26 Lessons from Hurricane Sandy

This week, we were forwarded an email from a family that lives in New Jersey that dealt with the power outages as the result of Hurricane Sandy.

This family made a list of lessons they learned during the storm. We wanted to pass along some of the points on their list so that you and your family could learn from their experiences and be better prepared for a power outage.

We'd love to know what you think about them. Comment below to add your opinion or add No. 27, 28 or 29 to the list.

1. The excitement of a power outage wears off around day three.

The power is out2. Just because your generator runs smooth, does not mean it’s producing electricity.

3. A couple of cases of bottled water is NOT water storage.

4. You should have as much fuel as water. That includes:
• Propane
• Gas
• Kerosene
• Firewood
• Fire starter (kindling, paper, etc.)

5. If you are not working, chances are nobody else is either. Don't just sit around, go out and work.

6. You eat a lot more food when you are cold or bored.

7. You need more food than you think if your kids are out of school for 2 weeks.

8. Kids do not like washing their face in cold water.

9. Your 1972 Honda Civic gets to the grocery store as well as your 2012 Escalade, but the Honda allows money left over for heat, food, water, a generator, fire wood, a backup water pump ... you get the idea.

10. The electrical grid is way more fragile than I thought.

11. Think of the foods that calm you down and help you think - a cup of hot chocolate, a glass of milk and a ding dong before bed, etc. You'll need comfort food.

12. You quickly become the guy in the neighborhood who knows how to wire a generator to the electrical panel, directly wire the furnace to a small generator, or get the well pump running on inverter power.

13. A woman who can cook a fine meal by candle light over the BBQ or open fire is worth her weight in gold.

Hurricane Preparedness Checklist

14. It takes a lot of firewood to keep a fire going all day and into the evening for heat.

15. In an emergency men stock up on food, women stock up on toilet paper.

16. I was surprised how many things run on electricity!

17. You can never have enough matches.

18. All of the expensive clothes in the closet mean nothing if they don’t keep you warm. The same goes for shoes.

19. You cannot believe the utility companies. They are run by politicians! Or so it seems.

20. “A man with a chainsaw that knows how to use it is a thing of beauty”.

21. Most things don’t take much power to operate. Things like:
• Computers
• Phones
• Radios
• TV
• Lights

22. Some things take a ton of power to operate:
• Fridge
• Toaster
• Freezer
• Hot plate
• Microwave

23. It gets darker a lot sooner than you think.

24. Getting out of the house is very important. Even if it is cold. Make your home the semi-warm place to come home to, not the cold prison that you are stuck in.

25. Someone in your family must play or learn to play guitar.

26. There were also many things that were not learned from Hurricane Sandy, but reinforced. Those things were the importance of my family and their love and support, especially my lovely spouse and that I am very thankful for the upbringing and experiences that have taught me and brought me to where I am.

So, what do you think?
Comment below to tell us what you think and add to the list.

93 thoughts on “26 Lessons from Hurricane Sandy”

  • claudia

    Add these to the list:
    a warm hat & gloves
    a head lamp!

  • badboy4unix

    A Very good list... A reality check for many...

  • Jim

    You Don't have enough flashlights. You don't have enough batteries. If you have kids then you need at least two flashlights each. One for the kid and one for the kid to find the first flashlight he lost.

  • Gabby

    This is a great look at the storm. Down here in Florida, we always focus on heat stroke and mosquitoes after a hurricane. This is eye opening for me if an event would happen in the winter here. While our temps are not as cold, to our thin blood, these are key points.

  • Rena M

    27) Pets need long term food storage, too.

    28) Indoor kitties become very unhappy when their litter gets too dirty.

  • return man 2

    Nice share, thanks.

  • Keith Frazier

    If you are prepared sharing is only fun if you know when the stores are going to reopen.

  • Kathryn Broome

    I'll bet cards, board games, books and The Bible would have made the time together pass easier.

  • Deb

    Loved this list! Many hints made me laugh, but it also makes me aware of the need for more of certain items in our emergency preparations. I certainly don't want to run out of hot chocolate or coffee in times of stress. Thanks for sharing.

  • dheard

    .27 Its a sad fact but thieves do come out during tragedies like this.watch your neighbors house as well as yours. Help could be a long time coming.
    .28 A small chemical Toilet is great to have.
    .29 A good first aid kit not one that you get in a department store.They are basics. You must be prepared for anything.Help could be a long time coming. Speak with your Doctor for recommendations
    .30 Think about getting into canning & involve the kids.

  • Shawn M

    27. Have a supply of hard candies, books, board games. Comfort items that will make everyone, especially children feel more "normal".

  • Jerry Sandlin

    #27...print out list and read again and again....knowledge is the key to survival

  • Diana

    What a great article. Thanks for posting.

  • Susan

    I would have to say that the neighborhood needs to come together like a campground. People that can clean up, cut trees up, move debris should work together. People that can cook on a grill or open fire plan buffets for the neighborhood. Everyone contributes to the food but the cooks make it. Others get to clean up the mess. Have family sleep overs in the warmer homes of the people you know. Talk to the kids about the pioneer days and for that matter, the rest of the pre-electric history and how they survived like that all the time. Go camping more often so times like these aren't so shocking (and leave the tv and computer at home).

  • Andrea G

    We were without power for a week with Sandy (same with Irene last year & the freak Oct snowstorm).

    I loved the list, I was nodding "yes" at many of them and laughed since my husband is working really hard on the guitar thing.

    #6 struck me, with the bored comment. In this age we're all 'dying' without tv &/or video games - at least my son is ;)
    It's important to keep things on hand to combat this. We have bunches of board games, cards, Legos, Jenga, etc. even little kids can play with the cards by trying to make houses instead of playing actual games. Just make sure you pull them out every couple weeks, so the kids don't associate them with power outages (we made that mistake & now no one will play Sorry Sliders!)

