Keywords: Storm Preparedness,Frankenstorm, Hurricane Sandy, October 2012
FRANKENSTORM is what the media has begun calling a storm that is predicted to hit our area early next week. Well, actually, I think it is 2 storms that may converge, right before Halloween… thus the name. I don’t know what will really happen, nor do the forecasters, but the media hype is creating a great deal of anxiety, especially among people who aren’t use to this area and have no idea what to expect. To those of you who are freaking out, I say: “Relax”. Pretty often these things change course or fizzle out. Very often it is much ado about nothing. But, sometimes it’s a big mess. So check out my tips below on storm preparedness.
First – BREATHE. I do not believe your house will fly or float away. We are not in Florida, our area has many natural barriers that will likely protect you. I can’t guarantee it, but I can tell you being worried never solved a problem.
Next, think about the most likely problems and try to be prepared for those…Here’s a pretty good, thought provoking list:
1. All people have special needs. Consider your special needs and those around you – medications, access to power, even anxiety management. Plan ahead.
2. We may have closed roads due to downed trees, power lines and flash flooding. Don’t be trying to drive in bad weather. This DOES kill people. Why put yourself out in that? Don’t.
- Talk to your boss in advance about being able to work from home or taking the day off if needed.
- If you work in an industry that is going to be pushed into high gear, then get your rest now and take my thanks for putting yourself out there when I am telling everyone else to stay home….These are our men and women that serve in thankless jobs such as town and county roads crews, first responders, hospital employees, employees of the power companies… you know who you are. Get ready. Everyone else, get off the roads.
- Reschedule travel plans if you feel it’s necessary or at least have a contingency plan in place if you decide to do so later. Many airlines are allowing this with no fees in hopes of avoiding people sleeping in airports… that’s not exactly my idea of a vacation, and I am guessing it’s not yours either.
- Go to the store now, before the storm hits. And check our list of suggested supplies (below under #5) before you leave.
3. It might get windy. REALLY windy.
- Secure loose items. Bring in deck furniture from the Charming Bench Company and the like. Close the gates on your fences.
- Check your trees. Is there a branch that might fall on your house? If you can, deal with that now.
- If you have large windows (like you live in a chalet or have big store front windows) you might consider doing the big X tape thing, but please don’t do that too far in advance, I have seen that glue stuff be ridiculously hard to get off windows.
4. It might flood.
- CLEAR DRAINS (Especially if you have an areaway with stairs coming up from your basement to the yard. And recheck this throughout the storm.) Check your gutters, make sure that splash blocks are directing water away from your home. PLEASE DO NOT PILE LEAVES IN STREETS… this will block storm drains and cause road flooding.
- Got a leaky window? Caulk it, or do whatever you need to so that you can prevent water from entering your home.
- Got a completely buried basement? You may want to consider a battery backup to keep that sump pump running. That’s a great investment. Let’s face it, you’re most likely to loose power during a storm, when you are most likely to NEED your sump pump. Making these things reliant on electricity seems like a design flaw to me.
- If you are in a flood zone, bring stuff up from the basement that is important to you. Consider sand bags and the like to help prevent water from entering your home.
5. You might lose power. And not just you, your neighbors and the stores. This causes the biggest issues if is prolonged. Think about what you need:
- Special needs. I point this out again because it blows me away how often people fail to plan for people with special needs. If you or someone you know has health issues and require the regular use of something that requires power, at the least make sure you have notified local emergency personnel and the utility companies. Do it by phone and in writing. In advance. Depending on predictions as things get closer, consider moving these people to the hospital or other facility if the situation warrants it. Make sure you have at least 10 days worth of medicines for everyone in the household.
- The Basics. If you don’t already have flashlights, candles and lanterns, an extra supply of batteries, a good first aid kit, fire extinguishers, a manual can opener, duct tape and basic tools – like pliers or a wrench (in case you need to turn off utilities) and a handsaw (that you also carry in your car should you need to go out- for those downed trees), now is a good time to invest in those things. If you DO have them, now is a good time to find them.
