Survival Kit: What You Need To Pack For A Natural Disaster

Maybe the worst is over.

Sandy, after all, is spent as a storm. Lower Manhattan has power again and Con Edison is promising the rest of the state will regain power by November 10th -- not quite in time for Election Day, but currently less than a week of wait. Maybe the worst is over.

Or maybe it's not.

Maybe this is life now, with climate change taking hold. The Huffington Post has reported on the possible link between Sandy and climate change, prompting speculation on whether natural disaster is the new reality.

"Anyone who says that there's not a dramatic change in weather patterns I think is denying reality," claimed New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo earlier this week. "I told the president the other day: `We have a 100-year flood every two years now.'"

So if you're worried about the next Sandy, what should you do?

The Huffington Post spoke to David Bradford, a clerk at Eastern Mountain Sports who weathered the storm and stayed in his neighborhood in Lower Manhattan to dole out survival tips. For less than $300, Bradford says, New Yorkers can put together a kit that might help them survive or even stay comfortable during the next natural disaster.

"Everybody should have a small backpack in the corner of closet filled with essentials," says Bradford.

What Bradford recommends: warm clothing; a way to sterilize water, be it filtration, iodine or a battery-powered UV lamp; a small, portable, propane-powered camping stove for cooking and boiling water; batteries, with a waterproof storage container; headlamps instead of flashlights (because headlamps leave hands free "to fix other things"); emergency first-aid kits.

After severe storms or other natural disasters, areas hit with extended power outages may soon suffer from information blackouts. Portable solar panels, says Bradford, can be bought relatively cheaply and can charge cellphones; so can spare battery packs. Hand-cranked or battery-powered radios provide real-time information when cell towers go dark.

Bradford also suggests getting to know your neighbors: "Do you know who lives in your building? Do you know what little old ladies live in your building that might need help?"

If you're planning for a long haul in a powerless apartment, comfort is also important. For parents, Bradford recommends storing baby formula for infants, as well as markers, crayons and other electricity-independent entertainment for children.

And he says coffee addicts might want to invest in a French press. "It's not convenient," he says, "but you're not going to suffer the way so many people did" when power outages rendered electrical coffee makers useless.

People who have time to prepare might want to take extra measures right before a storm. ATMs will go out during a blackout, so storing up cash is important. Bradford recommends purchasing ready-to-eat or easy-to-cook meals and filling Ziploc bags with water and putting them in the freezer ahead of time. Says Bradford, "It's a real simple solution to the short term problem [of food spoiling in refrigerators]."

And if you're in the middle of a natural disaster that might lead to a blackout, Bradford advises thus:

Don't go outside, stay away from your windows, turn off or unplug as many things as possible so when the power does come back on the surge doesn't fry your hard drive and stay calm. The most important thing is to manage your anxiety and being prepared will help you do that.

On that note, says Bradford, there is such thing as over-preparedness.

"All this stuff with plastic sheeting and duct tape -- you can spend a lot of money on things you'll never use," he notes. "I don't know if you need a tent if you're living in Manhattan. If Indian Point has problems and we need to evacuate the city, we're going to have bigger problems to think about."

And thinking about that won't help anyone stay calm. The worst may be over or it may be yet to come, but following these tips might help us all be a little more prepared for the next storm



Hurricane Sandy