    Only other thing I'd add, 10 gallon totes are a great way to catch rainwater if you don't have a rain barrel.

  • Don

    friends can become enemies & enemies can become friends.

  • Dawn E - Austin, TX
    Dawn E - Austin, TX November 28, 2012 at 11:27 pm

    I was stuck in NJ at my sister's for a few days due to cancelled flight back home. Once we actually got through the howling winds and toppling trees around us all night, I started adding to my newly discovered prepping list.
    My sister had a generator which ran fridge,and one wall of her kitchen. Also lights, hot water heater, in basically one full room and 2 baths. Outside of that...
    In-laws freaked out after 2 nights in their dark apartment. We barely had driveway cleared of trees when they showed up and moved in for 2 days.
    I noticed immediately the lack of light in other parts of her house. Flashlight batteries ran out after night 3. They had one wind up flashlight left. My Mom's flashlight ran out after the first night...so seriously stock up on the batteries for the light sources.
    Next thing I thought of was food. My sister had a convection oven and microwave to use when the generator was on. (That had to be shut down to conserve and they still had to have propane delivered 3 times during their 14 day outage). The need for food stock super important. Can't imagine what I would have done at the time. I've already started my food bank here at home. Now I'm looking into options for heating water.
    Then comes the water. Bottled water everywhere, but after giving some away to the Asplungh guys and the In-laws, and drinking while cutting trees,that supply depleted quickly. I've ordered my 55 gallon drum for starters.
    The other thoughts listed here are excellent. Sitting through this storm made me realize how un-prepared I really am. I've started on the basics, and will take all these ideas into consideration.
    Thanks everyone!

  • Becky

    This is a great list for those of us who are prepared and have lived through a similar situation. You find yourself saying 'oh yeah, so true!' For those folks who are just now realizing that preparedness is a necessity - a wake up call!

  • Marge

    Thank you. I will change survival plans.
    I am contacting the Amish about solar energy in Gap, Pa. They have been living without the grid forever. They power huge milking machines. I want to have alternative energy.

    I like the comment about the water storage. Gotta have enough water. Lose electric = lose water plants.

    I keep a deck of cards for entertainment.

  • Deb

    Good ideas. Someone needs to make a portable DVD player, that has a plug on it, that you can plug into a solar powered generator to watch movies, that won't take up too much power from your generator. That way you could have at least 1-2 hrs. Of (close to normal) living with the kids. I was going to give away the kids games, guess I 'd better keep them. Thanks for the imput. Deb

  • V

    Snowboarding/Ski clothes are great when you don't have heat. They are meant to keep you warm, and ventilated so you don't get sick if from overheating/sweating in them.

    If you want to avoid the gas lines, think about solar powered generators. They help all year long.

  • Jim

    MRE'S and freeze dried pouches. MRE'S if water is scarce. Freeze dried meals if water is not a problem.
    We had no power for two weeks. We had 6 family members who were washed out staying with us in the dark. And the fish. Phil the fish. We left no one behind.
    We had a propane stove and cooked on it for two weeks. What a life saver! Hot water and hot food really help morale.
    Get a large old fashioned camp Coffee pot. Hot coffee every morning. Then boiled hot water for shaving after.

  • Rebecca

    I have never gone without power for more than a day due to an electrical outage. So I read articles like these as often as I can, because I want to be prepared, and they interest me.

    The only thing I would miss is the internet. And I would worry about my food spoiling, but if it happens in the winter, I would be ok because then I can put the items outside...

    My hobbies currently are reading, crocheting, and playing sudoku. Since I don't get more than maybe an hour a day to do those things, I would be ecstatic if I had a few hours a day to do them. It would be like a huge vacation for me.

    But I also would be in charge of cooking, and we have enough propane and a nice camp stove with two burners, to last us weeks or months, and we have an indoor propane heater, if we had to huddle in one room to stay warm, that would be easy enough... we also have a fireplace in the basement and tons of wood, maybe it would only last us a couple weeks if we used it to heat our house, but oh well. We would probably all huddle in one bed with our 2 dogs and cat, (yes sometimes they sleep together!) to keep warm at night...

    We have enough water storage for at least a month without having to go to a lake to get more and then purify it... we have board games, electronic readers (with angry birds) and a solar powered battery pack to charge batteries and also charge cell phones or our eReader...

    We have warm clothes, thermals to wear under our clothes, etc.

    So, other than the loss of productivity at work, and the possible loss of our food in the freezer and fridge, we should be fine for a month or so...

    However, one thing that we do, is save 2-liter bottles of soda pop once the soda is gone (we don't drink soda so we collect them at parties or when we have people over and buy them), we clean out the bottles and put water in them, and then freeze them (can't fill them up to the top, leave space for the water to expand when frozen).

    We keep these in the freezer as space permits, and if the power went off, they would take days to melt and will be able to keep our frozen food safe for a few extra days...

    We do not have a generator and that is something we should think about getting...

  • Jon

    Good article w/good information.

  • Woolval

    We went thru hurricane Andrew, no power for 14 days. This was in August, the heat and humidity was terrible. No water pressure to shower, and when you washed off, humidity was so high you would just start sweating... couldn't get dry! Drove north to my dad's and pulled the generator from his old RV, wired it into the house (pulled meter so no back feed) and got a small wall unit AC for the bedroom. It made getting a good nights sleep possible, ran the fridge, ran the Direct TV (sat TV was good, cable was down!) and some ceiling fans. The biggest problem was gas. My job was to go out each day and "forage" for gas. Now I have 60 gallons safely stored at all times, and that would only carry me for about 6 days!

    I think anyone visiting the Ready Store is someone who works on preps. Smart people are here!!

  • Joan

    Love this article and all the comments - thank you!! Just starting out at food storage - have lots to learn. God Bless the USA!!!

