Prep for hurricane season

It’s that time of year again.  For people living near the coasts of the southern Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico, and the eastern Pacific Ocean, it’s time to review your emergency/disaster kit….It’s hurricane season.  The season runs from June 1st through November 30th.

© Rozenn Leard |
© Rozenn Leard |

I read on twitter from the Department of Homeland Security that 60% of Americans say preparation for disasters is important.  But only 17% claim to be very prepared.  When a storm approaches local markets are often picked over of needed supplies and have long checkout lines.

There are numerous resources out there to help you prepare and to highlight what to consider as you prepare.  FEMA’s Ready website is a great resource.  We have also published a couple of posts  here  and here that can help jog your thoughts as well.

Take the time and prepare and relax a little bit.  Build and update your kit today!


Are You O.K? Where Are You?

FEMA and NOAA are designating the week of March 3-9, 2013 as National Severe Weather Preparedness Week.  So over the course of this week, we want to help you with your preparation for a new season of weather perils.   Again, the goal here is to get you thinking of the Spring season and how you may be affected.   This is the fourth post in our series.

I wanted to simply point out some resources that you should look into as you look at your severe weather preparation or really disaster preparedness readiness.  Today the topic is communications.

You can think of communications in three ways:

  1. Pre-planning your information
  2. Receiving information
  3. Post event communication

Pre-planning your information covers things you tell family members ahead of time.  “If this happens, then I want you to go here.”  An example, would be your fire escape plan.  “If there’s a fire, get out of the house and meet at the telephone poll across street or at our neighbor Mrs. Smithwick.”  This communication is a plan for what to do should something happen.  It’s decided upon and discussed with family members ahead of time so everyone knows what to expect.

Receiving information concerns how you will receive alerts and notifications as well as family status (location of members etc) just in advance of a severe weather or other disaster event.  It would be good to include this information in a pre-planning communication plan as well.   A very simple example of a portion of this may be,  “We listen to the radio and hear that a warning has been issued.  Let’s text each other so we know where everyone is.  Also, whoever is home and has time, go across the street and tell elderly, Mrs. Smithwick about it…be sure it’s safe for you to go first.”

Lastly, post event communication.  Surely, your family members will want to hear from you.  Even those family and friends who may not live locally, but may be aware that your area just experienced a significant event.  They will try to contact you and/or you may want to contact them.  Maybe an example here is, one member of your family contacts a person who is away and then let that someone in turn inform others in their area.

All of this may sound complicated and you may not believe you have the time to create such a plan.  You don’t need to do all this thinking and coming up with ideas on your own.  Go to and browse the site.  I want to specifically lift up the Make A Plan tab.  It has:

  • A Family Emergency Plan template that you can print and fill out.
  • Family Communication tips
  • A way for you to sign up to receive text messages from FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency)
  • Questions you may want to ask schools and workplaces
  • Information about utility shut offs, vital records, and more

If you select the “Plan to Protect Yourself & Your Family” link from the Make A Plan drop down menu, you will be delivered to these resources and can get going right away.  It’s a great way to begin the planning process and when it’s completed, you have a communication plan that everyone can be made aware of and that you’ll have should you find yourself in a potential disaster situation.

#severeweatherweek  #safety  #prepared

Renew yourself.

© Techvisionary |

Fall is here and in some areas it is well advanced!  If you live in or near a region where tree leaves change color at this time of year, be sure to take advantage of the beauty.  You are, no doubt, going to be involved in cleaning the fallen leaves from your yard; raking, bagging, and dragging the bags to the curb for pickup.  At some point you may even find yourself complaining from the leaf cleanup work that “these leaves are from my neighbor’s tree, not mine!  They should be over here raking.”   Ok, maybe you haven’t said it, but, come on be honest.

Instead, you’ll tip your cup of cocoa to the neighbor when it’s all done, knowing that everyone has had to deal with this annual eventuality and you’ll rest happy and somewhat in better shape for the experience.  But on this side of the work, enjoy it:

Go now (it may be approaching too late in some areas) and see the brilliant colors of the changing landscape.  I’m heading out this weekend.  It will enrich your soul and provide you with a renewed energy and appreciation perhaps of the backyard clean up.

Here are some thoughts for you as you go:

  • Take or plan a lunch.
  • If possible, don’t just do a windshield tour, but rather, get out and enjoy the cooler air, stretch, hike, or the like as you experience the colors.  (You may even want to stay overnight, but you’d better have reservations.)
  • Dress for the cooler weather as you may be in an area that is at a higher elevation than at home; coats, hiking shoes (shoes suited for the cooler outdoors), sweaters, gloves, hat or something for your ears (depending how long you will stay outdoors.)
  • Pack your car with emergency rations (food, water, blanket(s), candle, matches, first aid kit, phone charger, etc)
  • Check you vehicle for safe travel before you head out; fluids (antifreeze, oil, transmission, brake, windshield washer), wiper blades, tire pressure and wear, belts, etc.
  • While driving, pay particular attention to the roads for potentially slippery areas:  wet leaves on the road, shaded areas that haven’t allowed any melting of frost, and bridges.  You will also most likely not be the only ones looking around at the foliage, so don’t get caught up in the viewing that you forget to watch where you’re going.  Recognize that the other guy may also be caught up in the foliage.

