Learning Continues Even After The Snow Melts

Last week I spoke about lessons learned regarding the essentials, what you needed to survive in some rather difficult times. Here, we talk about some of the changes or additions to our emergency plan as well as some suggestions to consider.

Keeping The Lights On Myself

Being without power is never easy, add to the fact extreme heat or cold and it can be down right problematic. When hurricane season hits having a generator is probably one of the most sought after items and for good reason. Going for extended periods without power can be an emotional catastrophe. I have listened to my family who managed through weeks without power in the Texas summer after being hit by hurricanes. It is not fun for sure. Add to the equation small children and the elderly for even more challenges. During these types of natural disasters there are many organizations that will stand up shelters for those in need to visit. These are wonderful options that really show the kindness in many, but not everyone can take advantage. Even those who can might witness the offerings stretched to the max. Having a small, portable generator is an investment no doubt. If it is in your price range and you are in an area where there is frequent power outages it might make sense to make this investment. Definitely something I will be adding to our inventory.

Let There Be Light

If you cannot afford a generator, then there are other options available for some of the tasks you might want power. When it came to lighting, nothing beats a candle. Candles have been around for hundreds of years and even today there are still being advanced. While many of the candles I had in the house were decorative, I consider them multi-functional these days. As with any open flame you need to be careful so having fire retardant supplies on hand are another consideration. Truthfully, every home should have a couple of fire extinguishers handy. I have a couple of the original Candle Lanterns with a bunch of replacement candles. They were awesome! Probably the one thing that performed above our expectations. We hung them on our ceiling fans in the bedrooms or lighting fixtures in common areas. It was really nice to have to have some candlelight last all through the night. Lessons learned had to do with storing them. Store them in a cool, dry location. It should go without saying, but they were in my garage and over the years somewhat melted. Nothing a little maintenance didn’t remedy.

Rechargeable Options Have Come A Long Way

Battery & FlashlightAnother huge hit were my rechargeable flashlights from Surefire. The Stiletto has long been one of my favorite lighting sources and it seemed perfect for this situation. With it’s rechargeable nature and variable output it made it easy to conduct whatever tasks once we you were away from the candlelight. Granted, these run off an internal battery, but on low power they lasted the whole ordeal. Even then, we needed some sort of external power source. I have a travel battery for when I’m on the road and it holds a pretty decent charge. We could also charge two items at the same time. I usually keep it charged, but it drains when not in use. Investing in solar power is sketchy since one of the reasons we were in this situation was because of naive reliance on green energy. I’m not saying it isn’t valuable, but this storm clearly showed a major flaw. My solar battery pack I use when outdoors wasn’t as useful since the overcast shunned the sun’s warmth for several days. We had to plan on loosing battery power on our phones at some point so it was nice to reserve their use for emergencies and staying in touch with family and friends. More lessons learned with my good ole emergency weather radio didn’t survive the storage. All those Texas summers took it’s toll so I replaced it with one small enough we can keep it handy in a kitchen drawer. Plus, it has all the cool features you look for such as solar power and hand crank generator.

Moving Snow And Traction

The next most popular item was a snow shovel and my mini-crampons. If you live in a region that routinely has heavy snowfall or ice conditions these two items are a must. My neighbor was literally laughing at me while I was shoveling  my driveway. He asked if it was a legitimate snow shovel. Why yes it is, albeit a lightweight backpacking model. Again, my winter expedition paid off big time. It was my son who pointed it out in the garage buried under the sleeping bags. Truthfully I had totally forgotten. This telescoping shovel by no means is a heavy lifter, but when not in use at the house I stored it in the car in case we got stranded on the road. The mini-crampons are just that, a small steel plate with spikes that straps to your normal boots or shoes. When we scouted the roads to see if they were passable they were a must. The roads were so icy very few people were having any luck getting out of the neighborhood due to the hilly terrain. Walking over the iced road with them on was a breeze. Believe it or not so many accidents happen as a result of slipping on ice. If you are lucky, you bust your butt. Worse case is you bounce your head off the hard icy surface and suffer a concussion.

Being Able to Seek Shelter

The event reminded me again of the importance of independence. Freedom of movement really. Over my entire adult life I have owned a truck or jeep. That all changed about five years ago when I “upgraded” to a high end sedan. The commuting was killing me and gas was costly so I decided to on a more comfortable and stylish ride. I don’t look at it as a mistake. For the last four years it was nice to sit in commuter traffic a little more comfortably. However, deep in the back of my mind I missed my truck. More importantly the four wheel drive and load capacity. If things got really bad and we had to seek refuge at a shelter or go to the aide of family or friends there was no way that was happening with my sedan. Lessons learned was a reminder of how important freedom of movement really is in a crisis. Not only that, but having some gear packed and ready to go on a moments notice.

There was much opportunity for lessons learned during the snow storm, now it is about shoring up the deficits and preparing for the next unknown with a little more awareness.

2 thoughts on “Lessons Learned From A Snowstorm, Part 2

  1. Ed Bonawitz says:

    Great insights, Jeff. Much like you mentioned in your post this recent event exposed specific areas for improvement, or in my case weaknesses, in what I otherwise thought was a solid preparedness plan. As it turns out I’m better equipped to “bug out” during a major catastrophe but less capable of “bugging in” in a minor disaster like the snow storm.

    Your comments were timely and useful as I re-evaluate my own strategy, thanks.

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