As some may have noticed APC has moved. We are now located in Richmond, VA, a couple hours in from the coast. With Irene headed up the eastern seaboard I figured it would be a good time to make a few entries about how I get ready for potential disasters that have some lead time. I don’t expect us to get much out of this storm based on predicted tracks but it doesn’t take much effort or money to beef up preps. I say beef up because this is in addition to preps that are already in place for unexpected disasters.
Based on our location the most likely threats include short term power outages, minor flooding, minor wind damage, and traffic on major roadways from weather related accidents and mass movement of people from the coast. There is a very good chance we won’t see anything more than a slight drizzle but a few extra groceries won’t hurt.
Since we do first in/first out on groceries we generally don’t get much more than a week or two down on staples. Anything that doesn’t spoil (fresh veggies, fruits, milk, etc) or can be frozen to extend storage is bought in quantity either when on sale or at the local wholesale buyers club. I generally pick up the fresh stuff bi-weekly unless the schedule looks busy. This keeps a good amount of food on the shelf without it going bad and it is all items that my wife and I normally eat. What does this have to do with being prepared for a disaster? This buffers us from running out of food should the power go out or the local grocery store getting crushed from a tornado. Some households have no more than the next meal and a few condiments in the frig, we strive for around 30+ days of food in regular rotation. That is not 30+ days of MREs, that is 30+ days of real food before we have to move onto other resources.
I had the opportunity as a teenager to test this theory out in a legitimate hurricane hit. Living in North Carolina when hurricane Fran came through and shut the area down for a little over a week. Power was out for eight days and roads were blocked limiting travel by vehicle. Through using a generator for a few hours a day and doing a lot of cooking on the grill we ate well which was necessary considering the days were spent clearing the knee deep foliage and 40+ trees down around our house.
So, what will I be doing to prep for the possibility of a little trouble from Irene? Nothing really exciting but things that will make life a little more comfortable should we have a few days of power being out or roads being flooded and the like.
The current forecast has Irene passing Virginia between Saturday evening and Sunday evening. So the first step, which has already been done is to develop a threat assessment. Look at what the potential interruptions to daily life will be, how severe they will be, and how to mitigate the threat. We covered those above. Next is to develop a plan with a schedule to execute those last minute preparations so you aren’t running around crazy at the last minute. The point is to minimize disruption of daily life as much as possible.
Over the last few days I have been building my threat assessment with plan and schedule. The following is my schedule of plans:
-Check fuel for camp stoves, grills, etc.
-Check batteries, etc.
-Check food stocks.
-Check status of misc disposables (TP, Soap, Shampoo, etc.)
-Check ammo, gear, etc.
-Review any to do list items that have been ‘put off’.
-Perform a house walk around.
-Exchange empty propane tank for grills. While I have a couple that I rotate through there is no sense in having an empty sitting around with a chance of needing it.
-Plus up on water and staples from the wholesale club for the time frame of event. While I usually fill up Klean Kanteens or Nalgenes from a filter having fresh bottled water available in smaller than gallon containers is helpful. Once the freezer and frig are stocked I fill the dead space with water. Once cool/cold they act as a buffer should the power go out.
-Plus up on any disposables that are down and add the expected time period of disruption.
-Address any issues found during walk around of structure.
-Secure any items that may be damaged by wind or water (either rain or expected flooding).
-Organize and inventory stocks. This is particularly important for the frig/freezer. Having an inventory will limit the number of times you have to open the unit to get food out for meals which will help to keep the cold air in and the warm air out.
-Fuel up vehicles. I would do this with a little time to spare and then top off just before the storm is about to hit. In the event a storm that isn’t supposed to hit hard changes at the last minute you won’t end up getting no fuel due to a run on the pumps. You also don’t want to be forced into waiting in a 30 vehicle line with half a tank of gas as opposed to having the option to decide when you are down a days worth of driving from a full tank. For most that will be no more than a 1/4 tank.
-Review weather reports.
-Update threat assessment.
-Address any ‘holes’ in plan.
-Sweep the house for laundry and dishes. Anything that would take water to perform.
-If you have a second bath with a bath tub consider blocking the drain and filling up with water. This allows you to have water for flushing toilets or basic clean up. I would suggest cleaning the tub first.
This event is a pretty easy one for us. There is a very low risk of issue and the issues are likely short term even if we took a hard hit. No one has recommended any kind of evacuation for our area and it doesn’t look like any recommendations will come out. That being said though, the model of Assess, plan/schedule, execute works whether you are expecting a direct hit or you are on the fringe of the storm path. It is the details of the plan that will change based upon your assessment.
That is all for tonight, stay tuned for how this plays out. I will try to update the blog and facebook over the next week with any updates to how preps work out and any interruptions of service from APC. Remember this is a broad view and not a step by step. Much has been glossed over since many preps for unexpected events are integrated into daily to-dos.