When Hurricane Prep Hits Home
We also asked Capt. Graff and Search Specialist Muder to give us five takeaway lessons from their deployment that they were able to apply to their own lives.
CALCULATE YOUR FUEL USE
Capt. Rob Graff: I think harder now about making sure that I have enough fuel for my generators and figuring out exactly how long they’re going to run based on the fuel on-hand. This was an issue while I was deployed with my own house. I had fuel, and two different methods — propane and gasoline. And what I found out was that the propane was gone quick. It burns cleaner, but doesn’t last as long as regular gasoline.
It also comes down to knowing what you can and can’t run with the generator. In my house now, everything’s color-coded. Red dots can’t be run with the generator, for example. So even when I’m not there my wife can operate it. All she has to do is follow the color code, turn on this one, turn off that one, and so on, so that my family can have some sense of normalcy in their lives since I’m usually deployed after a disaster.
Down in the Keys I saw guys who had their generators and fuel all laid out, but their fuel had gotten contaminated by seawater because they’d left it on the ground instead of putting it up high. So I learned from that as well.
THINK BEYOND THE GRID
Search Specialist Todd Muder: We implemented several ideas that I took away. One is using alternative power sources other than generators or the conventional power off the power grid. We’ve acquired portable battery-powered charging blocks that can run computers or your cell phone, and I also purchased a solar-powered charger to charge my phone and the power block backup even when off the grid.
BRING YOUR BOOTS
TM: If you plan on sheltering in place, you need solid footwear. Everything we saw was houses broken into pieces. There’s nails, glass, and screws sticking out everywhere. If we hadn’t had sturdy boots we probably would have been put out of service.
BUY A GPS (NOT YOUR PHONE)
TM: You may need to consider alternate means of navigation after a hurricane. Road signs will be gone, and the roads you may be used to could be washed out. If all the visual landmarks that you’re used to are gone, being able to navigate locally — even in areas that you’re normally familiar with — can be hard to do. Especially if you’re on an evacuation route, you might get off course and then nothing is familiar to you at that point.
Everybody thinks they can just use their phone, but the phone may or may not be working at that point. So have a good-quality GPS, separate from your phone, and know how to use it to get from point A to point B.
USE THY NEIGHBORS
TM: In the Keys, I saw communities that would have benefitted from better resource pooling. For example, one fellow we ran into was trying to use his front-end loader to clear the roads. But he was out of diesel. The next guy we ran into had diesel, but his generator was broke. So if they’d had a better system to communicate, or just better general knowledge of the available resources within their area, that would have helped.
So now, I and my neighbors have talked about it, and it’s amazing the resources that they have. For example, my neighbor has a high-powered generator. I’ve got a generator too, but I’m also the only one on my block that has a swimming pool, so everyone knows that they can use that water for flushing toilets and use for general cleaning. So just having the knowledge of what people in my community have that we can share, trade, barter, or whatever is critical.