- Light. Those flashlights, candles and lanterns I mentioned could be needed. And stock up on glow sticks. (These are especially good for the kids.)
- Communication. If you’re not signed up for your local emergency alert system, sometime like this instant is a good time to do that. See the links below. Charge your cell phones, ipads, etc. By the way, regular landlines still work when there is no power. Of course, there has to be phone connectivity, but least it is one more option. If you DO have a landline, remember you also need a corded phone (cordless doesn’t cut it if there is no power). If you DON’T have a landline and corded phone, ask around and find out which of your neighbors does… you know, just in case. (If we lose powers for days, cells, computers, and ipads will die. An emergency could come up.)
- Refrigeration. Make sure anything that can be frozen is frozen solid before the storm hits. Make ice… you know, in case. I have a deep freeze. I save milk jugs and freeze potable water in them. I store them in my deep freeze year around which helps to cut down on the electricity required to keep things cold; but it also serves as a refrigerant if I need it; and if we have a water issue I can thaw them and have potable water.
- Water – Potable and Non-potable. If you are on a well, and have an electric pump, you may need a bathtub or buckets full of water just to flush the toilets and do basic washing. You’ll also need water you can drink and use for cooking.
- Gas – Fill the cars up with gas. Likely, we’re all going to shelter in place. But if you need to leave, keep in mind that gas stations with no electricity can’t pump gas. You might also need gas for a chainsaw to cut up downed trees and the like, especially true if you’re in a more rural area where cutting the trees that fall across the road may be your only way out. In the winter, you’ll need your gas for your snow blower if you have one. You may also need gas for a generator if you have one.
- Heat/AC – Depending on temperature, you might want to use your heat…. but you might not be able to if it’s electric. Do you have plenty of blankets? Any house with a mom probably has plenty, so call your mom or the nearest one and ask if you can borrow some. If you have a woodburning fireplace, this is a good time to bring in some wood. Luckily we’re not in the dead of winter, but if we were, you might also consider a kerosene heater (which can be dangerous so be careful using these). There are less options for AC, which we luckily won’t be needing this time. But in the summer, you need to be aware that extreme heat can be life threatening, and make arrangements accordingly for anyone who is sick or has special health issues that may not be able to endure.
- Food & Toiletries – (Bread and TP, don’t forget the bread and TP!) Chances are you won’t be stuck at your home for more than a day or two, but just in case, always (always) keep 3-5 days of food and toiletries in your home. Since you know a storm is coming, and we know we may lose power for several days, remember that many stores will be closed if they don’t have power. And, make sure you have plenty of foods that don’t require electricity to prepare. PBJs are a tried and true “works in every situation” kind of food (well, you know, unless you’re allergic to peanuts), so think in terms of those kinds of goodies.
- Entertainment – When I know a storm is coming, I pre-plan to keep my kids from going nuts in the house. Special foods, glow sticks, a deck of cards, a new board game, a couple of new books. You don’t want a replay of Cat in the Hat while you’re cutting up the tree across your driveway, so make sure you remember that while children won’t ACTUALLY die from boredom, after a few days of being stuck with bored kids in a house you might wish someone would.
Perhaps the best most important tip is this… Know thy neighbor. Seriously. Know who can fix things, where your volunteer fireman and nurses live, who might need extra help, someone who can keep your kids if you can’t make it home. Know who has a landline and corded phone, who has a ham radio, a generator, and who collects wine. These could all be lifesaving resources should Frankenstorm really be as bad as the media would have you to think.
Now that you’ve read the checklist, and you’re prepared for the storm, chillax. This might be nothing, or maybe, just maybe, things are gonna get real interesting ’round here…New adventures can be fun. Maybe Frankenstorm will produce some of the best memories of our lifetime.
Do you have other important tips on storm preparedness? Share them here!
Here are a few more resources:
Emergency Alert Systems:
Local Emergency Management:
Vicky Chrisner, Your Local Expert
Keywords: Storm Preparedness,Frankenstorm, Hurricane Sandy, October 2012