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July 30, 2011 / philosophermouseofthehedge

Fun with Hurricanes.

Heard a storm’s coming? Sure? OK, so armies of ants are swarming trying to get inside and all the birds are acting erratic, so maybe that does means something. Maybe it’s time to start storm preparations. Your first hurricane? Here’s what the glossy official hurricane preparation guides leave out:

No man is an island, so seek neighborhood wisdom before the storm:

  • Ask long time residents which streets flood, which ones flood first, how deep the water gets, which ones stay drier longer, and which streets drain off first. (So you’ll know which way to go when you realize you forgot to get litter, toilet paper, or find that someone ate all the Oreo’s last night even before the storm got here, or that moment of panic when “What do you mean we are out of….!”)
  • Find the neighbor who’s lived there the longest and has actually been through a storm and ask:  What do I need to do?(Be sure to evaluate their mental state – are they sober?)
  • Only watch the TV weather person who’s not overly excited and in career-building panic-the-viewers mode. (Clue:  Avoid the young ones excitedly yelling while dressed in rain gear and pointing at their feet splashing in puddles…while smiling children skateboarding down dry pavement behind them.)
  • If you drive down your street and notice everyone is boarding up their windows and loading up their cars, LEAVE. As a Newby, you may not be able to evaluate the danger/risk.  Maybe next year you can be brave.

No electricity is a reality. Even small storms can create havoc with power lines. So before storm:

  • Lines at gas station? Smart drivers know pumps don’t work without electricity, so fill up early.
  • Line at ATM?  Locals know to get cash early before machines run out. Once power goes off, machines won’t work. After the storm, some stores may open but only accept cash. (Can’t process credit cards with no power)
  • Charge all phones, computers, GameBoys. Have extra batteries and hid them for later.
  • Protect electronics and TV with surge protectors. Better yet, pull the plugs as power may be erratic.
  • Monitor/limit usage of electronics if the storm is predicted to move slowly. (“Hate me now, but you’ll thank me later” sort of deal….Well, they’re going to be unhappy, anyway.)
  • Use candles sparingly and with caution. Candles create heat and it’s hot enough, already! (also, the fire hazard)
  • Try battery-powered closet lights or crank flashlights. (After the storm, solar yard lights may actually have a purpose.)
  • Wash all dirty clothes before storm. Nothing is more depressing than having to hand wash underwear. Ewww.

No power? No running water. City water systems need power to pump water. Systems work until backup generators run out of fuel and stop.

  • Stock up on water. But since water gets boring, get powdered flavors, such as lemonade, for variety and to satisfy cravings for sweetness. Additional beverages are also recommended – selection dependent on ages.
  • Potty alert. If the water system goes down/water pressure is low, you can’t flush. Fill bath tub with water to bail for flushing and washing hands/face.(Line tub with plastic sheet before filling. Cover if possible. No splish-splashing in this water. Dogs or kids.)

No power? No electric stove, microwave, or cool refrigerator. Plan to eat differently.(Locate can opener)

  • Go ahead and eat the ice cream. It’s going to melt anyway.
  • Think finger foods. Granola/power bars or cereal out of the box. Crunching is good for stress and no clean-up! Carrots, fruit, even lettuce (It’s going to spoil anyway, so munch as a wrap).
  • Salty crunchy snacks! Double yummy when it’s hot. Who knows why. Comfort food? Storms are stressful. Go nuts, crackers, pretzels, chips, salsa, and peanut butter. Seriously, load up on these.
  • Only “no clean-up” meals. Cheese chunks, sandwiches or lettuce wraps early to use up perishables in cooler. Hard boil all eggs before storm. Tuna or canned chicken for protein later. Those cans of Cheese Wizz are amusing and won’t kill you (Hey, it’s a storm. Lighten up a bit. Anything to relieve storm boredom.)
  • Stuff several coolers with ice:  one for food, one for beverages. Avoid messy melting ice. Place ice in ziplock type plastic bags.(Melted ice water can be used later for pets or for cooling people.)
  • Once power goes off, do not open fridge or freezer. Food should be OK for short period.
  • Before the storm: freeze water in 2 liter bottles or plastic milk jugs. Stand frozen bottles in the fridge to keep perishable food cold. (Don’t fill the bottle all the way to the top. As water freezes, it expands needs room to “grow”) When bottles of ice melt, use water for pets/washing/cooling down.
  • Yes, people will kill for sugar. Eat chocolate and stuff that melts first. (Besides, it’s OK. You’ll lose weight in the heat.) Ration the cookies and hard candy. Who knows when the stores will have power and be able to open.

Everyone gets cranky – including pets.

