July OTA: First Aid and Shelter

The 5th step is First Aid and Shelter.

Greenies:  For a first aid kit, gather what you have into a double zip lock bag or plastic container.  This can do for a start.  Make a list of what you need and start to gather it a piece at a time.  Or, buy a premade first aid kit.  Red Cross and other reputable organizations make lists of what should be in a first aid kit.  So, use theirs or make your own.  

Take CPR:  I teach CPR so I am partial to this training.  But, hey, it could save the life of a dear family member.  It is never too soon to make time for it!!  Even if you lose someone you love, it brings peace to know everything was done that could have been.  No regrets.  

Shelter:  Greenies can start with a tent or several very large tarps, ropes, stakes and tie downs.  This will keep the rain off you in case you are unable to stay in your home.  Also:  Find out about the local shelter programs and locations in your area.  Make plans of when you will go there and under what circumstances.  People requiring electricity for medically necessary devices and those that need other services may need to relocate sooner than those who can live through power outages, etc.

Maintenance/Experienced:  First Aid Kit:  Update and rotate any expired or damaged items in your kit.  Take the time to add  to the kit such things as large bandages for large wounds, snake bite kit,  cpr mask, update your CPR and first aid certifications (usually good for 2 years), a small sewing kit, ipecac–Use your knowledge of what might be to prepare even more.  

Shelter:  Review your shelter plans and make sure they are still current.  Be sure two family members and/or a neighbor you trust know where you plan to be.  Upgrade your tarps to bigger ones, or a better tent.  Maybe make it actually comfortable and useful by getting one nice enough to take camping–hey, lots of fun state parks here to try out and hone your camping skills.  Make some non-electronic memories.  

Advanced/Extra Milers:

Continue to expand your first aid kit to the degree that you feel might be useful without being wasteful.  

Check your tent for maintenance issues or needed repairs and be sure it is still water tight and viable if you needed to live in it.  

Reach out to others in the community and help them with this type of preparation. 

Red Cross is looking for volunteers to teach awareness and preparation in the community.  You could volunteer.

Donate these types of items (even if they are the hand me downs after an upgrade) to someone else in your neighborhood, church or community to help others prepare who may not have the financial means available to prepare as well as they’d like to.

Increase your personal First Aid or CPR training.  Red Cross teaches Aquatics (life guard training) and also Wilderness Survival classes.  

Youth can take babysitting classes that teach many of these same skills.

Help Boy Scouts or others teaching youth these same skills.

Hurricane Window Preparation

In hurricane prone areas, you will want some protection on your windows.  

Usually there is plenty of warning when a hurricane is headed your way so that you can take care of this.  Still it is easier to get the supplies ahead and prepare them so that it can be a simple thing to get covers on your windows.

Solutions I know of 

1–Professionally installed roll down shutters.  These are metal looking boxes above your windows (outside)  that look like planter boxes above instead of below the windows.  In the house will be a handle of some sort that comes down next to your curtains.  This handle can be bent to roll them down gently and fairly easily from inside the house.  THese are very nice because you don’t have to lift almost anything.  Plus, as soon as the storm is over you are not stuck in a dark house.  Plus, if there was a fire, you could, conceiveably remove the shutter from inside and get out (if you had enough time–the door would probably still work faster).  

2–Professionally installed metal  panels.  A metal track is installed above and below the windows.  Bolts slide into these grooves with the threaded end sticking out.  THese slide down to get into place to match the holes in the top and bottom of the sheet metal panels.  Slide the panels onto the bolts and secure with wing nuts.  Fairly simple to do.  Probably the second easiest to manage–it is lighter than plywood and they are ready to go.  

2b–Another way professionals secure these same panels is to drive receivers into the concrete blocks or brick on the sides of the windows.  These are like anchors.  Then, you hold the holes in the panels over the holes in the wall and hand screw a large flat head bolt into it.  These can also be tightened with a power drill, but you want to be sure to not overtighten them and yank the anchors out of the wall.  

3–plywood.  Traditionally, this is the most common and cheapest way to secure all the windows in your home.  You can get the drill bits and screws to place a piece of plywood over your window and screw it right into the wall with concrete screws.  I recommend if you are going to do this to get advice both from a homeowwner who has done this and a hardware store clerk to be sure you have both the right type of equipment and ideas of how to do it the easiest way.  You may even be able to set anchors into the wall yourself  so that each hurricane does not mean  another hole in the exterior surface of your home.  

Tips:  IF you cut your plywood to match specific windows on your home, be sure to Mark or label them so they are easy to match up next time.  

Keep them out of the rain.

If possible keep them away from your home in a shed or somewhere unattached when not needed to try to protect your home from termites.  

3b–and my personal favorite when it comes to plywood protection.  There are clips you can buy at the hardware store that look like 2s or large, squarish Zs.  The particular brand we have is called plylox.  These are wonderful for a quick set up and take down.  You do have to cut out your plywood to match your windows.  (Follow their directions) But then, you can just pop them in and out.  These clips press into your window casing a lot like a spring rod does and holds the wood secure until removed.

4–Taping:  I have seen people tape their windows in big Xs before a hurricane.  I have found nothing that indicates that this is useful protection against a hurricane.  Perhaps it would make clean up easier in the event that the window is compromised, but I don’t know of any real reason to bother doing this.  

I hope this information will help you consider how to better prepare and secure your home in the event of a hurricane.  Please leave any helpful comments you have learned that might make this process simpler or easier for others.  I love to learn from your experience.