  • Gregg

    Don't let people know what or how much emergency supplies you have or you might be expected to supply far more people than you expect.

  • Robert

    Here are some thoughts: We were without power for 6 days and cut off from the mainland at times during the storm:

    1. Ditto on the thieves, there was some burglary in our little neighborhood but those responsible were apprehended.

    2. When the police leave your area for higher ground you are COMPLETELY responsible for yours and your families safety - take that responsibility seriously.

    3. Generators consume fuel, if you don't have a lot of it, or a way to store it or get more you are going to have a bad day. My gen is Diesel so I used home heating oil which I have a lot of.

    4. Being able to heat water to take a shower is a huge boost to morale. Something as simple as a hot shower makes you feel a lot more "normal".

    5. You can cook a lot on a Coleman type stove when your electric range is cold. A frying pan with a lid can make many things. Microwaves can draw a lot of power and may not want to run on inverter power.

    6. Having a woodstove to provide heat is very handy if you have the space and facilities for it.

    7. Satellite TV - our cable and power was out but with the generator and inverter we could put the idiot box on and that at least kept the kids amused for a while.

    8. Fridges and freezers can stay cold for hours with no power if you keep the doors closed. There is NO reason to run your screaming generator ALL NIGHT! Nobody wants to hear that.

    9. Power companies are driven by political forces, the mayor got his power restored the next day, the politically insignificant people waited over a week. Calling the power company asking for an update is futile, the person on the phone doesn't know and more than likely doesn't care.

    10. Think of an outage like this as a test of preps. What worked well? What surprised you as being a poor prep? What else did you think of that would have helped? Use the "test" to improve your situation.

    11. You can never have enough small LED flashlights. I found a pack of 6 at BJ's for $9 the other day and bought some more. You can never have enough batteries for things that need them.

    12. If you don't know how to safely wire a generator into use, don't try. Either get a bunch of extension cords or hire a qualified person to get you a proper transfer switch. Widowmaker electrical cords are named that for a reason. Backfeeding your house via the dryer circuit is a good way to hurt someone on a pole the one time you forget to open the main breaker.

    13. Your neighbors may need help but don't want to ask for it. Especially elderly ones. Keep an eye on them, go talk to them, if you can brew a hot cup of tea or coffee, offer them some.

    14. Depending on how far apart the houses are you may think about offering some "excess generator capacity" to a neighbor to run their fridge for a few hours to stop the food spoiling.

    15. There's no reason to sit around doing nothing, if you aren't doing something productive you haven't thought hard enough. If you can't think of anything take the dog for a walk around the neighborhood. Touch base with your friends, check out the damage and that will help give you an idea of when things will be restored.

    16. If you have a chainsaw you can help people that are stuck behind tree limbs (driveways). You don't have to do the whole job, just enough for them to get mobile again.

    17. There's no reason to stay up late. If you've gotten your work done, go to bed and rest. Morning will come soon enough.

    Thanks for reading.

  • Barbara

    Tornados are my biggest threat but I have tried to prepair for whatever may come our way.
    I have lots of tea candles to use for warming food in dishes that use these candles, I have a case of sterno with the little cooker for it and I have a Coleman cook stove with an oven and the fuel.
    We have crank / solar and shake flash lights, the crank / solar lights also have a radio.
    Candles used for lighting I purchased the Catholic ones cause they burn slow.
    We have a creek and two ponds near by so I purchased a Berkey water filte system should we run out of stored water.
    Learn how to make distilled water, you can drink just about any water by dis tilling it.
    In a tight spot you can drink the juice from canned veggies, I learned this from a show.

  • REbecca

    I like all the suggestions here, and even though I already posted I want to post one more good idea!

    IF you buy those solar lights for garden pathways, (you can get them cheap at WalMArt or Target) you can keep them outdoors during the day and bring them in during the night, for light for a few hours to light the hallways, the bathrooms, etc. The light won't be bright enough to read or play games in, but it will illuminate pathways so you don't run into things and won't be dark...

    Also a good nightlight for the kids room, once the solar power stored is gone, the kids should be sound asleep.

  • Dee

    This was a great article! We were without power for 11 days, but we still had hot water, and we could light our gas oven. Being able to take a hot shower is such a luxury when the power is out! We boiled hot water on the stove to heat the house during the day, which worked quite well. We have since purchased 2 kerosene heaters and are adding kerosene alternative to our supplies. We have also added more matches. It's amazing how quickly a box is used when burning candles and manually lighting the stove and burners. We have also added a few more tanks of propane, as we did a good amount of cooking on the grill. My husband had previously purchased some highly rated rechargeable batteries with solar chargers and adapter sleeves to make C and D batteries. These were the most useful items during the blackout. A and AA batteries were readily available at the stores but C and D were not. We have since added to our supply. I have also purchased a pocket sized AM/FM radio that runs on 2 AA batteries. We were able to run the TV and cable for a few hours at night, but the rest of the time we listened to the radio. Our other radio uses D batteries, so a smaller one will be useful. We don't let our cars get below a half tank if possible and usually have one that is at full. It was very difficult to get gas for the first week, so it was great that we had everything here that we needed to live. I don't have a way to store gas safely here, but we can easily live and even work with what we have available in our house for quite a while. One very valuable lesson we learned during Sandy was how much the trappings of modern life can interfere with family togetherness. My son actually enjoyed our time without power, and we all felt so much closer!

  • Paul

    After our 14 day outage last year, we were prepared with a new whole house generator which worked flawlessly. We became support central for our neighborhood. Best opportunity to talk about preparedness and get people to actually listen we've yet had. We cooked pot luck with everyone's expiring food & never had to dip into our deep pantry for this outage.

