Although we were all busy thinking about the pandemic and the rioters who were destroying our cities, the calendar began marching on. Time, they claim, does not stand still for any man, nor, apparently, for a virus. We are in the hurricane season already with two tropical storms behind us.
This will likely be a worse than average hurricane season, according to the National Hurricane Center. I’m not sure what exactly their assumptions are, but that doesn’t matter. This is going to be the first hurricane season we’ve faced with COVID-19, let alone any of the other issues that the year brought us. That is enough to ensure it’s going to be a rough season for hurricanes.
Bugging Out Is Going to Be Rough
If you’re living in a zone of hurricanes, then this year you really need to be ready. The bugging out, if necessary, will be a real challenge this year more than any year in the past. The biggest problem is finding somewhere you can go, if you need to bug out.
There are actually two sections to this issue. The first is to find a hotel where you can walk. That’s still a concern but there’s the additional social distancing concern this year. This year, hotels in certain states are required to implement social distancing measures, just as restaurants do. And you would have to travel farther in order to find a hotel with rooms available, than you might have had in other years.
Besides, some cities may not welcome you in, particularly if you’re coming from a hotspot. Several states have already instituted travel restrictions from other states that have high counts of cases COVID-19. I doubt they are going to lift that for a hurricane.
Related: How to Prepare For A Pandemic
The solution to these potential problems is three-fold:
- First of all, don’t bug out unless you feel you have to. Most of us have that attitude anyway, so it’s not much of a problem. Prepare your home to ride out the hurricane and then shelter there.
- If you do decide you need to bug out, then leave early, before the government issues an evacuation order. That’s about the only way that you can be sure of being able to find a hotel within 300 miles. Besides that, you might beat any efforts to keep people from your area from invading destination towns.
- Plan on camping out and prepare for it. Even if you are planning on going to a hotel somewhere, take camping gear along with you. That way, if the hotels are full and you can’t find anywhere to go, other than an emergency shelter, you can pitch camp wherever you are. Just be sure to think it through, so that you won’t get soaked.
I know that three statements contradict one another before you say something. Even so, they all need to be part of your plan. Consider these as plans A, B, and C. Then decide at what stage you are going to need to introduce Plan B (bug-out). That is likely to be anything like a Category 4 hurricane heading for you.
So What Do You Need?
If you are like many of us, this year you’ve already already dipped into your prepping stockpile. The numerous shortages in our grocery stores have caused us to use food, cleaning supplies and paper products that we had set aside for an emergency. That’s all right, that’s what they were there for, but I’d take this opportunity to do as much as possible an inventory and restock everything.
Don’t think of a hurricane as a matter of three day problem. In the case of every major hurricane since Katrina, it’s been clear that things don’t get back to normal fast and that relief supplies don’t arrive on time. In every case I was able to check on, p eople were literally dumpster diving, searching for food, weeks after the hurricane hit.
In addition, there are some specific things that you should stockpile to do through the first season of COVID hurricanes:
As Far As Your Windows Go
If you’re going to stay home, then you need to be ready to cover your windows with plywood.
Taping the windows, as recommended by some people, isn’t enough to keep them from breaking, especially if something hits the glass. What all this helps is keeping the glass in place.
Many people are waiting to buy plywood until it’s too late and the stores run out. You’re better off getting covers prepared and kept in the garage or basement for your windows so you’ll have them. Cut them to size, make sure they match, then mark them, so you know the window they’re going on.
Protect Your Home From Further Damage
Blue plastic tarps are perfect to shield your home from more destruction, should the hurricane damage it. Whether we are worried about roof shingles falling off, or a tree branch smashing through a window, it doesn’t matter. The hole can be filled with a tarp and a staple gun.
Of course, in the middle of the hurricane, you don’t want to try and put those tarps on your home. This will actually result in the tarp loss and you get soaked up. But once it is done, you’re going to want to defend your home against further damage.
Few people bother to stockpile gasoline, mostly because it doesn’t keep well. You can only store it for about six months, maybe 12, if you add a life extender to it.
Even so, you should have a few cans of gas ready for a storm, trying to keep the gas tank full over and above. You can always replace that gasoline later, burning it in your car or lawnmower.
One of the issues with any mass evacuation is the running out of gas stations. Then people are trapped along the lane, waiting until more gas is brought in by trucks. Obviously that is not a good position to be in. Keeping an extra 5 or 10 gallons of gas on hand will help ensure that you can reach your destination, even if others are not able to.
If you can, I would recommend that you keep the gas in metal gas bottles, instead of plastic containers. Although the plastic ones are safe for gas, they are not really designed for long-term storage. When the gas heats and expands it places a great deal of pressure on the substance from which the gas can be produced. I’ve had that cause more than one gas can to leak.
As Far As Your Health Goes
With COVID-19 still raging around the world, there is always a risk of a member of the family coming down with the disease. In addition, we’re going into the flu season, with all the pain and discomfort that comes with it. Between the two, it’s a good time to stock up on over-the-counter drugs that help treat respiratory symptoms. Admittedly, such drugs won’t cure COVID, but they can help you cope with the symptoms. Definitely, they should do it for the flu.
If you need to bug it out, make sure you are taking any prescription medication that family members continue to take for chronic illnesses. I would suggest that you try to get your doctor to give you some extra prescriptions to keep those in your bug out of your bag or vehicle.
