Critical Things To Consider Before Disaster Strikes

When You Need To Boil Water

It is very likely you will not be able to use the water from your faucet for a period of time. In 2005, we had three water main breaks in Broward County during Hurricane Wilma. We were left without potable water for several days so we were under a "boil water order." This meant we had to boil any water we were going to use. But at the end of the day, it was up to us to find a way to survive on our own supply until it was safe to use the faucet again.

Many hurricane supply kit checklists, such as the one at the NOAA website, recommend you store one gallon per person for daily use with at least three days to seven days in storage. Based on my experiences, three days should be an absolute minimum and I would recommend up to two weeks.  You may think two weeks is extreme but trust me, it isn't.

Is one gallon enough for you drink, bath, cook, and brush your teeth? What about using the toilet? According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the average person "uses about 80-100 gallons of water per day."[358]  In Florida, the hurricane season occurs during the hottest part of the year. Hydration is a bigger challenge.

What If The Supply Is Turned Off?

Think about it for a minute -- we've assumed that water will be available through the plumbing. But what if the water supply is shut down? Where would you even get non-potable water? It's entirely possible if there is a main water break that you won't even have water to boil or flush.

Aren't There Water and Ice Supply Locations?

Part of many emergency response plans is to distribute water and ice at central locations. However, this can take days depending on the severity of the storm. You will need to find a way to survive in the meantime. It's also important to realize that many emergency responders are dealing with the immediate aftermath and critical infrastructure priorities. There is a basic assumption that you will have a personal water supply on hand.

Electricity - Things You Don’t Think About

We found ourselves without electricity for a couple of weeks. The electric companies work by priority and as residential users, we were low on the list. We usually think about things like lack of air conditioning and lighting when the electric goes out. Most of us think we are tough enough to survive without it.  But there are some very important things to consider about life without electricity:

 How will you get news? Maybe this doesn't seem extremely important.  But remember the "boil water order?" How will you know if you are under an order or if one has been lifted?  There is no television, radio, or internet unless you have battery or generator power.

How will you boil water? Most of us run on electric stoves. This leaves only a few choices for finding a heat source. Do you have a gas or charcoal grill? Maybe you have a house that runs on natural gas or you have a good-sized generator that can power a heat source well enough to boil water.

If you are using a gas-powered generator, what happens when you run out of gasoline? Gas pumps at your local gas station must have electricity to work. No electricity, no gasoline pump. No gasoline pump, no gas. No gas, no electricity.

No electricity, no grocery stores.

If you run out of gasoline and there is no electricity, how will you travel to a central location to get more water if you run out?

These are just a few of the critical things to consider before a hurricane hits your area. The most important thing is to deal with your survival needs beforehand.

Hurricane IreneCredit: NASACredit: NASA