Monday, November 7, 2011

Ten Things To Do Now To Get Ready for the Next Big Power Outage

I'm a member of Transition Westchester, a local NY hub of the larger Transition US, and we're working to support resiliency plans in our communities, build individual resiliency and support Transition Initiatives like that in Ossining, the newest Transition Town in America. 

As Climate Change continues to escalate and throw wacky weather events at us in faster and more furious increments, it will become harder and harder to resume normal life. Restoration of normal services will take longer, funds will run out, people will be exhausted.  Right now, as of 11/7/2011 there are still 50,000 or so people out of power from the October 28th storm.  That's a lot of frozen pipes... Not to mention pissed off electric customers...

FEMA has already warned that they are dangerously close to running out of funds for this year and is considering downgrading storms once considered disasters.  USA Today FEMA Article.  Hurricane/Tropical Storm Irene did a doozy on the East Coast and on Vermont, but this recent weird snow storm is considered to have been FIVE TIMES WORSE THAN IRENE.

  It is beginning to become very apparent that we, the people, who pay our taxes and serve jury duty and obey MOST traffic laws and the US Code, and are generally good and decent people, are going to have to become more self reliant once again.  Big daddy
govt and FEMA aren't going to be there to help us, despite how much we have sacrificed in blood and gold to keep this country running.    We certainly cannot depend on our Congress to do anything at all.  It's up to us to make sure we get through this new age of weather weirding and climate disaster with some dignity and with civilization somewhat intact.

So here's a very PRELIMINARY survival To Do list for the next power outage or catastrophe that we can share with our neighbors and families. DrSusan Rubin and I are developing this list based on our own experiences and the Citizens Emergency Response Team (CERT) packet. We will be sharing the list in our own neighborhoods and hope that others will find the list helpful and share it with their neighbors as well.  

You can check out Suru's Blog on the recent storm here: Surus Blog


1. Always have some bottled water stored, enough for your family and a couple extra people to last a week.
2. Have a stash of batteries stored for flash lights. A solar battery charger is a good idea since you won't be able to recharge your rechargeables when the power is out. Or a car charger inverter you can plug your lap tops and battery chargers into. (very handy this last storm)
3. Have a months' supply of prescription medicines stored, even if it's out of pocket! There's a medicine scarcity right now for a variety of reasons. An extra bottle of aspirin helps too.
4. Have a month's supply of dry grains, beans, oats, pasta, cereal & spices stored in glass jars with those rubber gaskets (Indian Meal moths can't get through). When the trucks can't supply the stores, you'll still be able to feed your kids. And don't forget your pets!
5. If you can afford it, spend around $2000 to $3000 for a solar powered back up power system that can run your fridge and boiler and a couple lights(fluorescent). Folks with dedicated solar hooked up to the grid found out, painfully, their power went out too. Such a waste. Gasoline powered generators are unsustainable, though in a pinch they can help a family with a baby or an elderly person keep warm in a room with the right kind of room heater. NEVER keep a generator in your home, nor a kerosene heater. You will die.
6. Definitely buy a Wovel if you have a driveway, it's made in America! This snow shovel does the work for you, saves your back and clears snow twice as fast as any other back breaking shovel. When you can't get gas for your snow-blower, this tool is priceless. Lend yours out if you have one. All it takes is one try to convince people it's a bargain! It's actually fun!
7. Always have a pair or more of charged, walkie talkies. I tried to find the crank kind like they had in WWII, but I couldn't. So you need rechargeable batteries for these. With the recent power outage I had no cell service or home phone service. My walkie talkies were a great solution. Get the kind with 60 mile range. Not the kiddie brands.
8. If you don't have a gas stove, consider switching to Propane or Natl gas. It's worth the investment when the electric is out. Otherwise you're cooking outside on a grill or warming drinks with sterno warmers, not perfect but it works.
9. Alternatively, invest in a wood stove with a cook top. The Norweigian company Jotle makes a couple of these in two sizes, one that heats 800 sqft and another that heats 1800 sqft. You get to heat your home and have the ability to cook. Plus, they meet Federal energy requirements and may qualify for rebates. 
10. Meet your neighbors and create a phone tree and action plan in case of another major disaster (or event). Find out where the elderly live, the disabled, those with small children or new babies. These folks need extra help and attention from us all. They may need your generator more than you do.

And get lots of hot water bottles! One for each of your family members. These were priceless at night curling up under cold blankets with no heat...

Share this list with your neighbors.

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