    I didn't fully read the user manual [yeah I know dumb] until the power when out. The manufacture requires oil and oil filter change after first 8 hours and every 200 hours there after [synthetic oil would improve the time & don't forget the air filter and plugs]. Long story short, I had extra oil, filters, & plugs [just barely enough]! So be certain that you know your generator's requirements and plan accordingly. You engine will thank you!

    PS turning your generator off at bed time can save you fuel and run time requirements - something to consider.

    PPS Thanks for your support and service - love the new anonymous shipping boxes. I have used your company for over a year and I am thankful for your assistance in helping me prepare for whatever is coming down the pike!

  • Misha

    We were without power for 10 days after the huge tornado outbreak in 2011. First thing I learned is the neighbors can quickly find the prepared person. We turned it into a positive. Since we had the ability to cook, they brought over their good food that would spoil if not used. We ate well for free. The best moral booster everyone loved was the campfire popcorn popper. I thought it was overpriced when we bought it, but it was worth its weight in gold that week. Kids loved it and so did adults. Our generator was great, but we needed much more fuel than we had, problem corrected now. We also enjoyed putting puzzles together. I recommend everyone go camping at least once to get prepared for an outage. Bring a notepad and list what you wish you had, so when you have to have it, you will!

  • ingrid

    So many great ideas thank you everyone. So I live in a condo, fully electric 300 units in my building. Only 1050sf for me and my two teenage children. I have limited storage just for life in general! I have a 10 x 5 foot patio cemented over. Does anyone have suggestions for a situation such as this? I live in San Francisco Bay Area in California. Thank you so much in advance!

  • Heather Haney aka PrepperBabe.com

    Solar garden or shed lights work great in the home, flash lights, candles, hook up an extra battery to run your internet, charger your computers, phones out in the car, buy an inverter, deck of cards, WOOL clothing and blankets, snowsuits incase you run out of heat to keep kiddos warm

  • Carolann

    Thanks for sharing this great list, I can certainly relate! Being confronted with no power is defnately different than thinking you are prepared! We were out of power for a week and I learned that propane is a Godsend, it cooked food on the grill and heated the house (and is inexspensive compared to gasoline), candles project double their light with a mirror or reflective surface and filling the bathtub was the smartest thing to do to have water to flush the toilet. I think I may be a little more prepared next storm!

  • Sue

    Power outages are a great time to teach new skills to the children - any kind. A box with craft supplies would be useful.
    I love to craft so knitting/crocheting supplies are always handy. Anyone can learn how. How about making ornaments for your Christmas tree (anytime of the year)? Pine cones and glitter? Origami? Make the salt dough "cooky" dough and cut out cookies or use it as clay to mold a chubby Santa. Or make a "Hurricane Sandy" with puffy cheeks to remember the event.

  • Beth

    Regarding sentence No. 2: I recently bought a short emergency generator that runs on gasoline (which can be very expensive, the gasoline, that is). I was told that you have to have the proper electrical chord in order to operate your generator. PLUS, the important factor is to NOT have a long extension chord as the power is not as strong if you use too long of a chord. Don't use a 100 ft. chord if all you need is 10 feet. You need to figure out in advance what you are going to run off of the generator and get the correct length and watt electrical chord BEFORE disaster strikes. (Which I haven't done yet, I forgot.)

  • Ken

    Hand-powered basic tools! That neat Ryobi cordless drill is good until the battery runs down. If you have to do any kind of mechanical/carpentry type tasks a good set of screwdrivers and hand saws never run out of power.

  • Leray

    Preparing for an emergency is very expensive if you try to do it all at once. Start with 3 days worth of everything for life safety, then little by little, add to your stash and don't forget to rotate your food, water and batteries. Check out: Ready.gov.

  • Cy

    I have a gas generator that I have converted over to run on gas, propane, or natural gas. I do not like to store gasoline very long because it will break down and is very dangerous. I would use the gasoline part of my supply first and then change over to propane which will store indefinitely. I also have a conversion panel on my main box (if you do not know how to wire this up pay someone to do it for you) You can charge up your fridge, freezer, and heating system several times a day without continuously running the generator. The old style kerosene lamps are a great source of lighting and some of the lamp oils available smell very good as well and it does help to relieve some of the stress. Get a battery operated DVD player and keep some of your favorite movies around to entertain not only the adults but the children as well. The emergency crank radios and lights that are sold here work well also. The neighbors will gather around to here the news and they will run about 20 minutes on several cranks (let the children crank them so they become part of the helping process).

  • Rod

    Convert your generator to propane, much safer to store than gas and have extra propane for the BBQ!

    A dutch oven works in the BBQ as well!


  • Jill

    Water and food supplies are great but don't forget to rotate them regularly

  • Misha

    To Ingrid: There are many places to store items in condos. I would buy Ramen noodles or cup-a-soups (very cheap on Amazon) and stuff under a bed or break apart and put under furniture or behind books on a shelf. Get creative. Then you only need to heat water to eat, which can be done with small cans of sterno. Use water bricks that are stackable. We made a shoe rack of them in our closets, placing our shoes on top. For a bit of power,look into Goal Zero solar packs that can charge phones and other smaller items. With the bigger ones you could run an electric blanket for warmth. Wool and down blankets are just about as good though. I bet if you googled for prepping in condos you could find great ideas. If not, start a blog for condo preppers!

  • Cathi

    For my buddies who are Homebirth midwives, Get ready for next Sept! There are gonna be a bumper crop of babies who were conceived during the power outage! If you need help, I can assist! Cathi Cogle, CPM....Ps, I loved the other comments as well. We lived thru hurricanes Floyd, Isabel, Gilbert, and a couple of lesser ones before we could get out of eastern VA...God bless NJ!( I used to live there, too)

  • Catherine

    I add: #27. The value of several packages of baby-wipes kept hidden someplace in the house can not be over-stated.

