How to be prepared for an emergency

I thought I’d share some photos I took this past few days while Mother Nature pounded my area with some snow, wet snow, sleet, and winds. It eventually just snowed and snowed, non-stop, for hours.

02/25/10 morning

Big golf ball size fluffy flakes were coming down fast. It was the calm before the storm. I think the birds knew it.

And as we feared, the power went out as heavy wet snow toppled trees, and electrical cables. This tree is still standing but there were many unfortunate ones that came down onto the roads and even houses.

Power cables with heavy snow

We had no electricity for about 27 hours from Thursday evening to Friday night. We played card games under candle lights…for hours.

playing Blackjack under the flashlight

We stayed in our house, on Thursday night but by Friday afternoon, I was looking for a pet-friendly hotel to stay for the night because the temperature dipped below 55 degrees on Friday evening. I brought hot coffee and a bagel for breakfast to an elderly neighbor who lives alone. I brought her more coffee in the afternoon in a thermos to help her keep warm but eventually, I drove her to a hotel on Friday night as she couldn’t have stayed in her house one more night.

power outage

Meanwhile, we didn’t have a hotel to go to as all the local pet friendly hotels were booked by Friday afternoon. Our utility company kept changing their estimated time of power returning from 3AM to 5PM to 11 PM on Friday.

Westlake Dr.

But luckily, while we were contemplating searching different cities for a room, the lights came back on Friday night. And when the snow eventually stopped, we saw the damages done in and around our neighborhood. Note: the road crew in my town was excellent in cleaning the roads and by the time Saturday morning came, major roads were all cleared.

Fallen tree blocking the road.

A tree ready to topple over to the cable on the other side.

Buried house, fallen evergreens and shrubs in my backyard.

Hubby trying to shake the snow off the trees before more damage is done. The snow going past his knees, up to his thighs.

fallen evergreens in my backyard

Surreal scene of moon rising on Friday night as we pondered where we would sleep,  yet, another cold night. This might sound sappy but I really can empathize with homeless people without warm beds, on cold nights like these.

moon rising on Friday

Kensico Dam

As much as it was a harrowing experience for this modern family of four, the storm really taught me so many valuable lessons, beyond words can describe. Here are some things that I am making mental notes for myself……for next time, just in case.

partial emergency gear

  1. This is just a portion of the emergency lights and radio we had. Ironically, the Red Cross radio was rated one of the worst since you have to hand crank for such a long time before you can get any power to listen to the radio. But it can be charged up, like a rechargeable battery, and that’s how we always kept the radio on, so it kept us informed for awhile. The Solio, the three fan like gadget on the bottom, is a solar panel charger that hubby bought last year (we never had to use it) and it came in handy. These items will be packed in a bag, stored in one place so that we are not looking for them all over the house. I had flashlights in different drawers, upstairs and downstairs, but no one knew where they were exactly. I’ll keep one flashlight downstairs and use it to find “The Bag” next time.
  2. Have a list of Pet-Friendly hotels nearby with their direct phone numbers, addresses, policies, and check-in and out times.
  3. Have a pet-emergency bag with food, blanket, crate (or carrier), chew toy, leash, vet’s number (and emergency vet’s no.) and a copy of the shots she’s had.
  4. If you know storm is impending, fill up the car with gas. If the electricity goes out, gas stations will not be opened.
  5. Have emergency cash as banks will be closed and ATM will not work if there is no electricity.
  6. Keep a snow shovel, blankets and boots in the car just in case you get stuck in the snow – as we witnessed numerous stranded cars and cars off to the side of the roads after spinning out of control.
  7. Have a list of all utility companies’ phone numbers: electricity, gas, telephone, cable, local highway department, and local police department (not 911)
  8. Keep a stash of medicine and prescriptions in a bag with the local pharmacy’s phone number.
  9. Donate some warm blankets to homeless shelters and animal shelters for any future emergencies.
  10. Most of all, stay calm and let others know how you are doing by phone. Don’t stay alone. And check on your neighbors and help others if you can. There might be an elderly neighbor who might not have the means to get help. Know their phone numbers. And give them your numbers.

Hope you are keeping warm and safe.

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5 comments
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Lesa McMahon
Lesa McMahon

it was horrible being without those things we come to rely on... two weeks without the internet stunk. the world is just so different now... it's definitely smaller because we are all so easily connected.

Lesa McMahon
Lesa McMahon

We had an ice storm here in IL in 07. We were out of power for 2 weeks! The food went out on the porch so it would stay cold. We used the stove for some heat and to cook. My daughter went to the other side of town to stay with my dad. This was back before the mandated digital TV, so we had a little 5 in TV for shows and radio and just walked down to the local Walgreens for batteries. It was crazy. I hope it never happens again.

Karen
Karen

Lesa, This experience really made me think about how much electricity we depend on how impacting our lives are on the environment and energy. It's making me rethink about energy uses and our lifestyle.

Recycla (Jen)
Recycla (Jen)

Don't forget, cordless phones are useless when the power is out. Keep an old fashioned corded phone handy for times like this.

Karen
Karen

You are so right! Except, our phone is VOIP (Voice Over Internet Phone). So, no electricity means no internet and no phone. If it wasn't for our cell phones, we would have been in more trouble. We were able to surf the net to find hotels on our phone. We did keep only one cell phone on to save the battery on others. We could have charged it from the car but who would want to go out and sit in the car and keep the car running just so that we can charge the phone?

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  1. [...] how we survived not just one, but two blackout this past winter. Remember when we had to take  Jean to a hotel in one of the black outs? I shuddered to think that this one would last that long again and thought [...]