Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Are YOU prepared for an emergency?

We are getting a snowstorm here in New England today. Handy Boy has no school; and Handy Man is working from home on his computer.

It was almost one year ago that we had a HUGE ice storm here in New England and upstate New York. It started on December 11th, and ended pretty quickly,
but the damage was devastating. Over 400,000 people were without power just in New Hampshire alone. 

Our power went out at about midnight on Thursday, and finally came back Sunday night around 8:30 pm. That was just under 72 hours with no electricity. I can't remember ever losing electricity for that long before! Here is a web page that shows some photos of the devastation caused by the storm.

We were pretty well prepared for an emergency, but there were things we could have done better. A few years ago, Handy Man insisted on buying a generator, even though it was WICKED expensive. (For those who are unfamiliar, "Wicked" is a New England term that usually means "very". Hey, don't laugh; I've used it in some circles and people - from outside New England - had NO idea what I was talking about!) Anyway, my parents came over, and my brother, sister-in-law and niece came over and camped out at our house, since we had HEAT and some electricity.

I realize that its difficult to afford a generator, but there are things you can do to be ready for events like this:

Let there be light: You can use candles for light, but be careful and be sure you have enough matches around to light them. We used a few candles, and also had oil lamps for light. Oil lamps are pretty inexpensive; Handy Man bought two lights and some lamp oil at Walmart. We were glad to have these, as they let off much more light than a candle.

Let there be batteries, as well: Handy Man (and Handy Boy) have flashlights. Handy Man's flashlight is a large, heavy-duty one that took D batteries. We noticed that we didn't have any EXTRA D batteries, in case those ran out. OOPS!! We were fine, since we used the oil lamps a lot, but after the storm, we made sure to get some extra D batteries. We had extra batteries in all sizes except D!

Let there be warmth: Some people had other means of heat, such as fireplaces...if you have a fireplace, make sure its in good working order, and that you have some dry WOOD to burn!! Some people had to scavenge for wood because they hadn't used their fireplaces in a while, which was difficult when most of the branches outside were covered in ice! If you have NO other means of heat, do you have things like extra blankets or sleeping bags? 

If it gets too cold, you may have find a friend who has a generator, or find a shelter that has heat. People from warmer parts of the country may not realize what a problem a lack of heat can be; its very serious up here. One of the nights during the ice storm, it was only in the 20's. Homes can get cold FAST at that temperature.

Let there be FOOD and water: I always make sure that we have extra food in the pantry, and before the storm I went and did some food shopping.  We have a well, and the generator worked the well pump so we could GET water up and into the faucets...but if you don't have a generator, can you get water? Be sure to have several jugs of water around.

Let there be medicine: Don't let medicines or First Aid items run low, especially with an impending storm. Do you have enough pills to last if you can't get to a pharmacy for a few days? Do you have enough formula and diapers for the baby, food and medicine for pets, etc?

Let there be gasoline, also: I had just filled up my car with gas right before the storm, so I had plenty. Running the generator uses up gas, and while Handy man had a full container, he could have siphoned some from our cars' gas tanks if need be. Once the roads clear up, if you need to go out, you'll be able to get around if gas stations happen to be shut down for a while. I know, that's a scary thing to think about, but don't let the gas in your car(s) run too low if a storm is coming!

Depending on where you live, your "disasters" may be different: hurricanes, floods, forest fires, etc. Think about what extra things you could stock up on. Getting everything you need all at once could be expensive; but the next time you go shopping, add a few extra things in your cart. You'll be glad that you did!


Danni said...

Great tips! For someone who was without power last year for 4 days, we definitely were not prepared! We had food, water, batteries, etc, but we had no heat! We held out for nearly 24hrs with no heat, but then had to pack up and go to family who had power. We purchased a generator just in case it ever happens again!! Just for heat purposes!

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