Do It Yourself

Hurricane Sandy: A Lesson in the Storm



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If Hurricane Sandy taught us one thing it was that preparation is everything.

One advantage of a hurricane is that there is plenty of warning, unlike a number of other disasters, such as a tornado.  Even so, Sandy caught people unprepared.  Oh, they knew the storm was coming, they just had not prepared for it.

Think about this:  It was winter in the northeast part of the country.  That means it was VERY cold.  Furthermore, storms of this magnitude usually take out the power.  So how should these people have prepared?


The first concern we must consider during any kind of an emergency is a clean water supply.  We can go without food for weeks, if necessary.  But we can go only a few days without water.   The amount of water a person needs depends on the time of year and the climate.  The CDC advises us to keep about a half-gallon of  clean drinking water on hand per person per day, more if it’s summer or hot, or you’re nursing or pregnant.

The CDC also recommends that we keep about a three-day supply on hand, but I disagree with that.  No one can ever predict how long an emergency will last.  I suggest a two-week supply of water per person.  This amount is for both cooking and drinking, but not for bathing.  You need more for cleaning up.

If you have a hot water heater in hour home (you might not in an apartment), that is a source of clean drinking water.  Then you can use your water jugs for cleaning.

During those two weeks, you will need to find another source for your water.

If you live in an apartment, where do you store all that water?  Try under your bed.  If under your bed is full, then clear out some of your stuff.  Water is more important.


Again, if you keep a two-week supply of food on hand, not only will you use less gas going shopping, but you’ll be more prepared than your neighbors,   I advise keeping several months of food on hand, especially staples like flour, sugar, oil, beans and rice.

And where do you keep those?  The space under your bed contains water jugs, right?  I have metal bookshelves for the extra groceries, and a spare room as a pantry.  They make for an interesting conversation starter.

When we were moving into this home (we just recently moved) a new neighbor helping us with the many boxes of food said, “What are you, some kind of a Prepper?”

I smiled and said, “I guess so.”

The problem is, now that he knows where the groceries are, he might not be so willing to buy his own.   That’s one of the things to think about.  Who knows what you have?  Can you trust them?


This takes a bit more planning.  When the electricity goes out, your hot water heater no longer puts out hot water.  Your air conditioner won’t start.  Even if you have gas heat, the starter is probably electric, as is the blower.

If you live in a cold climate, that means lots of blankets, sweaters, socks, leg warmers, pantyhose, whatever you can use to keep yourself warm.  If you live in a hot climate, that means lots of windows, and it will still be hot.  One-hundred and ten in the shade is probably hotter in an apartment.

Also, you will probably want a cooked meal occasionally.  So you need to find alternatives.  This can be as simple as a hibachi or Coleman stove, or as complicated as using a generator.  Whatever alternate heat/cooking source you use, it will need ventilation, so you must crack a window near the source of your heat.

Your goal is to become as independent as possible.  The stories coming out of FEMA camps from those being “rescued” from Sandy were a little scary.  Your best bet is to depend on yourself.

Sandy is long gone but the repercussions are still being felt today.

The next disaster will come soon enough, with or without warning.

Will you be ready?

How to best prepare for and deal with disaster? Check out these articles from our site:

Disaster Preparedness Food Kit

Drought Survival: How to Survive Natural Disasters

Hurricane Survival Tips: How to Survive Natural Disasters

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  1. Varian Wrynn

    January 14, 2013 at 8:10 AM

    In an online game, I gave someone some virtual cash to help them out. A week later, he came back for more, and I gave him a little more. Two days later he’s back. Sure, it’s a game, but it shows the mentality of people and a survival situation will be the same with more people begging.

    I think the lesson you could take away from your move is to put all the food in boxes and label them “Mom’s BR” – just a thought for next time 🙂

  2. Brad

    January 14, 2013 at 4:15 PM

    Given the importance of water, is there a way to make pool water drinkable?

    • gena

      January 15, 2013 at 4:35 AM

      I have read that pool water cannot be made drinkable due to the chemicals you have to add to the pool, but it sure can be used for other purposes and if nothing else to cool you off if it is during a hot spell. Also can be used for flushing toilets and for some cleaning purposes.

      • Phillip Maine

        January 16, 2013 at 12:44 PM

        Pool water is drinkable for a short period, the main ingredient that makes it less potable is the amount of Chlorine The rest of the impurities are filtered out.

    • Joy

      January 15, 2013 at 8:01 AM

      I thought pool water WAS already drinkable! As long as it didn’t have algae growing in it, because the ‘shock’ chemicals actually cleaned the water. Don’t take my word for it, because I’m probably not right. Ask someone down at the pool supply store. I thought I read somewhere that the shock chemicals CAN clean the water to drinkable levels, but even if that isn’t true, you can always purify water in your pool with a water purification system. Swimming pools are great reservoirs to keep water in a time of crisis.

  3. Michael

    January 14, 2013 at 9:20 PM

    A hot meal can make a huge difference in surviving freezing weather. You should prepare ahead of time for some low cost methods that are easy to use. A swiss stove (volcano type) for only $20 bucks and some cotton balls coated with vaseline, yes vaseline! It will make a hot fire and two or three might heat water to boiling and then with add to your MRE’s or instant oatmeal. The number of balls or pre-made heat sticks will vary depending on the temperature outside. A pre-made heat stick is no more than dryer lent soaked in kerosene and then wrapped in newspaper, it burns hot and clean. I like to store mine by wrapping in aluminum foil and then putting them in a freezer bag to minimize odors. it only takes a tiny spark to get one going. Matches/lighters should be a must in every home.

