Monday, December 19, 2011

Lessons Learned From Irene

Yeah, yeah, I know, the hurricane was 4 months ago. I'm lazy, so sue me.
I'm not going to get into a bunch of heavy stuff here that has been done to death elsewhere. I'm going to cover several mundane items and details that people don't normally cover about preparedness.
The reason they don't being that what I'm going to cover is not the "cool" stuff. No guns, no anti-zombie machetes, ad nauseum, ad infinitum.

For today, I'm going to cover 4 points. As I said, mundane, yet still necessary.
So let's get going.

Item 1: In early 2010, while perusing eBay, I came across a battery powered LED lantern from Coleman. It looks just like their old propane model only it's powered by 4 D cell batteries. It was pretty cheap, and shipping was included in the price. I ordered it, I checked it out and I must say I was impressed. Made in China unfortunately, but still, solidly made and easy to operate. You screw off the bottom plate to insert the batteries, and then screw it back on. There's only one switch, and it has a low setting and a high.
I don't really know jack shit about lumens, but this thing throws off a real good amount of light, that is well diffused and did a good job of lighting up my living room (14' x 28' +/-). The lower setting isn't as bright but will allow the batteries to last longer.
A couple of months after I bought the first one, a noreaster came through NYC and knocked down some trees in my area that in turn took down some some power lines. I was impressed enough with this sucker to turn around and order a second one soon after.
Just Google Coleman D cell Lantern. Pick one up, you won't be sorry.

Item 2: This is directly related top Item 1, but carries over to any other gear you may have.
When Irene hit I made the mistake of thinking I had enough D cells for the two lanterns. Suffice to say I didn't. At least not stored away in the house. I had enough for one lantern, and cursed myself for not making sure before Irene hit. Fortunately though, I remembered that I kept a D cell flashlight in one of my cars, and when I checked, I had enough in the flashlight, combined with a couple of extras in the trunk to get the lantern going.
A quick aside: I also have a batch of nifty little items that are essentially hollow cases with metal contact points on the ends that mimic the size of AA, C, and D cell batteries. What they allow you to do is put a AAA battery in the AA case, which then fits inside whatever device you have that takes AA batts. AAs can be put inside C size, and C or AA can be used to fill the D size model. While you don't get the full power that you would get from the actual, corrwect size batteries, they still allow you to operate your flashlights, radios, lanterns, etc.
Believe me, they are very cool, and very inexpensive.
But to get back to the primary point of Item 2, make sure that actually have what you think you have. Don't "assume" anything.

Moving on....

Item 3: Talk about mundane, this next item is something you should all have. Especially if you have a house with a basement.
I was in Kmart one day picking up some wiper blades for my cars. And there at the end of the automotive aisle was a stack of 5 gallon buckets, with handles on them, and a great big KMART logo on the front in big honking letters. At $1.25 each, I scooped up two and brought them home.

Yes, I paid for them you bunch of cynical bastids'. I can be cheap, but I'm not a thief.

When my wife saw them she asked "What the hell did you get those for?" I just smiled. Over the next few weeks I used them for washing the cars, yardwork, and other everyday jobs.
But the clincher came that first morning after Irene hit. I woke up, realized we had no power and was laying in bed when it suddenly hit me. No power, .....


I will not bore you with the tale of having a kidney stone attack while carrying buckets of water from the sump pit at the front of my basement to the slop sink at the back where I was dumping it out with assistance from my son. God Bless him and his healthy back!!

To sum it up, make sure you have a few of these laying around. Their uses are only limited by your imaginations.

Oh yeah, did I mention that they're cheap? ;-)

And finally....

Item 4: Finding ourselves without power, we also made another discovery. I cut Verizon loose well over a year ago, and Time Warner now provides my TV, Internet and phone service. And I'm quite happy about it.
Unlike Verizon, where your landline service continues to function even if the power goes out, with Time Warner, when the power goes, so does your phone service. So, OK, no big deal, you just use your cell phones. Unfortunately, no power, no recharging your cell phone batteries.

But fear not, just make sure that you have a charger that works off of your car cigarette lighter, and all will be well.

Anyhow, as I said up at the top, there was obviously no earth shattering revelations in this blog post. But every single thing I mentioned could make the difference between getting along until things get back to normal, or being miserable.

The choice is yours. Have a nice day!


Martial Arts Historian said...

Only thing here is you gotta have those old school battery testers. Not those digital battery testers.

Also do not carry $100.'s at the gas station or you will get ripped off. A better option in the event of a hurricane/ tornado is to carry $20's or $10.'s that way you have less of a chance of being ripped off trying to fill up at the gas station making your way to your relative's house till the hurricane/tornado blows over.

mwhaught said...

Good food for thought for an emergency preparedness scenario.

Blackthorn D. Stick said...

Wow!! Actual comments!! Thanks guys, It's god to know some people are still reading the blog. Ev er since my hit counter disappeared, it's hard to tell.

Mike: good to see you stopping by. Like I said, it's the little things that make the difference in how miserable you will or won't be after the stuff you take for granted just stops working.

MA Historian: You're right about the small denomination bills. When we had the big east coast blackout in 2003, I had trouble getting a botle of water because all I had was a twenty, and half the places I stopped at couldn't even open up their own cash registers due to the lack of electricity.

As it was I had to borrow the twenty in the first place from a buddy at work, because I had needed to go to the bank before the power went off. After the juice stopped flowing, the banks closed, and the ATMs had no power, so I would have been screwed if it weren't for my buddy.

Don said...

Where did you get the little AAA - AA adapters? That's a great idea, especially since most of my stuff runs on those two types of batteries. That could save some real hassle in the future in a pinch.


Blackthorn D. Stick said...


Just go to eBay and type in 'AAA to AA battery converter'

They're cheap as dirt.