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I THOUGHT I Was Prepared - Boy Was I Wrong!

By Tamar Yonah
12/17/2013, 9:12 PM

I knew a snow storm was coming, and I thought I was ahead of the game.  SURPRISE!

As an attempt at public service, I am posting on this blog a quick letter I scrambled off to our community list.  Take what you like, leave the rest, and I hope this helps, wherever you are in the world.

Shalom All,
We have all experienced this last snow storm, - some with great discomfort due to the electricity being cut off for days.
Though for me it was uncomfortable, all in all, this could have been a chessed (a merciful act) from Hashem - G-d,  to get us used to the idea that all that we depend on every day, could go out 'just like that', and not return for days.
We can lose power not just from a storm, high winds, or other natural disaster, but also from terrorism, war, ...or other.
How will we survive, even for a few days?  How much should we rely on the government, the municipality, the emergency workers, and how much do we have to be responsible for ourselves?  Remember, in times of an emergency, the municipalities and emergency workers cannot do what they usually can do on a normal day.  Thousands of calls came in for help and rescue in this last storm, and we cannot expect others to come and save the day.  This storm I believe, has taught us that we must not rely on others, we have to buckle up, and take personal responsibility.  

I found that, as well as I THOUGHT I was prepared, I was lacking in this last storm.  

ITEMS TO HAVE ON HAND

Lantern
I thought having candles would be enough when the electricity goes out, but when trying to bench or trying to read in the dark at the table, candle light just didn't cut it.  
For a light source, I bought myself today, 2 oil lanterns.  The plus side of a lantern over a candle is that you can carry the lantern outside if needed (when it is not Sahbbat of course).  A candle will blow out in the wind outside, and also a lantern will make much more light than tiny little flames of candles set around your house.  
If you want to buy a lantern, there are oil lanterns or propane lanterns.  Propane is cleaner, not as messy as oil lanterns, but they are much more money, and if you finish your propane can, you are stuck and can't use your lantern. Also, with a propane can, you cannot see as well, how much propane you have left in the orange colored can. With oil, you know how much is in the lantern, and also it is cheaper to buy, and you can use oil you have at home for re-fills.  Take your choice if you choose to buy one.  Oil lanterns can be as low as 35 NIS  as opposed to 200-300 NIS for the propane lanterns/lamps.

Alternate Non-Electrical Heat Source

I also did not have an alternate heat source over Shabbat to keep warm.  I do have an old 'gas heater' that is very, very effective, but I was unable to attach it to my stove's gas outlet, because I wanted to have warm food for Shabbat and not run out of gas over Shabbos, so I left the gas space heater off - and we were COLD on Shabbat, huddling under the covers to keep warm. I will need to look into getting a separate small gas balloon for a gas heater, for emergencies.  But ALL of us really should have alternative heating that does not use electricity and can be left on for 24 hours over all Shabbat (like a gas tanur heater that runs on a gas balloon -Keep a window in the room open a crack for oxygen).  You can also purchase a kerosene heater (see link to pictures below) but I find them messy and they often make a bad smell.

Shabbat Blech/Platta/Hot Plate - I always use an electric platta to keep food warm on Shabbat, and so I did not have a regular standard 'metal sheet' for the stove top in place of an electrical platta for food. (I became creative and used an old Mangal (hibachi) and turned it over on the gas stove, but I could hardly fit more than 2 pots on it.  I am going to try to find this week a 'metal sheet' for the gas stove top.  See example HERE.

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Photo credit: Yoninah -source HERE

EMERGENCY STORAGE
May I suggest to you all, to make sure you have a corner of your home, or machsan/storage room, set aside for emergencies?  Best place to store these emergency items are of course in your safe-room/bomb shelter. 
You should have enough WATER and  FOOD for a few days for your family. Don't forget candles, MATCHES, flashlights, batteries, can opener, diaper wipes (in case there is no water) bucket for toilet (possibly with some sand or cat litter in it) if you are stuck in a sealed room/bomb shelter, etc.  

***Emergency radio (with hand crank and solar power options) and cell phone charger.  Nowadays they sell the radios with cell phone chargers.  Here's one for $39.00 on Amazon.   *NOTE - On this last storm, I used my tiny emergency hand crank radio to hear the news, know what the status was of the storm, roads, and any other important information.  It made me feel much more secure and connected to the outside world.  I do not like keeping batteries and worrying about them if they are charged or not, so that is why I like these hand-crank/solar emergency radios.  Batteries are also heavy to carry if you have to move, run, or change locations.

***(NOTE: I am not recommending any of these specific companies or items, I am only using these photos and links as examples of what you may wish to buy and have for emergencies. )

BUG-OUT BAG

Have a 'BUG-OUT BAG' with important documents you need, and it's a good idea to keep imporant papers and documents in sealed zip lock bags so they do not get ruined as easily from water, spills, or other...
Here is a link of items that one can put in their bug-out bag, for those interested.

If you have infants, you should make sure you have spare diapers, diaper wipes (in case there is no water) and anything else you need to take care of your children and babies.  Diaper wipes are important to have in any case, whether you have children or not, as a good way to keep your hands and body clean without having to use precious drinking water all the time.  Also have some alcohol hand gel!

Make sure you also have spare medicines and medications if needed - especially for older people who need to take daily medications.  If you are afraid the medicines will expire, then at least make sure you purchase them -when you are lucky enough to know that a storm or a war threat will be coming- so you have the right supply for when you are locked in your home or community and can't get out safely.
I am enclosing some photos of items below to help anyone who wants to purchase them.
If anyone else has ideas or something else to say that I forgot, please feel free to add to the list.
By the way, for anyone interested, I just did a show with a Jewish IDF officer and 'Doomsday Prepper' that was also featured on the National Geographic channel show of the same name.  The show may be informative for you, and he has some interesting things to say.  The show can be heard here: 

Audio: Jewish 'Doomsday Prepper' Tells All


How to survive comfortably even for a few days in an emergency. 
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Oil Lantern  (approx. 35 NIS ) 
or
Propane Lantern (could be up to 300 NIS)
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Tanur Gas / Gas heater - gets its source from a gas balloon or gas line - no need for electricity)
They can sell for under 1,000 NIS - nicer ones are more, but if only for emergency use, this link to one may be enough for your needs.They say they deliver too, for about 39 NIS
Kerosene heater
Not sure how much the cost is, but you can price them at hardware stores or online. Example: Click HERE

That's about it for now, and please feel free to add to this list if I have forgotten anything, which I am sure I have.