Guest post written by: Rev. Allyson Szabo
When Sandy was coming toward the East Coast last year, I kept an eye on the weather using a website called Wunderground. The day before landfall, they sent me an email saying that their usual “winter preparedness” email series was being suspended because they wanted to do an emergency preparation series instead, ahead of the storm that was heading our way. I went to their website to check out all the details.
They had a lot of useful information, and even the parts I knew bore repeating. The bottom line is, be prepared. This doesn’t mean you need to be ready for the Zombie Apocalypse, but it does mean making some common sense decisions now, today, well in advance of any possible storm or emergency.
Let’s look at the whole Rule of Threes thing in regards to a potential autumn or winter storm. If you find out that you’re in the path of a storm, you should do what you can so that you’re not a burden on the system. You can last three minutes without air (first aid), three hours without shelter, three days without water, three weeks without food and three months without hope.
Three minutes without air in a storm like Sandy translates into being ready for possible household emergencies. Is your first aid kit stocked up? Do you have bandaids, enough of the usual medications and vitamins, and a good supply of ibuprofen and acetaminophen? Consider the kind of injuries you might have to deal with during a three day storm with no power, and be ready for them.
Three hours without shelter isn’t too difficult when you’re already in your own home (or bugging in, as the preppers like to say). If you lose power and have no other means of heat, wear several layers of clothing, close off all but one or two rooms of your house, and keep everyone in that small, confined area. Cover windows with thick blankets at night to hold heat in, and let the sun in during the day for as much passive solar energy as you can get. Break out the winter coats, gloves and shoes, and don’t forget hats! A sleeping bag can keep you (or you and a child) warm, but you might be warmer if you and your whole family snuggle together in one place under the same batch of blankets. There’s a reason Alaskan sled drivers used to sleep with their dogs!
If you have a fireplace or wood stove, make certain you have enough wood or coal on hand to see you through the emergency. Have the fuel in a spot that’s easy to get to, and as much out of the elements as possible. Have tinder and small pieces of wood on hand to make starting your fire easier. If you run a generator, ensure it’s full, and have an extra gas can on hand, and don’t run it all the time (turn it on long enough to cool your fridge and freezer and run the hot water for bathing, then off again to conserve fuel).
Three days without water is unlikely to be a problem during a storm in New England, but having clean, potable water might be problematic. Do you have a way to filter water so it’s safe to drink? Can you store some in clean milk jugs just in case you need it? At a minimum you’ll want one liter of water per person per day, but if you’re at home and you have the ability to store more, then do so. Water can be used for washing, drinking, flushing the toilet manually, brushing teeth, cooking, and a hundred other things.
Three weeks without food should not be a problem for anyone with the amount of advance warning that we get about storms nowadays. If you’re not the type to keep a lot of food on hand, head out to the store early and get some extra bread and milk, and any other staples that will be easy to cook with what you have on hand, and that will last in the pantry if you don’t have to use them.
Three months without hope doesn’t seem to be something that would be an issue with the average autumn or winter storm in New England or elsewhere, but don’t dismiss it so quickly. You may be stuck in the house with children or friends for a few days, and having some cards on hand for poker or euchre, or a board game or two, is easy to do. Pick up some popcorn at the store and have an old fashioned night of popcorn and story telling. Grab a few books and have them stashed in the room you’ll retreat to if you lose power, and maybe have a craft or two ready to work on as well.
All of the above might seem like over-kill, but consider for a moment the possibility of a storm catching you unawares in your vehicle. You’ve become blinded by snow or driving sleet, and you pull over. You’re prepared, have a get home bag available to pull some food out of, and some warm clothes. You decide to wait it out, a sensible thing to do. Come morning, you wake up to find your car is thoroughly buried in snow, and you can’t get out. What happens now?
If you’re prepared, it’s not going to be a problem. People will have at least a vague idea of where you are. You can expect outside help within a reasonable amount of time. If you’re prepared, it might be uncomfortable but it won’t be a panic situation, nor will it be a disaster.
Be prepared! Don’t let yourself fall into the trap of thinking “preppers” are just doomsday prophets calling for the end of society. In reality, “preppers” were (and are) people like your grandparents, who put up food from their garden and who saved every penny to make sure they had what they needed. They’re people who have the necessities on hand or know how to make them should something (like a surprise storm) happen. They’re you, and me, and your neighbors, ready for whatever the New England (or elsewhere) weather throws at them.
Guest post written by: Rev. Allyson Szabo
About the author: I am a 40-something woman who has a calling to interfaith ministry and omesteading alike. I am the founder and minister of Patchwork Interfaith Ministries. I also provide copy writing and editing services for companies via the web, and maintain my own blogs. My large family lives on a one acre piece of land in a suburban area, where we have a large garden, chickens, and a fantastic life.