Ten Things All Houstonians Should Have Now in Preparation for Hurricane Season
|Photo by Jeff Balke|
|With the whole first floor flooded, hopefully this guy has some extra food for a few days.|
Must-Haves: Matches, Gallon Bottles of Water, Ice Chest
Additional Options: Grill, Charcoal
If you are fortunate enough to have a gas range, you can light the burners and/or the pilot even if the mechanism that normally lights them is electric with a match or lighter. If not, get a portable charcoal grill and a good supply of charcoal. Food will stay good in most refrigerators for a couple of days if you don't open it too much. Having an ice chest for really vulnerable foods is a good idea. In lieu of ice, buy a dozen gallon bottles of water and freeze them. They can keep things cold a long time and as they thaw, you have fresh water to drink.
4. Alternate Light Sources
Must-Haves: Flashlight, Candles
Additional Options: Lantern
In any power outage, it's a good idea to have a quality flashlight with fresh batteries (and extras), but for outages lasting more than a few hours, candles come in very handy. Oil lamps and lanterns are also extremely helpful. There are some LED lanterns that even run on batteries. Without lights in your home or ambient light from street lamps, that walk from the bedroom to the bathroom can be pretty damn treacherous.
3. Power Alternatives
Must-Haves: Batteries, Extension cords, Fuel, Car charger cables
Additional Options: Generator, Backup Power Supply
As mentioned several times above, you will need plenty of batteries. Make sure to get them in sizes you need for your various appliances because nothing is as annoying as having the wrong batteries. Store them somewhere safe as well because some batteries can be a fire hazard. Extension cords are great when your neighbors have power but you don't. During Ike, I ran three or four of them across the street to my neighbors because my power came on first. It was a small extra energy cost, but a huge help for them. It's never a bad idea to have 10 or 20 gallons of gas stored just in case and having charger cables for your phone and other devices that work in the car is handy. Consider getting a generator or even just a back up battery supply for computer equipment. A good generator will let you keep your fridge and even a window a/c unit running!
2. Personal and Pet Safety Supplies
Must-Haves: Medication, First aid
Additional Options: Pet carriers
Never go into storm season without important medications and first aid. Evacuations can be lengthy and you might not have a chance to get to a pharmacy for weeks after a storm. You should also prep for your pets as well. Don't leave them stranded. Get extra food and have good carriers if you need to evacuate with them. Cheap, throwaway litter boxes are also helpful for cats.
Must-Haves: Beer, Wine
Additional Options: Tequila
Should this be No. 1 on my list? Probably not, but let's face it, when you are stuck without power for a few days or even a week, you will make yourself damn popular around your 'hood if you are able to make your house party central. And you'll care a lot less about how damn hot it is.