Hurricanes Harvey and Irma have been devastating to so many, and my heart goes out to anyone affected by these storms. My dad lives in Florida, so I followed Irma-related news pretty closely. (Thankfully, my dad is fine.)
I got many of my updates on Twitter, and I noticed two themes that might help anyone who wants to be prepared for potential disasters in the future.
Candles are not your friend.
Lots of people noted they were lighting up their candles as they lost power. But both public safety organizations and other experts kept saying, over and over again, that candles are a bad idea. The following are just some of the warnings:
- The American Red Cross, South Florida Region:
Use flashlights in the dark. Do NOT use candles.
- Florida State Emergency Response Team:
If there is loss of power, do not use candles or open flames as a light source.
- City of Tallahassee:
Flashlights, headlamps, etc. are better options for light if you lose power.
- Miami-Dade police:
Use flashlights if the power goes out. DO NOT use candles, likelihood of a fire increases.
- Dr. Rick Knabb, hurricane expert at The Weather Channel:
Millions expected to lose power. Don’t run generators indoors – carbon monoxide kills. Don’t light candles and risk a fire.
- Florida Department of Health:
If the power goes out, don’t light candles in your home. It’s a fire hazard that can be avoided by using battery operated lights.
- Plantation Fire Department:
#SafetyReminder If your power goes out, utilize FLASHLIGHTS instead of CANDLES!
- Oviedo, Florida police:
Use flashlights if the power goes out. DO NOT use candles, the likelihood of a fire increases
- Craig Fugate, former FEMA administrator, now in Gainesville, Florida:
Hurricane #Irma, don’t use candles / open flames during the storm when the power goes out. The Fire Department doesn’t need more emergencies.
And the Miami Herald has a list of 7 stupid things we do during a hurricane that can get us killed and using candles is on that list.
So forgo the candles, and load up on some combination of flashlights, headlamps, battery-powered lanterns, and plenty of spare batteries. Some people like to include glowsticks in their emergency supplies, too.
A corded phone just might be your friend.
Key West lost most of its connectivity (cell phones and internet) after Irma, but reporter David Ovalle found a way to get the news out:
My savior. Patricia on Eaton St in Key West had a relic landline that worked after the storm, allowing me to call story after storm
Firefighters also used line to call their families. Her friends chided her for years. She has no cell, still uses an answering machine!
And someone else got good news via landline: “Random woman in Key West that still has a working landline just called me to let me know my parents are ok. #Irma This woman is my hero”
As Consumer Reports wrote, “A phone with a corded base can work during a power outage, as long as it’s connected to a conventional landline or VoIP service with battery backup.”
My internet service provider bundles a phone line with my internet service, and I’m glad to have it. Corded phones are relatively inexpensive, too. You might want to join me in having a corded phone in addition to a cell phone, just in case.