Get ready now for weather emergencies

By Tom Phelan - ReminderNews
Featured Article - posted Thu., May. 31, 2012
- Contributed Photo

Even as I prepare this column, the threat of thunderstorms looms all around. Florida has already suffered violent summer weather. June 1 was the official beginning of the hurricane season in the Atlantic Ocean, and technically the season comes to an end on Nov. 30. You see where I am going with this, no doubt.

After last August's devastating weather, I wrote about the lessons we should learn from such events. But this is really the time we should be talking about preparedness - before these nasty weather events sneak up the coast and wallop New England.

Take some time for reflection. Do you remember seeing empty shelves in all the food stores? Did you have to discard frozen food that thawed out? How many days were you without power? Did you try to find a generator, only to be disappointed again?

You must have noticed how many of your neighbors are having trees removed. Let this casual survey convince you these folks are taking steps now to reduce the chance that trees might take out the electric supply, or worse yet, damage the roof. Once the protection over your house is compromised, everything and everyone inside is in jeopardy. Do your trees threaten your house?

Inspect your roof, or have someone do it for you. This is the time to take care of missing or damaged shingles and inadequate sealant and caulking around vent pipes, joints and chimneys. If the roof is okay, be sure the gutters and drainpipes are securely in place and function effectively. Be sure water quickly moves well away from your dwelling.

Bring in an emergency supply of food, and perhaps even incorporate it as part of your normal consumption cycle. Rotate your stock by planning a meal with some of those things. Then replace them in your "preparedness pantry." Plan for at least 72 hours.

There is still time to plant a garden, from which you could can, freeze or dry vegetables for inclusion in your preparedness pantry. Remember, though, that even if a generator is part of your plan, anything you freeze will likely be lost to the summer heat. If you successfully planted some frozen food in the snow during a winter outage, you won't have that option this season.

Canning is a better alternative for vegetables and fruits. If you have the time and space, these stores will be available for emergencies any time of year. You might not want to include these in your rotation, however, unless you have the supply line to replenish them on the shelves.

If you are not a gardener, summertime is the perfect season to hit the farmers' market circuit and take advantage of the freshness and variety. Signing on for a fractional share with a CSA (community supported agriculture) will put the same freshness and variety at your doorstep every week. As the summer turns into fall, orchards will be offering apples and other seasonal fruits, and fall vegetables can store well for consumption well into winter.

Commercial resources such as might overwhelm and perhaps even frighten you with the array of foods and other supplies that could keep a family going for prolonged periods. The site's purpose goes far beyond the need to get through the effects of a significant weather event. But you can find some food supplies there and at other sites that may be staples for your emergency pantry.

You probably can identify most of the preparedness items you need: water, food, lanterns and fuel, flashlights and batteries. You should also know where your battery-operated radio is. Using commercial canned goods will require a can opener. If anyone in your family takes medications, you will need to add those to your first aid kit.  

Before you start shopping and shelving, develop a plan. A good place to start is at the FEMA site - Don't underestimate the value of having a well-considered plan that everyone in the family understands.

There was also another commodity that came into short supply during last year's hurricane. Stations either ran out of gasoline or were unable to pump it because they had no electricity.  If your plan calls for the availability of a generator, you will need the fuel to power it. If you have adequate warning, you would be wise to top off the gas tanks in your automobiles as well. You may need them to flee the affected area, and take refuge elsewhere.

When extreme weather is bearing down is not the time to be rushing to the stores. Do some thorough planning now. Then when the storm is approaching, watch your generator-powered TV, showing you the empty store shelves and frantic shoppers.

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