Prepare now to survive the storm later
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.
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