INFORMATION AND CONTACT WITH FAMILY AND FRIENDS:
When a storm threatens or happens, the phone lines here are stressed beyond capacity. This is frustrating for callers but even worse it can endanger lives. Your family abroad is worried and needs news, but not at the expense of a complete collapse of local communications. In an emergency, place one call, not ten. Here is how:
Select ONE person OUTSIDE BELIZE to be your information center. This person should have a reliable phone and a computer. Tell all your family and friends that this is information central for you. If there is a storm, contact this person and let them know what you plan to do and when you will contact them again (or a time they can try to reach you). All your family & friends can get clear and correct information this way – and you will be able to focus on taking care of yourself instead of trying to calm the nerves of others who are far away.
NEIGHBORS, FRIENDS NEARBY:
- Keep Cellular phone charged. Everybody make a plan to have phone on from 5 minutes before until 5 minutes after the hour. This will allow you to conserve power.
- Listen to LOVE FM and/or REEF Radio. Bulletins will be broadcast there, including messages to individuals.
- Buy and use Walkie-talkies / radios – Channel 16 is the emergency frequency. Work out a plan with your neighbors prior to the storm hitting – know how to communicate during the storm.
- Have phone cards with available credit on hand.
- Do not keep your original policy in your house – if the house is damaged, the policy will be damaged as well.
- Do keep your policy encased in plastic bags – either in a safe deposit box at the bank or in the hands of a designated representative that lives outside the danger area. Best that your “communication central” person above also have the policy or a current copy of same.
- Do copy policy particulars electronically and place that documentation out of harm’s way.
- Check that your policies have not lapsed and update your inventory list now.
- Boat policies – most require that you have secured your boat well – photograph your tie-down or beach-storage at the time you pull your boat. You may need this to process a claim.
OTHER IMPORTANT PAPERWORK
Wills, Deeds, Boat Titles etc –
DO put them in plastic carriers and thence in a safe deposit box at the bank.
DO scan electronically and then back up the scan. Place copies in two safe locations,
(one should probably be “communication central” person.)
PREPARING PROPERTY –
TO DO NOW –
- Assemble boards and/or shutters for windows and doors.
- Get nails & hammer for installation of boards.
- CHECK seals around windows and doors – is the silicone fresh – will it keep out water.
- CHECK roofing – nail down what is loose, and repair what is missing.
- Knock down coconuts. This is to protect your from a flying nut, but also to protect the trees themselves. In a strong wind the trunks of trees that are heavy with coconuts will snap in two and you will loose your best trees as a result.
- Remove trees that would crash you/your house if they fell.
WHEN THE STORM IS THREATENING:
- Put up boards/shutters on windows and doors.
- Take down all hanging-banging things (hammocks, flags, decorative items)
- Take in all outdoor furniture.
- Disassemble downspouts and put them away – they are going to blow down if you don’t do this, and if you take them down you will save time and money putting the place back together.
HURRICANE SAFETY - ITEMS TO HAVE:
TOOLS & SUPPLIES Hammer Nails Saw Crowbar Axe Machette
Rope (at least 200 feet)
Knife (to cut rope)
Duct tape – be sure the stick-um is fresh
Lots and lots of big tough garbage bags – you will use them for everything.
Large plastic garbage cans (5 or more) For storing water & personal items.
Stove-lighter (matches get wet)
Extra Toilet paper and paper towels – stored in sealed plastic.
Bleach for disinfectant.
Flares / Air horn – for summoning aid
FOOD for 10-14 days - Suggested items, all of which can be eaten without cooking: Tuna – canned Beans of all varieties – canned Beef stew in cans Fruit cocktail, fruit in syrup Canned chocolate milk Tinned meats Canned soups Canned Chili Fruit squash concentrate Canned veggies – green beans, corn, beets, yams, peas, etc. Mayonnaise, Olive oil, Vinegar Crackers Cold cereal Peanut butter. Tinned butter Sugar Canned or powdered milk. Lasko food drink – a lifesaver in a pinch.
The items above will allow you to assemble good set of cold meat or tuna and vegetable salads at dinner. Fruit for breakfast. Chocolate milk for comfort. Peanut butter needs bread, so keep some frozen and ready to use if you need it.
