Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Be safe!

To all our Ham friends in North and South Carolina - be safe!

As you are well aware, Hurricane Florence is barreling down on your QTH. What worries me is that your current situation is much akin to our situation back in 2012, and a most unwelcome visitor that we had - Hurricane Sandy.

Like Sandy, Florence is coming directly at you from the open ocean. At this time there appear to be no wind shear or deflecting pressure systems to weaken her or steer her away from you. She is building up strength and will most undoubtedly be a Category 4 hurricane (or possibly Category 5) when she comes knocking on your door.

If you live on a barrier island, or near the coast - bug out now, while you still have time!  Please don't be foolhardy and attempt to "ride out the storm". Not only will you be putting yourself at risk; but also any First Responders who may have to come and aid you - assuming that they will be able to!

Here in New Jersey, the W2LJ household is 10 miles away from the Raritan Bay and the coast, as the crow flies. You might think those 10 miles would provide a decent buffer, but when you're talking about a storm that is 300 miles wide all by itself, then 10 miles is nothing.

This is a sample of what just the winds of Sandy did to my neighborhood:

If you have relatives in-state, away from the coast, that you can hunker down with, that's a great idea. Regardless, now's a good time to prepare, especially if you have to shelter in place. From my experience alone, we were without commercial power for five days. If you have a generator, gas it up and buy extra gas now! The problem we had in NJ, was that many filling stations had no back up power, so the pumps were useless.  Can't find a generator - they're all gone where you live? Get your hands on an inverter. As a last ditch resort, you can always use your car as a generator for short amounts of time.

Get a supply of drinking water. Buy bottled water or fill up the tub and cover is with plastic wrap if you have to. And make sure you have an ample supply of canned and other non-perishable food to keep you going.  If you have an additional storage freezer, fill it with bags of ice now - and open it as little as possible if the power is out. If you have a gas grill, make sure you have a good supply of propane. You may need to grill the contents of your freezer as the days without power add up. The grill also comes in handy for heating up large pots of water. Unless you enjoy cold showers, a sink full of hot water will allow for refreshing clean ups.

Charge up your portables and any extra batteries you may have. If you're into portable QRP ops, make sure those SLAs and lithium batteries are topped off. Make sure you have the proper cables that you need for your solar panel, if you have one.

On the bright side, if your neighborhood does lose power for an extended period, and you can get your HF station on the air - you will be amazed by the extremely low noise floor that you will be hearing on the bands. I was fortunate to be able to get on the air after Sandy - my antennas weathered the storm. It was a comfort to be able to make contact with Jim W1PID during the first few days of chaos. That tiny bit of normalcy was a blessing and I'll never forget Jim's kindness.

Good luck, be safe and Godspeed - and to our friends in Georgia and Virginia - keep YOUR situational awareness up. Florence may change course once she hits land.

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

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