  • Karen Cox

    To Ingrid in condo: The big plastic boxes that have tight lids could be stored on your porch in a corner with dry goods, batteries etc. If it doesn't freeze in your town, things with not much water like tuna, beans also. In the corner of my dining room, between the bookcase and cupboard are cases of canned food, also # 10 cans covered with a dark table cloth with plants (philadendron; likes shade)on top of them. Looks like plant holder.

  • Maria - Survival Food List
    Maria - Survival Food List November 29, 2012 at 11:52 am

    So many really great tips, reminders and ideas here in the article and the comments.

    One I would add is to get to know your neighbors now, and broach the topic of community/ neighborhood preparedness. The better prepared your community is, the better prepared you are. Share ideas, remind friends to stock up on essentials, look into local CERT training.

  • john

    candles under thermal mass, stone, pot of water, can of rocks, to cook.
    LED lights and battery source and/or charging systems.
    fuel for lantern, stove and/or heat.
    containers to hold and collect water and stuff.
    power marine battery, genertator, solar, car to charge battery(s), devices and AA cells.
    Shelter - Couch tent that kids used to play with, tent, closed off rooms from windows &

    Fuel souces -candles, propane, gas, karosine, etc.
    Heat rocks and water jugs in the sun in plastic bags to collect and trap solar heat.
    Food to use, dry, cook and dry, keep fresh as long as you need, emergency supply, etc.

  • Sawyer

    A 12v tranceiver ham radio, tech license (the easiest one) and a 12v power supply, car battery etc and you can communicate to much of the country or the world. Also, walkie talkie's, cb radios, (not so popular anymore) but family to family in same neighborhood work well on 12v also. Sometimes communication is the key to well being.

  • Deanne

    During the tornado outbreak in April 2011 we were without power for 6 days. One very useful item was a solar oven. The best chicken I've tasted and can be used for just about everything as long as their is sunshine.

  • Linda Suda

    For the person in San Francisco with the paved over patio--we lived in a basement apartment for a while, and I grew up on the Peninsula, so I know the weather out there. For planting, you can grow most things in pots--lettuce, spinach, zucchini, even melons, and they have indoor/outdoor fruit trees--try on-line. Also there are small vinyl storage sheds that may fit on your patio. Good luck!

  • Twice

    Growing up and living in CA you must always be prepared. Flashlights and shoes at every bed. More water than you think you need. Crescent wrench, crow bars, hammers. Learn to cook on a wood fire, even if that means taking the oven rack outside to cook on. Extra food for your pets. Emergency go bags for each person and pets. Always have extra meds on hand. Fire extinguisher. Out of state contacts to reach your loved ones.

  • Cathy M.

    We were without power for 8 days in '06 for the Buffalo, NY "October Storm". Here's what we found:

    1. Well-rated sleeping bags, for our area preferably rated 0 or -20 degrees.

    2. I have a base level (new) gas stove in the basement that I use for canning. It's a no frills model and has pilot lights for the burners and oven. The entire neighborhood came and used it.

    3. Regular bleach. Look up the water purification recommendations on the EPA website. They list purification rates for clear and cloudy water. Print it off. I keep mine in the rolodex and in a recipe file. Still store plenty of water but it's good to have a back up plan if we're out longer.

    4. Can't say enough about our tank water heater. We always had hot water. There's a lot to say for being able to take a hot shower. Will never get a tankless hot water tank.

    5. Learned our lesson and just installed a water back-up sump pump.

    6. Bought a solar charger for A and AA batteries for the smaller flashlights and battery radio.

    7. Loved the land-line phone. Cell phones died after 2 days, land-line kept going.

    8. Bought a French press coffee maker. You can also make coffee in a tea ball if you don't mind a couple of floating grounds. When you're desperate for a cup it won't matter.

  • Jake

    Great article. We went through hurricane Andrew in August 1992 in South Florida. Didn't get our power back for 23 days. Had to drive to another county to find a generator and gas. While working my shifts as a firefighter I saw the desperation and violence that comes out in people caught unprepared. The looting we witnessed was incredible and yet so was the humanitarian effort from neighborhoods and communities that had been destroyed.
    We know from experience how important it is to be prepared. We now keep three months of food, cooking fuel and water on hand. First aid, antibiotics, and ammo are a plus, too. Just be careful who you tell about your preparedness.

  • Passerby

    One of your best articles, bar none.

    Ziplok bags, lots of them, will hold just about anything, including water.

    Learn to cook in your fireplace if you got one, I did. The wood goes fast!

    This is one time when your children will come to you for anything but money.

    Develop the mind-set to do without. Don't ever think this won't happen to you.

  • Linda Mann

    Thank you so much for posting this! We all need to know how to be more prepared .
    Dont hesitate to post more and God bless you guys up there - Here in Fl we have been spared to many times !

  • Christine

    So many great ideas, some new and some I've used. We lived 10 days without electricity after Hurricane Hugo (had all electric apt)luckly fairly warm weather; another 10 days after ice storm in the Carolinas (that knocked out the well pump); another few days after 8.5 earthquake in Santiago. I've learned that we cannot forget how important it is to prepare and that Mother Nature is alway more powerful than we can imagine and should never be taken for granted or underestimated. On a less philsophical note. When you have the finished cooking your dinner on the BBQ grill or open fire, heat up enough extra water to put in a thermos (or 2 or 3) for your morning coffee. Also I can't say enough about windup flashlights and radios, they are fantastic. Everyone in the family should have their own flashlight, maybe kept at their bedside (Why do so many of these natural disasters have to occur at night?) You can save a lot of $$ for other things if not needing the extra batteries for flashlights and radios. Having the radio can be a life saver too when you need to know what is going on and if you need to move somewhere else for safety.

  • christine

    Old fashion hot water bottles will keep you warm all night long. We use them when we camp in the winter.

