Crimewatch with Walt Candelari
IN THE FABLE about the big bad wolf and the three little pigs, one of the piggies was able to survive the wolf’s threats when he built his house using bricks. While we don’t worry about the effects a wolf might have on our homes, we do worry about storms, high winds and floods. Straw, wood and even bricks are usually no match for floods and storm surges.
Before the winds “huff and puff” in these parts during hurricane season, now just a month away, we can revisit some basic preparation practices.
First and foremost, if the authorities tell you to leave the area – do so! Have your bags packed, your valuables and important papers ready and your evacuation route and destination planned. Also have your vehicle in good working order – especially its tires – and gassed up and your children and pets ready to roll.
Remember to take some food and water with you – just in case. Don’t forget to tell someone your plans and leave your emergency information with them.
During our last hurricane, our friend Candy had troubles with doing the evacuation. Everything was important to her. Every dish, every picture, every plant, every bit of clothing and every item of furniture – she valued them all and didn’t want to leave any behind.
She cried when she and husband Bill left their home, thoroughly convinced that she would never see any of her things again. So she was mightily relieved on their return when they found their house had been spared and nothing damaged.
It took a lot of talking and planning to help her understand what was truly “important” and what could be replaced. Bill reasoned that, if he could leave his ultra-high-definition television set with built-in bottle opener, Candy could leave her super-duper sewing machine with hand-lotion dispenser.
Their preparation list and activities was extensive. The emergency kit and evacuation plans set, Bill looked at what he could do to secure the domicile.
Some windows had storm shutters while others had a storm fabric to protect them. Duct tape, while it might look good, does very little to protect against flying objects and glass shards.
Bill had a stock of blue tarps for the roof if needed. He trimmed the yard trees back and got rid of their dead branches and put all the lawn furniture in the garage as well as the garbage cans.
Inside, he unplugged all non-essential electronic devices and wrapped the more sensitive ones in plastic bags.
He double-checked the items against his master list of serial numbers and insurance pictures and, as an added bit of insurance and to keep Candy happy, he set the furniture on blocks to help protect against rising water and covered it with sheets of plastic.
Finally, he moved all breakable items away from windows and doors in case something did manage to break through.
Candy stored all of her irreplaceable wardrobe, including her wedding dress, in vacuum-sealed bags and kept an itemized list. She then did the same with all of the family photo albums, which took a while as she insisted on looking at each picture as she went along.
Perishable food items were dumped but freezer foods held the biggest challenge. Bill and Candy sealed the freezers and hoped for the best. Prepare to do likewise in the months ahead.
Remember: Think, plan and execute crime-prevention design. Don’t be a crime victim.
Walt Candelari is a crime-prevention specialist and community-policing officer with Dickinson police department