You can learn a lot about how to prepare yourself and your family for a natural disaster by watching The Weather Channel or your local news. They will tell you what to expect in terms of winds or flooding, where the nearest evacuation centers are, and when schools and businesses reopen after the event. Unfortunately, these highly trained experts miss a lot of the really important stuff.
- Shave your legs early and often. Personal hygiene is important, and if your water treatment facility or pumping station loses power, you’ll need a waterless alternative to your daily ritual. Think about how long you could stand to go without a shower, shampoo, or shave. I know. It’s not very long, is it? You can buy moist towelettes to wash your face and body without water. (Stay away from baby wipes. Do you really want to smell baby fresh? Target has some store brand cucumber and white tea or citrus ones.) I see lots of new dry shampoos on the store shelves, too. Never tried them, but I would be more than willing if the alternative was dirty hair for several days. Unless you have a battery-powered razor, though, you would be smart to shave your legs right before the storm hits and as it’s passing through, if possible. Dry shaving is just painful.
- Go to the library. Or the craft store. What are you planning to do with all of that time? You can only watch the wind blow for so long before you get stir-crazy. A big stack of books to read is my idea of hurricane preparedness. If you are not a big reader, get a craft project ready. Maybe you could spend those hours knitting or making jewelry. Write letters to your Grandma. Think about it. This is the perfect time to do some of the stuff you say you never have time for.
- Charge you iPod. Trust me. You will want to drown out the noise. Yes, the wind will sound scary, but what I’m talking about is the whining. Kids who are cooped up inside without electricity can make an awful racket. And you may want to think beyond ear buds. Noise cancelling headphones, baby.
- Bake something ahead of the storm. Face it. The prospect of eating tuna or a granola bar for breakfast is depressing, and you don’t need any more of that in the wake of a natural disaster. Banana bread, coffee cake, cinnamon rolls. That’s the sort of pick-me-up that will put a smile on your face when you can’t make coffee and you have sweated through another air conditioning-less night. Butter cake, chocolate chip cookies, or brownies work just as well. Make oatmeal cookies, and you can tell yourself that they’re nutritious.
- Invest in a rain suit. I’m talking about a heavy-duty raincoat with a hood, rain pants, boots, the whole thing. You know how normally your dog will just go right out to the backyard to do his business? Not gonna happen in a hurricane. You will be forced to brave 50+ mph winds and sideways rain so that your dog can pee on your neighbor’s mailbox instead of in your house. You have some choices here. You can choose something brightly colored so that you look good out there and your neighbors will be able to spot you when a tree limb slams into you and knocks you unconscious in the street. Or you can go with a neutral color or camouflage pattern so that no one will recognize you as that fool walking their dog in a Category 2 hurricane.
So there you have it. Five tips from a pro. File them away for the next big disaster. It may be this summer’s next hurricane or the winter’s first blizzard. Really. You’ll thank me.