The odds of a direct hit on the First Coast are low – but it’s still a great time to stock up your hurricane supplies
The latest projections from the NOAA’s National Hurricane Center have reduced the chances that Jacksonville will take a direct hit from Hurricane Florence, but they’ve also announced a new low pressure system west of it as well as a new hurricane currently forming in the east Atlantic.
It’s also important to remember that just because the odds are low doesn’t mean it can’t still happen! If Florence remains weak for another day or two, the storm will continue to head further to the west before shifting north again. And even if Florence spares the First Coast, we’ve still got a few months of hurricane season ahead of us.
With that in mind, every home should have the following:
- Fresh, bottled water
- Non-perishable foods
- A radio
- First aid kit
Water is likely the first service to go. Even if the pipes keep pumping, it’s likely that even a small amount of flooding can cause the supply to become contaminated. But a boil water advisory won’t do much good if you’ve got no electricity to boil the water with!
Food is the next biggest priority. Roads may be blocked by flooding and/or storm debris for days – even a week. It’s essential to have plenty of food that stores well and doesn’t require much preparation. My favorites are granola bars, nuts, dried fruits, and crackers – but there are tons of choices! Feel free to indulge a bit on the chips, snacks, and candy, but remember to stock something healthy too because you’ll start to notice after a few days of nothing but junk.
Flashlights will be essential because it will be pretty dark inside, especially after sunset. Even walking around the house can be a health hazard. Candles can be an option, but they produce very little light, moderate amounts of indoor air pollution, and they present a risk of fire. These may seem like minor concerns, but they are among the most common causes of death and serious injury during a storm. Extreme caution should also be taken before using a generator – and never, NEVER try to set up a generator without a certified electrician!
A radio will be the most reliable form of communication. Stations can broadcast from a fair distance, so anyone outside of the direct path will still be on the air providing information and warnings. Smart phones shouldn’t be relied on as flashlights or means of communications: even if you do have a way to charge it up when the power is off, the cell towers and ISPs are likely to be down so there won’t be any signal.
Batteries will be essential to keep those flashlights and radios powered, and you might just be surprised at how quickly they can go. So now’s a great time to buy a big pack to store away in that junk drawer. You won’t regret it when you need them, eventually! Most batteries these days have a long shelf life before they start to go bad, but if you have an older pack it might be a good idea to take a few out and test them before hand to make sure they are still good.
A First Aid Kit is another thing that’s great to have around, and hurricane season provides a convenient reminder to make sure it is fully stocked with bandages, antibiotic ointment, medical tape, tweezers, scissors, pain relievers, etc…
While the above list covers the most essential supplies for a tropical storm, there are some other preparations and items that are nice to have. If you can start stocking up or making ice now, do it! With enough ice, fridges and freezers can be used as giant ice boxes. Be careful though, when your ice is melting, the food isn’t necessarily safe anymore!
In addition, it’s a great time to stock up on charcoal, wood, or other cooking fuels. A small backyard grill and a bag of charcoal can help you cook those perishable foods ASAP, and can also provide hot water for some caffeine in the form of instant coffee or hot tea. After a day or two without power, those little indulgences will mean everything.
Hopefully we avoid any direct hits this year, but there’s no harm in being prepared and staying safe!