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Hurricane Preparedness by Dave Barry
dave barry blog ^ | 9-16-03 | Dave Barry

Posted on 09/17/2003 4:52:57 AM PDT by LadyDoc


As Hurricane Isabel approaches the East Coast, I thought it might be helpful if I reprinted a Hurricane Preparedness Guide I wrote some years ago for the Miami Herald. It has some specific references to South Florida, but it should be just as useless to residents of other areas.

For information that is actually useful, an excellent place to look is the Herald's storm site.


We're entering the heart of hurricane season. Any day now, you're going to turn on the TV and see a weatherperson pointing to some radar blob out in the Atlantic and making two basic meteorological points:

1. There is no need to panic.

2. We could all be killed.

Yes, hurricane season is an exciting time to be in South Florida. If you're new to the area, you're probably wondering what you need to do to prepare for the possibility that we'll get hit by "the big one." The best way to get information on this topic is to ask people who were here during Hurricane Andrew (we're easy to recognize, because we still smell faintly of b.o. mixed with gasoline). Based on our experiences, we recommend that you follow this simple three-step hurricane preparedness plan:

STEP 1. Buy enough food and bottled water to last your family for at least three days.

STEP 2. Put these supplies into your car.

STEP 3. Drive to Nebraska and remain there until Halloween.

Unfortunately, statistics show that most people will not follow this sensible plan. Most people will foolishly stay here in South Florida. If you're one of those people, you'll want to clip out the following useful hurricane information and tuck it away in a safe place so that later on, when a storm is brewing, you will not be able to locate it.

We'll start with one of the most important hurricane preparedness items:

HOMEOWNERS' INSURANCE -- If you own a home, you must have hurricane insurance. Fortunately, this insurance is cheap and easy to get, as long as your home meets two basic requirements: (1) It is reasonably well built, and (2) It is located in Nebraska. Unfortunately, if your home is located in South Florida, or any other area that might actually be hit by a hurricane, most insurance companies would prefer not to sell you hurricane insurance, because then they might be required to pay YOU money, and that is certainly not why they got into the insurance business in the first place. So you'll have to scrounge around for an insurance company, which will charge you an annual premium roughly equal to the replacement value of your house. At any moment, this company can drop you like used dental floss. Since Hurricane Andrew, I have had an estimated 27 different home-insurance companies. This week, I'm covered by the Bob and Big Stan Insurance Company, under a policy which states that, in addition to my premium, both Bob and Big Stan are entitled, on demand, to my kidneys.

SHUTTERS -- Your house should have hurricane shutters on all the windows, all the doors, and -- if it's a major hurricane -- all the toilets. There are several types of shutters, with advantages and disadvantages:

-- Plywood shutters: The advantage is that, because you make them yourself, they're cheap. The disadvantage is that, because you make them yourself, they will fall off.

-- Sheet-metal shutters: The advantage is that these work well, once you get them all up. The disadvantage is that once you get them all up, your hands will be useless bleeding stumps, and it will be December.

-- Roll-down shutters: The advantages are that they're very easy to use, and will definitely protect your house. The disadvantage is that you will have to sell your house to pay for them.

-- "Hurricane-proof" windows: These are the newest wrinkle in hurricane protection: They look like ordinary windows, but they can withstand hurricane winds! You can be sure of this, because the salesman says so. He lives in Nebraska.

"HURRICANE PROOFING" YOUR PROPERTY: As the hurricane approaches, check your yard for movable objects such as barbecue grills, planters, patio furniture, visiting relatives, etc.; you should, as a precaution, throw these items into your swimming pool (if you don't have a swimming pool, you should have one built immediately). Otherwise, the hurricane winds will turn these objects into deadly missiles. (If you happen to have deadly missiles in your yard, don't worry, because the hurricane winds will turn THEM into harmless objects).

EVACUATION ROUTE -- If you live in a low-lying area, you should have an evacuation route planned out. (To determine whether you live in a low-lying area, look at your driver's license; if it says "Florida," you live in a low-lying area.) The purpose of having an evacuation route is to avoid being trapped in your home when a major storm hits. Instead, you will be trapped in a gigantic traffic jam several miles from your home, along with two million other evacuees. So, as a bonus, you will not be lonely.

SUPPLIES: If you don't evacuate, you will need a mess of supplies. Do not buy them now! South Florida tradition requires that you wait until the last possible minute, then go to the supermarket and get into vicious fights with strangers over who gets the last can of Spam. In addition to food and water, you will need the following supplies:

-- 23 Flashlights.

-- At least $167 worth of batteries that turn out, when the power goes out, to be the wrong size for the flashlights.

-- Bleach. (No, I don't know what the bleach is for. NOBODY knows what the bleach is for. But it's traditional, so GET some, dammit!)

-- A 55-gallon drum of underarm deodorant.

-- A big knife that you can strap to your leg. (This will be useless in a hurricane, but it looks cool.)

-- A large quantity of bananas, to placate the monkeys. (Ask anybody who went through Andrew; after the hurricane, there WILL be irate monkeys.)

-- $35,000 in cash or diamonds so that, after the hurricane passes, you can buy a generator from a man with no discernible teeth.

Of course these are just basic precautions. As the hurricane draws near, it is vitally important that you keep abreast of the situation by turning on your television and watching TV reporters in rain slickers stand right next to the ocean and tell you over and over again how vitally important it for everybody to stay the hell away from the ocean.

