Hurricane Irma threatened us all in Florida - the entire state - over the last weekend. As we spent the week prior getting ready - it definitely changed my plans for the week after returning from scalloping and fishing in Steinhatchee, Florida. A nice, peaceful weekend - we returned home with little food in the refrigerator and just about no gas in our truck. Little did I know that the entire town of Tampa was in panic - we have to get hurricane supplies! I just needed food to get through until the storm came on Sunday night.
We picked up things, we froze large containers with ice, we made ice non-stop all week, we wore ourselves out. As our crew of three humans, three dogs, three cats all waited. The cats in their crates to make sure they didn't run away, the 'storm' rescue dog from Maxx and Me (Flower), our 2 dogs all waited. We watched the big screen television non-stop with hurricane Irma coverages (we did walk away as it was repeating itself). We ate dinner early - scallops and pasta - it was very good - no left overs please - it can't go to waste.
It's getting dark outside....get the flashlights, get the candles, get the matches, get the generators close by, make sure we can get to the gasoline containers. And wait.... Thump, Thump - it's only 5 pm and we hear the thump on our roof - it's raining - has been most all day - it's windy - what is that? Ugh, the branches on our live oak are hitting the roof - so soon? Jim and his son, Matt - climb up on the roof and start using a hand bow saw to cut the limbs and throw them to the ground. Hopefully, we will get lucky and nothing else will happen.
The power flickers as nightfall comes. We grab the flashlights each time, and breathe a sign of relief as it came back on. The television FiOS (cable) could not recycle fast enough for us to get it back on before we went to darkness again. We turned it off. Now what?
So that was the beginning of our power outage - it went out at 10:40 pm on Sunday night and we wait for it to come back. It's now Thursday afternoon and we see the glimmer of hope at the TECO (Tampa Electric) trucks are close. Just as our generator sputtered as the rain storm put water in the gas...and it died... I yell to Jim "The Power is ON!". A miracle - all in the same 60 seconds this occurred.
I've been through this before, back in 2004 and 2005 - lost of power for up to 7 days. How do you get through it? Here's some things I learned.
1) Fill your freezer - I mean STUFF your freezer with frozen containers - STUFF it so that things will fall out or almost fall out when you open the door. The more stuff you have, the longer it will last without any assistance.
2) Fill your refrigerator - even water bottles help, the more it has in it, the better off it will be in the long run in keeping the food good.
3) Get flashlights - big ones are great to read, eat, cook, etc by - here's one of the ones we have. It takes a lot of D cell batteries but it is a great flashlight we got when Sports Authority was becoming a part of history and selling all of it's inventory.
4) Your better get those batteries in APRIL, before the season starts - especially "D" batteries as they are gone very quickly.
5) Be prepared with some way to charge your cell phone - it's not going to make it very long with all the text flying back and forth. I have a small battery pack with a USB port - it uses 6 AA batteries - that worked this time - but solar would be even better - maybe next time. You can also use your car if you have the adapter.
6) A high grade cooler - you know, those expensive ones - they are expensive because they stay cold longer. We got a Craftsman which has wheels and holds things cold for 5 days - so they say. I think at least 4 days it does - not sure about 5.
7) It's going to be quiet and boring if you don't have something to do - especially when it is dark. Grab a deck of cards - play those old games - Go Fish, Rummy, Gin Rummy, Poker, Crazy 8 - whatever works for you. We played cards - and then broke out the Scrabble board game. Yes - those old fashion games that don't require batteries.
8) For those of you that like your drinks - make sure you have wine, beer, alcohol, etc. You may want it when the world seems to be coming to an end.
9) GET A GENERATOR and a high grade extension cord (get a spliter too so you can plug in several things on 1 cord). You'll never regret that - we have a small portable one that we got many years ago for camping and it is wonderful. Our little Coleman Powermate can be carried if needed although it is heavy. It will run our refrigerator, a lamp, a fan and our fish aquarium.
11) Get fuel tanks - we got a few years ago - they typically stay good for decades so it's not something you have to replace very often. You'll want these if you have a generator or if you decide to leave the state and traffic is backed up badly. They are in high demand and disappear quickly from the shelves.
12) Get a fan - yes, remember those old things that your parents or grandparents had? You'll want one of those!!! Since we didn't have air conditioning, I used this little battery powered fan and put it on the night stand by my face as it blew air all night long. It uses 2 D cell batteries - ran for 8 hours each night.
13) Consider a Coleman stove or some other type of stove and the propane gas so that you can cook some of the food that will otherwise go bad if you can't keep it cold.
Things to remember - ICE will become a VERY valuable item and a very hard item to find. Fill your gas tanks! Those also will become very valuable.
We have 2 months left this year for hurricane season - make sure you're ready! and come next year - when they say Hurricane Season is starting....you should start your preparations then - not the week the storm is about to hit you!
Two important things:
1) Start stocking food you like at least in May if not April! Yes - start to purchase a few things each week or each time you go to the store. Put it in a safe place you won't raid when you're hungry. Do this for water also! It beats having to fight the crowd, because you're already ready when it comes.
2) GET OUT YOUR GENERATOR! If you don't run it to ensure that it is working properly. I saw way to many generators (not ours) come here to be fixed either right before the storm (like Saturday and the storm was coming on Sunday) or right after the storm. Your generator needs to be 'winterized' - don't leave fuel in it sitting until the next season - that will gunk up the carburetor. Make sure this little item that can make or break you after the storm goes through is READY long before the storm is coming to you.
So what did I miss? Cool air - yes, I can do without the television, I can do without a lot of things but having cool air sure would help. So, for our next piece of "Hurricane equipment" I think one of those portable rolling room air conditioners will be perfect.