Lists are great and we all use them. Of course, Santa has the biggest and best list around and he checks it twice. It makes sense, too — don’t want to forget something or somebody. The next best list, at least when I was a kid, was Mom’s shopping list. If anything was going to make it into the pantry, it needed to first be on that list. Later, perhaps on my third day in the Air Force, I learned what S.O.P. stood for and, later still, learned how to not only follow S.O.P., but write them, as well. Today, there’s another type of list that should be forefront on the minds of all those within range of a hurricane or the effects of a hurricane.
Today is the first (business) day of National Hurricane Awareness Week. And though the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has a week’s worth of YouTube videos planned, it boils down to this: Being prepared. And having a list is the first place to start.
As we say here in Texas, chances are this isn’t your first rodeo. You’ve been through hurricane seasons before and you likely remember this week of hurricane awareness each year just prior to hurricane season. If that’s the case, then you likely already have a list of things to do — what to buy, what to practice, what to read, etc. Now, with just over a week until the start of the 2011 Atlantic Hurricane Season, it’s your last chance to check your list and check it twice; remember what worked, what didn’t, what needs a bit of refinement. Whether for the home or for the office, your emergency list should always be current. And when it comes to your emergency preparedness kit, add those items that you need and don’t forget to replace the items that have a given shelf life – food, batteries, etc.
One thing I added to my emergency kit after 2008’s Hurricane Ike was a battery-operated lantern. Though my part of Houston was without power for only three days, I discovered after three nights of real darkness that having a light that was not a flashlight would be most helpful. Before the 2010 season, I added a water filter to my emergency kit. Fred Rogers noted how helpful his battery-operated fans were in his post-Ike environment. He also told me how he took his new-to-the-States and new-to-a-hurricane-threat German neighbor under his wing and taught him the ins-and-outs of hurricane preparedness and beginning a hurricane kit. The fans were not on his pre-Ike list, nor was his German neighbor, but it goes to show you that any preparations can be good, but they can always be made better.
And by the way, we know that your first crack at an emergency preparedness kit won’t have everything you need. With the hopeful understanding that you likely won’t ever need your emergency kit, it’s difficult to spend hundreds of dollars to get it going. Two things: First, you don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars to create an emergency kit. Second, you can add to your kit as money and time allows (the water filter I added to my kit last year was not inexpensive and, as it turned out, it was the only addition to my kit last year).
The 2010 hurricane season went into the record books as the third most active season in history, yet without a single hurricane making landfall on U.S. shores (19 tropical storms, 12 hurricanes and five major hurricanes). 2011 is also expected to be an active season, as the ImpactWeather outlook (watch the video here) indicates: 14 named storms, eight hurricanes and four major hurricanes. Will you need the contents of your hurricane kit? As with each hurricane season, ImpactWeather’s message remains the same: no matter what the forecast or outlook, it only takes one storm to change your life. Get a kit, make a plan, be prepared.