Ask Alex: Prepping for Florence

Alex Badger knows more than just education policy. He put together these tips as many across our state prepare for Hurricane Florence. Above all else, be safe! Before the Storm

Alex Badger knows more than just education policy. He put together these tips as many across our state prepare for Hurricane Florence. Above all else, be safe!

Before the Storm

  1. Know your area

    • If you are in a flood zone, leave beforehand.

    • If your home has several large windows, board them up or leave.

    • Regardless of flood zone or structural problems, always have escape plans and prepare for any scenario.

    • Make sure the whole family knows the plan, and coordinate with the neighborhood.

    • Even if your yard is safe, flying debris can come from anywhere.

    • Help elderly neighbors prepare. Its a good time to coordinate the neighborhood, and make your environment safer when the storm comes.

  2. Stock up: Water, non-perishables, medical supplies–including needed prescriptions and first-aid–flashlights, external chargers, or anything that may be needed in an emergency. Keep a large barrel of water to pour into toilet tanks to flush the toilet bowl if water systems fail.

  3. Structural prep:

    • Board up windows, sliding doors, and other weak points that could compromise structural integrity when natural forces build on the exterior of homes.

    • Garage doors are often the weakest link. When high-speed winds pressurize the house, the garage is typically the first domino to fall. Fortify garage doors with vertical beams or 2×4’s.

    • Install straps or clamps on roofing to minimize damage to roof and frame.

    • Clear loose foliage and lawn décor that may become aerial projectiles during high winds. Even childrens’ toys can become dangerous at high speeds.

    • Clearing gutters and downspouts will help irrigate water that may otherwise build up pressure on your home.

During the Storm

  1. Stay in interior rooms on the first floor with no windows, or closets near support beams, are the safest place to hunker-down during storms. Plumbing and pipes in walls add structural strength as well. Bathrooms often fit this description and they also come with water and a toilet.

  2. Keep your “bug-out bag” close, and prepare bags for family members. When the power goes out, have critical supplies readily available—particularly flashlights—so you can safely navigate in the dark. Avoid flammable light sources like kerosene or oil-burning candles, especially with children. 

After the Storm

  1. Avoid leaving safe refuge as long as possible. Downed power lines can be deadly, and often not immediately visible. Fallen trees often contain nests of upset stinging insects. If a family member has an associated allergy, have their emergency medication readily available.

  2. Avoid flood water. After the storm has passed and the power is out, we often see kids playing in newly-full ditches and flood waters. This is a bad idea—even after minor storms—due to contaminants in runoff. Following large hurricanes, civil systems to contain these pollutants often fail and release the following dangers.

    • Raw sewage contains E Coli, Giardia, Cryptosporidium, and Hepatitis A. Open cuts can become dangerously infected and medical transportation is less available.

    • Hazardous waste could be any chemical that could be transported in the water. Most common are fluids that runoff roads like oil, gas, anti-freeze, and metal dust floating atop or beneath the water. Farm runoff can contain pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers, and animal waste.

    • Sharp or otherwise dangerous objects can be hidden in dark water.

    • Hidden formations or holes like rocks, ditches, manholes, sewer grates, and storm drains can create deadly suction when the pressure from all the water pushes on smaller drainage points. Children can be sucked underground and carried long distances, often washing up in lakes and rivers days or weeks later.

    • Sink holes can occur suddenly with great force during floods. Along with making structures unstable, they can break water mains, electrical conduits, and gas pipes, multiplying the danger.

    • Well water contamination can occur in both municipal and private wells when microorganisms are carried in the elevated water table. With private water sources, it is recommended to have your water tested before resuming use for drinking, cooking, and cleaning.

    • People can be dangerous after a storm during states of emergency, more so as the rule of law descends into Marshall Law. Looters, foragers, opportunistic criminals and those who failed to prepare can become desperate. We’ve all seen news reports about rescue workers being robbed or held-up while searching for people on rooftops. Simply, BE CAREFUL!