Hurricane Preparations on the Homestead

TS Erika forecast 5 pm 27Aug15Good morning, everyone! It looks like hurricane season has finally arrived this year for real. Yep, that picture above is the latest forecast, as of this writing (last night). At the top of the cone in South Carolina, very close to the longitude line, on the coast, lies Charleston. The forecast isn’t calling for a landfall in Charleston, but the eye will come close to the coast. How close? No one knows just yet. With tropical storm force winds reaching 105 miles from the center (the eye), my homestead will be in that stormy weather range one way or another. So, it’s time to prepare. 

Although I keep my homestead prepared for many eventualities, there are still things that need to be done to batten down the hatches and get my homestead squared away. Here’s a list of what should be done in the event of a hurricane, and where I’m at in the process of preparing.

ITEMS TO HAVE ON HAND BEFORE A HURRICANE:

  • NON-PERISHABLE FOOD & BOTTLED WATER: If the electricity goes out for a long period of time, you can forget your refrigerated (and possibly your frozen) food. The same goes for the food at the grocery store. Can you feed yourself for more than a couple days in that case? I just did a major restock to my pantry this month, so I’m good on most items. However, I do have to get a few more things (more canned meat that’s precooked, in case I lose electricity and can’t go outside to cook – like DURING the storm) and some more bottled water. The recommendation is to have one gallon of water per person per day for a minimum of three days. (That’s the time it would take to get trucks into the city with more water – IF the roads are passable after the storm.) I don’t think the storm will be that bad, but I want to have at least three days’ worth of water for me and my son. (My Garden Wilson will be out of town!)
  • DISPOSABLE/PICNIC ITEMS: If there is a water issue (long-term electricity loss at the water plant or water contamination), you won’t be able to wash dishes. Plastic utensils, paper plates, and paper napkins are all handy for emergencies. In my case, I have a good supply, but I think I need some more plastic/disposable flatware.
  • FUEL FOR COOKING: Unless you have a gas stove, you’ll have to provide an alternative cooking source in the event the electricity goes out. Whether it’s containers of propane gas for your gas grill or camp stove, or firewood for your fire pit, be sure to have at least a week’s supply. A month’s supply is even better. I have a camp stove with a box of small propane gas containers. I also have plenty of firewood and charcoal for my fire pit.
  • ALTERNATIVE LIGHTING: If the electricity goes out, you’ll need alternative lighting. Candles (and matches to light them!), oil lamps (with a supply of oil and wicks), flashlights, and battery-operated lanterns (with extra batteries) are all good sources. I have boxes of candles, but I need to get them out of the garage and have them – and candlesticks – ready. I have a large oil lamp on my dining room table, filled with lamp oil. I also have a large camp lantern and two mini lanterns, all of which have batteries that need to be checked. (The mini lanterns are great to keep in the bathroom.)
  • BATTERY-OPERATED RADIO: If the electricity goes out, you will have no TV or internet (routers need electricity). You will need to have an alternative source of weather and emergency information. I have an emergency radio that has a light and siren on it. I need to pull that out and be sure it has good batteries.
  • BATTERIES: Yes, the proverbial battery run will commence soon. Check all your lighting sources and your radio to be sure you have enough of the right size batteries. Stock up if you don’t. I have a funny feeling my son has raided my battery supply for his X-Box controller, so I may be making that battery run myself. (But I intend to go earlier than everyone else to beat the crowds and get the supply…like today!)
  • FIRST AID KIT: Be sure your first aid kit is well stocked and dated items are not expired. In the event of an emergency during the storm, first responders will not be able to get to you. I’m a fanatic about making sure I have good first aid supplies on hand. It’s a homestead, and I’m a klutz. A first aid kit is a normal necessity around me, so I’m good on that one!

THINGS TO DO BEFORE A HURRICANE:

