Hey Sarasota: We are approaching the mid-point of Hurricane Season; the period of time when things can get serious. As I write this, a new threatening system is forming and looks to be headed this way.
With that in mind, it’s time to shop.
Since living through a derecho (i.e., an intense wind storm that can contain mini twisters) in upstate New York that downed surrounding trees, crushed my car (and temporarily my spirit), blew out our windows, blocked our doors with debris, left power lines dangling and sparking, and forced us to live on our own for a week–UNPREPARED–I’ve become very interested in (Jack would say obsessed with) preparing for the worst.
I am no expert, but I have stayed at a Holiday Inn Express 😉 and I am an attentive viewer of Survivor, Dual Survivor, Man Against Nature, and Naked and Afraid. So I am very prepared (Jack would say very paranoid.) I have no ambition to eat off the land, distill water with plastic tubing, or ignite fire by rubbing sticks together. But with planning, I won’t have to. Whether the disaster is an electrical outage, a flood, a hurricane, a tornado, or a zombie apocalypse, what is needed in advance is supplies. Hence, you need to shop.
You have probably already stockpiled food (and remember your pet’s!), gathered your important documents (include your home owner’s insurance!), know to fill your bathtub with water, and have an assortment of batteries at hand. But if you think that makes you prepared, dear reader, you are a true novice.
So for disaster virgins, consider the following list of unique things that I have purchased and are ready for action. [If you click on the photo it’ll take you to Amazon.com and we’ll make oodles of $ if you buy!]Take a look at some of the items inside Sasha’s Disaster Survival Kit:
1) Lantern. Candles are nice, but they work so much better and are much safer when they are enclosed in a lantern. So I have stockpiled candles, a glass lantern, lighters and matches. But there are better choices.
My recommendation: The inflatable Luci solar Lantern—a little solar lantern with good lighting and lasting time—and it collapses for storage, is light as a feather, can be hung up, it floats, and is safer than anything with a flame. (This was a Christmas gift from someone who thinks I’m crazy, but let’s me be me. I adore it.)
2) Butane burner. After the derecho we learned that without power all the food in your refrigerator and freezer will go bad much faster than you would imagine. Better to cook it in the first 3 days and eat it. Sure, you might have a gas grill that didn’t get crushed on your lanai, but chances are that you won’t have enough fuel to cook every meal for a week or more. A portable butane burner with extra cartridges is the way to go.
My recommendation: Mr. Max Burner (and cartridges.) It comes in a plastic case, and we have used it not only during power outrages, but during a kitchen renovation, and for tailgating and other parties on the go. Have a sauce pan nearby for boiling water.
3) Coffee Source. During the aftermath of the derecho, Jack was without coffee for days. The withdrawal was not pretty. Hence, my purchase of a French press. But remember this is useless unless you can boil water (refer to the item above) and you have coffee grounds stockpiled with a mug (which of course I do.)
My recommendation: Bodum French press; so oo-la-la; Starbucks will have nothing on you.
4) Weather Radio. Don’t waste your cellphone battery listening to weather reports. Instead, invest in a good weather radio that is powered by a crank so you never lose power.
My recommendation: An Eton. Not only a weather radio with a crank (and battery and plug-in capabilities) but one with multiple stations, an emergency light, and it can also recharge a cell phone. I’m in love.
5) Duck tape. This can fix just about anything and has the added bonus of keeping anyone who is whining quiet. Buy it in a size wide and long (see below). Of, buy it in a bright color so you can use it to spell out “HELP” on your roof.
6) A battery-operated fan. I can’t even imagine being in FL without the air conditioning working, but someone in my house has nixed the idea of installing an emergency generator as “a waste of money.” So I have had to improvise here with a battery operated fan with a cooling spray option. (I actually took one on a 10-mile hike in the Grand Canyon and it saved my life. I’ve since lost that one and have bought a new replacement.)
My recommendation: an O2Cool
7) Waterproof (not water resistant) Boots. Disasters usually bring rain and mud, and it is really gross to walk through standing murky water especially in Florida where standing water means creepy creatures. Waterproof boots are a must have.
My recommendation: For women: Sloggers. I’ve tested my pair of black boots with white polka-dots several times and they do not leak and are tall enough to make it through at least six inches of water. Water higher than that will require a boat (another item nixed by you-know-who.) For men or women: Muck Boots. These are super study and tall (but not as stylish as Sloggers in case you are trying to remain tasteful during a disaster.)
8) Bug Repellent. You will need bug repellent when the rain stops and the mosquitoes (with or without Zika) come out to play—and feast. I hate the “spray” part of bug spray because I inevitably breathe it in and choke, so I prefer applying the repellent with wipes.
9) Parachute cord. I kid you not. I’ve seen enough episodes of disaster shows to know that the ability to tie something down can be critical to survival. What are you going to use? Dental floss? A hair tie? You need parachute cord, preferably formed as a nice bracelet so you can literally have it at hand. (Another nifty holiday gift that I received!)
My recommendation: from King Cobra. This one is a monster but other sizes are available. What a fun gift for the kids!
10) Pee-pee pads (if you have a dog, or I guess, if you’d like to try one yourself.) Imagine the wind howling, the water pouring down, the walls rattling, and your dear canine gives you the signal that it’s potty time. So what are you doing to do? Put down a pee-pee (aka wee-wee) pad of an appropriate size and the dog will figure out the rest. And according to Karma, newspapers are not a viable substitute: first of all the Herald-Tribune should NOT be desecrated in such a crude way; second, black ink runs; and third, paper doesn’t have the attractive scent the pads do. Woof!
In addition, you’ll need some ordinary household items:
- A tarp (you’ll know when you need it);
- Knife or scissors (to cut the duck tape and/or tarp);
- A hammer or crow bar (to break your way out if need be—or to attack Zombies);
- Work gloves so you can haul away debris (if they match your boots, even better);
- Hand Sanitizer gel for when you touch yucky things and wipes for when you can’t shower;
- A camera, whether it’s the one on your juiced cellphone or separate; be ready to document for the insurance company the damages and what you lost; believe me, they won’t believe you without photos;
- A stash of cash. Think about it: no electricity, no operating ATMs, no banks open, no credit card machines working–cash is king. Have some small bills ready to pay for essentials that will run out like batteries, food, ice, and limes for vodka tonics;
- A Book. I know. This is nerdy, but one of the things about disasters is that they begin scaring you to death but end by boring you to death. At first, you sit and shiver wondering if you will survive, and then wait for help, and wait for power, and wait for the insurance adjuster, and wait for the contractor to call back, and wait and wait. A good book is a much needed distraction. (Jack would replace this with a deck of cards or Scrabble, but for me nothing says torture like playing a stupid game–and in the aftermath of a disaster no less.)
- And finally, a nice bottle of wine, corkscrew, and real glasses. Because….why the hell not.