The derecho which swept through the American Midwest and Mid-Atlantic states on June 29, 2012 should serve as a reminder to those of us in areas where such violent weather is rare, the we should still be prepared for it. This storm was massive, and caught virtually everyone by surprise.
My family was fortunate in that we didn’t suffer any damage or power outages. Many folks not too far from us weren’t so lucky.
Five days after the storm, millions remain without power. In the aftermath, Newt Gingrich tweeted that this would be a small taste of what an EMP could do. Based on my own research, the likelihood of an EMP attack taking out the infrastructure in a large part of the country is low. However, a Carrington Event-type EMP would cause widespread, long lasting damage.
Here are ten things you can do to prep for violent weather:
- Keep on hand at least 72 hours worth of food and water for each individual in your household. The food you stock for this should not require refrigeration and should be able to be consumed right from the packaging, if necessary.
- Don’t let your vehicle’s gas tank go below half full. If there’s no power, you won’t be able to fill it back up. Fill it ahead of time if you have warning. Also consider storing fuel if you have a safe way to do so.
- ATMs and credit card machines won’t work without power. Keep some cash on hand. Make sure that you have some small bills; you don’t want to end up spending $20 for a loaf of bread because the seller can’t make change.
- Have a battery powered radio for getting news, and plenty of spare batteries.
- Consider getting rechargeable batteries, a charger, and a solar panel to power them. I recently picked up a Goal Zero Guide 10 Plus system, a Goal Zero Luna LED light, and some spare rechargeable AAs. I’ll be testing it on a camping trip next weekend.
- Have battery powered lighting on hand, again along with a good supply of spare batteries. For a handheld flashlight I like my Fenix LD20, as it puts out a ton of light and uses common AAs, but even a Mini Maglite will do. I also recommend having a headlamp so you can use both hands, and lanterns for area lighting. One lantern that I have is the Rayovac SE3DLN Sportsman Xtreme LED Lantern, which is excellent.
- Old fashioned hurricane lanterns can also burn citronella oil when used outside, to help keep away bugs. The cheapies at WalMart have a bad reputation for leaking. Get Dietz lanterns from Lehman’s or W.T. Kirkman. They can also be used inside as long as you have good ventilation and use lamp oil.
- If you have large trees on your property, have them trimmed to reduce the likelihood of branches or an entire tree falling on something like your car, house, or worse, you.
- If you have trees, have a chainsaw, fuel, and oil, to cut up fallen trees for removal. Learn how to use the chainsaw beforehand, don’t use it alone, and be careful.
- Fill unused space in your freezer with water bottles (leaving room for expansion). The frozen bottles will help keep the freezer cold longer, and when they do melt you have some more water available for drinking or washing.
Obviously, there’s a lot more you can do but this list is a good starting point.