Food: Kitchen essentials

Published: Thursday, May 12, 2016 @ 9:59 PM
Updated: Thursday, May 12, 2016 @ 9:59 PM

Leave salty favorites, sodas and alcohol off shopping list

When you’re hot, stressed and thirsty, certain foods are a bad idea; some speed up dehydration. Here are foods that should be a last resort for storm preparation:

Salty chips, salted nuts and snack foods: These add little nutrition, and your body is going to be stressed. They cause immediate thirst.

Crackers and peanut butter are convenient, but they’re salty and can cause extreme thirst. Peanut butter is a good source of protein, but it’s generally salty. Use it sparingly.

Candy: Most candy has high sugar levels, which contributes to thirst.

Sodas: Your body needs liquids, more in extreme heat and humidity. Better choices are vegetable and fruit juices that can supply needed vitamins.

One caveat: Fruit juices should be given sparingly to infants — they can cause diarrhea, leading to serious dehydration.

Moderate your intake of sports drinks, which have extra sodium.

Alcohol: Don’t run for a cold one. In a situation with downed power lines, broken glass and flooding, wait to celebrate the storm’s end when things have settled down.

Essential foods to make meals palatable

Boiling water will be a best method for cooking with many of these items; remember to use clean water.

1. Couscous and five-minute rice. Pour boiling water over these packages, cover, and let stand.

2. Salsa, chunky pasta sauce

3. Ramen noodles. Pour boiling water over them and voilà!

4. Shelf-stable bacon, hard sausages. Make BLT’s, add to baked beans, bean salad. Keep in cooler once opened.

5. Single-serve condiments (individual packets of mayonnaise, mustard, ketchup and relish)

6. Pouches of cooked tuna, salmon and chicken. Grill chicken or fish fillets briefly for a “real” meal.

7. Shelf-stable milk. Add to canned soup and heat it up on the grill for substance. Put it in coffee, use it for cereal or make chocolate milk for kids.

8. Shelf-stable cheese. Processed cheese (Velveeta) and sliced cheeses made with oil are shelf-stable.

9. Canned potatoes, canned beans and veggies.

10. Individual puddings, fruit cups

How to pack up your kitchen

Must-haves for before a storm and for keeping foods safe afterward.

Heavy-duty plastic bags: “Contractor bags” are the strongest ones out there, and are available at home warehouse stores and Publix. These hold sticks and bricks without tearing; good for packing boxes of food, countertop appliances, and things with sharp corners. They come in 30- and 50-gallon sizes. (They can be slit apart and used as thick plastic tarps for countertops or protecting big items.)

Permanent markers: Use them to label jars and cans that might lose their labels in high humidity or floods. Write contents of cans on their bottoms or tops and date them; label plastic bags or bins to identify items packed within.

Food-sized storage bags or containers: Empty all open packages of foods into these airtight bags or bins to keep them fresh.

Extra water jugs: Preferably 2.5 gallons or larger. Buy the biggest size your freezer will hold.

Heavy-duty plastic garbage cans with lids: Can be used for water storage, packing foods, packing valuables — or storing trash.

Extra coolers: Buy metal ones with foam/plastic inserts for maximum cooling (see ship’s stores or online sources). Buy large Igloo-type coolers that can stack and are on wheels. Buy foam ones to have on hand, but note these are not meant for long-term ice storage. Consider investing in a small cooler that plugs into the cigarette lighter of the car, or a mini-fridge to plug into a generator.

Waterproof storage bins: Flooding during a storm can be more of a problem than winds. Packing everything in plastic, waterproof bins can save the items. For already opened foods, use bins with airtight seals. Use large, clean garbage cans for additional storage.

Preparing for flood conditions

When the kitchen floods, even canned foods can be compromised; those in boxes or cellophane surely are. To prepare your kitchen for flooding:
  • Pack as many loose foods as possible into plastic, airtight containers. Label with permanent marker. Pack sealed foods in watertight storage bins or heavy trash bags. (Do not use cardboard boxes for packing.)
  • All opened jars and cans (examples: spices, coffee, popcorn, peanut butter) should be packed in heavy-duty plastic bags, or plastic waterproof storage bins; label them, then pack into larger storage tubs.
  • Clean out under-counter cabinets, including cookware and everything that can rust or be damaged by water.
  • Unplug all appliances that aren’t essential. Pack in plastic bins and wrap boxes with plastic sheets or bags.
  • Use a permanent marker to write the contents of cans on their tops or bottoms in case labels are lost.

