Power outages after a major hurricane can last anywhere from 1 day to 3 weeks (absolute maximum) depending on how much work the linemen have. I’m a Floridian and even a few days without power during hurricane season (summer months) down here is the epiphany of hell on Earth. Last year in Boston, during the Halloween storm, many up there didn’t have power for 2 weeks.
So this article helps you prepare for the worst with simple family survival tips, and we call it ‘How to Survive a Natural Disaster.’
A small generator, usually the Hondas are affordable, reliable, and easy to carry around (and these are the same ones we used overseas). If you can fill up at least 5 gallons of gasoline for it, it should be enough to last you about a week if you use it a moderate amount of time.
It’s always good to have a map of the area you are in for evacuation purposes. If you decide to ride out a major storm at home, but things start to turn sour (worse storm than expected), it’s important to have a map with pre-marked evacuation spots (sturdier buildings, designated safe areas by the local government, elevated areas, etc). Don’t bother with a compass, I couldn’t think of a scenario where you would need it unless you are evacuating due to a Zombie outbreak.
Speaking from experience of power outages due to major storms here in Florida, candles are more useful for creating a “calm” environment in your home at night. Flashlights should be your primary source for lighting. Candles are simply nice to create a soothing atmosphere when things around you have turned to shit (my experience).
Always have extra batteries for everything (primarily for flashlights). I have a fishing tacklebox that I keep in the back of my car that has plenty of first aid items (as well as cutting tools), and lots and lots of extra batteries for all manners of electronics.
Depending on your geography (in this case the folks in the Northeast), if power goes out (which it will) and the storm passes, it’ll be frigging cold! You need to make sure you can keep your family warm, first and foremost. If you have a fireplace, you better have wood to go with it, as well as enough materials to start that fire with! If you don’t, make sure you have extra blankets, extra gloves, skull caps, etc. This is definitely common sense.
It’s always nice to pack some heat. If you own a piece, keep it nearby.
Food and Water
Load up on extra water. Calculate a gallon of drinking water a day for each family member for a good 4-5 days. You won’t need more than that even if power lasts longer only because by the fifth day there will be plenty of aid circulating your area (water included). Now, most people don’t drink a gallon a day (I drink two only because I train extensively throughout the week and need to stay hydrated). So calculating a gallon a day will leave you with some extra.
Food: Keep it simple: canned foods and emergency rations. If you want to keep things cold, simply put them outside of your home in a safe area as it is probably cold as shit up in the NE right now (hell It was 50s here in Orlando this morning). Don’t make this harder on yourself with portable cookers. And DON’T forget can openers!
Water for hygiene: It doesn’t take much water to brush your teeth with and I can make do with very little to keep clean (thank you combat deployments). But most civilians need some kind of hygienic comfort. Stock up on extra water for some of the cleanings you’ll be doing. Baby wipes for hygiene also works great and saves you from hording on a shit ton of water. ***Make sure as the man of the house and designated post-apocalyptic leader that you ask the female members of the house what they need in order to perform proper hygiene.***
Do NOT forget the needs of your pets either: plenty of water and food for them. If you forget to get food for your dog, he just might end up eating you and your family around day 4 and your disaster preparation was for nothing.
Some things you can buy that will make your power outage more enjoyable (your cellular devices, smart phones, kindles, Nintendo DS, etc): Most stores sell portable solar powered chargers for about 100 bucks. I have been meaning to get one because it seems like a great concept. The panel is the size of a large hardcover book and can be carried anywhere. You can charge your devices simply by plugging it into the unit.
Also one thing I read once to keep your kids happy is to role play. Last year during some major storms, the CDC put out a detailed list of things to do in case of a Zombie Outbreak. It was obviously a joke, but the CDC wanted to put out disaster preparation to more people, and what better way to market than that? If people have kids… mainly boys, make a game out of it (i.e. Pretend a zombie outbreak is going on). Keeping up the spirits/morale is important. We are so dependent on electricity it’s ridiculous. Even 3-4 days without power sucks ass.
(Editor’s Note: For more disaster preparation advice, check out the Survival section at LoadoutRoom.com.)