As I said yesterday, we were extremely lucky when it came to Sandy. We lost power for four days and had to do some yard clean-up, but were relatively unscathed. We prepared for the storm, not knowing how much we’d be affected. Going into a storm, you never know if you’re over-preparing or under-preparing. On one hand, you don’t want to be paranoid, and on the other, you don’t want to be unprepared. We were glad we listened, and there’s really not much we would have done differently. If you’re in an area that is prone to natural disaster—and even if you’re not—it’s a good idea to have a plan just in case. Check out this list so you know what to have on hand for a basic supply kit and check out my list below for lessons I learned. My list is most pertinent to storms where you have ample time to prepare, such as for hurricanes and snow storms, where losing power is your major concern.
12 Lessons Learned from a Natural Disaster
1. Heed warnings. Sure, weather officials may seem to be overly cautious, but it is better to be more prepared than not. A couple of days of evacuation and unnecessary preparation and inconvenience is far better than wishing you’d left or prepared more.
2. Have cash. When power goes out, so too can the ability for businesses to take credit cards. Even without power, nearby businesses opened up and were accepting cash. We didn’t hesitate to raid our daughter’s piggy bank to get Chinese food after a couple of days of our hurricane rations.
3. Fuel up. “They” always say to get gas before a storm, and now I know why. With power out, people line up with gas cans to power their generators, making a huge demand for an item everyone needs. There is gas available, but many gas stations have either run out or don’t have power to pump it, making lines for the open gas stations really long. Luckily our cars were both full, but we are now conserving fuel as gas is being rationed and lines are still crazy in our area. You could also make sure you’re stocked to cook on a grill; we were able to cook on a gas stove, but you can always cook outside if you have propane or charcoal on hand.
4. Stock up. Like the basic supply list mentions, have all of the food, water and daily necessities like toilet paper, medications and child-care items that you’ll need for several days. You don’t want to be running low on diapers when no stores are open.
5. Charge up. Charge your cell phone until the last possible minute and consider a backup battery. Charge iPads and laptops so you can watch movies and play games that you can use without internet.
6. Wash up. Take a shower before the storm. You might not have heat or hot water for awhile.
7. Do laundry. I was so glad I’d done tons of laundry leading up to the storm. The kids had plenty of their warm pajamas clean, and I didn’t have a ton of laundry that needed to be done after the storm.
8. Instant coffee. If you love your morning joe, buy some instant so you can have a hot cuppa. If you like cream, powered creamer.
9. Layer up. The most stressful part of going without power was keeping my kids warm without heat. My son lived in fleece footed pajamas layered under an outfit while my daughter snuggled up in layers as well. It was too cold for my 8-month-old to sleep by himself, so for four days, he took naps on me in his Ergo and slept with us at night.
10. Drink and play. Without work and electronic distractions, the hubby and I had plenty of time to kill, so we’d enjoy a nightly fire, game of Scrabble and glass of wine. Too bad I was wearing a sleeping baby the whole time. Wink.
11. Board games. These days it’s so easy to just play games on phones and devices, but old-fashioned board games have their place. We were wishing we had more as we got sick of Scrabble after a few games every day.
12. LED flashlights. So awesome. Compared to the incandescent flashlights I’ve always used, the LED version we used lit up so much more of the room.
These are obviously small lessons more related to creature comforts, as the biggest lesson was to appreciate the basics and the most important—shelter, warmth and family. But how do you prepare for big storms? Do you have an emergency kit on hand? —Erin