Having just gone through one of the longest power outages of my life and the awful storm that preceded it, I decided that it would be a good idea to focus on emergency preparedness. The steps you take before a disaster will greatly effect your quality of life after the event. Here are 5 things you can do before hand to ensure the safety and well being of you and your loved ones.
1. Start With Your Home - Is your house in an evacuation zone? If so I would highly recommend that you leave. Secure your property, take what you can, and get out. Sometimes people will leave when they are given a warning. Then when nothing happens they get frustrated, and ignore the next. You only lose once when playing “Russian Roulette”. I don’t mean to sound dramatic, but I feel very passionate about this.
If you are not in an evacuation zone then you need to do everything you can to secure your property. If a hurricane is coming move all of your lawn furniture and other debris inside. Secure your doors and windows and make sure your gutters are clear. Before hurricane Sandy my family put spout extenders on the bottoms of our gutters to direct water further away from the house. Our basement has flooded before and we certainly didn’t want it happening again.
2. Power - Every single hour of my 8 days with out power I kept saying to myself, “Why didn’t I buy a generator!” I know they are a bit pricey, but when the lights go out you will look like a hero for having one. I am presenlty shopping for a portable generator right now and I really like this model. When choosing a generator make sure it meets or exceeds your power needs. I believe that my house would need at least 4000 watts. Be sure to buy a lock and chain for your generator as well. Desperate situations can bring out the worst in people. You don’t want to wake up one morning to find your vital power source has been stolen.
3. Gas Gas Gas – Fill up the gas tank of all of the cars in your household. I failed to do so and when the gas shortage started I was in trouble. Learn from my mistake, gas up your cars before the storm. It is also a good idea to have 5-15 gallons in gas cans, either for your generator or for your car in the event of a prolonged outage.
4. Candles, Flashlights, and a Radio – From my experience you should have twice as many flashlights as you do people in the house. During the day light hours you will inevitable put your flashlight down somewhere and not remember where that was when it gets dark. Keep a collection of working charged flashlights in a centrally located area in your home. Candles are another good idea, but never leave them unattended or around children. Finally a radio, you need to know how things are going beyond your neighborhood. A radio will help you stay current with the changing situation after the fact and it will offer you some much needed entertainment.
5. Charge that Cellphone – Phone lines go down all the time, but cell phones have a pretty good track record of staying operational. Checking in with friends and family is crucial after a disaster. I was always charging my cell phone after we lost power. I would often go into my car and charge it their, this would cause me to burn more gas on an already low tank.
So there you are, advice from a recent hurricane black out victim. Learn from my mistakes. Prepare now and keep this tips in mind so when trouble comes you are ready.