Hurricane Matthew has been dumping a bunch of water on Eastern NC all day today. My rain gauge hit 12″ several hours ago, and has been overflowing since then. I’ve got a pile of shingles on my front step, and the lights have been flickering for hours. I can’t leave because when I leave the neighborhood the road is flooded in one direction, and there are power lines down in the other direction.
In spite of all this, things are good. Thankfully we’ve still got power, air conditioning, high speed internet, and my dog has finally calmed down after freaking out because of the weather all day.
However, we’re ready if the power goes out. I’m not a prepper (which I define as someone who makes a hobby out of preparedness (which is fine, it’s just not my thing)) but I do think that being ready for the things that happen in your locale is important. I live on the east coast of the US, about a hundred miles from the Atlantic Ocean. Sometimes we get Hurricanes, sometimes we get ice storms, and it’s pretty much a given that we’ll spend a couple nights every year without power. It’s not a lot, but being able to eat, drink, see, and communicate when the power is out makes the situation much more bearable.
The thing that’s killed me tonight is as it was getting dark outside, after raining all day long, people on Facebook are starting to ask about venturing out to get dinner because they don’t have power. If you can’t make dinner one night without power, you’re being irresponsible.
So, here’s a few things I keep around to make these situations a whole lot more enjoyable:
4D cell Maglite flashlights. I’ve got a few of these things, and I’ve changed the bulbs out for LEDs which makes them super efficient. The 4 D cell batteries will last for days, even burning the lights for hours at a time. Another upside of these is that you can use them indoors, unlike your old Coleman lantern that’s really not safe to use inside at all. I’m a fan.
Have a way to heat water/food that doesn’t involve electricity. I like my JetBoil, but it’s not necessary if you don’t also use it hiking/camping, etc. Being able to make coffee and hot cocoa is always a good morale boost.
Portable cell phone charger. I just bought this big honkin’ Anker power brick, and it’s got enough juice in it to charge my cell phone for about a week. I’ve used one from Belkin in the past, and it lasted about a year before it decided it didn’t want to charge anymore. Anyways, these are nice so you can communicate if you’re without power for an extended period of time. No power + no internet just sucks.
FOOD! Listen, you don’t need a bunch of nasty MRE’s or freeze dried garbage that tastes like cardboard. How about this: every week when you buy your groceries, just buy a couple cans of Chunky soup or something like that. Before long you’ll have a weeks worth of food that doesn’t taste bad, and doesn’t require a refrigerator or anything. I’ve also got some bags of almonds and stuff too in my food stash.
The same thing goes for water. Generally, things have to get pretty sucky for you to lose your municiple water supply if you’re on the city sewer, but if you have a well or something, you should probably get some water. Yes, I know bottled water is the scourge of the environment, but it’s cheap so buy a bunch. In the last week I bought 9 cases to add to what I already had. It was $27, whooptie doo.
Something to occupy your time. We’ve got board games, card games, etc. Our favorites are Skip-Bo, Yahtzee, Mexican Train Dominoes, and the old favorite: Monopoly.
Eton emergency radio. I used to think these things were kind of a gimmick, but I bought one anyways, and I have to say, it’s one of the best things we have handy for emergencies. I think the best parts about it are that it takes batteries, and gets good reception. Honestly, I don’t use the weather bands that often, and it’s mostly used for entertainment, but it’s nice to be able to get updates on what’s going on when the lights are out. I would say this: you should have a battery powered radio, but you don’t NEED one of these specific radios. The features are nice, but mostly redundant with the other things I have in my preps.
So yeah, being ready for things that are going to happen is just smart. You don’t have to prepare for the end of the world, or the zombie apocalypse or whatever, but if you live in tornado alley, be ready for that. If you live in a place that gets huge snowstorms, be ready for that, and if you live in eastern NC, you should be ready for the occasional hurricane, because they happen from time to time.