A few years ago, after a storm left extended power outages for many people in my area, I wrote an essay on "why I don't own a generator."

With a few more years experience, and one multi-day outage of my own, it's time to put out a few more thoughts and suggestions on emergency preparedness in typical suburban New England. There are areas around here that need to worry about flooding, storm erosion, and direct high-wind damage, but I'm just covering my own more typical situation, where the threat profile is pretty much limited to being stuck in one's own house, without power, in potentially very cold temperatures.

My basic philosophy on emergency preparations is, as much as possible, to stick to doing things I should do anyway. That way, the preparations become part of ordinary routine and get taken care of regularly.

You also need to reconsider your situation regularly. This is where that generator (the one I don't have) comes in: in a multi-day outage last year, we realized that we had a lot of money tied up in food in our chest freezer, so although we didn't need power all the time, we needed some after a few days. I have picked an inverter so that I can use a car as a generator if that should come up in the future. So it's only technically true that I don't have a generator; but the important thing is that I don't have another internal combustion engine to take care of.

So what did I do to prepare for today's storm?

  1. Filled the car with gasoline. You never want to run out of gas in an emergency, and I'll burn it all in a week or two anyway.
  2. Refilled my spare propane tank. It's really unlikely to matter (particularly since our kitchen stove is natural gas), but it never hurts to be ready to run the barbecue.
  3. Got out the candles, electric lanterns, flashlights, and batteries. Also, recharged all of my many rechargeable batteries.
  4. Carried some firewood from the woodpile to the back porch.

And that's about it.

Date: 2012-10-29 17:55:27 EDT

Author: Lowell Gilbert

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