In the Wake of Sandy: More on Preparedness

Nope, I’m not donning a tinfoil hat here (alas), but in the wake of Tropical / Super Storm Sandy–and the abysmal local, state, and federal response–it’s probably a good idea to revisit some preparedness basics.  As in my last post on this topic, I mostly recommend what FEMA does, so if you’re hip to that, no need to read on.  Of course, I have my own Fuzzy take on disaster preparedness, so you may want to read on just for fun.  Heh.

Dude, a storm is bearing down on you, and you don’t have freaking gas in your car?  This is why people get testy.  And shot.  And why people can get away with selling gas for $30/gal (Obama’s wet dream, I’m sure).  Of course, no lunatic should think himself or herself more entitled to gas than anyone else, but that’s the “new” American culture.  Everyone is “entitled” to anything anyone else has.  Fuzzy’s rule of thumb, try not to let your gas tank hit the quarter tank mark, and if you hear on the news that a storm is heading your way, fill up.  Before it gets there.  D’oh.  You may not be planning to be anywhere, but if worst comes to worst (as it certainly did in New York and New Jersey), you’ll have something to siphon for your freaking gennie.

Gennie, you ask, what the heck is that? Well, it’s a generator, and sadly, most of them run on gas, so you need gas to make things like your refrigerator and freezer work (btw, if you have a choice between running the tv and running the fridge, pick the fridge.  Every time.).  Personally, I’m waiting for some genius to clue in to the prepper craze and invent a gennie that doesn’t rely on gas, but can run on . . . I don’t know, something you have a lot of but don’t need in a disaster situation, like . . . dust bunnies maybe (okay, so that’s just me with the overabundance of dust bunnies).  Or dirt from your yard.  Or human waste (that sounds gross, sure, but when there’s no power, no water, you have to deal with it somehow, right?.)  And naw, I don’t want my tax dollars to pay for that R & D, there’s a market for something like that, so . . . . (we all silently bow our heads in a “screw you, Obama” moment).

Food and water.  Okay, these people in NJ and NY have been without power for well over a month, and they aren’t coping so well.  FEMA sucks.  Their local and state governments suck.  What have you done to prepare your family for a month or more without power and water?  That’s the question, really.  Do you have food?  Water?  At least a source of water?  What about ways to stay warm (or cool if it’s summer when something happens)?

Those five gallons of gas you may have stock-piled will go fast, that gennie will die on you without fuel . . . then what?  Have you thought about how you’ll cook?  How you’ll maintain hygiene and sanitary conditions for yourself and your family?  How you’ll keep yourself and everyone else busy . . . too busy to dwell on how awful things are?  What will you do when you are a month-plus without what we’ve come to rely on as basics (electricity, clean running water, cable, the internet)?

Some stuff to get:

Hand-cranked gadgets.  Hand-crank is awesome because you’re the power source, and as long as you are fueled (have food and water for at least a month, but hey, after watching that debacle after Sandy, we may need to readjust to two?), you can get light (hand-cranked lamps) and information (a hand-cranked radio).

Those nifty camping stoves.  With plenty of fuel.  These aren’t that expensive, and you don’t need more than one or two (I like one for boiling water and one for cooking stuff, but three would be ideal because then you can keep water boiling all the time . . . providing you have enough fuel.  And a water source.).  Yeah, yeah, three sounds obscene, but I remember after Hurricane Opal, we had no power / no water for weeks on end, and my mom had a blast making “gourmet” meals for us.  I swear we had eggs benedict . . . by candlelight.  It was very soul-nurturing . . . and morale matters.

A gallon of bleach, maybe two depending what kind of water source is available near you. Remember when a gallon of bleach was 88 cents?  I do.  It’s now about $2.  Horrible.  But typical.  Everything is getting wicked expensive under Obama, and it will only get worse.  So get that bleach now.  Bleach is fabulous for purifying potentially unsafe water (um, don’t get the lavender fields stuff, k? blech!), but you’ll need an eye-dropper to make sure you don’t over do it.  Bleach will kill you if you drink too much of it.  But you probably know that.

Matches, those grill lighter thingies, anything that makes fire happen.  Fire is good.  Not only does it heat your food and body, but if you’re stuck out in the middle of nowhere (or, you know, in your home with no electricity or water), you can keep wild animals at bay (well, okay, maybe not at home, heh) and even make buggies decide that chomping down on you isn’t worth the smoky trouble.  I don’t have one (yet), but it’s probably a good idea to get one of those nifty flint thingies that “survivalists” use.  God knows when FEMA will get to you (and don’t even think about going to them; yikes! Just remember the Super Dome nightmare after Katrina–you’re better off depending on yourself and your family/friends/neighbors than there.  Every day.).