    Emergency travel bin

  • Matches, adapter for car that converts plug-in devices to operate from the car cigarette lighter
  • Sterno, or canned heat source
  • Small saucepan
  • Tea kettle
  • Metal utensils
  • Can, bottle openers
  • Paper plates, cups, towels, disposable utensils
  • Wet-wipes
  • Condiment packets
  • Instant coffee, tea bags
  • Individual drink mix packs
  • Shelf-stable milk, juices
  • Canned foods
  • Ramen noodles, couscous, instant rice
  • Salsa or pasta sauce
  • Foil packets of tuna, salmon or chicken
  • Bottled water
  • Baby food
  • Pet food
  • Pools: Before and after tips

    Published: Tuesday, May 10, 2011 @ 9:15 PM
    Updated: Tuesday, May 10, 2011 @ 9:15 PM

    Don’t drain water from pool

    Leave water level alone. Draining, so it won’t overflow, is pointless. If you drain it more than a few feet below normal and the ground gets saturated, the pool’s shell could pop out of the ground (even with concrete pools). Water provides weight to hold the sides and bottom in place.

    Turn off power to the pump motor, lights and other equipment at circuit box. Disconnect gas from heater; if possible, have your gas supplier or pool service disconnect it to be safe.

    Consider removing diving boards or slides if you fear they won’t be secure in high winds; if you decide to remove them, try to have a professional do it.

    If the motor is exposed and you live in a flood-prone area, remove the pump and store it indoors. Otherwise, try to wrap it up with a waterproof cover and tie securely.

    Remove automatic pool cleaners, pool blankets and covers, and take inside.

    Super-chlorinate or double chemicals you normally add to reduce contamination and infestation by insects.

    Stock up on chemicals to “shock” pool after storm.

    Don’t throw patio furniture in pool to keep out of the wind; pool chemicals will harm the furniture and can mar the pool finish.


    After the ‘all clear’

    Call gas company or a pool company to reattach gas line to heater.

    Don’t reconnect electrical equipment until you’ve removed debris from the pool with a net and power has been restored. Make sure electrical equipment is dry.

    Do this as quickly as possible before bacteria starts to grow. Don’t use your vacuum; debris will clog it and the pump. Then, if the area around the pool is dry, start the pump. When draining the pool to proper level, remove cartridge filter or bypass the filter system. Super-chlorinate again.

    Remove vegetative debris before treating water. Add 5 gallons of chlorine (based on a 15,000-gallon pool) and start pump after inspecting electrical equipment to be sure it’s dry. Reset timers, if necessary.

    Closely watch the pump system through complete cycles for any problems.

    Wait 24 hours to see whether water clears and turns blue. If it does, test water and follow instructions. If water is darker or black, pool may need to be drained, or partially drained, treated and refilled. Call a professional

    Balance pool chemicals and monitor a few days.

    Claims: How to file, deal with adjusters

    Published: Thursday, May 12, 2016 @ 10:43 PM
    Updated: Thursday, May 12, 2016 @ 10:43 PM

    What if you have to file a claim?

    Take photos or video of your home to document your belongings for insurance adjusters. A free computer software program, www.insurancevault.net , will walk you through what are the key images to take. Make sure images are easily accessible immediately after the hurricane — not solely stored on a computer.

    Save copies of receipts, purchase dates and serial numbers.

    Start a disaster savings account so that money is available in a worst-case scenario.

    Write down the name, address and claims telephone number of your insurance company, which may differ from your agent’s contact information.

    Keep this information in a safe place and make sure you have access to it if you are forced to evacuate.

    Keep materials such as plywood on hand in case you need to make temporary repairs after a storm. Take photos of the damage before you make repairs. Finally, keep receipts from your repairs so that your insurance company has documentation to reimburse you.

    Also, document any repairs you make to your house after previous hurricanes. If you don’t, and suffer new damage in the same place, an insurance company could dispute that you ever used the money they paid you to make repairs.

    Help adjusters – and others – find you

    If you have to leave your home following a storm, it is helpful to leave a phone number where you can be reached somewhere on the outside of your home.

    You can spray-paint the number on a piece of wood or on the side of your house. Paint your address and the name of your insurance company on the damaged part of your home for adjusters cruising neighborhoods.

    Storm prep checklist for outside the home

    Published: Tuesday, May 10, 2016 @ 2:53 PM
    Updated: Tuesday, May 10, 2016 @ 2:53 PM

    Get Ahead of the Storm - 5 Severe Weather Hacks

    WHEN THE STORM THREATENS:

    Refill special medications.

    Get cash (ATMs may not work for days after). Don’t charge credit cards to the limit; you might need extra cash after the storm.

    Get supplies. Follow instructions in this guide for food and water.

    Don’t fill gasoline cans until right before the storm; they are a fire hazard.

    Fill vehicle fuel tank. Gas stations could run out and some will not have power to run pumps. Check your car’s battery, water, oil. Make sure you have a spare tire and buy aerosol kits that fix and inflate flats.

    Check fire extinguishers.

    If you own a boat, make necessary preparations.

    Prepare your pool. Don’t drain it.

    If you own a plane, have it flown out or secured.

    WHEN THE STORM IS APPROACHING:

    Get shutters, storm panels or plywood in place on windows. If you haven’t installed sockets, attach with wood screws; they’re better than nails and do less damage.

    Don’t tape windows; tape can create daggers of glass and in the heat can later bake onto panes.

    Remove swings and tarps from swing sets. Tie down anything you can’t bring in. Check for loose rain gutters, moldings.

