Disaster Preparations in the Suburbs

2 Nov

After Hurricaine Katrina, Pablo and I spent a lot of time thinking about how we would deal with a disaster. We were living in Manhattan at the time and most of our plans involved getting away from the city.

After moving to the suburbs, we never made any new plans. Now that we have been hit with a major storm, we have started to give some thought to being better prepared for the next storm or blizzard.

Here are some possible scenarios:

  • You could lose power for a long time. Our electricity might be out for 10 days.
  • You could lose cable — you won’t be able to rely on TV for news.
  • A tree could fall on your house — you would have to leave your house with very few belongings.
  • A tree could fall in your driveway — you could be trapped.
  • Flooding could compromise your water supply — you will need clean water.
  • The sewage system could be damaged – you can’t flush or sewage comes up through your toilet.
  • There could be a fire due to gas line or transformers exploding.
  • You could be snowed in.

So here is my plan for residents of suburban areas that are not in a flood zone.


Should you get separated from your family, pick a spot to meet. Your town’s community center might be a good spot.


The go bag should be located in a place that can be accessed even if your roof were to cave or stairs were blocked. In it:

  1. Key phone numbers. If your cell phone runs out of batteries, you won’t have access to your address book.
  2. Your con-ed account number.
  3. Information for your insurance companies.
  4. Batteries and a flashlight. This flashlight should be reserved for emergency use only. Don’t use it for other things. I HIGHLY recommend that you get a Flashlight that uses AA batteries. D and C batteries are hard to come by during a storm. Stanley 95-155 3-in-1 Tripod LED Flashlight is awesome. It forms a tripod and it can be separated into 3 separate flashlights.
  5. A cell phone charger. If you update your phone, make sure you put an updated charger in your go bag. Also get a car cell phone charger.
  6. Lots of socks and underwear.
  7. Work gloves.
  8. Extra jackets or blankets
  9. They say that you should have a radio, but I just used my car radio.


Pick some local friends and neighbors. If something happens, make a pact to check on each other and to shelter each other if necessary.


  1. Get some ice. If power is lost, fill a cooler with ice. Don’t do it beforehand.
  2. Make sure you have your medicines.
  3. Fill your tub(s) with water
  4. Get cash. Credit card terminals may not work.
  5. Fill some pitchers or bottles with tap water. (Its really not necessary to go raid the store for water).
  6. Make sure you have non perishable foods. I think soup in the paper aseptic package is better than canned. I also stock ramen and Parmalat milk. Make sure you have lots of portable snacks like chips, granola bars etc..
  7. If you have a pet, get pet food.
  8. Extra propane. If your stove doesn’t work, you can grill.
  9. Firewood if you have a storm.
  10. Make sure your gas tank is full in your car. The gas stations ran out of gas during this storm.
  11. Secure anything in your yard that could be picked up by wind during the storm.
  12. Take a shower. It might be a while before your next one.
  13. Make sure you have paper plates and cups. You don’t want to be washing dishes.
  14. Back up your important data onto a portable hard drive.
  15. Gather passports and medical records, just in case.
  16. Charge EVERYTHING. I have one of these Battery Packs that work for multiple devices. It’s pretty cool. Energizer XP18000 Universal AC Adapter with External Battery for Laptops, Netbooks, and More
  • In a hurricane, sleep on a lower floor of your house. A tree could fall on your house. Stay away from the windows.
  • My streets were full of people taking walks after the storm. This is a TERRIBLE idea. There were live wires everywhere. If you must, go around in your car.


You will be stuck with your kids and they are not likely to understand the situation. They will whine and distract you.

  1. Get candy. Give it to them bit by bit to reward for good behavior. Candy is lightweight and has lots of calories.
  2. Lip balm.
  3. Lotion. (My hands are SO dry.)
  4. Find your DVDs. If you have a portable DVD player or laptop, you can quiet them down for a little bit.
  5. Make sure you have booze. I supposed you don’t want to be intoxicated when a disaster hits, but alcohol can go a long way if you are bored and have nothing to do. Also, if the shit REALLY hits the fan, its makes for good barter :)
  6. Instant coffee. No need to say more.
  • If you think you will need to flee, put on some good shoes. You dont want to be trapped outside in slippers or bare feet.
  • As soon as things settle down, I will be getting a generator. I have lost power 3 times in 3 years. Its time that I face the music. I will be getting a propane powered generator so that I don’t need to worry about getting gas. I will also have my electrician come and wire my house so that my boiler can be hooked up to the generator (hot water and heat).
  • I have been considering restoring my land line phone. The cell phone networks have been terrible.
  • I think that if you don’t have a chainsaw, you should find out who near you has one. A tree could block your exit and trap you in your home.
  • A friend of mine could not figure out how to get her garage door open w/o power. If you have an electric garage door, you should figure that out now.
  • Don’t get pregnant (unless you want to). Make sure you use protection.
  • Other good things, dusk masks, hard hats, reflective vests.
  • My kids are too young, but if your kids can operate a phone you should teach them how to call 911 in case you are not able to do so.
  • Don’t forget your Tactical Bacon



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