With Hurricane Sandy having come and gone, leaving enormous numbers of people without power in its wake, it seems important to prepare for the next big storm. Preparation can save you time and effort, financial loss, and even your life. Here are some important things to buy now so you will have them on hand for future weather-related disasters.
We take it for granted here in the United States but the loss of readily available water can render entire regions uninhabitable in a matter of 24 hours. Distilled water, used for your steam iron, is dirt cheap compared to single-serving bottles. Buy it in 128-ounce (one-gallon) or 320-ounce (2.5 gallon) jugs and just store it. It’s sealed and lasts a very long time.
Water purification tablets
These are available at nearly any sporting-goods store that sells camping gear. If you’re the least bit unsure of the quality of stored water you can drop a tablet in, mix, and wait. A few minutes later it will be safe to drink.
Chemical lights and hand warmers
Modern chemistry provides great options for light and heat. Chemical lights, like the kind you might see at a circus or party, are safe, long-lasting, easily stored and available in bulk. Chemical hand-warmers, often used by hunters, ice-fishermen, and other outdoor folks provide a quick way to boost body heat in an emergency.
Canned food and a good manual can opener
Enormous varieties of canned food can be had for the asking at any supermarket. Buy a variety of food items your family enjoys and store them. The volume you need to buy should depend on the length of time you might need to stay in your home during a power outage. A high-quality, manual can-opener completes the picture. Replace the food annually and either have some kind of canned-food buffet meal at your house, or donate the canned goods to a local charity.
Hurricane lamps and oil
The hurricane lamp is an old-school, oil-burning lamp. For centuries there were used as a primary light source. A good lamp can burn for as long as your oil supply lasts. Lamp oil is also unlikely to be used for any other purpose in your home, unlike batteries. If you buy oil odds are you’ll have an unopened container of it the moment it is needed.
These butane lighters are similar to the type used to light cigarettes, but they contain a larger reservoir of fuel and have longer necks. They can be used to light oil lamps, fireplaces or other items more easily and safely than can be accomplished with other tools.
Large jar candles
Candles are another useful and long lasting light source. To maximize safety use jar candles with wide bases. Get unscented varieties so the perfumes will not become a problem. The wide bases make them very stable on almost any flat surface. The glass jar lid can simply be placed back on top of the candle to extinguish it.
Rechargeable night light/flashlight units
These are nightlights that plug into any common household electrical outlet. They usually have motion sensors and ambient light sensors so they only activate at night or when someone walks in front of them. These lights also have rechargeable batteries that remain at constant peak charge. They’re instantly available if the power fails in your area, with a bonus: they will come on automatically if the socket goes dead so you can easily find them.
Hand-cranked radios and other devices
Your home may not have electrical power in a storm but your muscles can be your power source. Hand-cranked radios let you turn a handle to charge their internal batteries any time the device is needed. They let you stay in contact with the outside world. Other hand-cranked devices are available as well, such as lights.
A stash of extra blankets, warm socks, all-weather hiking boots and the like can literally be life-savers during a weather-related disaster. If you live in a cold-weather region get some extra cold-weather clothing, like gloves and hats. If you live in a wet region get waterproof overshoes or boots. Your regional weather will dictate what to buy.
Household fire extinguishers
It may sound odd but flooding and blizzards are often accompanied by fires. Downed electrical wires, misused candles, overloaded fireplaces and other risk factors contribute to the problem. Keep a fire extinguisher in each room of the house and make sure everyone knows where they are and how to use them properly. Inspect or replace them annually.
A few notes
Remember to rotate canned goods each year. Metal cans are superior to glass jars because they do not break easily due to temperature drop. When storing flammables like lamp oil be sure to follow proper safety procedures and local law. When using flame-producing items like candles or oil lamps make sure to place the items safely and securely. Keep fire extinguishers near at hand in the event of an emergency.
With proper preparation you can handle most weather emergencies. The best time to buy is now, before another hurricane, blizzard, or other major weather event strikes. Waiting till the last moment only makes it hard to find the necessary items.