It’s good to admit weakness. Although we were lucky enough to not suffer any serious damage from the storm, it was an acute reminder to this household, and I’m sure others, that we were generally underprepared. It’s so painfully easy to get wrapped up in the day to day and to put off doing things that will make your life easier when you have something more serious to worry about than your own busy-ness. One of my own personal challenges is failing to approach things in digestible pieces. I tend to try to tackle the whole mountain — in this case, investigating, reviewing, interviewing experts, before sitting down to stuff a safety-pack. However, there’s no time like the present, when you’re not staring down the eye of a storm, to start preparing for the unexpected, even if that start is just making a list of what you might need. It is okay to start small, and proceed small, and eventually you will have something very big accomplished. (A writer/mentor/friend of mine, Crescent Dragonwagon, advocates relentless incrementalism, and I’m incrementally incorporating the notion.)
That in mind, I am finally ready to start getting serious about getting at least more adequately prepared than I felt about a month ago, as Superstorm Sandy was rolling in. (It’s an awful feeling when the drain in your bathtub doesn’t work and all you’re hearing on the radio is how everyone should be filling their bathtubs to the brim in the event of pure catastrophe — the unknown is always the villain in these scenes).
There are many lists available online for how you should stock your home in the event of an emergency. Feel free to share your thoughts and comments on this list, and to recommend others. As for now, I’m keeping it simple with an old standard — FEMA. According to FEMA, the following is what you need to stock your basic disaster supplies kit. (If anyone can think of a better name for the “basic disaster supplies kit,” please share. While I’m no Pollyanna, I still think the words we use help shape and create our own reality. Maybe something along the lines of Adventure Pack for the Unexpected, or Welcome the Unknown Gift Basket….?)
Anyway, here’s the list…
- Water, one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation
- Food, at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food
- Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- First aid kit
- Whistle to signal for help
- Dust mask to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
- Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
- Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
- Manual can opener for food
- Local maps
- Cell phone with chargers, inverter or solar charger
I was calling my adult daughter the day before the storm hit, making sure she had good old-fashioned paper maps, atlas, etc., since her cell phone has been her fifth appendage since high school. From my own experience on September 11, I can’t vouch fervently enough for value of a good radio. I walked from Houston to 83rd that day, keeping quick pace with a stranger who gave me one ear bud to get the news on his handheld transistor radio. Granted the news was all wrong, including reports of Chicago being bombed (seriously – and from a legit source), but that was in the cacophony of confusion so I don’t hold it against anyone — just one of those things no one seemed to remember after. Still, access to any news is better than no news in such situations.
I skipped Black Friday — trying to do the “be local buy local” route — but I have a specific shopping list for the days and weeks ahead. (relentless incrementalism, relentless incrementalism, relentless incrementalism) It’s an early gift to my family, my home, and myself. Will keep you posted.