A Hoosier's Secrets for Hurricane Preparation

We're getting ready for Hurricane Dorian in Central Florida this week, and people think the apocalypse is upon us yet again, so they're buying enough gas to make a Road Warrior run.

It reminds me of when I used to live in Indiana, and the weather people would only have to hint at a snowstorm to send the entire region frantically scurrying for snowmageddon supplies.

I actually remember the Blizzard of '78, when schools were closed for nearly three weeks because my hometown of Muncie, Indiana learned about snow removal from the city of Miami.

But the Blizzard of '78 seemed to break winter because we haven't had anything like it since. Even so, the fear is still palpable forty years later, because Hoosiers will lose their minds if they think they'll be without milk, bread, and eggs for more than two days. A plague of locusts is less thorough than we are in a grocery store the day before a snowstorm.

These fears are always unfounded though, because snow removal has gotten much better over the years, and we no longer deliver supplies by horse and wagon anymore. You could visit a grocery store the day after a storm, and find the shelves replenished and the roads cleared off, so I never understood what all the fuss was about.

Now, four or five days before Hurricane Dorian is set to make landfall, people are clamoring for supplies like we're about to be bombarded by Ebola-infected zombies riding a sharknado. They're buying enough bread, milk, and eggs to build sandbags from French toast.

And people who normally wouldn't drink water if their tongues were on fire are now hoarding it like a pharmaceutical company that just discovered the cure for cancer.

Buying water is the dumbest thing to do for hurricane preparedness. You have clean tap water flowing freely at your house, which you're already paying for. Why would you pay again for something you otherwise have an unlimited supply of?

If you want to buy something you're not actually going to use, buy those big Gatorade football coolers and fill them up from the tap. At least this way, you're not buying plastic bottles whose creation is worsening the climate, which makes hurricanes stronger, thus making you buy more water bottles.

But while we're on the subject of hurricane preparation, here are a few more tips for people who are still new to the whole hurricane phenomenon.

First, get portable solar panels for charging cell phones and other small electronics. Smaller, lighter panels are better so when they blow away in the wind, they won't do any structural damage or bodily harm. Remember, large solar panels provoke sizable lawsuits.

Twinkies are a multi-purpose item, useful for packing large wounds, starting fires, or if you tie enough of them together, building a raft. And if there are any left, you can eat them.

Those aren't zombies, Starbucks has been closed for five days.

It's totally acceptable to challenge your idiot brother-in-law to play Catch the Projectile during the storm. As your guest, be sure to let him go first. (Bonus points if he catches any solar panels.) Warning: Do not do this during a Category Three hurricane or higher without first tying a rope around his ankle.

If your neighbor evacuates and is gone for more than seven days, tell your idiot brother-in-law he can move into their house and claim squatter's rights. It doesn't actually work that way, but let him try and see what happens. You're welcome.

Looting your neighbors' houses is also acceptable as long as they're not at home and don't have one of those video camera doorbells.

Note to northern readers: Looting is not acceptable during a blizzard or snowstorm, because you'll leave footprints back to your house.

(This actually happened to my sister-in-law's house, but despite a trail of footprints to and from a neighbor's back door, the local police said they didn't have enough evidence to make an arrest. Those guys couldn't get to the bottom of an empty barrel if they were inside it.)

Be careful during floods because the high waters can force venomous snakes to leave their underground burrows for higher ground.

(Seriously, a friend spotted a coral snake outside her porch door one night after a heavy rain. She waited for it to go away; I would have just burned the house down and started my life over somewhere else.)

On a related note, tossing venomous snakes into your house is a great way to get rid of squatters.

Place a sheet of 3/4" plywood in front of your television to prevent projectiles from shattering it. But cut out a hole the size of the screen so you can watch TV during the storm.

Finally, create a go-bag for every member of your family, in case you need to evacuate in a hurry. Your own go-bag should contain two changes of clothes, five pair of underwear, medications, power banks, and your wife's granola bars and Slim Jims you snuck when she wasn't looking.

Finally, if you do have to evacuate, be sure to text me your address, and leave your key under the mat. Uh, so I can check on your TV for you.

Photo credit: Eglin Air Force Base (Public Domain)

My new humor novel, Mackinac Island Nation, is finished and available on Amazon. You can get the Kindle version here or the paperback version here.