  • Sandy R

    I think I'd like to add a few ideas. This is one I gave a coworker a few years ago. Her power always went out in the winter at least twice. I suggested getting a couple of small items for each of kids that didn't need batteries, like art supplies, legos, toy cars, etc. Wrap them up and let the kid pick one each day, every other day whatever works, that the powers out. Gives them something to look forward too. She told me her kids loved it so much that they hated the first winter in a new place where they didn't lose power.

    Also: baby wipes! they can be used for more then wiping bottoms! And if you have children in diapers keep an unopened case for each in your stash. Don't be tempted to use them if you're low though.

  • Hunter

    My wife and I got bullseyed by Hurricane Charley in 2004. We pulled out all of our camping equipment and did pretty well for the 2 weeks it took to just begin to get things back to nermal - that's not a typo - things weren't normal for much longer than that. In these blogs there is not enough emphasis on keeping and learning to use a firearm. You may not like the idea, but there is no better form of self-defense if you are faced with imminent danger and law enforcement is stretched to the max and cannot help you. Looting was sporadic in our area [after Charley] but it was ugly when it happened. Homes and businesses that were hit had so many looters on them they looked like fire ants swarming after the mound has been disturbed.

  • Bonnie

    Lots of great suggestions here. I have a couple of small solar panels from Goal Zero for our smaller things like lights, cell phones, rechargeable batteries, etc. I'm saving for their "household emergency kit" (solar generator, solar panels, tripod for the panels, lanterns, etc.) which is on sale right now and looks almost tempting enough to go ahead and incur the debt for it. We camp a lot so I make sure to always keep my equipment in good shape and easy to find. "Walling off" part of your home with blankets to keep the heated area to a minimum will help conserve fuel as well. Pooling resources can save storage room - if everyone contributes, everyone benefits.

  • Whitebear54

    Best article yet. Everyone talks about storing food and water and fuel, which is a good thing, but what about tools--specifically axes, hatchets and hand saws. Your chainsaw may run out of gas--or you'll need it for your generator. With a good axe and a rip saw and files to keep them sharp you can clear a lot of downed wood and keep your firewood supply up long after your chainsaw fuel is exhausted.

  • jodyg

    I've attempted to find the water purification information to print on the EPA website, and not having any luck. Can someone provide a more exact location? Thank you

  • Deb

    There's a lot of good info here...I'll keep a copy as a reference guide! I already keep a small notebook noting what things could be done better next time or what needs to be added to my emergency supplies. We tend to forget a lot of things once the emergency has passed! I also include any ideas/ recipes for easy & tasty meals. I found that a pressure cooker is great if you have a small propane burner to use. It doesn't require a lot of time or fuel. Here in Jersey it seems that we're getting more & more opportunities to get the preparedness thing down! Every little bit of preparation helps!

  • Homestead Homemaking

    We lived for 3 1/2 years off the grid so I picked up some tips. I want to second the head lamps. Working with only one hand is very limiting especially under any kind of duress. Since batteries are so temporary the crank-to-charge flash lights are wise. Also, Aladin oil lamps are great because they are so much brighter than candles and the oil goes a long way. None of us were that great with the guitar but we did well with the hymnal. Thanks for a great article.

  • Pastor JIm

    Much of the prepping info is for folks in big one-family homes! Storage space is a premium in mobile homes, RVs and condos.
    1. It is easy to store lots of food under a bed. Look for a under-bed pull out shelf.
    2. Store things on the floor of a closet, too. You'll never miss that bottom 12-16 inches of space if stuff is neatly boxed.
    3. Water is the biggest storage problem because of space and weight. I haven't found a good answer.
    4. Consider a bug-out place outside of the Bay area for long-term situations. Evacuate as soon as it is safe.

  • TrinityStar

    Living remote we nearly always have winter power outages from fallen trees. Don't forget to store water for the toilet. Train your children now it's not a crisis to go without power. Empower them with simple prep tasks. When they are confident you know what you are doing a calm sets in. Been doing this awhile and still found good suggestions for improvement here. Thanks for this informative thread.

  • Cathy M.

    Here's the link to the EPA website for water purification using regular, unscented, liquid bleach: http://water.epa.gov/drink/emerprep/emergencydisinfection.cfm

  • CERTsparky

    Every one of these points are GREAT lessons learned or re-learned, in many cases.The BEST point overall is 2 B Prepared. I love The Ready Store site, yes I am a customer and wish I had dreamer. I am also trained thru FEMA, CERT, NJSP, NOAA, BSA and our local OEM. It helps immensely to be prepared. PLEASE take some time during the next few months to use this past experience to further enhance your future life as well as those you may encounter who may need your assistance. I have heard of many fantastic Heroes as a result of this storm. Please keep in mind those still struggling and in need of our help. It is not over until we ALL are whole again. B Ready & God Bless.

  • Lauralee Hensley
    Lauralee Hensley December 2, 2012 at 2:42 pm

    If your bed is too low to the floor to store things under, buy bed leg risers. The kind that people with reflux or GERD disease buy to put under the head of bed legs to elevate the head of bed about 15 degrees. Yet buy 4, one for each leg of the bed and then you should be able to store some cans of emergency food under the bed, or some home canned foods. I'd still put them in cardboard boxes though, so you can slide them out easily when you want to vaccum under there. I'd also wrap them in plastic bags from stores, so if they do get dusty, the dust will be on the bag and not the lid of the canned foods. If you store water under the bed make sure you sit them in a plastic bin, in case any should ever leak. I agree about the toliet paper thing, and you could store it under the bed too, unless you have puppies or kitties that may wander under the bed and tear the packages open. I'd make sure they were in a cardboard box too and covered with store plastic bags to keep dust off of them.