Related: Prepping Supplies: The Medical Bag
Always Good to Have
In the midst of a natural catastrophe, there is always a high chance of injury. The powers that nature can unleash are so far beyond everything created by mankind that we have difficulty dealing with them.
A hurricane, particularly a Category 4 or 5, has winds so strong that when they strike, it can turn loose objects into projectiles and cause injury.
I’m not talking about a $19.99 kit from your local pharmacy, but a decent trauma package. That small, low-cost kit may be good for a paper cut or a skinned knee, but that’s all. You need enough to be able to take care of bigger accidents. Better still, you need two and you’ll be able to carry one in your vehicle.
Water and a Means to Purify Water
If there is something other than food that is normal for prepping items, this is it. After a hurricane, particularly when there is flooding, we can’t rely on the city water supply. That could cause the system to become contaminated, forcing officials to shut it down. Not only that, if you have trouble locating anywhere that will welcome you, you may have to purify the water that nature offers in the event of a bug-out.
Again, it is something you want in your home as well as in your car. Also don’t rely on a straw-type water filter. Your car’s water purifier has to be good enough to provide water for your entire family.
There is a very high risk of any hurricane causing power outages. The electric distribution infrastructure is just not strong enough to handle the high winds and there is always a risk that broken branches of the tree may bring down power lines. To make matters worse, if you cover your windows with plywood, you’ll get real darkness inside your home.
Most people talk about having flashlights for emergency lighting and spare batteries. So far as it goes, that is fine. But if you’re relying on flashlights, be sure you’ve got plenty to go around with them. You don’t need a single flashlight, you need one for every family member plus a few spare pieces.
I would also recommend having some other light source, such as Coleman’s old-style “dual-fuel” lanterns. Those are going to run off of gasoline, and since you’re going to have gasoline anyway, that’ll probably make sure you have plenty of fuel for those lanterns.
A Means to Cook without Power
When the power goes out, so does your cooking capacity, if you have an electric stove. It’s pretty good odds the gas will stay on but you can’t be sure.
In a hurricane either, you can’t really rely on cooking with wood because it will most definitely be raining and windy.
But if you’re trying to wait for it out, you’ll always have the problem of getting your firewood soaked to deal with. It would be a good idea to have a camping stove which you can use, along with a good fuel supply.
My favorite is the “dual fuel” Coleman, which runs off of gasoline. I can recall seeing my father cook on one of these as we went camping. They haven’t changed much.
How to Keep Up With News
You’re going to need to keep up with the news about what’s happening and the easiest way to do that is with a radio. Be sure to get a good one, preferably with an extendable antenna for extra range. It has to be battery powered, so that you can use it when the power goes out. Make sure you’ve got plenty of extra batteries.
When Power Is Out
The radio isn’t all you need to have extra batteries for. You should also have an extra battery pack or two for your cell, so you can recharge it when power is not available. Today, we rely so much on our phones, including getting the news.
Don’t just depend on a battery, or even a car charger. Something could happen to your car, where you can’t use it to recharge your phone. Make sure you have something fully independent, even if it just lets you recharge your phone once or twice.
As Far As the Pandemic Goes
In this COVID-19 time, you must have masks and gloves with which to protect yourself. That will be particularly true in a mass evacuation where people would possibly crowd wherever you go.
I seriously doubt there would be a lot of social distancing options, unless you do as I said earlier and go camping when you bug out.
Don’t count on being able to buy these when you are bugging out. There are still many shortages, especially of gloves. When you are found bugging out with loads of other people, they’ll actually empty the shop. At least keep a box of each in your car, just in case.
Like the masks and gloves, in case of a break out, you’d better count on carrying your own hand sanitizer. While manufacturers have been churning hand sanitizers out, you can find it almost anywhere, that might not be the case when you bug out.
Keep a few in your car, just to make sure you’ll have it. Since bugging out means you’re going to fly, you’re definitely going to go through more than if you’re staying at home, so be realistic with how much you carry along.
If you are fortunate enough to find a hotel you can stay in, you can definitely not count on the efficiency of the disinfecting procedure that the housekeeping staff has done.
While I’m sure there are wonderful people out there doing a fantastic job, I’m equally sure there are others that only give it a lick and a promise. Disinfecting your own hotel room makes sense, as soon as you go in.
Avoid bleach as a disinfectant, as it may discolor the bedspreads and upholstery. Alcohol or hydrogen peroxide, however, can be used without problem. I’d have a spray bottle, and disinfectant pads, to be sure. The spray bottle lets you spray down the bedding before using the beds.
As I mentioned earlier, your Plan C should be camping out. That means having the right equipment to do so. While most of us have camping gear for a bug out, it might not be the kind of camping gear you really need. For one thing, few of us have tents and sleeping bags.
Think it through and ask yourself what your family would need, if you were forced to live in it for a couple of weeks. It probably won’t be that long, but better safe than sorry.
A Very Important Thing to Have
Finally, ensure you have plenty of cash at your disposal. When electricity goes out, your credit and debit cards may not do you the least good. In that case, just having cash is the only thing that makes sense. Think about how much you would need to rent a hotel room, and try to get that much on hand. Avoid large bills, since these can be more difficult to use.
Originally posted 2020-08-08 07:00:46.