The devastation along the New Jersey, New York and Connecticut coastlines is terrifying. Sandy targeted the nation’s most densely populated area and ravaged its infrastructure. And yet it could have been even worse if Sandy had been a category 5 hurricane.
So what did survivalists learn from Sandy? Here are our top five takeaways from the storm. If you had hoped for the best, but prepared for the worst, this may be just reinforcement for you. But if you haven’t been thinking about preparation, don’t end up like those in Sandy’s wake. Read these five lessons and get your family prepared.
1) Be armed. After Hurricane Katrina created mass looting and pillaging in New Orleans, this should have been a no brainer for people in densely populated areas. When the power goes out, phone service goes dead, and the mobs let loose, it’s just you and your family to fight for what’s yours. If you’re not armed, you’re a victim. Ask those who have had their doors bashed in during the night and their homes looted after Sandy hit. How about those who got mugged travelling down darkened stairwells because the electrically powered locks that normally prevent outsiders from coming into high-rises failed? You are the only one who can protect your family. The Wall Street Journal reports that employees from FTI Consulting had to walk up 32 flights of stairs to retrieve valuable computer equipment from their powerless office. Stairweel bandits could have met them at any turn. Many buildings are still out of power because they can’t legally pump the contaminated water from their basements.
2) Gasoline. A lot of stories in the news about Sandy have mentioned that those who were smart enough to have a generator on hand were standing in line waiting with the helpless masses for gasoline. Survival is much like a chess game. You have to think multiple steps ahead. Buying a generator is pushing out the first pawn. Remembering to have enough gasoline to run it is your next move. To win the game, you’ll need to have extra spark plugs, air filters, extension cords and oil. And do yourself a favor. Make sure your portable generator has a wheel kit so you’re not breaking your back by dragging it around on the ground. And chain up your generator if you’re in a populated area. You don’t want someone walking away with it in the middle of the night. Refer back to number 1 here.
3) Water. Another no brainer. Yet for New Yorkers filling water pails from fire hydrants and then lugging them up ten stories in the dark, this is a sad lesson learned. Get a plastic 55 gallon drum. Put it in your basement or a closet and fill it with water. Get a simple pump so you can get your water out to drink, flush your toilet, or cook some food. WARNING: Don’t drink flood water! There are many reports of bacteria-laden floodwater in Sandy’s path. Giardia and dysentery are no fun, especially when you’re facing them alone and cold.
4) Clothing. Officials are putting out a call for underwear because Staten Island residents have been forced to wear the same pair for over a week. Many of the island’s residents lost everything but the clothes on their backs. Even if you neglect to make a bug-out bag, at least put a spare change of clothes in your car for each of your family members. This can come in handy even in smaller disasters, like an unexpected snowstorm that forces you to stay away from home for the night. Make sure these are rugged outdoor clothes, not dainty black-tie garb.
5) Escape plan. Perhaps the most important disaster preparation you can complete is having an escape plan. Those in New York and New Jersey who took the brunt of the storm were warned to evacuate. Many ignored the warning because they had nowhere to go, no way to get there, or were not smart enough to leave. Find an evacuation point. Make sure you have transportation, possibly with a friend or family member if you don’t have a car. Then map out the route on paper. Your 4G LTE i-whatever isn’t going to be worth much if its battery is dead, if it’s soaked with water, or if the cell towers are down. A paper map in an airtight plastic bag will always be right where you left it in your car’s glove compartment. Businesses need a plan too. The Wall Street Journal reports that Jason Richelson of ShopKeep is considering a second location outside of New York City in North Carolina or Florida. At the very least you should consider offsite backups of your company’s data.
If you’re asking if we are trying to scare you, the answer is an emphatic yes. We don’t want you or your family to suffer through the cold, fear, pain and hunger that face victims of Sandy tonight. Simple preparations will help ensure that you never face that situation. Get started today.
Click here for information about donating supplies and money to Sandy’s victims, or volunteering your time to help them.