Checkin’ the hurricane kit

By Steve Estes

Strictly Drivel by Steve Estes

Another hurricane season is rapidly barreling its way toward us. Seems like just a few months ago that Wilma came to call, but there has actually been closer to eight years between that event and the new season.

But, another season rolls around, and it’s time to start preparing for whatever may come.

That means another trip through the hurricane cabinet.

Well, it’s not actually a cabinet, it’s more of a disjointed series of hidey holes where we try and keep hurricane supplies from year to year.

The first hidey hole contains the bottled water. Don’t believe what they tell you about plastic being permanent. If you leave bottled water in an outdoor environment for more than a few months in this climate, the plastic turns to a brittle material resembling Styrofoam and all you have for your efforts is a dried up puddle and several bottles that need to be tossed in the trash can.

Add bottled water to the list.

The next hidey hole contains batteries of all manner. Most of the time, it contains batteries of all manner. But, if there’s one thing I’ve learned from being a grandfather, it’s that the grandkids new toys, or old toys Mom and Dad took the batteries out of because they were so annoying, take precedence over the hurricane kit. That means that most of the double A batteries are gone, all of the D batteries are gone, and the C batteries very seldom ever work.

Add batteries to the list.

I’ve also figured out in the last few years, yeah it took me too long to get to this point, that candles don’t hold up well when they’re stored in the shed in this heat. They tend to melt before you put the match to them. I guess if I could figure out a way to keep the wax puddle in the bottom of the box lit, I could keep them for another year or two.

Add candles to the list.

At least the extension cords for the generators are still where I left them and still in operable condition so when we fire up the generator we can plug stuff in without too much worry.

In another little hidey hole are the chlorine tablets and insect repellent. The chlorine tablets are still there, but the insect repellent has fallen prey to the recent onslaught of no-see-ums we’ve been experiencing.

Add insect repellent to the list.

In the next-to-last hole is the packaged food. Most of it is canned, and it is not out in the weather so it’s still in pretty good shape. The foil-packed food should be good almost forever.

In the last hole are my flashlights. Over the years I have taken advantage of every sale I could get my hands on to stock up on flashlights. When the discount department stores put cheap-o flashlights on sale, I grab them. When a free flashlight comes with another product I actually need, I grab it. Whenever I attend a meeting, conference or event where they’re giving away free stuff, I always go after the flashlights.

Why then, when I spend so much time gathering flashlights, is that hidey hole so empty?

Again, I have to attribute the mystery to my grandkids. Every time they come around in the dark, they want a flashlight for whatever reason. Of course, Holly (I’ll blame it on her anyway) can’t so NO, and she hands over the flashlights.

The kids shine them in everyone’s eyes for a few minutes, scour the last-minute-gift closet, and use the flashlight to light their way through their own backroom toy box, the one where Holly keeps all their toys, “Just in case they come over and don’t have anything with them.”

The kids don’t turn on the light to the room where the toy box is stored. They just ask for another flashlight. When they’ve picked out the toys they want, they toss the flashlight in the toy box. Turned on, of course.

I’m sure if I go look where I least expect to find the flashlights, I’ll find a dozen or more still in the on position with batteries long dead.

Add flashlights to the list.

I have to check in the shed for back up chlorine for the pool and the hot tub that I got for free many years ago. If it’s just a little storm, I plan to pass the time lounging in the pool or the hot tub. Neither will move under the pressures of any storm even though they’re above ground, and if the water goes out (it rarely does) I have a ready made supply of drinking and cooking water.

Add liquid chlorine to the list.

Each year I buy one bottle of bourbon, for medicinal purposes of course. You never know when you’ll get scratched by an errant tree limb and need a powerful disinfectant, or when the wind will blow something into you and leave a bruise. The bourbon is a wonderful pain killer.

Somehow, though, the bottle always seems to be empty by the time the next season rolls around, whether or not I got scratched by a limb or bruised by a flying twig. How does that happen?

But this year I don’t have to worry about a shortage of bourbon. I recently celebrated another birthday, and knowing my penchant for good Kentucky bourbon, I got two bottles of it given to me. They’re not both empty yet.

OK. I have list in hand. I’ll soon be ready for hurricane season again. And maybe, just maybe, I’ll get double of everything this time so it won’t be gone by next year.

Or maybe just the bourbon. I feel a bruise coming on.

Can never have too much of a good thing.

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