    Move grills, patio furniture and potted plants into your house or garage.

    If you do any last-minute pruning, take clippings inside so they don’t become hazards in the wind.

    Disconnect and remove satellite dish or antenna from your roof.

    Check your mailbox. If it’s loose, secure or remove it.

    Remove roof turbines and cap holes with screw-on caps. Unsecured turbines can fly off and create a large hole for rain to pour through.

    Prepare patio screening. It usually is built to sustain tropical-force winds, but with higher winds, it can separate from the frame. Officials recommend you remove a 6-foot panel on each side to let wind pass through. Pull out the tubing that holds screening in frame to remove screen.

    Secure and brace external doors, especially the garage door and double doors.

    Move vehicles out of flood-prone areas and into garages if possible. If not, park cars away from trees and close to homes or buildings.

    Don’t turn off your natural gas at the main meter. Only emergency or utility people should do that.

    Landscapes: Trees and yard

    Published: Friday, May 27, 2016 @ 9:02 PM
    Updated: Friday, May 27, 2016 @ 9:02 PM

    Trees should be trimmed by early June, before storms threaten. Many municipalities have “amnesty” weeks before storm season, when you can deposit more than the allowable limit of yard debris. Call municipalities for more information.

    Call a professional. Trees trimmed by a professional arborist are far less likely to go down in a storm.

    Thinning a tree allows wind to blow through its canopy, offering less wind resistance in a storm. Prune young trees to create a single leader, which will grow into a strong trunk.

    To minimize damage to a mature tree, eliminate weak branches and reduce the length of limbs at a tree’s sides. Don’t remove interior branches, as this can make a tree unbalanced.

    Hatracked trees become sails. Removing a tree’s canopy encourages bushy growth, which makes a tree top heavy and wind-resistant. Some hatracked trees “sailed” directly to the ground. Hatracking is illegal.

    ‘Lifted’ trees mean broken branches. “Lifting” is a common practice where the lower branches are removed to provide clearance underneath. Lifting contributes to branch breakage and makes the tree top heavy.

    Don’t wait until the storm is threatening to prune. If the trash pickup doesn’t get to your curb before the storm strikes, you’ve created a pile of potential missiles.

    Coconuts behave like cannonballs in high winds. Remove them well before a storm hits. If trees are too tall for you to reach, hire a tree trimmer.

  • More hurricane tree protection tips

    Tips for your yard

    Take in hanging pots and baskets. Secure or take in pots from shadehouses.

  • Secure young trees with additional stakes.

    Don’t remove fruit. If you put it in a trash pile and the pile isn’t picked up, the fruit may fly around in the wind.

    Tree-dwelling bromeliads, staghorn ferns and orchids can be secured with fishing line.

    Take in or tie up any piles of yard or construction debris.

    Take in all garden furniture, grills, tiki torches and other outdoor items. (Do not sink furniture in swimming pool.)

    Consider removing gates and trellises.

    Palms, native trees fared best through 3 hurricanes

    In high wind, palms will bend but not always break. Since they originated in the tropics and subtropics, their supple trunks have adapted to hurricanes.

    Plant palms in clumps around the edge of your garden (not near the house) to block the wind and protect more fragile plants inside. Although fronds will be damaged in a storm, most of these palms will recover.

    Ficus trees come down easily in storms

    Ficus trees are not meant for residential yards. They grow to 70 feet with a massive span of shallow roots, and come down easily in high winds.

    If you already have a ficus, have it professionally trimmed before hurricane season begins. (If you have Australian pine and ficus in your yard, consider removing them.)

    Stake small trees as a storm approaches with stakes driven at least 8 inches into the ground.

    Trim large masses of vines so they don’t pull down fences.

    Lay arches and trellises on the ground and anchor with rope.

    Fast-growing, brittle trees should never be planted in hurricane country, no matter how quickly you need shade.

    STRONG TREES

    Gumbo limbo
    Cocoplum
    Cypress
    Dahoon holly
    Geiger tree
    Buttonwood
    Jamaica caper
    Mastic
    Ironwood
    Live oak
    Sand oak
    Red bay
    Red maple
    Cypress
    Sea grape
    Stopper
    Strangler fig

    BRITTLE TREES
    (Consider removing these trees from your yard.)

    Australian pine
    Earleaf acacia
    Ficus (ficus benjamina, weeping fig)
    Bishopwood (Bischofia)
    Carrotwood
    Hong Kong orchid
    Tabebuia
    Laurel oak
    Melaleuca
    Schefflera
    Black olive
    Jacaranda
    Java plum
    Norfolk Island pine
    Royal poinciana
    Silk oak

    STORM-SAFE PALMS

    Cabbage palm (sabal palm)
    Canary Island date palm
    Christmas palm (adonidia)
    Coconut palm
    Florida thatch palm
    Foxtail palm
    Robellini palm (Pygmy date palm)
    Royal palm
    Majesty palm
    Paurotis palm
    Thatch palms

    Note: Queen palms are the exception. They have a very low wind tolerance.