Episode 134 S4-10
Battle for the South Ch 10
Vince and Erika head into Houston with the Texas Militia to help evacuate citizens in Battle for the South. Here to talk with us today about Hurricane safety before, during and after is Wilderness Medical Instructor, Kevin Reiter.
Before the hurricane comes, listen to the weather reports. Follow the instructions and evacuate when directed. It is better to be safe than sorry. It's difficult to judge what is going to happen. The meteorologists have a much better guess than you do.
You should be sufficiently stocked just in case you have to shelter in place. Have at least a weeks worth of food and water. Comfort items are often overlooked but priceless when stress is high. Have some toilet paper and things that you use on a daily basis. Make sure you have extra prescription medications as well as a fully stocked first aid kit. Having a game plan makes evacuation an easier process. Know your evacuation routes. Plan on everyone else leaving as well. Have a back up to your backup plan.
Water is absolutely essential and although you are surrounded by it in a hurricane there are many contaminates that may make it dangerous to ingest. You need to have the skills to process water. What you choose to use to make the water potable depends on what you have on hand. You must filter the water to begin with. Then you can boil it, use chemicals, or a steri pen to kill the bacteria (Are all water filters created equal?). Once you collect the water pour it through a bandana, t-shirt, etc, something that is going to take out all of the large chunks. Kevin suggests using a Katadyn Hiker Pro Microfilter. Then boil the water. Katadyn filters will get the major stuff out and boiling provides another security measure. Try to locate the cleanest source of water you can find and remember the water we drink now has an "acceptable" amount of chemical contamination. When you are relying upon these questionable water sources it is usually a short term deal. If you had to live on it for a long term period you may want to move on and find a better water source. Desalinization removes the most chemicals of any processing method. However, it is still not one hundred percent effective, it takes time, parts and it is hard to move if you are mobile. Do your best to mitigate risks. Use a three layer filtering process for example, filter, then MP1 Tablet, then boil. Remember that some diseases won't show up for weeks. The bacteria have an incubation period.
Because the flood water can be so contaminated, it is a good idea to make sure you have long pants and sleeves if you have to enter it. This layer of protection will mitigate risk. Alternately you could have a pair of waders reserved for these situations and maybe a blowup raft for transporting young, old or injured.
If you didn't evacuate or the storm suddenly changed course, you may need to bunker in place. During the hurricane, you want to stay away from windows. Try to maintain an open line of communication. Let people know your plan and have a call schedule. Find the most secure from of commuication that won't fail. Often times if you don't have a cell signal, you can still send text messages. Think about the possibilities ahead of time and have a backup to your go to. You can also invest in a Satellite phone or you can rent one. Your go to form of communication will depend on your local infrastructure. Hard lines may be more or less reliable than a cell or internet connection. You can get an antennae that extends the range and magnifies the signal of your cell phone. Remember if you can send a text your phone can be found. Try to keep it on. Have an external battery pack charged and stored double packed in Ziploc baggies.
Depending on your environment, you may want to seek high ground. Pay sharp attention to what happens around your home when it rains. Assume that the water will get much higher than usual. Does the water build up in certain area? Try to run through multiple scenarios and determine where you would be safest. Going to a roof might not be the best idea if there is a tree that could potentially fall on you or your home.
Power is usually the first thing that is lost and it goes out quickly. Have extra batteries for your essential items, especially your phone. Have a reliable light source. A weather radio that cranks is also a practical item to have on hand.
Remember if you evacuate before the storm hits, you won't need to worry about how to ride the storm out. Pack up your ego and go.
After the hurricane, whether you decided to stay or go, there are going to be some major issues to contend with. The water supplied to your home may no longer be potable. Mold is a huge problem and steps to control it should be taken immediately. There will be multiple repairs required to both your home and your community. Be aware of any potential dangers.
Important tip: If you evacuated you better take your firearms with you. It can be a crime in some states to leave them behind. Plus if your home is looted and the firearms are stolen you may not realize it for some time. If a crime is committed with your weapon and you haven't reported it stolen you could be looking at some major dollars in legal trouble. When you are researching your evacuation route, know where you are going. Find out what is the proper way to travel with your weapons and the rules of any states you may be crossing through or headed to.
Take pictures of all of your personal property and have it stored in the cloud. Know your insurance policy and understand what is covered. Often times flood damage requires a special policy in addition to your traditional policy. Have all of your personal documents stored in an easy to reach area. They should be double Ziplocked as well. Make sure that if you are relying upon a safe to keep your documents preserved, it is water proof or fire proof, etc. Another good idea is to store a copy of those documents with a family member or trusted loved one that does not live in the same state.
If you hunkered in place and are now leaving your home, watch out for "Widow Makers." You have to be situationally aware and look up. Dead limbs can be hanging by a thread and fall down in the wind. If you are stuck on your roof, use a signal mirror to signal helicopters flying by. The signal mirror works best with sunlight, a flashlight will not produce the same results. Remember that the rescuers are going to triage the situation and help those in the greatest need first. If you are having a barbecue on your roof, you probably won't be top priority. Be patient.
There are some quality sources of training to get better prepared. You can also learn hand signals for communication. FEMA offers CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) Training. This training will teach you a myriad of rescue skills, including how to mark a building with the correct symbols. These symbols indicate if someone inside needs help or if there is anyone at home at all. The symbols are known as the International Rescue Symbols. Learn the symbols! Have paint stocked up ahead of time. You can also train in a basic and advanced first aid class. It is really worth it! Alternately, you can take an Emergency Medical Technician training class at most local colleges or with a professional trainer.
The bottom line is, follow the advice of your advanced warning systems. As Kevin says, "the graveyard is full of people who said, it will never happen to me."
The Changing Earth Series
Kevin has had an avid interest in the outdoors since his father took him fishing at age 3, and has continued to pursue many outdoor activities for over 45 years, such as hiking, camping, fishing, trapping, and hunting. While serving as a Reconnaissance Specialist in the US Military, he started his diving career, and holds the certifications of DiveMaster and Master Scuba Diver, with over 15 specialties. For most of his life, he has not only been continually learning, but has used that knowledge about nature and the outdoors to teach others.
Kevin has taught members of Search and Rescue teams, participated in numerous SAR missions, given lectures on diving medicine at university hospitals, volunteered as an EMT and firefighter in his local community, served as an Assistant Scoutmaster with a local Boy Scouts Troop, and actively participates in educational podcasts and videos for EMS providers and the Preparedness community.
In 2010, Kevin was certified by the National Board of Diving and Hyperbaric Medical Technology as a Diver Medical Technician (DMT). At that time, he was one of less than 2,000 people to ever receive this certification in the United States.