Delaware, which is less than 2,000 square miles in area, is packed with potential for natural disasters including tornado, hurricane, flood, nor’easter, winter storms, like a blizzard or ice storm that might make roads impassable or cause power outages, and summer droughts. A house being struck by lighting and potential of fire from other sources is also a possibility. I have the typical emergency preparedness kit with cash, flashlight, and other recommended items, but that is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to being prepared for natural disasters if you are planning on, or are forced to, stay at home.
Loss of Power
One winter left us without electric for a couple of days following a blizzard. Our heating system would not function and outdoor temperatures never rose above 40 degrees. Fortunately, we had the foresight to install a gas fireplace. The electronic ignition can be overridden to light the fireplace by match. We closed doors to the rest of the house and remained quite cozy until electric was restored. Our kitchen stove is also gas with an electronic ignition that can be overridden to light the stove with a match, allowing us to cook and make that ever-important coffee.
We have a large supply of batteries, two flashlights, a battery-powered radio, plus a hand crank flashlight that also has a radio, alarm and jack adapters to charge a cell phone. We have three battery backups offering about one hour of power each to operate the television or notebook computer to be able to access news or get to the Red Cross online to track the location of relatives or to report our location and status for the benefit of relatives.
Maintain Constant Supply of Food and Necessities
Once I open a bag or container of food or personal care items, I immediately add that item to the grocery list. For instance, when I open a new bag of dog food, box of cereal, container of deodorant or a bulk-size package of toilet paper, I immediately add that item to the grocery list so there is an unopened backup in supply.
With the concern over loss of electric, I now focus more on canned foods and MRE meals, we like civilian types such as one from Eversafe, rather than frozen, and yes, I do recycle the empty cans. I still buy fresh vegetables and fruit, but those items in cans, in addition to canned tuna, tomatoes, soups and similar items, will carry us for a couple of weeks, maybe more.
Lots of Water
We live less than one mile from the river, so if our water supply is cut off, we can transport water in large plastic storage tubs to use to flush the toilet. For drinking and cooking, gallon containers of fresh water are in storage. I’ve also tucked away cleaned gallon milk cartons now filled with tap water for bathing or that we can boil for drinking (though it may be suitable for drinking as-is). A rain barrel will nourish the vegetable garden.
Other Emergency Preparedness
Being prepared before natural disaster strikes also means to ensure you have the proper insurance on your house, vehicle and possessions. I am also keen on not letting the car gas tank to drop below half full and I keep a five-gallon container of gas in the garage.
If my husband and I are not together when a natural disaster hits, cell phone service is not available to contact one another and the resulting damage prevents us from reaching the house, we agreed to meet at our business office. If it too is impacted, we will meet at the entrance to our town’s hospital. The hospital is a major medical facility for a large area of the state and if it too is impacted, the hospital may likely receive attention quickly from local rescue services.