    • kelly b

      January 18, 2013 at 10:19 AM

      Dryer lint! well, I’ll be saving that stuff from now on. who’da thought. Thanks for the tip.

  4. Chuck

    January 14, 2013 at 9:52 PM

    If you live in an apartment be careful about weight loading on the floor. Back in the Hayday of water beds there were lots of instances of waterbeds causing the floor to collapse. The bathtub is another source of water. It can be used for washing. Depending upon how clean you keep it, you can also drink the water. I have seen some bathtubs, however, that made you wonder how the occupant expected to clean their body. A good reason to keep your tub sparkling clean.

  5. gena

    January 15, 2013 at 4:20 AM

    Having survived a Texas summer without AC once with a ten day hot spell that reached 110 the last two days, I would like to offer some suggestions that got me through. One was do NOT try to use a fan, if you have power, it will feel like you are in front of a billowing furnace. Do as little as you can during the heat of the day and do as much as you can after dark and before noon. To beat the heat, get as wet as you can WITH your clothes on. That will make it feel much cooler and keep you from heat stroke. Also soak your pets with cool or room temperature water will keep them from heat stroke as well. Drink as much water as you can, probably add small amount of salt and sugar to make up for electrolytes you lose from sweating. Have your windows open but stay out of direct sunlight during the heat of the day, from around noon until 5 or 6pm and dress as lightly as you can, with loose clothes. If you have a car with AC and enough gas, if you cannot take it another second, get in the car, turn on the AC for the shortest period you can, you do not want to use up all your gas, but a very brief period of AC can recharge your batteries but will wear out your car’s at the same time. Eat your heavier meals during the cooler hours so it does not make your body burn off too many calories in the heat of day. You are not likely to feel like eating much when it is really, really hot anyhow.

  6. steven cook

    January 15, 2013 at 11:19 AM

    Sooo simple as this being good shape, 66 yr old ex hunter, wildlife knowledgable, people, personality and fully aware of man an his ahbits an profiles what I write is based on nothing more than common sense intelligence. Articles done on me prior touted how smart I was then I realized that my smarts nothing more than being in the right place at the right time. Got the guns, have the generator, have water storage, lp gas tanks, gas cans etc. Everything one might do has one basic problem the length of its time use capabilities. Genertors, need gas, no electricity in entire areas stops gas station outputs, storage of too much gas creates danger in itself. Being unindated by all the survival experts daily it would seem that the one outrageous fact, sounding almost mentally unstable itself is that need to be in position to become a taker especially if you live in a city. Moving to rural area for first time myself in last 5 yrs has made me realize the reality of security it offers. The less people around you, the more space between your home an your access road allows more space for intruders to cover, local window an door alarms with you having access in every room to hidden accessible firearms is only real security. Land with a pond is huge plus an the list goes on an on but reality is this an this only!

    YOU HAVE TO REALIZE THAT EVERYONE CAN BECOME YOUR ENEMY WHEN IT COMES DOWN TO DOG EAT DOG SITUATION. Does it create a life of loneliness, nope, does it create a life of not interacting with society but it does give you time to reflect, look an listen. Realizaton that the U.S. has became an area loaded with international confilict persons. Morality is thing of past, the melting pot of the U.S has created conflicts of too many different cultures with the freedoms we have letting minorities create persons whom seem to believe that if we help everyone we ourselves will be loved. Facebook nothing more than group of weak egos, flattering each other since they themselves have no confidence in their own looks an abilities. All you can do is all you can do, but seriously suggest follwoing Glenn Beck who has been hitting the nail righ on the head form many years on all the important topics. Get ready as all the “surviivalist” tell you but realize the ultimate goal of creating fear form majority of these people is to sell you an make more an more money which is losing value anyway. Be careful on whom you listen people still are in it for themselves. This site seems to have the answers, the right motivation the correct paths to help you. Stay safe, stay aware an believe that conflict is not down the road its here right now. Prepare hell just simply pay attention everywhere you go. We moved to small town america to be safer since we have seen experienced first hand contact with the liberal minorities owning property an living in Santa fe New Mexico thge outside, open air looney bin of minority an do gooders. The old 5 G’s an 5 W’s always apply in every circumstance. I’ve duplicated this is highly doubtful but learned that events happen for a reason. So be it

    Be safe
    The answer man

  7. DHConner

    February 19, 2013 at 5:54 PM

    3 days food and water??? FEMA?? If you are counting on that combination just lay down and put a bullet in your head. FEMA couldn’t find it’s way out of an open paper sack, much less a real problem. I submit Katrina and following disasters to Sandy Hook. They are well meaning people who really don’t have the experience to put up a boy scout tent, much less manage a real problem. Many may disagree, but in mt estimation and experience it is the National Guard that has the ability to roll out large numbers of people who know which way is up and what to do as expediantly as possible. With the many specialties they are trained in, they can get things done that if left to FEMA would never get done. But that doesn’t let us off the hook either. We need to look after ourselves, which is what so many of these sites are about: WTSHTF, we will be miles ahead of those who “don’t think it can happen here”. When it does happen here, the programs we have put in motion and kept adding to or modifying as needed will ensure we can either stay put or move out, as the situation requires. By the way, when it’s dog eat dog, the oldest generation of Koreans say brown dogs taste the best. Isn’t that yummy? Damn right,if you haven’t eaten for 6 or 7 days.

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