Water.  You need it, and you need more of it than you think.  How will you get fresh (not salt) water?  Rain water is good, catch it in garbage cans, buckets, trash bags, whatever, but depending on your “catcher,” it will need to be purified (see above re: bleach).  You can also boil it, so that’s good.  That whole boil it for five minutes thing is nuts; a minute will be fine, and some people say even just getting a roiling boil will kill everything.  But if you’re worried, boil that stuff until you’re happy.  [insert blah blah blah about elevations . . . if you live at the top of a mountain check what temp your water boils at. Or something.  Not sure how that works. So look into it yourself.]

The one thing about water (and probably food) that you should remember is to start rationing it right away.  You may think that a silly storm won’t affect much for long, but . . . .well, it can.  It has.  It does.  Geez, I remember being totally aggravated when some silly storm (another former hurricane whose name I can’t even remember) hit New England (I was still in Mass at the time, obviously) and power / cable / internet was out for literally weeks.  It was freaking wind (not hurricane strength, just wind).  And some rain. They deal with Nor’easters, for goodness’ sake!  Two weeks without internet? Seriously? !  Good grief.  Leave it to unions and liberals.  And, as an aside, MA was awarded who knows how many millions to “recover” from that storm (it was RAIN and WIND, for frak’s sake)–note that “red” states hardly ever get federal disaster relief under Obama and certainly not promptly, let alone before the WIND and freaking RAIN even abate (i.e. you never heard much about the trials in Tennessee after the flood (a real disaster, unlike freaking RAIN and WIND) or after the tornado in Joplin, MO).

Entertainment.  I’m not a “bug out” person. I’m a bug in person.  I’m not going anywhere, and I know that eventually, things will return to normalcy.  Even if the government is involved (it just may take longer if they are).  So I’m all about the books and the board games and the thinking up the bestest, most difficult charades.  Oooh, and scary stories with the candles flickering (you have candles, right?  lots of them?).

Solar chargers.  I have one for batteries and one for my nifty gadgets (my phone, iPod, Kindle).  Granted, I may not be able to get a call or text through (on the morning of 9/11 the entire Northeast was jammed, and I couldn’t make any calls at all on my cell or on my land line), but hey, I’ll be able to read a book or play a game or listen to some music.  That’s something, right?

Chocolate (or whatever your comfort food/indulgence is).  If you’re stuck, without water or electricity, for a month or more, you’re going to want to feel happy, to feel some semblance of indulgence, to feel a bit spoiled.  If chocolate (or whatever) does that for you, get some of it.  Stash it away for that rainy day.  You can thank me later.

If you hear a storm is heading your way, do a few things fast.  Gas up the car (and get whatever gas you can/want for your generator), fill every available receptacle with water (bathtubs, sinks, bowls, jugs, tea kettles, whatever), and double-check your supplies.  Especially the chocolate.

9 thoughts on “In the Wake of Sandy: More on Preparedness

  1. The quarter tank of gas rule is a good one. For any time. I like to keep mine a little over. It needn’t be a storm or disaster that fuels your emergency. Say your kid runs a high fever at 3 am and you have to get her (or him) to the hospital. Do you really want to stop and fill up on the way?

    • Heh, I wrote “quarter gallon,” what an idiot! What’s that these days? Fumes?

      But you’re right, I try never to let mine get to a quarter TANK, either. It’s just not a good idea; as you say, you may have to be somewhere in a hurry, and stopping for gas is just not an option (nor is running out on the way!).

    • Batteries, yes! But it seems this is one thing that really doesn’t last much past its expiration date, so rotate them out in the normal course of life.

      Yes, chocolate! Yum. Sigh. I did have to modify my chocolate stores (heh, that sounds so fancy, it’s nothing more than a bag of candy, lol). Moving to Florida where even a couple hours without power will make melty soup of chocolate, I switched to M&Ms. I’m hoping the candy coating will make them more resistant to melting should there be a power outage and no way to get/make ice.

  2. I feel your pain. I live in the land of the winter storms and power outages. Granted, our power companies do a much better job than they used to, but we still get those outages. Where I sit at night and watch TV, there is a small flash light next to me. There is a generator and ALWAYS 7 gallons of gas for it and the snowblower. The cars this time of year are never allowed to get below 1/2 a tank. There is food and water for two weeks minimum.

    It’s a no brainer … do not rely on the people that brought you the post office.

  3. if you have gas heat, it should be possible to set up a crossover and run a generator on natural gas, or on propane, if you have the big backyard propane tank. when i lived in Anchorage, the gas company offered a package deal for $2,000, with a generator and all the piping to set up to run the gen off the nat gas line.

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