11 June, 2009

Hurricane Preparedness

Having worked in emergency management for around thirty years, we had a corollary to the following quote that 'Failure to plan is a guaranteed plan for failure.' Both are true.

"No battle plan survives contact with the enemy"
- Helmuth von Moltke, Prussian Army chief of staff, late 1800's
Planning gives you some background and understanding of the problem, things you need to do to be ready, and some ideas on how to respond and survive the event, knowing that it is never going to go according to Hoyle. Without planning, you've just cut the odds in your favor of a successful outcome by some huge percentage.

So, having said that. Here's a copy of our Hurricane Preparedness and Evacuation Checklist. It'll give you some ideas of what you need here in Belize to be successful at surviving a hurricane. Food for thought if nothing else. This is version 2, updated June 9, 2009.
  1. Prepare small plastic bin of cables, etc., for laptops.
  2. Keep valuable documents in portable file box, including:
  • Bank account and credit card numbers
  • Birth certificates
  • Immigration paperwork, copies of applications submitted
  • Immunization records
  • Insurance policies, including vehicle, homeowners, and any other disaster insurance
  • Land certificates
  • Military service papers
  • Passports
  • Photos/video of your home and any valuable items
  • Social security cards; Belize Social Security payment records for employees
  • Income tax records
  • Vehicle titles
  • Wills
  • Retirement; IRA Paperwork
  1. Mark satellite dish(es) to enable easy repositioning after hurricane passes.
  2. Prepare burglar bar boards and bolts, nuts and washers.
  3. If you have a safe-deposit box, consider removing items from it till after the hurricane.
  4. Position travel backpacks for easy retrieval.
  • Roll-up travel pillow, blanket, two towels and washcloths in each backpack
  1. Prepare a large plastic bin to contain the following:
  • Flashlights, including large black lantern light, mini-headlamps, and spare batteries
  • Solar/battery/dynamo-powered radio
  • Position large blue first-aid kit
  • Toilet paper in plastic trash bag
  • Roll of trash bags
  • Small tool kit and multi-tool (e.g., Leatherman Tool)
  • Hatchet (doubles as hammer)
  • Rain Gear
  • Plastic Drinking Cups – package
  • Baby wipes for general purpose use
  • Disinfectant soap/dispenser
  • Mosquito repellent
  • Sunscreen
  • Can/bottle opener
  • Awning Tent (May need it as shelter for us and/or pets)
  • Hurricane lantern, kerosene, candles and lighters/matches
  1. Prepare large ice chest filled with non-perishable food
  2. Ensure 5-gallon water containers are ready and properly stowed.
  3. Keep Isuzu and scooter at least half-full at all times.
  4. Keep generator ready for use (test weekly year-round).
  5. Keep several empty 5-gallon cans for gasoline in well house for safety. Use for generator (Empty one per month into Isuzu to rotate and replenish fuel supply).
  6. Take digital photos of interior and exterior of house and belongings. Do this well beforehand. Keep as digital files for later reference for insurance purposes.
  7. Ensure each family member knows how, when, and where to turn off gas, current, and water.
  8. Trim coconuts from palms and secure so they don't become deadly missiles during a storm.
  9. Keep an out-of-area contact, in case of separation. Make sure out-of-area contact knows that is what they are and what is expected of them. Dianna's dad is our OOAC.
  1. Load the following into the Isuzu:
  • Emergency Records file box
  • Laptops, adapters, mice, pads and cables (have small plastic bin of cables ready to take)
  • iPods, player and adapter
  • External hard drive (put in a plastic bag and tie end securely
  • Dismantle satellite dishes and store downstairs
  • Digital cameras, bag and memory cards
  • Flashlights, including large black lantern light, mini-headlamps, and spare batteries
  • Cell Phones and chargers
  • Solar/battery/dynamo-powered radio (should be in bin already)
  • Large ice chest filled with non-perishable food
  • Travel backpacks of clothes, shoes, toiletries for each of us; ensure roll-up travel pillows are included; blankets, towels and washcloths in each backpack
  • Prescriptions and other meds for us and pets
  • Eyeglasses
  • Cash, checkbook, credit, debit and ATM cards
  • eReader, charger, and books
  • Remember to take large plastic bin and contents to Isuzu.
  1. Make sure the following is done:
  • Manually unlock the gate motor; Secure gate with padlock
  • Everything downstairs up off the floor and away from windows and doors
  • Unplug all appliances and electronics
  • When leaving house, turn off main power switch
  • Cover appliances (TV, VCR, etc.) with plastic trash bags; secure with duct tape
  • Stack and tie down all outdoor furniture and other loose objects. Place swimming pool furniture in pool or guest house.
  • Lock all doors
  • Move generator and fuel container upstairs; store away from windows and doors
  • Turn off Butane bottle
  • Put up burglar bar boards and secure with bolts
  • Place 5-in-1 printer in plastic garbage bag and secure
The Pet List
  1. Travel containers for cats
  2. Dry dog/cat food in Ziploc bags or waterproof containers
  3. Cat and dog toys including tennis balls for Cindy and Secret
  4. Food/water bowls
  5. Leashes and chains
  6. Litter box and litter (need 5-gallon plastic bucket with lid)
  7. Pet prescriptions
After The Hurricane
  1. If we evacuated, and the house has been vacant for a period of time, enter with CAUTION.
  2. Beware of snakes, insects, and other animals driven to higher ground by flood waters.
  3. Open doors and windows to ventilate and dry out the house.
  4. Check refrigerated foods for spoilage.
  5. Take pictures of the damage, both to the house and its contents, for insurance claims.
  6. Check for gas leaks when turning butane back on.
Please feel free to copy the evacuation plan. Modify it as you need to to fit your circumstances. In preparedness, if it helps save a life, plagiarism is ok. I don't care. You have my blessings. Just do it and get ready.

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