Re: New Emergency Preparedness Team Needs Guidance
From: Katie Henry (
Date: Thu, 13 Feb 2014 15:15:18 -0800 (PST)
Below is something I posted after Hurricane Sandy last year: lessons learned 
after ten days without power. Might be something useful for you in there. 

This was part of a larger thread on the topic:

Katie Henry


Some lessons learned in New Jersey: ------------------- To store utility water 
(for flushing, etc.), use contractor-weight garbage bags 
in garbage cans. For drinking water, use gallon-size ziplock bags. They can be 
emptied and reused later. Keep your emergency water supply for a week or so 
after services have been restored in case of a relapse. Get a land-line (copper 
wire) phone. They often keep working when all other 
services have failed. Consider getting a dial-up modem and have an account that 
supports dial-up. Cable/Internet service can be out for weeks, and cell phone 
service suffers when towers go down. Keep your car's gas tank full if you know 
a big storm is coming. Have gas cans 
on hand. Know how to transfer gas out of your car's tank into a can or another 
car. They sell gadgets for this in auto parts stores. Have all laundry done and 
the dishwasher run before the storm hits and the 
goes out. If you plan on sleeping elsewhere in the house (it's common here to 
sleep in 
living room or basement during big storms because of trees crashing through the 
roof into second-floor bedrooms), inflate the air bed before the power goes 
out. Have a gas water heater that doesn't require electricity for ignition or 
operating the vent. It will keep operating indefinitely in a power outage. If 
you have an automatic garage door opener, disengage it before the power goes 
out, especially if that's where you keep the generator, your car, or emergency 
supplies. Flashlights are plentiful in the stores here, but there are no D 
anywhere. Get headlamp flashlights. You can do things while wearing one. Get a 
Red Cross hand-crank radio that can also be used to charge phones. Figure out 
how you will make coffee without electricity. (Including grinding the 
beans.) People in cold climates with fish tanks and exotic birds -- How will 
you keep 
them warm? Keep the fish oxygenated? Our local pet store, with power, is 
several parrots and cockatiels. (Joy says "fish tanks - have a large dutch oven 
that I fill with water - boil the water and place under the tank. throw every 
blanket we have over tank and pray. Reheat the water about every 8 hours or 
sooner - so far so good.") Tarps, thick plastic sheeting, furring strips, 
staple gun or slap hammer, duct 
tape, chainsaw. Paper plates/bowls, plastic cups and utensils. A manually 
operated pump, depending on your drainage situation. Extra sump 
in case the installed one fails. If you have a 3G-capable iPad but have never 
used 3G, you will need a SIM card 
to use 3G. Get it now and set up a pay-as-you-go account. Mobile hotspots will 
not provide Internet access for many desktop computers, 
only other mobile devices. If the Internet goes out, will you possibly need to 
transfer files from your desktop to your phone, perhaps to email them 
If so, figure out how in advance. (I'm on a Mac and an iPhone, and I'm using 
Air Sharing over my home wi-fi network.) Get a TV antenna so you can receive 
digital over-the-air channels if the cable 
goes out.  Identify what electrical items you absolutely must have. In my area, 
must-haves are (1) heat, (2) basement sump pumps, (3) ability to charge 
electronics, and (4) lights, followed by luxuries, such as a TV or a 
refrigerator.  If it doesn't get all that cold, or if you have electric heat, 
consider getting 
kerosene or propane space heaters for emergency heat. If you live in an area 
where pipes will freeze, either come up with a whole-house heat solution or 
understand how to drain your pipes.  If you have a gas- or oil-fired boiler 
with circulating hot water or steam, the 
electrical requirements are minimal and you can run the system from a generator 
or using deep-cycle marine batteries hooked up to solar panels or even a 
for recharging (or you can hook it up to your car, I've heard). Have an 
electrician install a transfer switch on the breaker that feeds your boiler so 
you can isolate the boiler from the panel and plug it directly into the 
generator (cost is about $400 - $500 for the transfer switch). Do it now, 
you need it. Another option is a natural gas fireplace. A neighbor has one in 
his basement, 
and it keeps his whole (big) house warm.  Generators get stolen. Try to locate 
it out of sight, and get a lock and chain 
to attach it to something.  Have spare extension cords so you can share 
generator power with your 
It's the best way to compensate for the noise they'll have to endure.

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