I’ve lived all over the U.S. and throughout the years have encountered earthquakes, mudslides, wildfires, hurricanes, tornados, flash floods and blizzards. Dealing with what Mother Nature throws your way is a little easier with some planning. You don’t need to be a hoarder or build a bunker, but you should consider investing in some emergency prep today. It’ll help you deal with whatever tomorrow may bring.
Have food that takes minimal prep and has a long shelf life on hand—peanut butter, protein bars, insta-noodles, canned soup (and a can opener), along with a bowl and utensils.
Working flashlights with extra batteries and camping-style lanterns are key.
GET CHARGED UP
Make it a habit to charge your cellphone overnight—especially if there are possible power outages predicted. You may also want to purchase emergency cordless chargers. And for those of us who still have landlines, keep an old-fashioned corded phone tucked away in an easy- to-find spot. (Remember, those cordless phones won’t work without electricity.)
A first-aid kit with basic supplies including bandages, Neosporin, tweezers, etc. is an important addition.
WARMTH + CLOTHING
Have extra blankets and an extra set of clothes for the family in your emergency kit.
Store several jugs of water in case the water supply is affected. (Bottled water can last stored for two years.)
BEST FOR FAMILY EVACUATION
If you don’t want to create a prep kit of your own, several companies offer pre-packaged kits filled with supplies. I like JUDY brand kits because they’re bright orange, items are clearly marked and therefore easy to find and utilize in a stressful situation. JUDY kits range from evacuation kits and at-home emergency kits. The company also offers the JUDY Power Station, which can power lamps, laptops, televisions and small household appliances. Kits range from $195 to $395, the Power Station is $995. judy.co
STAY IN TOUCH
Keep a hard-copy list of all emergency phone numbers—family, friends, doctors, utility company, etc. Don’t rely on numbers stored in a cellphone that could be dropped, damaged or dead. Remember, it may be a child, not you, who needs these numbers in an emergency; so take the time to write them down old-school style and keep the list with your emergency supplies.
DON’T FORGET ABOUT FIDO
Don’t forget about your furry family members. In case you have to leave your house due to emergency or just shelter in the basement in severe weather, stash a pet emergency kit, along with the family kit. Include a spare collar, leash, pet bowl, small bag of dog food, current photo of your pet (in case your pet gets separated from you) and have your microchip and vet details written down.
STAYING SAFE ON THE ROAD
Remember that awful snowstorm that made the commute back from New York City a six-hour, white-knuckle endeavor two years ago? Anyone who has been caught in a snowstorm on the road knows that every trunk should have a few items just in case. Here’s the shortlist: large bottle of water, granola/snack bars/nuts, a blanket, an emergency silver blanket ($5.99 on Amazon) which reflects body heat back to the body, collapsible shovel, snow scraper, flares or light-reflective emergency triangles, a small first-aid kit and a roll of toilet paper.
INVEST IN POWER
In this part of the country with predominantly above-ground power lines, losing power is an unfortunate part of life.
A built-in, gas-powered generator has become a standard feature in many homes. The cost of the generator is related to the size and what you want it to power. They can range from just covering the lights to powering the washer and dryer, refrigerator, furnace and air conditioner. Generators can make the difference between your family’s ability to stay home after a storm or having to look for rooms at the J House, so it’s an investment that can pay off.
Keep in mind: just because you have a generator doesn’t guarantee it will work if it isn’t properly maintained. Along with the initial cost comes annual maintenance service fees. Whether you have an existing generator or are considering one, The Generator Guys website has good videos on everything from the installation process to maintenance. thegeneratorguysct.com
TURN TO THE TOWN
The Town of Greenwich has an Emergency Preparedness Guide on its website that covers everything from coastal storms to tornados. You don’t have to be a “prepper” with a doomsday complex to seek out information and prepare. Our town also has an emergency response plan that works to coordinate town departments, private agencies such as the Red Cross, Greenwich Hospital and private businesses. greenwichct.gov/435/emergency-preparedness
CONSULT THE PROS
Complete your prep with the Red Cross website. Be “Red Cross Ready” and check out the excellent safety guides for every possible scenario. The Red Cross knows about disasters, and its website is full of information and also offers emergency supply kits such as a Car Survival Kit with Winter Supplies ($51.99) and first-aid kits.redcross.org
DRYING OUT: TOOLS OF THE TRADE
The next hundred-year flood could be around the corner. Water can get in through leaky roofs, chimney issues, street drain backups or groundwater inundation—and the damage can happen fast. Mold is your home’s enemy, and keeping things dry after water gets in is best done by professionals. But as many people experienced in the last round of flooding, there are only so many service companies to go around. Home Depot and other hardware stores were picked clean.
Investing in a few items will give you peace of mind (and if you’re one of the lucky ones who doesn’t need them, you can be the neighborhood hero by loaning them out). Look for words like “grounded,” “industrial” and “high velocity” when buying these products. Store them in one area so when emergency strikes, you aren’t searching the garage, basement or attic for them.
• Wet Vac
These are super handy tools for extracting standing water. Look for one with wheels, because water is heavy.
• Carpet Dryer/Air Dryer
Rigid brand and several other brands are available at Home Depot starting at $99. They are also available for rent, but remember if a problem is widespread enough that you can’t get a service company to come, most likely rental items will be sold out, too.
• Industrial Fan
You’ll need commercial or industrial-grade fans that can be used for prolonged periods of time. Prices start at about $99.
Common sense is the first thing to bring to any emergency. Having the proper equipment is one thing, but when determining if there’s water damage in electrical outlets or what is safe to plug in, call a professional.
Photographs: Granola by © Dan Kosmayer – stock.adobe.com; Flashlight by © karandaev – stock.adobe.com; Charger by © happyvector071 – stock.adobe.com; First aid kit by © Denys Rudyi – stock.adobe.com; Blankets by © fotofabrika – stock.adobe.com; Water jugs by © Destina – stock.adobe.com; Judy products by judy.co