Yet another storm bearing down on the NE and again store shelves are empty. Bank of America is asking “if you have enough cash on hand” and more power blackouts will happen. This is a question to all, not just the folks that faced a disaster in the last 12 months. If you think the government will be there to help ask a Sandy victims what they think of FEMA and the “Help” they have gotten from the Government. You need to take care of yourself, your family and your neighbors. You have to be ready to step up and do the work instead of waiting for Uncle Sugar to protect and provide for you and yours. I know you paid taxes to provide for these things but the money is gone and help is not on the way.
It probably to late for the people of the NE to get much done for the storm prep but what about the rest of us. You can do a “blizzard test” to make sure you have what you need on hand and most of this stuff doesn’t spoil and you will have it on hand for any disaster!
- Ice melt or sand can help keep sidwalks clear as well as provide traction if a vehicle gets stuck. Sand is cheap about $5.00 for 50 or more pounds and work great for bariers in floods that can happen in the spring.
- Shovels on hand. Have 2 or 3 and you and your neighbors can work together to keep the snow clear. Perhaps if you have extra shovels to share, others will also help share the work!
- Generators and extra power cords: You can get a small 1200 watt generator for just over a $100.00. Heck I know people that spend that much on a phone data plan or a Sat. TV package monthly. That generator won’t run your whole house but you can keep the fridge cold by running it about 6 hours a day and run a light or the TV and a DVD player for some entertainment. These smaller generators also use less fuel. I have a couple of power packs that have jumper cables and an aircompressor, but a lot of these also have small inverters in the 200-400 watt range that can charge up phones or a Laptop. If you have one of these make sure it is charged up. I read a lot of reviews on larger (800-1200 watt) power inverters used by folks in disater that they attached to their car batteries and had enough power to keep quite few electric items running for several days.
- Light, heat and cooking: LED flashlight are very cheap and put out a lot of light and the batteries last much longer compared to the old bulb type flashlights. I get the Sunbeam brand batteries at the dollar stores 8 AA for a Buck and they seem a good standard battery. For backup heat options I think the propane Mr. Heaters hit the sweet spot as far as cost and safety. I like the Kerosene lamps and a gallon of fuel will run one for about a month, but having candles is a low cost option. If you search my blog you can find plenty of stoves and fuel options that don’t cost a lot to have on hand. Don’t forget to have a fire extiguisher and a big box of salt or baking soda to put out a fire.
- Tarps, tools and tape: If you need to you can use the tarps for a short term repair of a broken window or close off parts of the house to conserve heat. A Bow saw, chainsaw can make short work of a fallen tree or tree limbs. I like those heave duty staplers for quick repairs and to reinforce duct tape if needed on windows. You can buy some heavy duty plastic 25 ft. x 10 ft. at most big box stores for about $10.00 if you can’t afford tarps. Construction grade garbage bags are a good deal as well as a multi-tasker for cleanup afterwards.
- Before the storm hits and the power goes out clean your house! Get your laundry and dishes done and run the vacume cleaner. You might not have power for a few days so you will want to start with a clean home. Get the bathroom cleaned up while you still have hot water and you might get an extra shower or bath for your whole family. Charge all your electronic toys and phones tonight so you have them ready to use and turn off phones not in use to save power. If you can set up an out of state contact point for checking in and letting people know you are safe. Text message often get through even if a phone call doesn’t work.
You don’t need to have a $50,000 solar energy setup a $10,000+ whole house propane/ diesel generator or pay $4000.00 for a year’s worth of freeze dried food to be prepared. You still would need a water source and a way to filter water. The little Sterno Emergency kits had 2 cans of fuel, 6 nine hour candles and 1 big 30 day candle along with a folding stove that could boil water in about 10 minutes for the cost of $15.00. I’ve seen the canned heat at dollar stors now and figure a can a day for heating canned soups, rice, ramen, oatmeal and if you have French press coffee maker you could heat up food for a week have a bit of light in several room for less than $25.00. You learn more and move up in stoves the sterno stove goes into the charity bucket or barter bin.
None of these items need to just sit and gather dust. You can use them for camping, BBQ/picnics and have the Ultimate Tailgaiting setup that you can not only show off but get in some extra practice. With a couple of those Igloo 5 gallon jugs you can have hot and cold running water, the Butane/sterno stoves for keeping food warm, Your inverter could power the radios or a small LCD TV or laptop. Or you could set up your small generator with a few sand bags around the genny to muffle the sound. Your thermoses would be filled with coffee and hot cocoa. You have plenty of tarps, bungee cords and rope to set up a wind break and your little Mr. Heater gives you a nice bit of local heat or set up your small tent as a “warming tent” for comfort. Your construction grade trash bags will hold all of your trash and probably a few others as well. Look have fun with this stuff and use it as much as you can so you have the skills to use it in a disaster. I’ve never seen any reason to practice being miserable. Misery comes as it wants to make life more diffacult with no effort on our part.