As Hurricane Irma roars north, anxious storm-watchers in the Triangle are clearing the shelves of water bottles, buying up batteries by the 12-pack and scavenging stores for the last available candle.
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper urged residents to stock up on emergency supplies as early as Wednesday, kick-starting the annual pre-hurricane buying spree.
Irma’s latest track shows that the western part of the state may be more at risk than the Triangle. But this far out, hurricanes are hard to predict.
So how could you cope with blackouts and water shortages when the retail cupboard is bare?
With a nod to MacGyver, king of unconventional problem-solving, we offer this list of hurricane hacks easily assembled from household items.
Using a paring knife, cut around the equator of a large orange without touching the fruit. Pull off the peel half that includes the stem, invert it like a bowl and fill the bottom with olive oil. Light the stem for hours of light. If you’re outdoors, cut a hole in the other peel half for a wind blocker.
Any crayon can be transformed into a handy candle, provided it has a paper wrapping. Burn the wax down to the paper, holding the crayon sideways so it drips away from fingers. Once the paper catches, turn it upright and enjoy a 4-inch flame – a relatively short-lived and admittedly messy way to combat darkness. You’ll want a cleanable surface here.
Milk jug lantern
Empty and rinse out a 1-gallon plastic jug and wrap a headlamp around the middle. With the light turned inward, you’ve just made a portable lamp that you won’t have to strap to your forehead.
Water to go
Freeze Ziploc bags full of water for easy drinking later. While you’re at it, freeze a small bowl of water and place a quarter on top once it’s solid. That way, if you’re forced to evacuate, you’ll have a sure way to tell if your food is still edible when you return. If the quarter is at the bottom of the bowl, toss it all out.
Washing machine cooler
Fill your washer with ice for easy cooling. It will drain safely once it melts and hold dozens of bottles in the meantime.
Clay pot refrigerator
Put a small clay pot inside a larger one and fill the gap with wet sand. The smaller pot will act as a mini-fridge.
As MacGyver once said, “If you don’t have the right equipment for the job, you have to make it yourself.”