Friday, August 26, 2011

Last Minute NYC Hurricane Preppers' Guide

     At this point, the masses have gotten wind of the seriousness of this storm.  I feel that people are much more tuned into disasters over the last few years, especially after the media has found that disasters make good TV.  Now I’m not saying everyone out there is going to turn into preppers, I’m pointing out that many have learned to listen to the warnings a bit more willingly.

     If you are not prepped for this storm yet (i.e. adequate water, food, sanitation needs, candles, and batteries) you probably won’t be.  When a disaster is upon us, people tend to mass buy supplies.  This leaves a huge gap in stocks, especially for an island who imports all of its goods on a daily basis.  This post is meant for those of you who are un- or underprepared and have decided to not “bug-out”.  If you have a good amount of supplies for your family members, you should read my previous article if you have not already.  If you are looking for more information on hurricane preps for future storms, check out this article here.  It is not perfect as it does not apply to New Yorkers directly, but it’s a nice base.  I will do a post sometime in the future on hurricane preps that will apply to New Yorkers.

     At this point, you have either said to yourself “this storm will fizzle like all the other hurricanes of our lifetimes” (if you grew up in the tri-state area) and it didn’t.  Or you’re starting to realize that this is going to be bad because it’s pretty much on top of us.  Either way, it doesn’t matter anymore because you now have to figure out how to get through it with limited supplies.  The good news is that you will most likely only have to deal with crappy conditions for a day or two.  Remember that you can live without food for three weeks.  Water, you’re not quite as lucky though, because most of us will die within three days, and the last day will be a bad one to say the least.

     Since this hurricane is happening at a very temperate time, we are fortunate enough to not have to throw exposure (the number one killer of outdoor survival scenarios) into the equation.  Even if you are forced into the water for some unforeseen reason, your chances of survival will be high due to the temperature.  Provided you can swim of course. So that leaves your water, food, and sanitation needs.

     Potable water is going to be by far the most important item for you and your family. If you do not have enough for each person (about one gallon per day) then I suggest filling your pots, pans, and anything else that can hold water before the storm arrives.  Try and fill these things up Saturday before you go to bed.  You can also fill your bathtub with water if you don’t have enough containers.  The bathtub water can be used for things like cleaning (dishes, posts, pans, or yourself.)  Remember that the water from your taps may flow after the surge, but the water can be possibly infected from cross contamination with sewage.  Make sure nothing gets in the water you will consume, and try and cover all containers.  You can purify water by boiling it (if the gas or electric stay on) or by using small amounts of bleach.  Here is an article on purifying water with bleach explaining how much bleach, and how long you should let it stand.  You can, in a pinch, stick a container in a secure spot to catch rain, as rain water can be consumed.  Just make sure to taste it first, as hurricanes can have a mix of salt and fresh water.  You also should sanitize it before you drink it to be safe.

     The next thing you should be thinking of is food.  As I mentioned earlier, a healthy human can last upwards of three weeks without food if necessary.  It won’t be fun, but it is possible.  Hopefully the disaster will only last a few days at the most, but there is no telling.  If you have a limited amount of food in the apartment, you can ration it out until you can get more.  I’m guessing you will at least have some form of food in your apartment, so get creative.  If the utilities go out, and you have no way of warming food, remember that you can eat canned foods cold.  They won’t taste great, but at least you won’t starve.  If you happen to have a portable stove like one from a camping store, remember to crack a window because they release carbon monoxide.

     Sanitation can be a little iffy for New Yorkers if we flood and or lose utilities for an extended period of time.  The water in the taps should be considered contaminated, so I would not suggest bathing or showering until you get the word that the water is safe again.  You also need to be careful with your toilets, as they will back up if the utility company’s pumps don’t run.  I recommend only flushing when you have to.  To keep yourself from feeling dirty if you don’t get to shower for a day or two, I suggest using baby wipes to wipe yourself down if you have them.  You can also use potable water and a clean wash cloth with a bit of soap to spot clean.

     I didn’t mention a lighting source, because it is not essential to survival.  Lighting is more of a luxury.  If you don’t have candles or flashlights in your home, you will have to do what the old timers did and go to bed at sundown and rise at sunup. Batteries are another luxury, so I won't get into it.  One thing I will mention here is to charge your cell phones the night before the storm and to use them sparingly if we lose electric.

     The last thing I would like to bring up is a bug-out bag, or what the media is calling a “go-bag”. You should have a bag with a few supply ready to go and easy to carry in a conveniently located spot. The bag should be filled with a few basic supplies that I go over below. The bag is a last resort, as you should not be running outside during a hurricane unless your life is in danger.
  • Clothing - Basic shirt, socks, don't worry about pants as you can use the pair you have on.
  • Cash - Try and get $100 or so out of the bank in case we lose electricity.
  • Toiletries - Toothbrush, toothpaste, toilet paper
  • Medicine - Make sure to have any medications you take.
  • Rope - Rope has a million uses, if you have any in the apartment bring it as you will need it.
  • Water - If you have a proper water container, try and carry a liter or so.
  • Important Documents - Things like your birth certificate, marriage licenses, deeds, passport, bank records all sealed in zip lock bags if possible.


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