This guest post is by Buuurr in Ohio and entry in our non-fiction writing contest.
The recent arrival of Sandy had many of us who consider ourselves prepared making the usual checks. Those that were not did not fair so well. May our prayers be with them. But for those of us who do make the case of being prepared and go through all the efforts and extra work I bet there were some eye openers if you were affected by the last big storm. Me and mine were… Here is the list of things around my home that I need to correct in order to affect the most comfortable conditions in another of these situations. I hope it will lead some of you to ask the same questions and make the necessary changes. Here they are in no order of importance, just a straight list of things.
#1 Do you have access to your garage without power? I don’t and my car is inside all the time. I need to correct this with a side door as soon as possible. Silly thing no side door on a garage. We took it for granted that it was there… never looked because there are always door son garages. Nope! What a nasty and confounding surprise.
#2 Does your stove, if gas, light without power? Mine does, but just the cooktop. No Oven or Broiler.
#3 Does your furnace, if you have one, give gas without power? Many don’t. There are some, like mine, with a manual switch that bypasses the gas safety shut off and allows me to light it with a Bic and keep it running. Obviously the thermostat is no longer in play without power.
M.D. Adds: This may or may not be an option on your furnace – please check your owner’s manual before proceeding with #3…
#4 Will your water still run without power? Many of you are on electric pumps and have no water once the little bit of pressure eeks out of your lines? We are on street pressure so we can at least fill two tubs and all the pots and cans we can find.
#5 Do you have adequate lighting? Flashlights? Batteries? Candles? Matches? Lighters? We discovered that we had no flashlight. We had one. In a closet. But that was before our daughter entered the world and, like many other things, it has since gone missing. We have plenty of candles but these are not my ideal in any situation. An LED lantern is on order.
# 6 How much ice is on tap? Enough to keep your food good for a couple of weeks? One thing we learned when we headed to church later the storm was just how much people lost in the way of food. Some people lost hundreds of dollars worth of food. My solution to this is simple. Paper lunch bags. Layer them on everything you want to keep and put ice over top and layer some more. The paper has a sawdust affect and you will be surprised how little your ice will melt with paper bags insulating it. We used this in a cooler on the way to Florida. The lunch meats we had had for sandwiches stayed cool (some parts froze) the whole trip through the summer heat. We left the cooler in the car all week because it was heavy and messy and the ice was not melting even with the car in the Tallahassee sun for days. On a twenty hour trip from Ohio we thought that pretty awesome.
#7 if you have no way of preserving your fridge food, do you have dried or canned on hand? A silly question, its true, but again, the amount of people we talked to at church that had to go out to get food was insane. We were astonished at the amount of food loss.
#8 How are your ammo stores? I quickly discovered that what I had was good for the everyday but that if something happened and I needed a lot of it fast (riots or looting) I was in for a hurting. This has since been corrected.
#9 Are all your firearms in functioning order? That favorite gun is nice but how about that old shotgun that was failing to extract shells? Has that been fixed? If not it is best to get on it. I also discovered that my shotgun was having a loading issue. It never had it the last time I used it but here it was during Sandy. I stripped it and cleaned it and all is good as new. Luckily I have a backup but what if I didn’t and I really needed it? Murphy’s Law and all that.
#10 If you don’t have firearms and you need a weapon, do you have one? Scary thought.
#11 Do you have simple items in order to affect repair? A tree or branch could easily have smashed a window or door in. Do you have boards and nails to add a temporary covering? How about caulking for windows that seem to have sprung a leak? Home Depot is far away and an open door or smashed in window is too close for most looters to pass on by.
Those are all the major issues I found that needed correcting and came to mind during the last few weeks. I hope at least a few will help someone else check in case they are in the same boat we were. What we learned the most was that we cannot be lax at all in how we keep our home. The shotgun having a mysterious loading issue was completely out of nowhere and counting the shells was not a good feeling when we saw what New Jersey had gone through. We learned that there will be things go wrong and break at the worst possible moment when you need it. So keep on checking and making sure your list is full of ticks and taken care of.
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