I was straightening up the basement the other day and was looking at the canned food stored on a shelf near the freezer, intended to get us through the first few days of a natural disaster.
My thoughts turned to hurricane season, which began in June and is typically worrisome in the mid-Atlantic region starting in late August on through early November.
We have not needed that food since we stored it there just after Hurricane Irene in August 2011, which struck as a tropical storm a few hours after we had arrived after an all-night drive from Maine.
We were spared the full force of Irene, much as we were when Sandy struck the following year, so my task now was to check the expiration dates on the tuna fish, chili and soup still on that shelf.
It’s time to look at Ready.gov, the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s website, to try to prepare for severe storms, even though, as my readers tell me, the problems created by these natural disasters are never addressed and are often impossible to prepare for.
If anything, you should try to keep yourself, your family and your pets safe. If the authorities say evacuate in advance of a storm, then you should go.
You will need to develop a plan to communicate with family members as the storm approaches. If you aren’t all in the same place, you’ll need to arrange a meeting spot before the hurricane hits or, if that isn’t possible, after the danger has passed.
Smartphones might not work in a storm -- cell towers can fall, heavy use might jam them -- so don’t try to depend on them.
Remember, too, that ATMs might not be working if the power goes out, so withdraw beforehand as much money as you will need for a few days.
Gasoline pumps also need electricity to operate, so fill up well in advance of a storm.
Beware of price gouging. Not everyone is honest, believe it or not, and misfortune can sometimes bring out the worst in otherwise nice people.
There are more ways to prepare for a big storm, and Ready.gov is an easy-to-navigate and ready source of a lot of that information.
Contact Alan J. Heavens at firstname.lastname@example.org or write him at The Philadelphia Inquirer, Box 8263, Philadelphia PA 19101.