Get ready cause ya never know.

2009-10-25 21:36:34.000 – Ryan Knapp,  Staff Meteorologist

Unrelated picture from our drive up Weds.

Last night provided a brief period of clearing from the fog to provide a nearly complete undercast out 15 to 20 miles before clouds below the summit billowed up limiting horizontal visibilities. This in itself is a neat site to see day or night but there was something eerie to it last night. The undercast layer was thin with pockets of clearing allowing me to see the familiar glows of Berlin to the north and Conway to the southeast but to my west and northwest, darkness with just freckles of light. With the summits now back-up generators providing white noise, this meant one thing: power outages.

State Park confirmed this suspicion by saying that when they called in our power outage, the operator they spoke to said that the storm had knocked out the power west of our location and that they had crews out working on it. Hopefully, by now, all is restored and life is back to its blissful pace on our western slopes. But it got me thinking last night about the people being affected. We have our back up generators on the summit (which up until last summer where our only source of power) but to most residents in the valleys, when the power is out, they are in the dark for hours or sometimes days. And while it disrupts life at home, a power outage has a ripple effect which can disrupt services and create situations in which food, water, and other essential supplies are limited or unavailable. So with winter looming in the northeast, I thought, instead of reiterating how to be prepared to climb the mountain like we have said in past comments, it might be useful to go over some guidelines to be prepared at home.

For the northeast, most natural disasters are weather related since earthquakes and huge forest fires are far and few between (unlike they were for me growing up in CA). So the first step is to stay informed with your areas forecasts. While I will agree that a 10 day forecast isn’t 100% reliable, it does give you an idea of what might be coming so you can start preparing for a large snow storm, hurricane or possible flooding days out. Once you know about a possible big storm, the next thing is to make a plan. Know your town’s hurricane or snow evacuation routes; know how to evacuate your own home as well as how to safely shut-off your utilities safely. If it looks like you might have to evacuate your home, you should grab a water proof or resistant accordion file to place copies of family and emergency numbers as well as copies of important documents like property and vehicle ownership titles, insurance documents, wills, appraisals, birth certificate, bank and savings documents, prescription details, animal documents or anything else that might be needed to get things back up and running.

The last to do is build an emergency survival kit. This kit should be able to maintain the survival needs of your family (including pets) for 72 hours to a week. The supplies can be stored in a clean trash can, a suitcase, a large duffel bag, a footlocker, etc. At my house, for example, I have an old “weekender” backpack with all the provisions under my stairs. This makes it easy to grab in case I have to evacuate. In your bag or container, you want to pack non-perishable food items that are ready-to-eat in unbreakable containers (canned meat, juice, fruit/vegetables, powder milk, infant formula, canned pet food, crackers, freeze-dried items or dehydrated goods). A large water container or bottled water should be packed in with your kit so there is enough to provide each person in your family with at least one gallon of water per day for 3-7 days.

And while food and water are essential to the kit, in addition, you will want to include:
– A hand-cranked NOAA weather radio w/ tone alert to stay tuned to the weather situation affecting you.
– A flashlight with extra batteries or glow sticks for light.
– A first aid kit with a first aid manual.
– A whistle to signal for help.
– Dust masks
– Plastic sheeting and duck tape for minor repairs
– Garbage bags and plastic ties
– A bucket
– Moist towelettes, toilet paper, hand sanitizer, hiker soap
– Small tool kit to turn off any utilities or for minor repairs
– Can opener
– Utility knife
– Local maps
– Car cell phone charger
– Sleeping bag or warm blankets for each person. More bedding material is recommended since I know living here that it can get cold in the winter.
– Clothing (optimal would be polypropylene or wool)
– Work gloves
– A bottle of unscented pure bleach and a medicine dropper – a 9 parts water to 1 part bleach solution can disinfect while 16 drops to 1 gallon of water can treat the water to drink.
– A fire extinguisher
– Waterproof matches and fire starter
– Hygiene items including diapers
– Paper towels
– Foil
– Paper and pencil
– Cups, plates, and utensils (backpacking equipment is useful here)
– Books, games or other entertaining activities (optional)

These are the items in my kit but individual kits can vary depending on your needs. And I know this looks like a lot of stuff but once you start packing it into a container or backpack, you find that it condenses nicely. It’s kind of like preparing for a day hike or an overnight hike in the Whites in the winter. Suggested lists like the one the AMC provide online look like a lot of stuff and when you lay it all out on the floor like I do before a hike, it does look like a lot of stuff. It’s enough stuff that when packing for a winter hike or your emergency kit, you start to feel like you are taking on the role of “Q” from the James Bond movies. But instead of fitting a laser, a glass cutter, sleeping potion, and single shot gun into the back of a watch for James Bond to survive his missions, you are efficiently making use of the space you are provided and stuffing in all the tools you will need to survive.


Ryan Knapp,  Staff Meteorologist

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