Friday, October 11, 2013

How We Prepare For A Storm & What Helped Us Through Sandy

As I mentioned in my previous post about aging, my area has weathered two large storms the last two Autumns.  The first was a freak megastorm that dumped 19" of snow on us in late October of 2011 (Yo, Mother Nature!  Too friggin' early!).  Then last year, Hurricane Sandy visited.  My kids can tell you about the exact moment "Mommy lost it" and hurried everyone (in truth, screamed at everyone to run) down to the basement.  I huddled with my children in that cold, dark room as the beast that was Sandy roared overhead; it's a sound I will NEVER forget...

Now that Fall is here, it's time to prepare once again and here's how I do it and what has worked for my family.   Obviously your needs will be different.

  The Red Cross Preparedness Checklist  ( lists what you should have in your Emergency Kit .  I check ours every season to make sure the food hasn't expired.  I also tweak it; diapers and baby food aren't needed by us anymore, so that leaves room for other things that we didn't need but do now like cat supplies for the feline we now have. 

Some of the foods I stock are:

Make sure you pack a can opener!
-  protein bars (We LOVE Zone Perfect bars which are chock FULL of vitamins.  My growing teen eats them by the dozens!)
-  boxed milk
-  chocolate (For energy?  Maybe, but it was comfort food for us all.)
-  instant oatmeal
-  canned soups (I make sure a can opener is packed as well)
-  enriched pastas (I like the Barilla pasta made with chick pea flour.  It's loaded with vitamins.)
-  sauce
-  tuna
-  turkey jerky
-  snacks
-  tea (Camomille tea calmed my kids during the stress of the storm.  The gas was working, so I'd make them a cup before bed every night.)

I also make sure my freezer contains at least one frozen chicken or turkey; here's why.  Last year, upon learning that the storm was coming and realizing that we would almost certainly lose power, I cooked anything in my freezer that could feed the family for a few days without being cooked.  We just happened to have one of those free turkeys the supermarkets give out during Easter or Thanksgiving.  I defrosted it a few days ahead of time and cooked that sucker up; it gave us protein for most of the power outage! 

More of the kitchen preparations I did included: 

- Cooking brownies.  Sounds stupid, but those sweet treats were comforting!
- Freezing GoGurt yogurt sticks, containers of egg whites, and milk. We put those in the cooler and not only were they nutritous, but they served as cooling agents as well, in addition to the ice we had.

Since Halloween had been cancelled, my stress-reliever proved to be the Milk Duds I had planned on giving out to the trick-or-treaters.  I now have a secret Fall-stash of those candies just for me.   :)

As for equipment...

I mentioned in my other post that we do have a portable generator; we've named it Justin as in "just-in case."  My husband has already tested it to make sure it's working and we have a bit of starter gas to power it.  Last year while everyone around us used their generators to power almost everything in their houses, we used it sparingly in the evening to charge our electronics and power one lamp for maybe two hours at a time.  That was an important strategy because while our neighbors were searching for gas on a daily basis, we only needed to make one gas run the whole week!   Each evening, we'd watch a movie on my son's computer.  It kept a semblance of normalcy going.  This year I think we'll be plugging the refrigerator in so we don't lose all the food we lost last year (and which was NOT covered by our insurance).

Let's talk about the cooler.  Before the storm we'd only had the mini ones you take to the beach, but a few days before Sandy hit, I'd snagged the last large one at Home Depot; I'm SO glad I did!  We were able to keep quite a few perishables in there without constantly open the fridge.  Ours has a little spigot at the bottom so I could periodically drain the water and wheels so I could easily take it to the back steps.  

Besides the cooler, another essential for us is battery-operated candles.  The kids can easily and safely carry them around a dark house.  We also used ours as a nightlight when my little one went to bed.  The larger one we have (see below) is on a timer, so it goes off after I think 9 hours.  I'd set it when it got dark, and by the time we woke up, it was off.

I bought the larger one in a 3-pack at Costco.

Let me mention the importance of a good-quality battery-operated lantern which was excellent for reading in the evening.  You can find them in the camping section of Walmart or Target.  I also recommend having battery-operated miner lights - the kind that strap onto your forehead leaving your hands free.   Those were useful when my husband had to go out in the dark to tend to the generator. 

One thing I have this year that I didn't before is this little gadget.  It's a solar phone charger that goes on my
Leave it on your dashboard to charge all day
keychain;  I bought it at Target for about $20 and it gives me 25 extra minutes of phone power.  That doesn't sound like a lot, but it's saved me a few times when my battery gave out and could be helpful in another extended power outage.  I'll be buying a higher capacity one from Amazon soon. 

Something I didn't have enough of but will this year is firewood.  We have a fireplace that doesn't do much of anything except provide light and a little heat.  Gathering around the fireplace in the evening, all snuggled up under blankets was comforting.  Last year we ran out and I wound up foraging in the little patch of woods behind my house for kindling.  That proved important last year and I'll be stocking up on some - just in case. 

This morning my husband informed me that we're expecting a Nor'easter today.  Now that I've outlined what I need to do, it's time to go do it!


I mentioned above Zone Perfect Protein Bars.  They're always on my Costco shopping list because my son eats them by the dozens.  They're full of vitamins and keep you feeling full for hours.  And the best part is they taste like a candy bar!  I keep them in the car for snacking and in case of unexpected delays.  They take the edge off your hunger and, combined with a glass of non-fat milk, even make a great little meal.  They are the "official protein bars" of our family!


Thanks for reading! 

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