I would like to offer my own experiences in the hopes that they may provide some small amount of practical advice to others. Here in Oklahoma, of course, we face tornadoes, but many do not realize we have also suffered from paralyzing ice storms - three within the past ten years. Lessons gleaned from practical experience are:
- Have inventory lists;
- Have 'Oh-Schumer Lists' of items and chores for each type of contingency situation (tornado, flood, ice storm, etc.)
- Prepare 'in depth' for each major need, such as heat and light, food, water, shelter, and protection
- Calmly think through scenarios on the before-hand, in terms of what would be needed, how long one can survive, and what the deciding factors in your response would be ('fight or flight')
- Most importantly, be prepared to take care of your own, whether family or friends or neighbors.
First things first. Just a week or so ago, Oklahoma was ravaged by several tornadoes. While keeping an ear on the weather report, I calmly gathered up medications, identification papers, windup lights and radios. I made sure there was at least one conventional telephone working. We have had experiences with cell phone towers being down, or the cell phone networks being overloaded. I placed a full face motorcycle helmet, winter gloves, and parka within reach to put on (for some marginal protection against debris) in case the tornado swung in our direction, something they can and have done before. Thankfully, we were spared, though one tornado came within two miles of our home.
The purpose of relating the above is to illustrate the importance of pre-planning for an event, having what we call an 'Oh-Schumer List' of items and tasks, so that one keeps panic at bay while calmly following a pre-planned, prepared list so that one keeps busy and feels somewhat in control of the situation.
The second situation is one that we have experienced several times; and yet I am still amazed that many neighbors still do not prepare for them; ice storms. Again, we have items stored which were deemed necessary to overcome the emergency situation, as well as an 'Oh-Schumer List' of items and tasks (chores) which we can calmly follow. In our case, we have winter clothing cleaned, organized, and stored; various tools and outdoor items prepped (snow shovels, chain saw (and spare chains, oil, etc.), generator (and gasoline, oil, spark plugs, etc.), tarps, lumber; food, water, and medicines stocked; Vehicles serviced and fueled; and Call Lists of Family, Friends, and Neighbors so that we can be sure they are warm, fed, and safe.
One thing I must stress is that we prepare 'in depth' as much as we can. Meaning that while we have a generator and gasoline, we also have propane lights, heaters, and stoves in case the generator fails. We also have candles, Esbit stoves, windup lights and radios, and firewood. Similarly, my wife will cook up large batches of food if she knows we have an incoming storm front, but we also have canned goods, MREs, and freeze-dried goods. For water, we have bottled water, Katadyn water filters, bleach, water purification tablets, collapsible water containers, and a small 10,000 gallon swimming pool.
A few years ago, Oklahoma City was paralyzed for about five days by an ice storm. We had no electricity from the grid, but we had our furnace and a few appliances running on a generator. We also had relatives and neighbors who stayed with us, as they had not prepared. It was no matter, we had homemade chicken pot pies, wine, card games, lively conversation, and were all safe, snug, and warm. Sadly, while outside cutting up fallen trees that blocked the roads, I encountered a neighbor that needed the cut-up wood to heat and cook for his elderly father and himself. I offered him our propane lights, heater, and camp stove; but he did not take us up on the offer. I wanted to ask him, that since we had gone through this numerous times, why he had not prepared for this. But, I knew it was hard enough for him just to ask for the firewood.
In closing, let me recap. Have inventory lists. Have 'Oh-Schumer Lists' of items and tasks for each type of contingency situation. Prepare 'in depth' for each major need, such as heat and light, food, water, shelter, and protection Calmly think through scenarios on the before-hand, in terms of what would be needed, how long one can survive, and what the deciding factors would be. Most importantly, be prepared to take care of your own, whether family or friends or neighbors. Sadly, this last point is overlooked by many. Good luck to all.