Be safe, enjoy, and take this necessary break in your routine.  This time of year will simply get more busy as the year closes out.  Again, enjoy and be safe!

Safe Travel

It’s Labor Day weekend!  So we want to wish you a safe and restful holiday weekend.  To that end, please plan a little bit before you travel to ensure you can meet some adverse situations if you were to encounter them.  Just a little planning before you depart can help make things more bearable.

  • Check fluid levels (oil, transmission, brake, antifreeze, and windshield washer fluid; pretty sure gas goes without saying.)  I always forget the windshield washer fluid until I need to clear the windshield while I’m on the road…oops too late!
  • How’s your tire pressure?  Wiper blades in good shape?
  • Before you put all the luggage in the trunk reach under there and check the air in the spare tire if you still have one of those else be sure the tire and tire jack and lug wrench are in place should you need it.
  •  Do you have the number for your travel club with you?
  •  Phone car charger?
  • Also be sure you have some blankets, toilet paper (one just never knows), snacks and water at a minimum should you have an extended time on the side of the road.
  • Umbrella or ponchos.
  • Jumper cables and flashlight.
  • In car games for the kids…extra batteries too if required.
  • Trash bags to help keep the ride a little more comfortable.
  • Don’t forget to repeat on the return trip

Enjoy your Labor Day safely.

Able to Help or Looking for Help?

Still unsure if taking the time now to plan for some crisis is worth it for you?  Then let’s consider this from a different angle.  The question comes down to this one:  In a crisis, will you be the one “able to help” others or the situation, or will you be the one “looking for help” from others?

Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with receiving or needing help in such situations.  Even if it were possible for you to foresee every potential issue and could plan for it, there is only so much you can do ahead of time and with the resources at your disposal.  In fact, there is a saying, attributed to Carl Von Clausewitz,  that goes “no plan survives first contact with the enemy.”  The enemy here would be the crisis situation your plan faces.  So what is all this need for planning and readiness about?  Why do I keep bugging you about it?

Your planning allows you to:

  • Not panic.  In a sense you’ve faced the situation before in your planning and you’ve accounted for the basics necessary for you to survive for some amount of time.  You have bought yourself some time.
  • Respond more effectively.  Since you’re basic needs are known and addressed to some degree, you’re free to NOT have to deal with those issues along with everything else that the situation is presenting you.  You can respond from a stronger foundation.  You’ll be better able to recognize the issues that you hadn’t planned for that now need to be addressed.  There should be fewer issues to deal with in an already stressful time.
  • Better able to help.  While those that hadn’t planned or are direct victims of the situation are looking to get immediate help for their basic survival, you may be in a position to assist them.  Because you weren’t directly hit by the situation and/or had made some plans to meet your basic needs,  you could be better situated to provide the assistance or help them find the assistance others need.

Realize you can’t account for everything.  When some crisis is upon you, your readiness state is what it is when it hits.  You may have even done all your planning and yet the crisis directly impacted you to the point where you resources and ability to enact the plan are gone.  Still, I believe there is  peace in prior planning.  Survival odds are increased.  It is very similar to why people train.

In learning to fly I had to practice many emergency situations.  I had to practice the maneuvers required for each emergency situation.  For example, how do you respond if your engine shuts down in flight?  Also, how do you respond if your airplane stalls (no more air going over the wing and all its lift is gone) and your plane begins to lose altitude?  I hated practicing this stuff.  Honestly, it frightened me to think that I might one day be in such a situation.  Planning for such events even if they may not be that likely to occur is critical to survival.  I was very grateful for that planning and training when I inadvertently caused my airplane to go into a downward spin from only 3000 ft above the ground one bright sunny day.  While I was losing over 1800 ft of altitude, I was able to stay relatively calm as I began going through the steps that I’d been trained to do that would recover the aircraft and return it to normal straight and level flight.

Flight attendants brief passengers about the safety features and emergency response actions required of each passenger on every flight before takeoff.  Schools have drills for fire, tornado, and now intruders on school premises.  You could go on and on.  All of this is to allow you to NOT panic, respond more effectively, and be able to help others.

Children and spouses will look to you for answers to “what do we do now?”  Whether the “crisis” is a storm, a need to evacuate, a job or income loss, loss of power,  you no longer have the education or training businesses are needing, etc., make your plan.


