Sunday, June 1, 2014

Day 1 of Hurricane Season 2014

June 1:  the start of hurricane season 2014.  My cousin-in-law's husband says that if the upper level winds stay the way they are, we won't see many storms.  I'm saying a prayer of thanks for upper level fierce upper level winds which shear storms apart.  Long may they continue to blow!

It's been many years since the savage hurricane seasons of 2004 and 2005.  I'm guessing we've all gotten a bit lax.  I should start thinking about things I'll wish I had thought about earlier, should a storm blow up.

I used to keep a much larger pantry of items that didn't rely on electricity to stay good.  I need to buy peanut butter.

It's time to start eating down the food in the freezer, time to stop buying so much in quantity that requires electricity to stay good.  Over the past year, with a different freezer that doesn't hold so much food, we tend to do that naturally.

How long has it been since I bought batteries?  Hmm.  Let me check those stockpiles.

I used to keep gallons of water in old milk jugs, and I kept them filled all the time in an unused bathtub; I kept them in the bathtub in case one of them sprung a leak.  Once you've filled them in preparation for a storm, but you don't have to use them, you don't want to just pour that water down the drain, after all.  And there are so many things that could disrupt the water supply.  I took comfort from that bathtub full of several days' supply of water.

Living in hurricane country makes me aware of infrastructure and how easy it would be to disrupt it.  I worry about storms, but we should all be conscious of non-natural disaster possibilities.  Even if you live in a place with stable weather and geology--do such places exist in this time of climate change?--your life can be turned upside down with a random explosion of a gas main or the giving way of a city water pipe.  Many of us live in places of aging infrastructure.  We fear terrorists more than we fear erosion, but they both could threaten us.

Could you and your family survive if you couldn't get to a grocery store for a week or two?  You may scoff, but we're all increasingly reliant on food that's shipped to us from elsewhere.  What if an emergency elsewhere meant your grocery store couldn't get food?  We've experienced that before.  What if part of the electric grid went down?  Do you have batteries for your flashlights?  What if something happened to disrupt shipments of gasoline?  Do you have more than half a tank of gas in your car right now?

Do you have the simple items that a first aid kit should contain?  Bandages and rubbing alcohol and hydrogen peroxide?

Those of you who know me can see my inner Apocalypse Gal coming to the forefront.  But truly, it doesn't hurt to take a quick inventory.

Maybe your inner Pollyanna thinks that you don't need to worry; your local government or FEMA will come to your rescue.  Maybe that will happen.  Maybe you'll be lucky.

It's time to return to the idea of self-reliance.  Maybe you don't want to go as far as buying a generator or canning your own food.  Maybe you don't want a weapon to call your own.  But now is a good time to take stock:  count your supplies, take some pictures of your valuables, put those pictures with your insurance and other important paperwork.  You do know where those important papers are, don't you?  You could grab them at a minute's notice, if you had to evacuate?

And while we're at it, we should back up important papers and important pictures.  If you can't afford cloud computing, you can e-mail files to yourself.  Or put it all on a data stick and ask an out of town person you trust to hang on to it.  That way, even if you don't have access to your hard drive for whatever reason, you've got your important stuff.

Even if you don't live in hurricane country, take some time to take care of some of these details.  If you would mourn the loss of those pictures, back up your hard drive.  Buy a big jar of peanut butter and stash it away and hope you never need a source of concentrated calories.  Let yourself feel gratitude for all the close brushes you've had with disaster and survived; feel gratitude for the fact that if you're reading this blog, you likely have all sorts of resources, like living in a first world country, that will enable you to survive.

If you came here hoping for a poem, see this post on my theology blog.  It asks that age old question:  what would Jesus do after a hurricane?

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