Hurricane season is here: Develop a storm plan and improve your odds

September 16, 2010 - Hurricane Igor in the Atlantic Ocean. Read here for some hurricane prep tips. 

The poor little Bell had an accident while at the ranch. We aren’t sure what occurred, she couldn’t tell us but the poor pup’s mouth looked funny. The Bell was definitely in pain and barely wagged her tail. When we tried to look in her mouth to find out what was wrong, she wouldn’t let us check. So a trip to the veterinarian was in order. An x-ray and some surgery to wire her lower jaw back together and pain meds has her feeling perky again. She looks like she has braces which will come off the end of July. 

Before we get to July, we need to plan for June and the beginning of hurricane season. The 2020 hurricane season runs through Nov. 30 and looks to be an active one with predictions for us to have a 60% chance for an above normal season with 13 to 19 named storms. Of those storms, forecasters are predicting six to 10 will become hurricanes and three to six will reach category 3 or above. 

Our weather pattern, El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is expected to remain neutral or trend toward La Niña. This condition lacks strong wind shear which takes the tops off any storms that enter the basin and reduces the chance for hurricanes to make it into the gulf and threaten the coast. With no wind shear in sight, it is important to start preparing for a storm now. It’s only a matter of time before a hurricane threatens our well-being, so take some time now to prepare your property and yourself for that eventuality. 

One of the most important chores is to trim trees now before a storm comes into the gulf. Tree limbs have the potential to damage roofs. Even if a tree limb isn’t touching the roof, high winds have the ability to force movement that can make contact with your roof. Trim to direct growth up and away from structures. Trim your trees now before a storm enters the gulf. You don’t want to trim trees when a storm is on its way. Trash collection could be delayed and high winds may turn those limbs into dangerous missiles. 

One should have insurance coverage for wind and water depending on location. It’s important to have insurance in place before a storm enters the Gulf – no policies will be written after that occurs.

Each family should have a plan in case of a storm. You should make a list of valuables – take photos of items and save on a thumb drive. It’s much easier to prove your home’s contents with photos. Insurance policies and photos should be stored in a separate location from the home. A safe deposit box at your local bank is a good example. Be sure to have copies of all information at home and take them with you if you should evacuate. 

Staying in place requires that you have in stock: food, water, alternate power sources and battery-powered radio, fully charged cell phone with back-up battery, flashlights, batteries, first aid kit and medications. If you plan to evacuate, you will need to have medications, important papers and cash. Have a list of emergency numbers handy. Don’t forget to keep your vehicles in good repair and full of gas in case you need to make a quick getaway. 

Don’t forget your pets when you make your plans for hurricane season. Your pets rely on you to keep them safe. Be sure to stock up on pet food. If it’s necessary to evacuate, be sure to have a pet carriers.

Before a storm heads your way, have a plan on what to do with outdoor furniture, lawn ornaments, potted plants and tools. Clean out your gutters and make repairs to your roof. Move hanging baskets and pot plants into the garage, storage shed or inside the home. This will protect them from wind damage or keep them from turning into projectiles. Make sure your trash cans are secured. 

While a little early preparation won’t keep you from experiencing damage from a storm, it will help minimize the damage you experience. Develop a storm plan and improve your odds!

Thunder storms from Mexico have drenched South Texas on several occasions in the past few days. The rain and mild temperatures have created the perfect conditions for recently transplanted shrubs. Unfortunately the lack of wind and plentiful moisture has brought an unwelcome visitor to the garden – swarms of little mosquitoes. 

Usually mosquitoes don’t like me due to my meds. Unfortunately, there are so many they don’t seem to mind that I don’t taste good! Having an auto immune disease, I’m concerned with the use of chemicals to get rid of the pesky little vampires. I have been relying on organic options.

The best way to combat mosquitoes is to reduce their habitat. Keep your grass mowed and shrubs trimmed. They love to hide in high grass and overgrown shrubbery. Fortunately, in my effort to give the garden a facelift, I have been busy pruning back and thinning enthusiastic shrubs.

Simple things, like making sure to empty standing water, can be an important way to reduce the number of mosquitoes. Be sure to change the water in birdbaths daily. Check pot saucers, cans, soda bottles and old tires – they can trap water. Anything that can hold a little water can become a breeding ground for the pesky little critters. Be sure to add fish to tanks and ponds or use Bactimos Briquettes, Mosquito Dunks or Mosquito Bits. The husband wanted me to make sure everyone remembers to check their gutters. Low spots in the gutters can hold a little water which provides a breeding spot for the evil little vampires. 

To kill adult mosquitoes, try the use of “essential oil” plant oil pesticides. Some examples of plant oil pesticides include Avenger Natural Insect Control, EarthHarvest, or Eco-EXEMPT. The use of garlic oil sprays can repel them for up to 20 days. Research states that broadcasting dry garlic to the site at 1-2 pounds per 1,000 square feet was effective. One just has to wonder about the smell! Bonide Mosquito Beater Granules are reported to be more cost effective and work better.

Organic landscape management encourages birds, bats, fish and beneficial insects which help keep mosquitoes in check. So if you must use commercial products, be careful with their use. Many contain piperonyl butoxide (PBO) – a synthetic synergist that interferes with the insect’s system, preventing it from neutralizing toxins. While PBO makes the pesticide more effective, it can be a concern for birds, lizards, toads, frogs, beneficial insects, pets and humans.

Research of a new study published in Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry states that cinnamon oil shows promise as a great-smelling, environmentally friendly pesticide. Testing shows that it has the ability to kill mosquito larvae and could be a good repellent.

A good, organic home repellent from Howard Garrett makes use of vanilla extract. Mix together 8 ounces of water, 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract, and 1 teaspoon orange oil. Spray or dab mix on liberally. Be sure to use real extract not a synthetic. The vanilla smell definitely beats the use of garlic!

Hurricane Harvey reminded us that storms do come our way, and sometimes the best plan is to lock things down and bug out. Have a plan in place and be prepared!

Happy gardening.

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