the event of a power/water loss, toilet issues can become, well, an issue. Find as many containers as you can to stock up on tap water to use for toilet flushing. You can place the bottles in the tub next to the toilet. If you don’t have many containers, you can fill up your tub with water on Saturday night. Scoop water out of the tub with a bucket or jug to use for toilet flushing.  
  3. Fill your freezer with drinking water:  Stuff as many water bottles as you can (even those 2.5 gallon Deer park water dispensers) into your freezer. If power goes out, these can be transferred into your fridge to help keep the food from spoiling as quickly. Then, as the water melts, you’ll have drinkable water (instead of melted bags of ice, which waste the water and must be used in a cooler instead of a fridge). 
  4. Canned and shelf food: Obviously this is not the time to buy a steak. If the power goes out you lose money on spoiled food. This is the time to indulge in foods I would otherwise say stay away from. To make it "fun" for my kids, I stocked up on chips and salsa, and even purchased a big bag of chips (which you never usually see in our household). This is the time for canned fruit as well, though as a nutrition counselor, I must encourage you to buy the kind stored in water or juice--NOT syrup!
  5. Candles and Flashlights: If there is a power outage, candles and flashlights are an obvious must-have. When purchasing candles, look for packaging that says “lead free” or snip the very tip of the wick before you buy. If there is a silver colored center to the wick, it is lead. You do not want to be burning lead into your breathing air, and these candles should not be purchased. This is a serious matter for both children and adults and I don't know why they're even legal to sell ... but they are, so please check your wicks!
  6. Camping Stove and Propane:  For maximum efficiency on the use of your propane, make a few hard to spoil foods like mashed potatoes and pasta, in advance. When you want to "cook" them, simply put a little water or cooking oil on your pan and reheat your food when you’re ready to eat. This is far more efficient than boiling water and fully cooking a pot of pasta, for example. 
  7. Outdoors: Remove hanging plants and other things that the wind could pick up and hurl through your windows.  
  8. Windows: Speaking of windows, this would be a good time to pick up a canister of caulk at . Check your window frames for cracks and seal them before the storm. 
  9. Porch: If you have outdoor furniture on your porch, a bungie cords to secure everything to the railing and/or each other. Wind gusts may not reach the 120 mph in Philly that they're expected to reach at the shore, but we'll still have strong enough winds to move some lawn chairs and tables around. 
  10. Entertainment: Finally, dust off the board games and cards. Buy a good book. Or, grab some new crafty stuff at the You may be living life without TV and Internet for a while ... might as well make it fun.  
Carol Haslam August 26, 2011 at 11:40 PM
One more thing: Paper Plates and Cups! If the power goes out and if we lose water, paper plates will be a much appreciated alternative to a sink full of putrifying plates.

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