Other foodstuffs to have – must be cooked, so not really much use during the storm: Oatmeal, Rice, Pasta (canned spaghetti sauce to go with it)
If you drink coffee, be sure that you have some pre-ground.
If you drink tea, be sure you store it in zip-lock bags.
When you buy, try to assemble a meal at a time from the shelves of the market ---- that
will allow you to really know if you have enough food and the right kind.
IF YOU HAVE PETS -stock up on pet food, cat litter.
Glasses Extra contact lenses Two weeks minimum supply of essential medications First aid supplies – full spectrum Clothes that are comfortable and dry easily. Hard-sole / toe-covering shoes – do not go outside without them during or
after a storm as there will be so many things around that will cut your feet. Rain coats & pants Tampons Soap, shampoo, toothpaste Mosquito repellant
Do you have extras for your house, etc? If not, get some and put a set in a zip-bag someplace you can both remember and access if you loose your originals.
If it’s too dangerous for you, it’s probably too dangerous for them. Have kennel-carriers
ready. If you are evacuating, take a boat – the planes won’t fly them. Many local
captains will take you to the mainland as a private run - if you arrange soon enough.
Cost last year for us was $600 Bz – that was four adults, two dogs and a cat. Not bad.
DO NOT tie an animal up on a roof or a veranda. They will strangle for sure.
Pets are not allowed in government hurricane shelters, but generally are ok in an
emergency in most other places of refuge.
PACKING UP / BATTENING DOWN
After two evacuations (in two weeks) last year, I have arrived at a method for household packing that seems to work pretty well --- here it is:
1. clothes, bedding, small items – haul out those plastic garbage cans – line with big plastic garbage bags – dump your stuff in there, duct tape the heck out of them to seal them shut and then clamp on the lids – store on a second floor if possible.
- Paperwork & books – you can do the garbage can thing, but if you do this, be prepared for a jumble afterwards – if you can get some rectangular action packers it’s a better bet for papers – do the same bag and tape exercise as noted above.
- Larger electronics – double bag, and tape. Put in a place least likely to get wet.
- Unplug all appliances – storm surge can fry them when the storm is over, as can lightening strikes.
- Dishes and pots and pans –not a major focus – they can stand water and if they break they break.
- Paintings and wall items – take down, bag and tape.
WATER - you need power to pump from underground cisterns, and above ground ones may be damaged. Both types may become contaminated in a storm. Store at least 100 gallons of clean water for immediate use as follows:
Place one plastic garbage can in or near your kitchen – fill and cover.
Place one plastic garbage can in your bathroom – fill and cover.
If you cannot drink the water that you have stored in the kitchen can,
fill many smaller bottles with drinking water and store.
GETAWAY BAGS ?? Pack one as a practice exercise – if you can leave it packed for the next couple of months, do so. If not, unpack it and list all items you must have in it – when the emergency comes just follow the list ( in a panic you will forget important things and pack stuff that makes no sense at all ……. it’s stressful and it wastes time– a list takes the worry out of the prep).
COMPUTER – back it up now. If you evacuate, do try to take your laptop. Toss in some inspirational, distracting, happy DVD’s and music.
READING MATERIALS – You are going to be stuck someplace for a while with nothing much to do – have a couple of escape-type novels and magazines with you.
MONEY MONEY MONEY -------
When we have a storm the power is off. When the power is off there is no credit card use, no instant teller and no banking. Have cash on hand in small bills – both US and Belize money if you can do that. If you end up in Texas or Mexico, the Belize money is not as useful as if you had a bit of USD on hand. Credit cards for these foreign locations are useful, so do not forget them.
DOCUMENTS TO CARRY WITH YOU
Credit cards (in case of a trip outside)
Prescriptions for necessary medications
GASOLINE AND DIESEL - HAVE A SUPPLY ON HAND. After a storm there may not be any gasoline or diesel for some time. Power is needed to pump. Pipelines, storage tanks and barges are disrupted. After Keith we had no fuel at first and then rationing of fuel for some time after the one station was restored.
PROPANE – same advice as above – fill tanks and store out of harm’s way when a storm threatens.
GET A GENERATOR NOW – unlikely that you will find one for sale anywhere after a storm (there were none to be had in Belize for about a year after Katrina hit the US). Keep it serviced and know how to use it.