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It’s About Time

Ruth Wong

Friday, September 24, 2004


‘Rough it’ for a day as
part of hurricane drill


In my Sept. 10 column, I posed 20 questions to think about regarding hurricane preparedness. Forethought can help you to be organized and in control during emergencies. It's important to realize that if any of the main areas (utilities, telecommunications, transportation or provisions) is disrupted, the others cannot fully function.

Water is the No. 1 need. Allow 1 gallon per person per day. When I hear of a hurricane warning, I'm thankful for my bottled water, but I also fill clean containers and my bathtub with water.

If there's no water to flush the toilet, you can pour tub water into the toilet tank. If there's no water at all, the best idea I've heard is from a fireman who suggested lining the toilet (void of water) with a plastic bag (extra-ply). Merely tie up and dispose of the bag.

It's a good idea to have a four-week supply of needed prescriptions, supplements and medications, and a reasonable emergency cash reserve (enough for a long weekend), which would be handy if charge/debit card/check approval devices are inoperable.

Power failures can severely hinder our ability to communicate and keep informed. If power is out, cordless phones and multifunction machines (phone, fax and voice-mail combinations) won't work, as they require both electricity and telephone lines. I keep a corded phone on hand as it requires only a telephone line.

Cell phone batteries normally charged by electricity could be charged using a recharger that plugs into your car cigarette lighter. I have a combination recharger that works in an electrical outlet and in the car.

Power failures will also immobilize most computers. Even wireless Internet hookups won't work, as routing devices require electricity.

While a laptop's electrical battery recharger won't work, adapters are available that plug into a car's cigarette lighter. But to power a laptop this way, we'll need gas in our vehicles.

The bad news is that gas station pumps require electricity. The good news is that during a power failure, we can still pump gas at selected stations. According to Chevron, six stations on Oahu are equipped with generators: Fuji Chevron in Aiea; Beretania Chevron, Quick Wash and Richard's Chevron in Honolulu; and Aikahi Park Chevron and Kailua Chevron in Kailua.

Six Chevron stations on the Big Island and one on Maui also have emergency generators.

Tesoro Gas also has some stations equipped with emergency generators.

I think it's a good idea to keep your gas tank at least half full during severe weather.

You might have a drill and try to get along without electricity and tap water for a day. This could be an insightful, fun experience for the family!

I keep a "hurricane kit" in my hall closet. It's a plastic bin with masking tape, flashlights, batteries (kept separately so the acid won't leak), transistor radio and the "Handbook for Emergency Preparedness" published by the local electric companies.

Many households already have this handbook, which is usually available at City Mill. It contains detailed hurricane survival and evacuation checklists, tips for specific needs (e.g., life support systems) and food and menu ideas.

I also have the Oahu Civil Defense flier with a list of shelters. It notes that shelters will be opened selectively and that we need to listen to radio and television for shelter designations and openings.

For business owners, I recommend the Red Cross flier, "Preparing Your Business for the Unthinkable," which details the basics of developing a disaster plan.

Somehow it seems that when we're prepared for something, it doesn't happen. I hope that will be the case here!

See you in two weeks.



"It's About Time," by Ruth Wong, owner of Organization Plus, runs the fourth Friday of each month. Contact her at "It's About Time," care of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, Honolulu 96813; or e-mail features@starbulletin.com

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