Today, If You Had to Evacuate…

There are many emergency supply checklists available over the internet and yes even via link through this site (see Basic Disaster Supplies List under Links.)  Those are very good and a great starting place.  However, they are general lists in the sense that they don’t reflect your specific needs.  That can only come from you.

To tailor these lists or simply build one yourself, ask yourself:

Today, if some outside event was to occur requiring me to evacuate my home, what means do I have to minimize the impact on myself and family?  For example, this could  be because of a storm, earthquake, fire, or simply a police cordon.

Since the nature of the event is unknown, we must simply deal with what you would need in most situations; shelter, food, medicine, transportation, cash on hand, etc.

If you had to evacuate immediately, what would you need to evacuate effectively and setup your life at a new location.  Make a quick list.  Your list could look similar to this one:

  • Ready cash; enough to get me to a place outside the area and where my access to cash via ATMs or the like are available;
  • Adequate supply of medications I’m taking;  phone number of doctor or pharmacist to help if  I need more while I’m away, or can’t return to home before evacuating;
  • Where will we go; hotel?, campground?, family that lives out of the area?
  • Food; will I have to buy everything or do I have an emergency food storage supply I can throw in my car to support us all for a few days at least;
  • Do I have space in my vehicle to include everything I’m taking.  How much fuel is in my vehicles?  What if I can’t get any additional fuel until I’m out of the area?  Maybe keep my tank no lower than 1/2 full  routinely.
  • How will I contact those evacuating with me if we aren’t all together (school, work, etc?)
  • clothes?
  • technology needs? (especially if you use computers to run the family or business, e.g. access to online accounts;)
  • Important papers, passports, certificates, insurance policies;
  • and so on….

For each item on your list, come up with a plan or alternative source.  Some items on your list may not be that critical and you can decide now that that wouldn’t be an issue.

Additionally, you could add a column to your list, consider:

  • How long it would take you to pull things together and minimize that time by packaging items together now.  Thereby some things would be ready to go right away (e.g. important papers, food supply, etc.)
  • What if you had no time at all and couldn’t return home?
  • Would it matter what season it was?  Would your needs change based on season?

How does that change your planning?   It’s good to look at these things ahead of time, not to frighten ourselves or to get all chicken little, but to avoid having to panic should you be faced with an evacuation situation.

I started with a quick list: cash (I wouldn’t need to rely on ATMs initially), food (prepackaged and ready to go like these food storage options), important papers (all in one place to grab and go), shelter (tent large enough for family with a plan to call hotels for reservation away from area), water and any medications, communications (chargers for electronics (e.g. phones)), fuel (minimum half a tank of gas) in transportation I plan to use.

Keep the list along with your planning notes.  Shop for needed items now and refer to your plan when the time comes and rest knowing you’re as ready as you can be.

Having completed all of the above, go back to your daily routine and rest, ready.

Readiness is about being able to wait.

Travel Care

Take extra care if you find yourselves traveling this week for Thanksgiving weekend here in the U.S. and of course the retail event, Black Friday.  In addition to your normal packing for the trip, don’t forget to check the car out as well:

  • Check fluid levels (oil, transmission, brake, antifreeze, and windshield washer fluid; pretty sure gas goes without saying.)  I always forget the windshield washer fluid until I need to clear the windshield while I’m on the road…oops too late!
  • Before you put all the luggage in the trunk reach under there and check the air in the spare tire if you still have one of those else be sure the tire and tire jack and lug wrench are in place should you need it.
  •  Do you have the number for your travel club with you?
  •  Phone car charger?
  • Also, if you’re traveling in the north, be sure you have some blankets and water at a minimum should you have an extended time on the side of the road.
  • In car games for the kids…extra batteries too if required.
  • Trash bags to help keep the ride a little more comfortable.
  • Don’t forget to repeat on the return trip.
Happy Thanksgiving!


I don’t like shopping for cars.  I really don’t like paying for them.  When I have to buy one, my criteria are generally practical; dependability, good gas mileage, low monthly payments.  Anything outside of that for me gets into my emotions.  Now, I want much more than those things in a car.  I know this because of the inner war I experience going on between my pragmatism and the quest for the better as I see the “flash” of all the other features.  This experience defines the reason I don’t like shopping for cars and yet with my base requirements in mind I go forward.  The requirements help keep me focused on what specifics I’m needing to meet; dependability, easy on gas and pocket book.  With those things in mind I can steer away from the flashier options that may satisfy one or two but not all of my requirements.  Someday, I’ll change my requirements to include some really cool flashy stuff too.

I think having our requirements in mind before we act keeps us from impulse or emotional moves.   Goals are like this too aren’t they.   If you want to walk in a straight line over a distance, it’s better to pick out a point in the distance and walk directly towards it (goal.)  Otherwise, you may find you’ve wandered off path or that you are on a completely different path than you anticipated.

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