“The National Weather Service’s forecast center in College Park, Md., which watches winter storms, put out a long-range notice Thursday saying a nor’easter was possible for mid-Atlantic and New England states by Election Day through next Thursday.
Forecaster Bruce Sullivan said it wouldn’t be as bad as Superstorm Sandy and isn’t tropical. But it could include snow in interior New England and New York, beach erosion and high winds for areas hit by Sandy and moderate or heavier rainfall. Winds could be about 30 to 40 mph.” – Washington Post
Motherfuck. Pardon the language, but FUCK. I have a lot of friends and family on the east coast, and I’m worried. Since I can’t be there myself to help my loved ones, I’d like to do what I can by offering these few pieces of advice I’ve collected from the tubes.
There may or may not be enough gasoline available in the major metropolitan areas for everyone to fill up their tanks and a couple of 2-5 gallon containers to store. That sucks. The weather’s going to remain cold and wet leading up to the next storm, which also sucks.
The most important shit you can do is learn how to purify water for drinking. Beyond that, you’re also going to need to stay warm, which is difficult without power. I’ll start with stuff you should not do.
Don’t start a fire inside your house. There have been reports from all over the east coast of house fires all over the east coast, as people are lighting fires indoors to stay warm. Please don’t. Smoke inhalation can cause you to lose consciousness and lead to the fire getting out of control and you being unable to stop it. If you can’t use this week to get a hold of a kerosene heater (still dangerous, but far less so), and a fire extinguisher. Then concentrate on getting some insulated blankets, even mylar emergency blankets are a good choice and you can usually find them at any army navy store, they may have them at your local fire department as well. In fact, you should take this time to check with your local fire department to see if they have any important advisories to share with you.
Don’t drink tap water during or following a storm. Assume that all water sources are contaminated. You should, if you haven’t already, stock up on bottled water, if it’s available; figure 2 gallons per person per day, to be safe. If you don’t have power, you may not be able to boil water, and boiling may not be enough. If the water is cloudy, strain it through clean cloth first, then a coffee filter, then add bleach. A little bleach won’t kill you. 50-100 parts per million is recommended, witha contact time of 6 hours, to ensure that most harmful microorganisms die, without poisoning you. But we’re not just dealing with harmful microorganisms, chemical contamination is also an issue in a metropolitan area after a storm. If you can get water filters, do that now. The more steps you take to purify water, the safer you’ll be. When you boil water, boil it for at least 1-5 minutes. Also add a few drops of iodine, if you have it, if not, get some. A charcoal filter is pretty good, pretty cheap, and hopefully still available.
Don’t tweet compulsively or check facebook every 10 minutes. You need to conserve power on your mobile devices – if you’re using an iphone, make sure you close all open apps when you’re not using them, except battery booster, or similar power management apps. You’re going to want to set a schedule for use, and keep them off in between uses. Now, powering up a cell phone uses a surge of power, the way that starting an engine uses a bit more gas; so try not to turn it on more than once per hour, set your screen brightness to the lowest setting, and don’t use it as a flashlight.
Don’t assume everyone out there has your best intentions in mind. By all means be a good neighbor, check on your elderly neighbors, make sure they’re not injured, they have canned food and whatnot; but there are going to be ill prepared people out there scavenging, and in desperate situations, people get desperate. Don’t go out unarmed or alone, and stay alert. If you can avoid a dangerous situation, by all means do so, even if you’re a total bad ass, infections can be fatal, and even a casual altercation can result in a serious injury.
Don’t put yourself in harms way to save ‘stuff’. Stuff can be replaced. Please.
If you haven’t already gotten your hands on a first aid kit, make sure you do before the next storm. It’s dark, there’s broken glass everywhere, you should have sterile packed gauze, anti-bacterial topical ointment, hydrogen peroxide, iodine, medical tape, bandages, wraps, and if you’re reading this, that means you can just as easily look up some basic first aid primers on the internet. Do that now, and either print out instructions, or at least write down the important stuff.
I’ll help out real quick, for cuts and punctures: Stop the bleeding, clean the wound, apply an antibiotic, cover the wound, and change the bandage regularly. For burns, cool the burns if possible, then cover with a loose sterile bandage, don’t pop blisters. If it’s a really bad burn, don’t immerse it in water and keep it elevated, you can use a damp sterile cloth, but obviously only if you have uncontaminated water. Burns are as susceptible to infection as cuts. If you can find a book on first aid, buy it and keep it somewhere easy to find.
Do not leave a lit candle in a room you’re not in, and don’t go to sleep with a candle burning unless there’s no feasible way it can spread that fire to something else.
Things you should get your hands on ASAP:
Canned Food, Canned Veggies, Bottled Water, Jerky, Protein/Meal Replacement Bars, chemical heating packs, glowsticks, Led Flashlights with extra batteries, non-electric heater, duct tape, mylar emergency blankets, any kind of water filtration device. If you have multiple people in your party, then get some battery operated walkie talkies and test them, a battery powered radio, a camping stove and plenty of extra fuel. The total cost should be less than a couple of hundred dollars.
Make a bug out bag. This is some shit you should always have on hand, in case you need to evacuate, in the event of a fire, or untenable flooding.
Here’s a quick check list for your bag:
- The bag itself should be water proof, or at least stored inside or lined with a plastic trashbag
- Non-perishable foods
- Bottled Water
- An extra supply of prescription medications if you can
- First aid kit
- Durable, warm clothing, boots, extra socks.
- Your camping stove, an iron skillet, a small set of utensils and cups
- Mylar emergency blankets
- A fixed blade knife (one for everyone)
- Cash (small bills)
- Heavy duty flashlight
- Anti-bacterial wipes
- Any kind of water filtration tool you can get your hands on, or in a pinch, a cooking pot
- A multi-tool
- Duct Tape
- Fully charged, prepaid ‘burner’ phone
- also, keep your family’s identification papers and medical documents in a waterproof container somewhere you can grab on the way out
- If you’ve got a pet, stick some extra pet food and pet medication in the bag.