Well, wet season is here again. Living in the tropics our weather is hot and humid all year long. I live in shorts, tee-shirts and thongs (the shoes not the undies). We have two seasons – wet and dry and when wet season hits – well, aside from the backyard flooding, and a precious pup who refuses to get his paws wet to pee, let’s say things can get eventful.
Typhoons are a regular attraction here, as are magnificent afternoon and evening electrical storms. They are quite something to see as they are so close, your whole house shudders. Each year we are here I think that I need to get myself sorted out with a bit of a plan. It has been dryer these last few years, but this year wet season started off…well, wet. The rains are here and they are abundant. The Philippines is prone to flooding and the rain means you need to have a plan A, plan B right through to Z if you can.
Now, I know the basics of preparing for a wet season, you know, gum boots, a good strong brollie but we are in the big leagues here. I realised I needed to do some research to make sure I planned appropriately, so I hit up a few friends asking them for advice on how they have prepared and survived the wet season experienced here in Manila. Then I got creative with a few ideas that have worked for me. Now I have created a solid checklist for surviving it, so now I will share with you….
SaltyBug’s Top 10 List for Surviving Wet Season
1. Car Preparation
Pack your car with a sturdy umbrella and an emergency kit. Your emergency kit should consist of: a spare change of clothes each, a towel, sealed bottles of water and dry snacks. Muslie bars (personally they make me gag, but in an emergency, I will survive on them quite happily), biscuits (not Tim Tams or easy-melt in the heat types, be sensible folks), easy to open tetra packs and bags are the go. Always include maps and have a spare mobile charger handy. Include some toys, books and small games if you have children and throw in a torch with batteries for good measure. A friend of mine was trapped in her car for ten hours once due to unexpected flooding…so perhaps a portable toilet or empty jars too to piddle in, and a roll of toilet paper and some empty plastic bags for storing rubbish…
2. Household Preparation
You need to organise an emergency kit for your home. Your emergency kit should include things such as a few torches with batteries, water for at least three days, non-perishable foods, a can opener, first aid kit and enclosed shoes. Keep it all in an easy to carry backpack. For more information on what should go into an emergency kit check out sites such as https://www.ready.gov/kit which has a sensible list.
If you have pets you need to think about them too. Where do you keep the leash, cages, and have spare food and a travel food/water bowl on hand. Heaven help us if we have to move our menagerie out – a cranky hamster, teenage boy cats (who eat like human teenage boys) and a sensitive, emotional dog…
3. Day to Day Preparation
You need to prepare for day to day life should you be trapped indoors and unable to get to shops. Precook and freeze easy meals. Have extra water for at least three days more than you would normally store. Cut fruit into chunks and freeze in zip-lock bags so you can make smoothies should you be unable to buy fresh produce. Chop up and freeze vegetables as well. Stock up on tinned and dry non-perishable foods, make sure you have enough pet food (and kitty litter) on hand. Make sure you have torches, battery run lights, extra batteries and fans ready to go. It is important you work out a strategy for blackouts and evacuation with your family.
4. A Buddy System
Set up a buddy system with friends who live in close proximity. Grab a reusable shopping bag and pack a spare change of clothes and underwear and keep that at your friend’s house. If you are unable to return to your home due to flooding or safety, you have a ‘safe house’ to go to where you have fresh clothes.
5. Getting out and About
This is probably really obvious but keep a closer eye on the weather forecast and keep travel closer to home. When you are planning on going places check with local authorities about flood risk for those areas. Be careful on the roads, do not take unnecessary risks and allow extra travel time. There are a few weather apps you can put on your phone to help you keep track and Waze will give you current updates on conditions.
Here in The Philippines, the weather is still hot and humid, even in wet season. We also remove our shoes when we arrive at a person’s place so the idea of getting around in thongs (flip flops) for local travel is appealing. The issue is that our public spaces are really filthy. The sidewalks are used as public urinals and we have a massive population of stray dogs, cats and rather large rats that wander around freely. When we have heavy rain and torrents of water are flowing across the ground we walk on, drains are overflowing and puddles are formed, we need to consider what is in that water. My recommendation is getting a few pairs of closed in shoes that are easy to slip on and off and you can easily put in the washing machine for a quick rinse off when they get really dirty. Have a pair of trainers and for the kids, gumboots as well. I keep thongs in the car with a bag for dirty shoes too. That way I don’t have to worry about where the kids are putting their feet as we drive.
7. Stuck In-Doors
If you have children you know how challenging this can be. Throw in a few pets and you will soon know all about it. Stock up on resources for indoor activities and get creative to fight boredom. Have a pile of old sheets so the kids can build forts and cubby houses indoors. Buy a few large removalist boxes to use to make pirate ships and castles. Stock up on craft supplies and get creative. Crayola Window Crayons are a great investment. The kids will be entertained for hours and they are super fun and super easy to clean up. You can find them at most shops that stock craft items and Crayola products. If you can handle kids in the kitchen, prepare stock so you can bake cupcakes, cookies and make DIY pizzas. Don’t forget too, that it is okay for children to feel bored. Then they start to get creative with their surroundings and create their own play. So let them entertain themselves with everything they have around them. And let’s face it, there is nothing wrong with a few movie marathons or Netflix binge sessions.
8. Spring Cleaning Time
Being trapped indoors is a great time to spring clean. Get into your wardrobes and make a pile of clothes you can donate to charity. Tidy out toys, tidy out your areas of clutter, and rearrange and tidy up every room. You know what I do, I pretend I’m getting ready to leave town and have to start getting rid of all my stuff – that’s always fun and an excellent way to declutter and prioritise. Make use of this time being shut away from the world outside.
9. Start something new
Have you always thought you would like to write? Have you got an interest in cake decorating or do you have an old sewing machine sitting gathering dust in the corner? When you are housebound there really is no better time to start a new hobby or start making that dream a reality.
10. When you are really going crazy being stuck inside
How many times do you say you want to get out and explore more? It sounds like a contradiction to the rest of this post I know, however have you ever just spent time online to research all of the funky little places that are close to home? The really groovy cafes, unique shops, shopping centres and children’s activity centres that are relatively easy to get to in the rain? This is a great time to explore your local area on the days the rain is sparing. You just need to find them so get your research hat on, make friends with Google and reach out to your contacts. You never know what treasures you will find.