Re: Common House as a lifeboat
From: Katie Henry (
Date: Tue, 25 May 2021 14:58:04 -0700 (PDT)
Here's a list of disaster preparedness items I compiled after superstorm Sandy 
in NJ. Many of the tasks are based on the assumption that there's a big storm 
coming and you have some advance warning to prepare. This list came in handy 
during the big freeze in Texas earlier this year. 
Katie Henry

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 
power goes out. 

If you plan on sleeping elsewhere in the house (it's common here to sleep in 
the 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 

Have a gas water heater that doesn't require electricity for ignition or for 
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 

Flashlights are plentiful in the stores here, but there are no D batteries 

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 

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 
hosting several parrots and cockatiels. (Someone 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 pumps 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 somewhere? 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, the 
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 

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 
bicycle 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, 
before 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 
neighbors. It's the best way to compensate for the noise they'll have to endure.

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