At that point, if you've prepared all you can, there's frankly nothing left to for you to do but pray. I mean for a really BIG wave.

TOPICS: Books/Literature; Education; Health/Medicine; Humor; Local News; Science; Society; Weather
KEYWORDS: davebarry; humor; hurricaneisabel
1 posted on 09/17/2003 4:52:58 AM PDT by LadyDoc
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To: LadyDoc; Cagey
...This week, I'm covered by the Bob and Big Stan Insurance Company...

ROFL......thanks for the laugh this morning....

2 posted on 09/17/2003 5:06:24 AM PDT by WhyisaTexasgirlinPA
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To: LadyDoc
The Axis of Isabel Guide: How to tell you're in a hurricane

Many of you may be wondering exactly how you can tell if Isabel has hit. The following is a list of things that you can use as a guide if you're really stuck in a hurricane,.

First, you have to have a list of things you need to have during a hurricane. Forget about all the official lists you've been seeing, and don't worry about those FEMA schlubs. They don't know that you really need:

Microwave popcorn
Tons of junk food
Soft drinks
Hard drinks (preferably vodka, which, since it's a clear liquor, can be substituted for bottled water)
A grill or hibachi that is not run by electricity

Okay. Now let's assume you get up Thursday morning and would like to know if Hurricane Isabel has struck your neighborhood. Here are a few questions to ask yourself:

Isn't that the neighbor's car parked on top of mine?
When did we install a sun roof in the kitchen?
Wait a minute! Was that really Margaret Hamilton riding by on a bicycle?
Who emptied the bathtub all over the floor?
Um—we don't have lawn statuary.

Now, if you want an even faster way to tell if you're in a hurricane, turn on your television set. If the screen stays blank, it's a good bet that you've lost electric power due to the storm. Here are some other ways to tell if you've lost electric power:

Put a bag of microwave popcorn in the microwave. Turn on the microwave. Wait several minutes. If the popcorn does not pop, you have no electricity. However, you can fire up the grill, wrap the bag of microwave popcorn in tinfoil (fold it up loose like Jiffy Pop does with their product), and have it anyway. (Of course, I don't know anyone who's ever made microwave popcorn this way, and I'm not sure it won't burn down your house, but hey, if you're in the midst of the hurricane, the rain will put out the fire. But do email me if it worked, either way.)

Turn on your computer. Try to connect to the Internet. If you can't get online, it's likely your electricity is out. For AOL users, if you can't get online, it's likely you're an AOL user. (Another hint that your power is out is the way the monitor stays dark green. And you don't hear the power supply or fan kick in.)

Try turning on a light switch. When the light doesn't go on, turn the switch off. Then turn it on again. Then off. Then on. It's a well-known fact that if the light doesn't go on the first time, it's not because you have no power. It's because you obviously didn't flick the switch correctly to the "on" position. Repeat this in various rooms throughout the house to make sure that your power is out everywhere, and not just in one or two rooms.

Let's assume Thursday has come and gone, and it's now nighttime. You have gone to sleep in your darkened, quiet house, mostly because you're bored stiff without being able to play computer games or watch TV or read easily because damn, reading by flashlight is a pain in the ass, isn't it? Next time you're going to remember to get the gas lamp, aren't you? Well, here are ways to tell if you've lost power in the middle of the night:

Try turning on a light switch. When the light doesn't go on, turn the switch off. Then turn it on again. Repeat as above. Get out of bed and try to walk to another room. Curse when you stub your toe on the wall because you forgot that you have a flashlight on the nighttable and if you had only remembered and used it, you would have noticed that you were about a foot to the right of the door.

Using the flashlight, walk carefully to the nearest TV and search futilely for the remote. After five minutes of fruitless searching and cursing, make a vow that next time, you really will get the remote that makes a noise when you clap your hands. Sit down on your favorite chair, leap up quickly because you just sat on the remote. Now, using the flashlight, press the power button on the remote. Shine your flashlight on the TV when it doesn't come on. Click the power button a few more times just to make sure that you're clicking it right. If the TV still doesn't come on, you probably don't have power. Go back to bed.

Turn on the clock radio on your nighttable. Start cursing when you remember that you forgot that the clock radio runs on electricty, and the battery-powered radio is in the kitchen. Get back out of bed, stub your toe on the wall again, swear louder, then get the flashlight and go to the kitchen. Turn on the news. Listen for about ten minutes before finding out that yes, your neighborhood is one of the neighborhoods that has lost power. Go back to bed.
3 posted on 09/17/2003 5:27:14 AM PDT by LadyDoc
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To: Vic3O3
See! I told you we should have opted for Houston. Look at all the fun we might be missing should Houston see a hurricane.

Semper Fi
4 posted on 09/17/2003 5:49:53 AM PDT by dd5339 (Lookout Texas, here we freaking are!)
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To: WhyisaTexasgirlinPA
Very funny stuff from Barry.

Now excuse me while I run over to Home Depot for a 19,000 KW generator. I figure what I don't use I could always sell to GPU.

5 posted on 09/17/2003 6:25:55 AM PDT by Cagey
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To: Cagey
LOL...... I thought this was hilarious...... and since you live so close to the ocean, well, I knew you needed some survival tips.......
6 posted on 09/17/2003 6:47:09 AM PDT by WhyisaTexasgirlinPA
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To: LadyDoc
LOL!! Dave Barry is just a priceless treasure!!
7 posted on 09/17/2003 10:43:13 AM PDT by SuziQ
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