Thanks for being so patient as we bounce back from the craziness of the past few weeks! Before I can move on to lighter topics, I feel it’s important to share what we’ve learned about preparing for (and recovering from) natural disasters. Four days without power and a flooded basement pale in comparison to what many are going through after Hurricane Sandy. However, there were still pieces to pick up, lessons learned, and carpet to throw away in our home. I thought I’d share what we’ve learned so you don’t have to go through inconveniences like us (at best) and disaster recovery (at worst).
::: Emergency Supplies Bin: We all know to have flashlights, batteries, weather radio, and water. Stocking up on these now means you won’t have to battle crowds and shortages before the next major storm. I keep our supplies in a plastic bin in our downstairs closet so we know exactly where they are at any given time. A lantern such as this version from Energizer lights up a room– helpful when reading bedtime stories in the dark to nervous children. We love the Energizer Weather Ready Rechargeable Flashlight— it plugs into an outlet and goes on when the power goes out so it’s always ready. Lastly, this weather radio can be solar charged or charged in your car if your batteries run out. During Hurricane Irene, it was by our side as tornadoes came through the area. If your power goes out it may be the only way you can get news, plus it plays FM channels to calm nerves and restless children. 😉 Now, go get your basic supplies in order if you haven’t already. We’ll wait for ya.
::: Insurance Papers: Keep a copy of your insurance papers in your emergency supplies bin. If your power goes out, you may need to search for them in the dark and trust me, that’s not easy.
::: Get a generator. This is number one on our list, once they are back in stock. The cost pales in comparison to what we paid in lost food and items lost due to flooding in our basement. If you can’t afford a generator right now, consider the next tip…
::: Battery Backup for a Sump Pump: Our basement flooded because we had no power for our sump pump. If we had simply invested the money to get the battery backup, we wouldn’t now be facing losses in the thousands of dollars for our basement flooding– including $1100 for parts for our furnace (we were lucky to avoid paying $15,000 for a new furnace… yeah, battery backup is way cheaper).
::: Gas: It may seem silly to fill your car with gas before a storm, until you remember what those half-day long lines looked like at gas stations in NJ for days (and weeks) after the storm. People couldn’t get anywhere or keep generators running without gas. You need gas on a regular day anyways, so having a full tank in a storm may mean the difference between waiting in endless lines for more or getting out of town should you need to do so. If you have a gas powered generator, again, get several cans of gas so you won’t have to run out immediately and fight the crowds (um, literally in some cases) for the all important fuel.
::: Ice: if you don’t have a generator, pack your freezer with ice. Having a full freezer helps keep the rest of the food in your freezer cold if your power goes out. In four days with no power, our ice cubes didn’t even melt!
::: Chainsaw: Guess what the hubby is getting for Christmas this year? In addition to helping clear the many branches and trees that fall, it could be your only means of getting your car out if a tree falls across a garage door or driveway– which happened to a neighbor, actually. Both ends of our road were blocked by fallen trees during the storm. Thanks to a quick response from our township, one end opened up by mid-morning. In the future, it may not happen that easily. Since we’ll no doubt use a chainsaw anyways it’s going on our “must buy” list.
::: Clean-up: It’s handy to have large trash bags, a real mop that absorbs water (not a Swiffer), and plastic gloves on hand should you need to do a major clean-up. Again, these are items that will come in handy anyways so buy them now and if a storm does hit you’ll be thankful for your forethought.
::: Home Inventory: This is one of those things that is always on my to-do list, but never seems to get done. Not anymore. I’m blocking out time next week. There’s many websites and apps to help you along, and if you should have a loss of property this will save you the nightmare of facing miles of red tape.
::: Above all, come up with a plan. You can read hundreds of articles about hurricanes and how to prepare for them, but no one knows your situation better than you. One thing that would have been helpful was for my husband and I to go through this thought process: if we lose power, we’ll need heat. To start our fireplace, we need power. To start it was a battery backup, we need to read the manual. To read the manual, we need to find it. etc, etc. Yeah, so it took a few days before we figured out how to start the gas fireplace via battery backup. Planning for those little details is extremely helpful! If we’d thought that through first, we may have been more comfortable– and able to spend more time dealing with the basement those first few days without freezing.
Once you’re prepared, you can sit back and know you’ve done as much as you can. Natural disasters are going to happen– and we can worry about them every time the weather forecast mentions bad weather, or prepare for them. I choose peace of mind!
A few more things:
If you do have flooding, this article from Houzz with give you tips for dealing with mold and mildew in a flooded basement or home.
If you live in NJ and want to help, Jersey Family Fun in helping to organize a Thanksgiving Potluck for displaced citizens.
For all you crafty peeps, my friend Sarah is collecting handmade hats to brighten (and warm) the days of those suffering losses due to the storm. You have no idea how much something handmade can make someone feel loved during difficult times!
After the weekend, we’ll continue on with happy and freshly squeezed lemonade posts. The kids are finally back in school after two weeks off, and with those few precious hours back we’ll get rolling again here soon. Have a wonderful weekend, stay safe, and warm hugs to all of you!