You’ve lived many places. You’ve conquered many things. But, if you’re living in the projected path of a storm (last year Florence, this year Dorian), sometimes your confidence waivers.
Sometimes, while having these moments of uncertainty, you’ll want to turn to social media. Listen to these words of wisdom: Facebook is not your friend. Just don’t do it. Don’t go on the spouses’ page. Don’t engage with either side of the crazies telling you it’s nothing to worry about or that you are crazy for not freaking out.
So, while we know you know what you need to do, we wanted to provide you with a trusted source. Make sure you have these things on hand and you are trusting your gut.
Time to Go Shopping
Unless you are a true disaster prepper — which you may have been, but you just PCSed —now is the time to prepare. Now is the time to make plans. Now is the time to go shopping. And, to save you some time, grocery pickup and delivery options are suspended in the time leading up to and then for a few days after a hurricane. Walmart’s not going to save you this time.
We’ve got three rules for pre-hurricane or pre-disaster shopping.
- Don’t keep putting it off.
- Don’t send your spouse.
- Don’t forget the wine.
Promise, even if you send your spouse with a very specific list, they will not bring home what you wanted, or needed — it’s a scientific fact (and if it isn’t, it should be). They will find some other kind of canned food that they think is a good idea — like buying 15 cans of tuna, which no one in the house even likes. They will, however, remember the beer, but only the kind they like to drink.
So, even if it involves loading the kids into the minivan first thing in the morning, grab your Tula and your shopping list, and get to it.
Now, about that shopping list — since you can’t ever be sure when you’ll get to shop again, you need the essentials, you know: food, water, medicine. These aren’t always exciting, but they’re necessary. Once you’ve covered the needs, treat yourself with some of the wants on your list.
FEMA recommends enough water for each person for three days. This is hard because if you don’t usually do bottled water, you’re going to have a lot left over. So you have options. Buy several gallons of water (which is cheaper) or buy the cases of bottled water and then save them for the next time your spouse tells you there’s a last-minute potluck. Either way, you need to have the water on hand.
2. Batteries and Flashlights
In this case, you’re probably good since your spouse likely has 52 flashlights stashed around the house, but double check this one, OK? Sometimes they need new batteries. And, we highly suggest you strategically place them around the house — like one next to the bed, in the bathroom, in the kitchen, etc. You want them easily accessible when a child wakes up screaming because it’s dark. Also, chem lights work well if you happen to have some that were previously liberated from a supply room.
3. First Aid Kit
Again, this is something you should already have in your house, but if your toddler likes to decorate with Band-Aids, you might need to restock. We’re talking basic stuff here — antibacterial stuff, some gauze, an ice pack. We’re not asking you to have a pen on hand to do an emergency tracheotomy or anything (calm down, Grey’s Anatomy enthusiasts). Oh, and don’t forget to add a bottle of ibuprofen — hurricanes can be a real headache.
Food is definitely essential, especially if you have kids. It wasn’t so long ago that we were contemplating alarms on the fridge to keep them from eating all the food before 10 a.m. So, get snacks galore and then healthy stuff too. Fruits and veggies that don’t need to be refrigerated would be good. Also, protein bars, cans of tuna (if you like it), chicken breast, or even those delicious cans of pulled pork from Costco make for easy sandwich assemblies or salads. Caution: Don’t buy food you won’t eat, or that will go bad in a week. If this storm doesn’t hit, another one is brewing.
OK, we’ve covered the basics, now let’s get creative. The rest of this shopping list won’t directly help you survive, but it sure can make that storm a little more bearable.
When you’re buying food, and you’re looking for snacks to keep your children quiet, make sure you get some chocolate for yourself as well. Even if your service member is home during this time period and not carrying planes or equipment to safe ground, there’s an excellent chance they’re going to be called into work for some reason or another. You might as well be prepared to face this alone. And for that, you need some good, quality chocolate.
Staying connected during the storm is important. (You already know your mother is going to be calling nonstop and people you haven’t talked to since high school are suddenly reaching out.) So while you may not have internet if the power goes out, you can keep your phone charged so you can call or text if needed.
Plug those chargers in and keep those phones charged as long as possible. Also, for your sanity, those USB chargers also keep the tablet going. Download some PJ Masks or a Netflix movie so you can eat your fancy chocolate in relative silence.
It’s hard to brew a good cup of coffee without electricity. So, dear milspouse, be prepared! Make some extra and store it in the fridge. If you must have it hot, I hope you have a gas stove or are ready to fire up the grill. But really, you don’t want to be messing with no electricity, no spouse, hungry toddlers, and no coffee!
If you don’t already have your evening beverage of choice in the house, then we aren’t sure we can be friends. Just kidding…kind of — just, stock up! Remember, the exchange offers a 10% discount if you buy six or more. Bonus — wine doesn’t go bad. And, you’re going to want some wine. Invite the neighbors over, put the kids in one room with a movie, and hunker down with your hidden chocolate stash (sharing with the neighbors is totally optional) and a bottle or three.
FEMA has a wonderful website with some great lists of all the things you need to be fully prepared. But most of us aren’t going to spend $100+ per person on 72 hours worth of dried food, just to have to move it across the country every few years. So, take a look at their list, make sure you have what you need, and then settle in.
Just like the military, hurricanes take their time. They change their plans at the last minute, and they generally end up making you more frustrated than if they hit where they were projected.
Photo Credits: Eastern Sky Photography, NC
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Speaking from experience, the only comment I would make about consuming alcohol is to ensure you are still coherent enough to effectively respond to an emergency. You don’t want to be hung over or inebriated while having to deal with a large tree falling on your house, or heavy winds taking off a part of your roof, or flooding, or any of the other serious scenarios that can and do happen in the midst of a hurricane. You need all of your wits about you and alcohol is not a good friend in that regards.