  • Joe

    The list that you made is quite impressive. The lesson learned is not to make the same mistake twice! I am a Lineman and was on Long Island for 3 weeks helping to restore power. Its a time consuming process and not an easy one! Everyone I came in contact with was holding there own as best they could. I was quite surprised that after being struck a year earlier with a major storm that people would not have put forth more effort to prepare themselves better. One thing to remember is that with, at least, a little generator you can provide light and some heat. I mention those 2 things cause in complete darkness and cold the silence is mind boggling! Electricity in a house at least provides ambient background noise. Without that you have complete silence and that is a freaky feeling. Prepare for the worst but pray for the best. God Bless...

  • ingrid in a condo is SF Bay Area
    ingrid in a condo is SF Bay Area December 4, 2012 at 4:16 am

    Thank you sooo much for all your suggestions. You've given me so many ideas and opened up my mind to find space.... thank you Misha and Karen one thought on Lauralee... one of my cats, tore the fabric that covers the box spring and he'd hide in there from our other cat....until i closed that up... i'm thinking i could use that space in the box spring too... hmmm....

  • Grandma

    Want to remind you all to have A working smoke and carbon monoxide detector. Since you may be using wood heat or generators or propane heaters stoves. Don't get caught unaware its sneaky and silent not smelled ,take care!

  • John P

    Flint and steel (and a little practice) will outlast 50 boxes of matches. Sounds dumb, until you have to start making decisions about how use your last few matches!

  • wally

    Another thing you can do in a power down grid moment is go thru all those bxes and drawers full of papers you don't need, use them for fire starters, and organize the ones you do need, insurance, receipts for things you'll have to replace through your ins, insurance policies, important papers like mortgages, birth/marriage certs, medical records ect. My wife and I recently experienced a few down days and managed to fill a 55 gal drum with crap we had been saving for years!

  • emergency response monterey
    emergency response monterey December 6, 2012 at 8:22 pm

    Due to Hurricane Sandy power outage is a big problem.But i really liked the list you have made.

  • Su san

    Sandy probably woke many people up. Thanks for the great articles!

  • Ashley

    Another tip, I talked with the Sherriffs Office who had a booth at the Mall in September. He liked that we had 3 days food stored, amd

  • Ashley

    I talked with the Sherriffs Office in September who had a booth set up in the Mall for car seat safety and ready.gov info. He liked that we had 3 days of food stores, and that I had a lock box with our important documents in it. He asked if it was waterproof. I didnt think it was, so he suggested that I photocopy all of our most important documents, then laminate them, so that we have them just in case of any type of water damage. Also my husband, daughter and I all know where the lock box is just in case we need it.

  • Carol

    We lived through Ike in 2008, without water or power for 2 weeks, but we did great. My family has made fun of me for years; my middle name is Be Prepared. Each May I start supplying for hurricane season, not to be touched until December. I have one month of emergency food set aside especially for such an emergency, at least 30 cases of water bottles put aside, an additional 75 gallons of water bricks filled, treated, and set aside, candles, lamps, lamp oil, wicks, matches, a few flashlights and batteries, a radio and batteries, alternate sanitation facilities, propane tanks for the 2 camp stoves and oven we have; pretty much everything we need to play pioneer. When I was cooking up some chicken one night (after a full day of clearing downed trees and limbs from the yard, I created a new way to spice the chicken. We called it Hurricane Chicken, and my daughter still asks for it. I just wish I could remember exactly how I made it! LOL

  • Glenda

    I usually prepare more than is necessary for a meal for 3 people when I cook, especially things like beans, chile, spaghetti sauce, soups and stews. I place the extra in pint jars and pressure can them to eat later and they can be used even cold but they are home made foods that are already prepared and will last over a year if properly pressure canned. I also can meat and poultry, I put it into the wide mouth pint jars with seasoning and pressure can for 60-90 minutes and then that is already cooked and ready to eat and will last at least a year. I also dehydrate fruits and veggies in the summers when they are abundant, including watermelon, cantaloupe, peaches,pears, apples, cherries basically any fruit and veggies I can get my hands on, I use my food saver to store nuts, candy, cereal and so much more in quart and 1/2 gallon jars, the food saver takes out all the air and these things will last indefinitely. The canned home prepared foods are the best because when we have a long busy day it is east to just open a jar and heat it I can only imagine how much comfort that will bring us in an emergency. I also have a solar generator which needs no fuel and is noiseless, several kinds of stoves, solar, Coleman with the small cylinders of propane, a gas Bar-B-Q with the larger propane cylinders as well as numerous extra cylinders of propane in all sizes, and charcoal grills with extra charcoal. I believe the key is to have back-up plans and back-up plans to the back-up plan. Learning new skills is also important, chopping wood, baking bread, making tortillas, cooking from scratch as opposed to prepared frozen dinners is a must, knowing how to use a handgun and rifle safely, how to safely make water drinkable, how to grow vegetables, how to preserve foods, how to build a fire, and how to cook on a campfire or a grill as there is no temperature control and it takes a bit of practice which can be gotten in the summers when its hot, practice by cooking outside on a grill or over a campfire with your pots and pans, when you become proficient you can even bake bread on a campfire or Bar-B-Q grill or in your solar oven.

  • shirlane

    Thanks for so many good ideas. Mine from having been a back packer for years: Keep scissors, needles and thread on hand. You can make emergency sleeping bags by folding a blanket or even a sheet in half, then sewing up the end and half of the side. The bag will keep you inside, and you can pile on as many blankets or coats as you need to keep people warm.
    Keep one candle going at all times, as a lighter for other candles, fire starters, etc.

  • Martin

    When you think about long term emergency lighting, please consider only LED lanterns, both AA battery powered and D cell powered. DO NOT buy the old style "bulb" type lanterns or flashlights because they burn through batteries at a horrible rate.

    Also, a second for LED "headlights" - leaves both hands free to cook, work, carry things, etc. Get the models that run off AA batteries and have several power settings. The more exotic the battery required, the more chance you will never find replacements when you need them.

