- Spare batteries
- Groceries plus 4 days (More info on this below)
- Bottled water
- Bungie cords and/or tie down material
The list is not long or extensive because it honestly doesn't have to be. There are really only a few things which are very necessary to ensure that you can get through a less than desirable typhoon situation. Before we move on let's talk a little about these things because I am sure that there might be some readers who have questions.
Flashlights are pretty self explanatory. They can be very useful when the power goes out especially at night or if you happen to live in a house which does not have access to natural light. I recommend having one flashlight per family member as well as an extra one. It's also very helpful to ensure that when you hear a typhoon is on the way you take the flashlights and put them in a place which is easily accessible by any and all family members before you lost power. This will ensure that if and when the power goes out you do not find yourself trying to find flashlights or other items in the dark.
As important as having a flashlight may be it is also important to ensure that you have spare batteries so that you can actually use your flashlights. As simple as this might sound I find it important to ensure that you are taking the batteries into consideration when purchasing your flashlights. I recommend getting something which can use standard batteries rather than purchasing some of those big bulky lights which require that huge square battery which no one ever sells or if they do it is very expensive. Personally we have a Maglite which takes D batteries and everything else takes AA so it's pretty easy to stock up on spare batteries and you can always find what you are looking for.
Now let's talk about food, the most misunderstood area of typhoon preparation. There are two main reasons that you need to put food at the top of your typhoon prep list. The first is because in some cases a storm can last for a few days which can mean you really can't head out to the local store and get something to eat. The second is because depending on the severity of the storm food shipments (be they from local farmers or from somewhere else off island) may not make it to the grocery stores. Of course it is also good to have food that won't spoil and doesn't need to be cooked if the power goes out but that's just part of why this area of typhoon prep is important.
So what type of food should you have on hand if a storm is on the way. I strongly recommend 4 days of food (for each family member) which does not require cooking and has a long shelf life. This could be anything from canned foods to granola bars as long as it can be purchased and kept on hand for at least the duration of typhoon season. These items should not be eaten unless absolutely necessary.
You should also ensure that you have enough groceries in your house to get you through the typhoon itself as it has been forecast. This is something that can be done at the first signs of a typhoon in the area and does NOT need to be completed last minute. One thing I like to do is go to the grocery store and purchase items which are easy to make ahead of time and require little clean-up. An example of this would be sandwiches, hotdogs and pasta. I can then prepare them ahead of time and individually wrap them so that I do not have to worry about cooking when the rest of the storm preparations need to take place.
A radio is also a helpful tool to have around as it ensures that you can get updates on what is happening with the storm. Here in Okinawa there is an Armed Forces Network here which is in English and can give updates that those who either don't speak Japanese or might want the comfort of Ensligh updates the information they need throughout the storm. This is something I find moderately useful because most of the updates are TCCOR conditions (which I will discuss in a later post) but it is better than nothing.
Bottled water is also important to have on hand as it is during any storm for a number of reasons. You can choose to go out and purchase bottles of water or do things like fill your bathtub. I prefer to do the bottled water and fill my bathtub only if absolutely necessary.
Finally another item which is often forgotten is the bungie cord and/or tie down material. If you're living in a house where you've got stuff which might go flying through the air with the greatest of ease during a storm then it's important to have the materials to tie it down. When you actually purchase as tie down material will vary based on what it is that you have around the house. In my case I do not purchase any type of tie down material because I have the ability to bring everything inside the house during a storm but for those of you who have things like trampolines or even the play houses that your kids can't get enough of out in the yard it is important to ensure that you can get them secured so that they do not cause damage to your property or your neighbor's property.
As I said this is a short list, simple and to the point but it can only be truly useful if you use it the right way DO NOT WAIT UNTIL THE FIRST TYPHOON OF THE SEASON TO GO OUT AND PURCHASE THESE ITEMS!!! I am sorry for the yelling there but it's really the best tip that I can give any of you who are proactive enough to be reading this. Most people who get here wait until last minute to run out and pick up these things which often leads to last minute panic buying and of course stores running out of necessary items. Last year, for example, there were reports of items no longer being available to those liv ing off base and then shortly there after other stores ran out of stock as well because they could not keep up with the last minute demand. This can all be avoided by getting things early. It is also a good way to not find yourself spending money on things you didn't need but purchased because you were in that "last minute shopping" frame of mind. I can't say it enough, all this can be avoided by doing this shopping now.
What are some things you consider "must have's" for typhoon season?
Let us know in the comments below.