Bad Disaster Advice

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I’ve been paying a lot of attention to the information being spread with regard to how to prepare for a disaster, like a hurricane.

Bad Advice I’ve Seen Circulating

Hotels must take your pets in due to a law passed after Hurricane Katrina.

No. This is patently false. Hotels and motels are private businesses and not obligated to do so. The law that was passed is related to publicly funded shelters.

In 2006, the federal Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards (PETS) Act (42 U.S.C.A. § 5196a-d (2006)) was passed. PETS directs the Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to develop emergency preparedness plans and ensure that state and local emergency plans take into account the needs of individuals with pets and service animals during a major disaster or emergency. FEMA may also make financial contributions to state and local authorities for animal emergency preparedness purposes. PETS has been criticized because it does not require any specific action be taken.

Store your important documents and precious photos in your dishwasher.

NO. Your dishwasher has a drain that is attached to your sewer lines. These sewer lines can and do back up during flooding and fill your dishwasher.

To protect your family documents, you must store them in a waterproof container. Place that container high in your home and hope for the best or better, take them with you, if you evacuate. You will want your insurance paperwork, birth certificates etc if your home becomes severely damaged or you have to prove your identity.

Leave some windows cracked to equalize pressure

No. Close your windows and all interior doors.

Tape Your Windows

Taping windows doesn’t prevent windows from breaking and is a massive pain to remove. Additionally, there is the chance that the tape can create larger shards of glass. To protect your windows use storm shutters or plywood, not particle board which will swell quickly with exposure to water.

The Zello App -it’s like a walkie-talkie sorta

On Facebook, I’ve seen hundreds of people sharing that Zello can be relied on in an emergency because it doesn’t require cellular data. It can use as little as 2G, but without either some data or wifi connectivity, the app cannot function. Please do not rely on it for communication in an emergency.

How much water?

If sheltering in place the rule of thumb is to store two gallons of water per day for each individual for 14 days. The pamphlets circulating only say three days. This advice is for those who are evacuating and may be stranded on the side of the road or in severe traffic jams. (The traffic jams can be so bad that, yes, you should bring toilet paper, biodegradable is preferable, but when needs must. Just try to clean up after yourselves). I wish the pamphlets were clearer on the amount of water, but there is only so much space.

I will update this article as necessary.

These I feel I should mention not because I hear advice to do these things, but because there are almost always news stories about someone who did these things anyway.

Do not run a portable generator inside your home. Do not run the generator directly under an open window. The combustion of gasoline produces carbon monoxide, an odorless and deadly gas.

Do not grill inside your home or garage. I feel it’s very obvious why you shouldn’t use a charcoal grill. A propane grill doesn’t have the same amount of smoke, but it also produces carbon monoxide like a charcoal grill. Do NOT use grills in enclosed areas.

Listen to your local government officials, they aren’t trying to make your life harder, they are trying to save it.

Stay safe.

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2 thoughts on “Bad Disaster Advice”

  1. Thank you for this post. As someone who’s lived in Florida for most of my life, we’ve consistently been told, “The first 72 are on you.” You should have enough non-perishable food and three gallons of water, per person, per day (includes water to brush teeth, too).

    Don’t forget to include water, meds, and food needs of pets. My 10-lb min pin doesn’t drink much, but my friend’s mastiff drinks like a reverse fire hose.

    If you have a freezer that isn’t very full, you should fill bottles with water to freeze ahead of losing power. This will keep your freezer cold longer, once the power goes out.

    After Ivan in 2004, we were without power/water for 21 days. In spring 2005, we lost power for another 10 days, due to Dennis. There have been plenty of others, those were just the longest periods.


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