Extreme weather is the new normal!


I was shocked to see the destruction of the Notre Dame de Grace park in NDG across the street from one of my favourite tango studios, Mon Tango http://www.montango.ca/. All those beautiful old trees down looked like the corpse of large animals!

And then I was further distressed to realize that friends had had their homes badly damaged in what was a freak tornado attached to violent thunderstorms that came through on Tuesday evening last week. http://montrealgazette.com/news/local-news/severe-thunderstorm-watch-issued-for-montreal-area-2

As, not surprisingly, the conversation between dances got around to how one prepares for an emergency, I thought that I would do a couple of posts on this topic. This is also timely as the second hurricane (this one a category 4!) in as many weeks is due to hit the continental United States later this week (September 8, 2017).


I broke this post up into three parts. This first one is more general. Some of these things I do almost automatically after living over 20 years in the country in Vermont; but they are useful, even in the city, in the event of a power outage.

In the era of extreme weather, it makes sense to stock up now before a state of emergency is declared! Many of these suggestions come from the US National Hurricane Centre http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/.

In case of an emergency:

1. Keep at least three days of bottled water and canned, dried, or frozen foods on hand. The video I am posting is a list of foods for two weeks for a family of four (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OSgotSS222c).
Don’t forget to have a manual (not electric!) can opening on hand in
case of lack of electricity.

2. For bottled water, please consider storing in glass bottles. Please don’t buy water in plastic bottles; in heat these are unhealthy for both you and the planet! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=690L4Qncjvs

3. Have a fire extinguisher handy and know how to use it.

4. Have a first aid kit. https://www.rei.com/learn/expert-advice/first-aid-checklist.html Think about taking some first aid courses, especially CPR. And don’t forget to stock your prescription medications!

5. Keep a stash of cash in case the power goes out: you will not be able to pay by credit card or work the ATM machine.

6. Make sure your mobile phone is charged! The easiest way to do this is to get in the habit of charging your phone when you go to bed every night. Stock extra batteries or a solar charger in case of power outage.

7. Have a working flashlight, with extra batteries in a place where you know you can find it in the dark!

8. If there is a chance that the electricity will go out, fill up a couple of buckets with water so that you can flush the toilets in case your system is not gravity based. (And find out what kind of system your plumbing is on including the water heater.)

9. If the power is out for an extended period of time, keep the refrigerator door closed so it will remain cold for as long as possible.

10. Unplug computers & tv’s or have them on surge protectors so they do not get fried when the electricity comes back on!

11. And finally, and most importantly, check on your neighbours especially those folks who are elderly, disabled, or with small children.

The necessity for this was movingly written about by Naomi Klein in her description of what happened during the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy which hit New York City and surroundings in 2012. (I believe that this was in her important book, The Shock Doctrine, but I don’t have the specific reference.) The rescue was focussed on Manhattan, while the government neglected the poorer Rockaways, which were home to many elderly, disabled, impoverished, and mentally ill living in high rises without elevator service. Luckily volunteer rescue teams went door to door and discovered and saved these people abandoned in their homes without food or water!

As neighbourhoods get gentrified, as older residents die or move into assisted living, as people become more mobile, the connections that hold neighbourhoods together can fray. Please let me know how you keep connections strong in your neighbourhood! Perhaps it is time for the return of the block party, or the weekly mahjong (http://www.mahjongsets.co.uk/history-mahjong.html) or bridge game?

I had a very strong support network in Vermont, but when I left and became a visitor in Montreal and a newly arrived resident of Dallas, I found that it takes a lot of work to begin to put together a new set of friends. It is one of the things that makes me feel insecure when thinking about possible climate disasters! So my neighbours are very important to me!

Finally, one last suggestion about a vital skill that we will all need as things get tougher: knowledge about how the fixtures (toilet, heating, electrical appliances, etc.) in our homes work. When it is Xmas Day and the toilet is not working, it is very nice to be able to fix it oneself! And if a mouse gets in the house, or there is an electrical overload and a breaker turns off, or there is a leak and you need to know where it is coming from, or a flood from the washing machine or dishwasher, the knowledge and skill to know what to do is going to make your life much easier and you less anxious!

Please let me know if you would do any other things to prepare for an emergency, and I will be sure to add them! Next post: extreme flooding emergency!


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