Daisy Luther, Contributor
There are still more than 1900 homes in New York and New Jersey that are without utilities of any kind in the prolonged wake of Superstorm Sandy.
Some families are getting assistance from FEMA and going to hotels, which they must leave every two weeks, go and apply for more vouchers and then check back in to the hotel.
Others are sleeping in tents.
Still others have remained in storm damaged homes without electricity, water or heat.
Sandy hit the area on October 29. It has been 3 full months and President Obama just got around to signing the aid bill.
Could it be any more clear that you are on your own after a disaster?
Think about being without utilities for three entire months.
- You don’t have heat unless you have a fireplace or wood stove.
- You can’t flush the toilet
- You can’t take a shower.
- You can’t turn on your tap to wash dishes.
- You can’t put a kettle on the stove for tea.
- You don’t have Internet or television.
- You don’t have refrigeration.
- You can’t cook a warm dinner for your children.
How would you cope with this? Think seriously about 94 days in this situation. Would you be prepared?
Think about what you’d need to survive 3 months without utilities. In this particular situation, people are able to go out and purchase things, so as bad as it is, it could be worse.
In a completely down-grid situation you need:
An alternative heat source that does not depend on natural gas or electricity
- Little Buddy propane heater
- Wood stove or fireplace place
- Kerosene or oil heater
Fuel for your heat source
- Heating oil
Non-fuel warmth items
- Sleeping bags
- Tents (a great way to share body heat is to set up a tent in the warmest room in the house for the family to sleep in)
- Coats, hats, scarves and gloves
- Heating pads that can be warmed up near your heat source (like rice bags)
Water (these figures will vary based on the season)
- Drinking water – figure on 1 gallon per person per day
- Water for pets – depending on the size of the pet, 2 liters -1 gallon per day
- Water for cleaning – washing dishes, brushing your teeth, washing your hands, personal hygiene, keeping counters clean, etc.
- Gravity-fed water filtration system with extra filters
A way to cook, or at least heat, food
Fuel for your cooking method
- gel fuel
Food, particularly items that require little or no cooking
- Peanut butter
- Canned soups, stews and chili
- Canned pasta
- Canned fruits and vegetables
- MREs (not healthy for daily use)
- Dry milk
- Granola bars
- Trail mix
- Fruit that stores well, like apples and oranges
Coolers (can be packed with snow in the winter – in some situations you might be able to purchase ice)
Cleaning supplies that don’t require water
- Lysol wipes
- Disinfecting spray
- White vinegar
Ways to keep clean
- Dry shampoo
- Baby wipes
- Hand sanitizer
- Strong mouthwash like Listerine
- Kitty litter, buckets and heavy-duty garbage bag for personal sanitation use
Convenience items (these items will reduce your need for water)
- Paper plates
- Paper napkins
- Paper towels
- Disposable flatware
- Disposable cups and bowls
- Garbage bags in all sizes
- Battery operated LED lights
- Kerosene or oil lamps
- Solar garden lights (charge them outside during the day, then use vases to hold them indoors at night)
Entertainment – most people depend on the grid for the majority of their entertainment – here are some ideas to entertain yourself and the kids without power
- Books (the real ones made from paper – my favorite!)
- Drawing pads and pencils
- Art and craft supplies
- Yarn and needles
- Books with crosswords, wordsearch, sudoku, etc.
- Playing cards
- Board games
This list isn’t meant to cover everything a person would need for 94 days without power. If you aren’t yet prepared, this offers some suggestions for you. Everyone’s situation is different. You may have resources in your environment that will help you make it through an emergency that will rule out some of the preparations here.
The biggest step is to realize what your needs will be and figure out how you would meet them if a disaster like this struck your home tomorrow.
The important thing is to realize that this can happen – right here in North America. It’s happening right now.
As you sit there on your computer reading this, nearly 2000 families on this continent are trying to stay warm, clean, fed and healthy without electricity or running water.
It’s not just something that occurs in places like Haiti or Thailand. Our grid is so susceptible that it can be taken out by an ice storm, a summer thunderstorm or a confluence of events like Superstorm Sandy. Spend some time thinking about how you and your family would fare and then think about ways you can improve your odds.
Have you lived through an extended power outage? What challenges did you face and how did you meet them? Share in the comments!
Daisy Luther is a freelance writer and editor. Her website, The Organic Prepper, where this article first appeared, offers information on healthy prepping, including premium nutritional choices, general wellness and non-tech solutions. You can follow Daisy on Facebook and Twitter, and you can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org