Pre­pare now to sur­vive the storm later

The Palm Beach Post - Residences - - Front Page -

A fe­ro­cious Nor’easter lashed cen­tral New Hamp­shire re­cently. The howl­ing wind and rain knocked out my elec­tric­ity be­fore mid­night. My ca­ble in­ter­net ac­cess was cut as well. It was im­pos­si­ble to get a good night’s sleep.

I have a standby gen­er­a­tor that pow­ers es­sen­tial sys­tems in the house, but for some rea­son it failed to au­to­mat­i­cally start. I trudged out to man­u­ally start it in to­tal dark­ness. When you live in a ru­ral area, you have a crisp un­der­stand­ing of the term “pitch black.”

It’s im­por­tant to note that I set a very pow­er­ful flash­light by the front door just a few days ago. With­out that handy tool, I may have had to de­pend on the LED flash­light in my cell phone that cur­rently has no ser­vice. The pow­er­ful storm ob­vi­ously did se­ri­ous dam­age to the lo­cal cell­phone tow­ers near me, but I was un­able to find out as I was com­pletely and ut­terly dis­con­nected from all in­com­ing news.

I’d like to add that I was very for­tu­nate that it was a balmy 60 de­grees out­side. It could have been 15 de­grees with a foot of snow on the ground.

I sat at our break­fast ta­ble in a mild state of con­ster­na­tion af­ter com­ing in­side from pow­er­ing up the 17,000watt gen­er­a­tor. A lack of sleep and my de­pen­dency on hav­ing con­stant ac­cess to the in­ter­net con­trib­uted to my frus­tra­tion as I sat there.

I sus­pect I’m not alone in that re­spect. I’m will­ing to bet you or some­one you know has be­come far too de­pen­dent on tech­nol­ogy and mod­ern con­ve­niences. You may be sur­rounded by the same fog that sur­rounded me the past few years but don’t re­al­ize it.

I de­cided to write this col­umn to help you and to cre­ate my own check­list so the next time a big storm hits, I’ll not only be ready to deal with the af­ter­math, but I’ll also be able to go about most of my nor­mal daily rou­tine.

I’ve seen count­less get-pre­pared check­lists over the years. Most of them are quite good. You may be one that says, “Those are great ideas. I’ll knock out that check­list when I get around to it.” But then a week, a month and a sea­son goes by and you’ve done lit­tle or noth­ing to get pre­pared.

Elec­tric­ity is the cor­ner­stone of sur­viv­ing for most of us. It pow­ers just about ev­ery­thing in your home you use on a daily ba­sis, in­clud­ing flash­lights. I’m now a fan of recharge­able flash­lights that don’t de­pend on tra­di­tional batteries. I have sev­eral flash­lights that can be recharged with a 16,000 mAh stor­age bat­tery that has its own small so­lar trickle charger. I rec­om­mend that you in­vest in sev­eral of these so you can keep your cell­phone topped off and even recharge a lap­top if nec­es­sary.

I also own a 28-watt fold­ing so­lar panel that con­nects di­rectly to a hefty lithium-iron-phos­phate bat­tery. This bat­tery not only has a built-in con­troller that reg­u­lates the in­com­ing elec­tric­ity from the so­lar cells, but it also has an in­verter so it can con­vert the stored DC power into 120 volts of AC power. Small ap­pli­ances or a tra­di­tional tran­sis­tor ra­dio can be pow­ered by this very clever power pack.

How good is your mem­ory? How many tele­phone num­bers have you mem­o­rized? Some­thing tells me you’ve del­e­gated this job to the mem­ory chip in­side your cell­phone. If your cell­phone bat­tery dies and you can’t ac­cess your con­tact list, how will you call up the con­trac­tors, roofers, elec­tri­cians, plumbers and so forth that you might need to help you re­store your life back to nor­mal.

It’s time to get a small wa­ter­proof note pad and write down im­por­tant phone num­bers that are need-to-know not nice-to-know. I have some Rite in the Rain wa­ter­proof note pads in my of­fice, but when I looked at them af­ter the storm, each page was com­pletely blank. I changed that. I jot­ted down many im­por­tant num­bers the way it was done 20 years ago.

What are the ab­so­lute ba­sic things you need to sur­vive for 24 or 48 hours? Make that list. Where are these items? My guess is they’re scat­tered all about your house.

There’s a huge ad­van­tage to mak­ing this ef­fort. When you get stressed out by the dis­as­ter, you might not think clearly.

Tim Carter

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