    If you have a gas stove and the gas is still working and safe, a clean, large earthenware "redware" plant pot turned upside down over a burner will radiate much more heat than just running a burner.

    I wish I had some solar panels and charging equipment during an ice storm that took out our power for 10 days....after the initial storm, we had 9 days of abundant sunlight....but little way to use it to recharge cell phones - batteries - or directly power radio or small TV.

    Great thoughts in the previous postings !

  • JDL

    Being a Member of The Church of Jesus Christ Of Latter Day Saints we are taught to store up for emergencies. You can buy food that can set in your food storage for years. We practice storing up water and fuel where possible. I have a gas powered generator, coleman stoves, lamps. emergency band radio, sleeping bags. We practice adding and using from our food storage monthly so we will be perpared

  • Candy Biller

    I live in the desert where the temp has reached 120 degrees.
    Any clues for us preppers here. By the way, the San Andreas
    Fault is less than a mile away.

  • Marie

    All of the comments were interesting to read, as with the article, which is excellent. We do not live at the shore, however, we were affected by both Sandy and Irene for over a week due to outages. My first point is that so many people ignored the warnings or thought it wouldn't affect them. I decided to be proactive and bought additional batteries and candles. It's great to have a headlamp, especially for reading and walking around. I also cooked like a madwoman for a few days prior to the storm so I would have meals I could heat up on the camp stove. Chili, Mac & cheese, macaroni salads - etc. My casseroles were easy and little fuss when the power went out. I made it a point to get the groceries and water we needed way in advance - you will always use them. I honestly didn't miss the Internet and the silence from not having a blaring tv was refreshing. I do not have small children - mine are grown, so I did not have to worry about entertaining the kids. Heed the warnings - you never know. Better to be proactive and prepared!

  • Laurie

    you can go to leahmans on line and get a lot of things that the amish use everyday. thank you all for the advise!

  • awatkinson

    From NC. had an ice storm no power for about a week. Two to three days stayed near 32F. Had two bedrooms and bathroom heated with small Buddy heater set on 9,000. Connected to 20lb propane tank. Heated three rooms to greater than 65 for 2 and 1/2days on the one tank. Checked it each night, the heater was in a bathroom. No odor, no nausea, no headaches. Have personally had CO poisoning as child. No sign of any problems. Great heat for emergency situation. Would check with CO detector but doubt major problem. We also used a Coleman propane stove with a Coleman L device(Walmart) that I strongly reccommend as well. A friend used one and his CO detector went off upstairs 15min after starting the stove. I don't know if open flame vs ceramic bricks or just very sensitive detector. They may be too sensitive for that setting. I am told one should not heat your house with a propane stove because of CO. There are ventless propane heater that are used extensively in U.S. without problem. The ceramic brick type are proabably the purest heat.

  • awatkinson

    Noted the dicussions about Sandy above. The frozen bottles of water from freezer to fridge when power out was used by my brother when the power went out in N.J> where he lives. Said it was very helpful. Also my wife suggested as was done above to buy or make casseroles before a storm and freeze. Bring one out each night thaw and heat with heat source and you have a meal with little immediate work. Could heat in gas grill if you watch it carefully. If no storm for a year or two could eat at last minute when get running behind for dinner, thus rotate stock.

  • emily

    During the October 2011 snowstorm, we lost power for six days. Thankfully there was enough firewood ahead of time. My father and brother put firewood during the summer months. (My father likes using wood for a secondary source of heat. If you get firewood, get during the summer so it can dry in the sun)

    As for cooking my mother has a propane grill and she was able to cook over it. Suggestion if you have cast iron fry pans they work great on the grill for cooking food in.
    As for lights I found out a headlamp, the one you wear around your head are wonderful for lighting. It keeps your hands free do the task on hand. People were asking me at work where I got that light. Of course it was sold out. I bought the headlamp ahead of time for work, not a power outage. That headlamp was wonderful at night, at least I could read at night to pass the time away. So keep the batteries handy for changing often.

    My mother had oil lamps and battery lanterns ahead of time. It helped to light the house at night. (The oil lamps were always put in s safe spot and blown out when someone left the room.)

    During the day time, especially during colder months, have the curtains open and allow the sunlight to light the room. It really helped during the day.
    Thankfully there was water stored for personal use, and drinking and there were brooks around for more water for flushing toilets. Luckily the closest grocery store had some power and I bought more bottled water and ice for the perishable food. Sure we lost some of the food, but it was worth it buying that ice. I hide the ice in the snow while I was at work so nobody would take on me.

    I've learned some lessons about power outages. I learned a lot during the power outages like stock up on water ahead of time especially if there's pets (you can't forget the pets during a power outage), batteries for different things, flashlights, radios, lanterns, and other things.

    Also I've kept a radio with me as well. At least I knew what was going on during the power outage news, and other people calling in the radio stations, letting know other people was open, if business had power. Also the closest grocery store became a place where people could gather and talk what was going on in different towns. I got information I used during the power outage, for example learned which towns had gas stations open.

    Also I had internet with my cell phone, and was able to know what's going on via the net and power outage updates. But I learned you keep another way of powering the cell phone, either by a battery operated charger, or a solar charger (something I will purchase down the road.) Thankfully the place where I worked had partial power and I charged my cell phone at work. I wasn't the only one who did that other workers did the same thing.

    Sure it's been a few years since that snowstorm, and I hope I never experience anything like that again. But I've been more prepared for a power outage then prior to the snowstorm. I rather be over prepared then under prepared for anything.

  • Roger Mose

    This is a great comprehensive list of how to be prepared. Having a home generator is also a great way to keep your family safe. You can cross of many of the above items if you have continuous power in your home. Of course no one can guarantee what will happen in a hurricane, but a generator is a great option for all types of natural disasters!

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