  • Give each person a “safe zone” where no one can bother them. Enforce it. (Go to your corners and whine.)
  • Steaming dogs and cranky cats: cuddle them at your own risk. Protect small children who may not understand.
  • Stay cool. Put damp wash cloths or clean rags in the coolers. Then place cooled cloths on head, back of neck, wrist where the blood vessels are close to the skin surface help lower body temps. Good for babies or anyone needing a quick cool down. Put melted ice water in a large pan and stick your feet in it. It does help.

After the storm, tell everyone they are practicing for a survivor-type reality show.

  • Keep body temps down and stay cool as possible in humid heat and sun.
  • Include some mosquito repellent/citrus candles. With open windows and sitting outside, you have to fight bugs.(Tiki torches are not just for decoration!)
  • Be alert for biting critters: snakes flooded out of hideouts, especially fire ants relocating (Related post: Dependent on bubbles for life), and maybe wasps/yellowjackets whose nests got blown off. (Use Meat tenderizer for fire ant bites.)
  • Use grill or camp stove outdoors, not in garages. Stock up enough charcoal/fuel for a week. Yes, you can cook breakfast on a grill. Also, easy to boil water for noodle bowls or cook soup. Check freezer food and cook stuff before it spoils.
  • Heat tends to take appetites away, so monitor old and young. (The rest of you, consider it a spa retreat treatment.)
  • Use hangers to drip dry wet clothes. Small animals and children will appreciate sitting under the drips.
  • Have a generator? Great. But that noise may seriously annoy neighbors without one. Guarantee they won’t ever complain about your barking dog in the future: offer to pitch an extension cord over the fence so they can charge stuff or run fridge for an hour. Have TV? Be a hero. Ask the neighbors over to watch the news or a show. (Then cut it off, to conserve power, so everyone goes home).
  • Have a block party. Might as well!

Oh, and if you go and buy all those supplies, pick up all the potted plants, dog bowls, and everything in your yard, board up windows, and do everything the guides say to do to get ready, the storm is sure to turn at the last minute and go the other way.  So your neighbors would really be glad if you would go do all that stuff!


Chips. Salsa, Beer. Ready for anything.

Phil, the Philosopher Mouse of the Hedge



  1. philosophermouseofthehedge / Aug 26 2011 1:50 pm

    In response to an emailed question: why do you put plastic sheet in bathtub before filling it with water? Most bath tubs will slowly leak water – even if you spread vaseline around the drain and slap on a flat rubber circular “stopper”. Spreading out a plastic sheet/ shower curtain before filling makes sure the water won’t seep out on it’s own. If you use a clean/new plastic sheet, and wrap it over the water’s top, then the clean water may be used as drinking water if necessary. Some bright person created a plastic tub container you can fill – it even has a screw on lid for the fill opening. It’s supposed to be sold at places like home depot. But I imagine the cheaper plastic sheet works as well.


  2. philosophermouseofthehedge / Aug 26 2011 2:00 pm

    About putting tape on windows for hurricanes: Tape will help hold glass together if it gets broken. But the problem with windows is really that stuff gets slammed into the glass by the wind and breaks the glass. (And there’s the deal about air pressure inside and outside the house.If you see a window bowing in or out during the storm – get away from it! The pressure may be about to break it.) If you can’t board up the windows, pull curtains across them, and stay away from them during the worst of the storm. Flying glass can kill. If you decided to tape, be aware that tape is extremely difficult to get off windows after it bakes for a while – so remove it as soon as possible after the storm. Plywood on windows if possible ( also discourages looters later) or go to interior closet or room ( or get uner something for cover during the worst of the storm.
    AND if you are in an area that the eye of the storm will be crossing (listen to battery radio for this info during storm), remember the hurricane winds are circular. That means the wind comes from one direction, then there’s a pause/calm while the actual eye moves across, then the winds will return moving from the opposite direction. You can go out quickly during the eye calm and look up to see the blue sky above – but be quick as the brutal winds will return surprisingly quickly – and it’ll be dangerous to be outside then.


  3. Mike / Aug 26 2011 9:44 pm

    Very good advice. Buildings will creak, groan and sing to you – this is (usually) normal. I’d add be careful with generators. Don’t use them in a non-ventilated area. A man died early this year during TC Yasi from carbon monoxide poisoning due to a generator. Trust your long term neighbours.


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Aug 26 2011 9:50 pm

      Ditto on the generator advice…even if placed outside, fumes can seep inside. Camp stoves, too.
      Thanks for visiting.


  4. philosophermouseofthehedge / Aug 26 2011 9:57 pm

    Some neat phone and iPad Apps to use to track Hurricane Irene.

    (Better charge those both up good. Where is that solar charger? It’ll work after the storm!)



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