Considering Union County is adjacent to the county I live in, I took interest. There had been flood watches most of the evening as some areas were being pelted with rainfall up to two inches an hour. But, “TAKE COVER!” was something new.
The official looking man then issued a tornado warning. Over the last year and a half that I’ve lived in Charlotte, I have quickly learned to brush off (insert natural disaster here) watch
because my neighbors never seemed to take issue with them. However, we’ve yet to have an (insert natural disaster here) warning. This was a whole new ball game.
Watch is defined as “We gonna get some rain, y’all.”
Warning is defined as “The Four Horsemen just rode into town. And. They. Look. PISSED!“
Charlotte was between two very serious storms. One to the East and the other to the Southwest; both were Northeast-bound meaning the second (and more severe) of the two weather patterns was heading right towards Charlotte. The National Weather service had detected “revolving clouds” in the second storm and stated “a tornado was attempting to form”.
Not really knowing what to do, I fired off text messages bequeathing my shoes to a sister and a reminder to friends that I wanted to be cremated. As you see, I was quite calm and rational about the whole thing. My friends and family also indicated their level of concern by either ignoring my messages entirely or replying, “Let me know if you land on a Wicked Witch. Have fun!”
Note to self: make new friends.
Obviously, I lived. My backyard took a beating; 10 inches of water moved a few items around (including a rather heavy planter containing a blueberry bush. Don’t know how I’m going to get that back into place) and the city only suffered a few downed power lines and tree damage. A funnel cloud never fully formed or touched down, but this made me realize that we are totally unprepared for any natural disaster. Today my goal is to assemble an emergency kit and develop a disaster plan.
All items are to be stored in large waterproof containers except water
*Water: 1 gallon per day per person (plan for three days)
* Pre-cooked, ready to eat meals, ie: canned meats, peanut butter, instant soups/oatmeal, dehydrated fruits/vegetables, crackers/cereals stored in airtight canisters, granola bars, nuts.
* Avoid salty foods that may cause unnecessary thirst
* Choose foods with high liquid content
* Manual can-opener
* Plastic cutlery/dishes/basic serving utensils
* Comfort foods: instant coffee, tea bags, hard candy
* Portable, battery powered radio and extra batteries
* Flashlights and extra batteries
* Waterproof matches, or matches stored in waterproof bag/container
* Waterproof/laminated map of area; indicate location of emergency shelters, hospitals, police and fire stations
* Trash bags
* Blankets/sleeping bags: one per person
* Utility knife
* Rubber gloves
* Safety pins
* Paper and pens/pencils
- First Aid/Personal Supplies
* Medications: antacids, anti-diarrhea, pain/fever: ibuprofen (Advil), acetaminophen (Tylenol) and/or naproxen (Aleve), antiseptics: iodine and/or antibiotic ointment (Neosporin)
* Hand sanitizer
* Bandages: various sizes
* Medical adhesive tape
* Feminine hygiene products
* Toilet paper
* Photocopy: identification, bank information, credit cards, titles/deeds, pertinent government documents
* List of pertinent medical history: medications, diseases/conditions, physician information
* Emergency contact information
* Cooking supplies: camping pot/pan, camping stove, propane tank(s)
* Fire starter: old Armed Forces trick is to use cotton balls and petroleum jelly (Vaseline). Keep in an airtight canister.
* Hydration salts
* Water purification tablets
* Surgical/dust masks
* Sling and splint
* Instant ice/heat packs
* Fire extinguisher: know how to use fire extinguisher
* Travel size board games, decks of cards, books
* Children: coloring books, crayons, small toys
* Plastic bags/storage containers (gallon size/Tupperware)
* Extra seasonal clothing
* Prescription medications
* Extra sets of eyeglasses and/or contact lenses: include lens solution and storage container
* Extra set of house/car keys
* For baby: diapers, wipes, formula, juice, food, pacifier, bottles, clothing, blankets
* For pets: food, water, leash, crate, vaccination information
* Where is the safest place to be during an earthquake/hurricane/tornado/flood in your dwelling?
* Where will your family meet in the event of a disaster? Choose location near your home and another outside of your neighborhood.
* Establish an out of town contact person and make sure everyone in your house knows how to contact them and what information to give.
* Plan and know an evacuation route to nearest shelter.
* Plan and know an alternate evacuation route to nearest shelter.
* Shelters may not always accommodate pets on site. Know where to take your pets and have appropriate documentation attached to their crates.
* Know your neighbors’ special skills (medical and technical).
* Do any of your neighbors or family members have disabilities or will require extra assistance?
* Locate emergency shut-off valves for gas, water, etc and know how to use them.
For those interested: check with your municipal government offices or local fire department for regional specifications that may apply to you (coastal areas may need to have rafts/life vests, mountain areas may need special supplies for snow/ice, etc). This list was comprised of the recommendations I found online from Mecklenberg County (where I live), FEMA and a great website called 72 Hours which is full of easy-to-follow, precise information about preparing for a variety of disasters.
Be sure to note the expiration dates of the food in your kit. I have set up electronic notices to myself one month before they expire so they can be used. Also note the expiration dates of any medications; I plan on using travel size medications as to not waste large quantities. Finally, according to Energizer, their Max Alkaline Batteries have a shelf life of seven years (in the package).
I will post photos and keep everyone informed about how my kit is coming along. Good luck and be safe!