Hundreds of thousands of us in the Northeast found ourselves suddenly without power, water, and heat because of Hurricane Sandy. Our thoughts and prayers continue to go out to those who lost so much so quickly and continue to struggle to make ends meet.
When you have children at home, as parents, you do your best to provide normalcy for them and make them feel as safe and protected as you can. Below is a list of items that helped our family during our weeklong power outage.
1. Lots of Flashlights – I prefer the ones that use AA or AAA batteries, as those are much easier and cheaper to store or buy when you need them. We also found the mini-lanterns from Coleman and Black Diamond handy, since they illuminate your immediate surroundings better than flashlights, and they have the ability to dim, to prolong battery life. We also had some battery-powered light bulbs.
2. Lots and Lots of Batteries – We were lucky that I’m a battery hoarder with lots of AA and AAA batteries. I’m restocking now, as it seems like you can never have enough. If you want rechargeables, Eneloop has served us well, as they can be charged again and again.
3. Candles – When you need to eat at night, it’s nice to have candles around, as they can also better illuminate the room. The most important thing is safety, so we have some lanterns that you could place tealight candles in. Some tealights burn for 2 hours (about $10 for 100) and some burn for 6 hours. Just make sure you have matches around or a good lighter.
4. Battery-Powered Radio – For the latest updates about what’s going on, we were really grateful for having a battery-powered radio at hand. There are some that are very basic from Sony which require 2 AA batteries. Then, there are very high-end ones from Tivoli with amazing sound quality, but the disadvantage is that it runs on an internal rechargeable battery (claims 3-hour charge lasts 16 hours of play). There are even some like the one from the American Red Cross and Ambient Weather that can be charged by hand, have a built-in light, and can charge your SmartPhones (although some of the reviews aren’t so promising).
5. External Battery Pack – Since we live in an apartment where we can’t store a gas-powered generator, I did have a couple of external battery packs which were able to charge our smartphones a couple of times. This allowed us to make some phone calls and use the Internet sparingly. We heard some weren’t able to use their phones during the outage, depending on their carriers. Since we made the switch to digital phones, our phone lines no longer work during a power outage of more than 8 hours or so.
6. Buckets and Containers – We were able to fill a couple of buckets with water, as we lost water, too for about a week. We had filled our bathtub, but the plunger actually didn’t hold the water (had to get a new one), but the buckets definitely came in handy. If you need to take water up and down stairs, we recommend big jugs or containers with lids or covers.
7. Board Games and Legos – Since almost everything we do for entertainment requires electricity or power, it was nice to have some board games and Legos for our six-year-old who was able to play via battery-powered flashlights in the evening.
8. Cash – At one point, the supermarket opened across the street, and they would only take cash. When there’s no power, then your credit cards are probably no use.
The New York Times has a great list of other recommended items, too. Do you have any to add to this list? Would love to hear about your stories or ideas.