Tag Archives: electrical safety

10 Preparedness Lessons From Hurricane Sandy

9 Nov

1. Do what the authorities say. Evacuate. Some preppers won’t like hearing this, but the officials often know best. At a minimum, keep informed. If the news reports a storm of biblical proportions is bearing down on you, take a vacation. Visit the in-laws.

2. Store water for drinking. Many residents in New York and New Jersey lost a source of reliable drinking water. Relief agencies provided water, but what would happen if the relief agencies couldn’t even do that? It’s good to have some water for washing, too.

3. Store some food, at least a few days. Relief agencies provided hot meals to people, but it’s easier on you and your family if you have your own reserves and have thought about how you’ll cook them.

4. Allow for a power outage. Nearly 8 million peoples’ power was knocked out. Many went ten days without power. The amazing thing here is just how quickly power was restored to so many areas. Some preppers harp of society being fragile, but societies usually are resilient, too. For most of us, we can get by without power or we should have a generator.

5. Learn about tangential safety concerns. This is a big part of the book. Carbon monoxide is a good example. Several people have died or become sick because they weren’t fully aware of the dangers of CO. They purchased a generator, but failed to understand the CO issues involved. They built fires in the chimney, only to have CO make them sick. One difference between a newbie prepper and an experienced prepper is being aware of these side issues that cause a loss of life or further property damage after a disaster.

6. Prepare for delays. Many people sat or stood in line for hours to get gasoline. Traffic lights were out and traffic moved slowly. Does this mean urban preppers should store a lot of gasoline to avoid the lines? Not necessarily. When prepping you must weigh the costs and risks of making a preparation against the benefits. For regular gasoline, keeping 100 gallons of fuel in your garage invites new risks. What if a tree brings down a power line right across your garage? With the extra fuel, you’ve just lost your garage and, perhaps, your house.

7. Prepare for home damage. Hurricane Sandy damaged homes with wind and water. Falling trees made a general nuisance of themselves, taking down power lines and starting fires. Some just cozily plopped themselves down on a living room couch. It’s good to know about your home’s construction and its systems, to know what repairs you can make and to know when your home is simply unsafe and you must leave.

I’m really looking forward to a new blogger over at tracemypreps.com who will write about home structure and preparedness, an important topic that doesn’t get that much attention.

8. Allow for prescription medications and special preps for the elderly and children. Elderly people who needed elevators in their high-rise buildings in New York to get up and down were trapped when the power went out. Volunteer runners who were slated to participate in the New York City marathon ran up and down stairs delivering prescriptions and meals.

9. As far as reasonably possible, test your preps or have a well-thought out plan. One major story involved a hospital where infants depended upon electrical life-support. When the hospital’s backup generators failed, the nurses carefully evacuated the babies while manually beating their hearts.

It’s often when you’re at the end of resources when character and resiliency really show. Some generators in basements failed because of water. Yes, water will get into your basement during a flood. Powerful pumps can reduce the level. This doesn’t mean you should flood your basement with a garden hose to see how well things go! Nor should you needless transport real premature babies just for practice.

10. It can happen to you. Too many people feel disasters only affect others. In one story I read, thousands of special genetically-engineered lab mice died because they were left in a university basement. Hurricane, flooding, animals in the basement…hmmm…. You don’t need a Ph.D. to realize that’s not a good combination.

Now I’m not trying to start one of those save-the-mice versus save humans political-moral conflicts. But somebody was responsible for that situation. Almost certainly, they didn’t really believe the flooding would be that bad, or they would have taken some preparations to protect the mice. One of the biggest reasons to prep is that the process of prepping gets you to think through unpleasant scenarios. If they do happen or even if other horrible scenarios come to pass, you’ll be better prepared mentally to take action. You won’t be in a state of denial or dismissal.

Charlie P.-author The Prepper Next Door: A Practical Guide For Disaster And Emergency Planning.


Here’s a news blurb about natural gas leaks, a too frequently neglected topic.

Breeze Point Fires Caused by Hurricane Sandy (Youtube):

Here’s an ordinary guy (on youtube) who gives updates about his personal experience with Sandy:

Another update. This guy “preps” in style, with wine and shrimp!

thebrooklynprepper’s view of Sandy. He’s now to be called “The” brooklynprepper:


Here’s a nice “post sandy survival guide.” Protecting pipes from freezing, water issues. Good stuff. (Preventing freezing pipes during a heat-out situation and making emergency repairs is covered in The Prepper Next Door)
Here’s a good story about the risks of CO and generators. If you purchased a generator for emergency use and aren’t familiar with carbon monoxide risks, please read this story.
skyscrapers suck: “Thirty floors without an elevator, a light bulb, or a drop of running water is no place for an 80-year-old woman to spend a week”

Initially 8.5 million people without power… down to about 1.5 million ten days or so later
What caused generators to fail at NYC hospitals?

Here’s a short guide for hurricanes (pdf) (from an energy company).

Here’s a very short how-to blog post about living without power after a storm.

One subject I wanted to discuss in the book but didn’t have room was the dangers of arc flash and electrocution. Obviously, just stay away from downed power lines! If you’re turning on a main circuit breaker, don’t stand in water!

While most electricians will shut off power to a circuit to work on it, there are situations where linesmen or electricians must work on live electrical wires. Of course, this is not something for the average prepper to undertake. But, we can learn a bit from the pros. If you’ve come home after a hurricane and your house has flooded, and you turned off the main circuit breaker when you left, and are now turning it back on, a few precautions don’t hurt.

The key idea is to be sure you’re fully insulated, so current doesn’t find a path through you to ground. Some electricians like to follow the rule that they want three levels of protection. For example, they’ll use insulated tools, adequate rubber-soled boots, and stand on an insulating rubber mat.

When flipping the breaker back on, it doesn’t hurt to put on rubber gloves and stand on a rubber welcome mat. These measures aren’t as good as what the professionals use but are certainly better than taking no precautionary steps. Let your system dry out and, if in doubt, hire a professional to inspect your electrical system.

This pdf is a basic guide to electrical safety. Well worth reading, even if you don’t work with electricity.