  • WASH CLOTHES: Sounds silly, but what if the electricity goes out for a long period of time? You’ll wish you had clean underwear if you didn’t make sure the laundry was caught up the night before the storm hits! It would seem we’ll start experiencing some effects of the storm Tuesday night, but it’s still too far out to tell. If that’s the case, my laundry will be done as soon as I get home from work on Tuesday.
  • FILL YOUR GAS TANK: Be sure you have a full tank of gas before the storm hits. Gas pumps run on electricity, so if there are widespread outages, you won’t be able to get gas. I don’t know about you, but I don’t like even the thought of being stranded if I HAD to get out in an emergency. I’ll be topping off the gas tank Monday afternoon or Tuesday morning.
  • HAVE CASH ON HAND: Like gas pumps, cash registers and ATMs run on electricity. No electricity, no cash registers or ATMs. During Hurricane Hugo here (back in 1989), I heard that some stores opened and sold the non-perishable items they had (during daylight hours, of course – no lights), but had to use calculators to ring up sales. Cash is always king during emergencies. I will be visiting my bank on Monday to take out some cash.
  • FILL YOUR BATHTUBS WITH WATER: If the storm is going to be bad (hurricane force winds), clean out your bathtubs then fill them with water before the storm arrives. In the event that authorities deem the water supply contaminated (or there is no water at all), you can use the water in the tub for flushing toilets, washing pots and pans, washing underwear and socks, etc. You can also use it to cook with (boiling sterilizes it, which would be a good idea – especially if it has been in the tub a few days). I’m not sure yet if I’ll be doing this. I will wait to see how bad it’s going to be and how close to our coast it will get before I make that determination. It’s a quick thing to do, so I can do that fairly last minute if I have to.
  • SECURE ALL OUTDOOR ITEMS: Don’t think that large items can’t be picked up by wind unless it’s hurricane force. Not so! I experienced a surprise thunderstorm in the mountains of Virginia one year that literally took my breath away. I was at a fair near Roanoke, and the storm winds were 40 mph sustained with gusts of 70 mph – typical of a tropical storm. The winds destroyed a large circus-type tent, taking it to the ground and breaking stakes. It also destroyed a plexiglass field TV station. And the storm lasted all of 20 minutes! Can you imagine the damage it would’ve done had it lasted hours like a tropical storm?? That said, always secure your outdoor items. Move patio furniture, potted plants, bird feeders, etc. indoors. For very large items, you may want to secure them to your house or shed. You don’t want the wind picking up an object and throwing it through your windows! My Garden Wilson will be helping me rearrange my shed to make room for two sets of furniture, two Adirondack chairs, a bird feeder, and all my pots. Everything will be put away before he leaves town this weekend – except for the bird feeder and pots. I’ll put those away right before the storm.
  • DO SOME COOKING BEFORE THE STORM: If the electricity goes out and it’s still storming outside, you won’t have a way to cook until the storm is over. I make sure I have lunchmeat ready for sandwiches or I make tuna or chicken salad. I also cook up some macaroni and make macaroni salad. Grilled chicken is good to make up ahead of time, as well, because chicken tastes good even cold. Maybe make a salad and put chicken on it. Basically, think of things that can be eaten without heating up AND that won’t go bad too quickly without electricity/refrigeration.
  • PREPARE ALTERNATIVE ENTERTAINMENT: It’s sad that we have to call non-electronic entertainment “alternative,” but that’s the age we live in. This is an important one, especially if you have kids. If the electricity goes out, what are you going to do for hours? Cards, board games, books – all are great ways to pass the time. I have decks of cards and a few other games to play with my son. I also have a crochet project I can’t seem to ever find the time to get back to. Stormy weather is perfect crocheting weather!
  • HARVEST YOUR GARDEN: Yes, this is important. One storm can wreck your whole garden. You might as well harvest all you can before the storm AND prepare it for storage. I plan to harvest everything this weekend and dehydrate most of it. After that, my garden is on its own. There’s nothing I can do to protect my garden…except pray!

Well, these are the basics in hurricane preparation. And it gives you an idea of what my weekend will consist of! I’m not sure how intense the storm will get once it hits the Gulf Stream, nor do I yet know how close it will get to Charleston’s coast. I will be prepared, and I will finalize my preparations as needed within 24 hours of the storm’s arrival. I will surely share with you how we (and my garden) fared.

Remember, next week Sanctuary Gardener starts its new posting schedule: Tuesdays and Thursdays. I’ll post both articles over the weekend – in case we lose electricity. If we don’t, then you will get a bonus article with an update on the storm’s passing.

Just a very important note. These preparations are for sheltering-in-place during a tropical storm or MINOR hurricane. If you live on the beach or very close to the coast or a major hurricane (strong category 2 or above) is heading your way, you should evacuate! LISTEN TO YOUR LOCAL AUTHORITIES! Do NOT try to shelter in place if your emergency management department advises evacuation. Most deaths during hurricanes are caused by storm surge and flooding. You can also die by trees falling on your house or projectiles piercing your windows – and you! So, use this article’s advice ONLY if it is SAFE for you to shelter in place.

For those of you within the storm’s reach, be safe! Everyone else, say a prayer for us.

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2 comments on “Hurricane Preparations on the Homestead

  1. I sure hope we in South Carolina won’t have to worry about this storm hitting ….Your post has reminded me that I need to prepare a little myself..Thanks

    • Hi, Dolly

      Yes, it’s always good to be prepared here in SC…especially at the height of hurricane season. Looks like Erika will be bringing us lots of rain, but not much else, thankfully. However, we now have Fred to be watching. ‘Tis the season!

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