After being without Central Air for over 7 weeks while Con Edison figured out how to fix our problem, I was so relieved (despite the late hour) when they came and promised us power by 11pm that Saturday night. What was unexpected was the hours we would be powerless until the situation resolved itself. I guess I should be grateful that it was later in the evening, near bed time and it was a cool summer night, unlike the humid sticky night the previous. Out came our hand crank flashlights (gosh I love those things!) and a few battery powered ones that were lying around the house. Totally unprepared ahead of time, it was interesting watching as MIL fretted over the fridge and its contents, kids running around in the dark, attempting to brush teethes and ready for bed… thank God the hand cranked flashlight provided much entertainment as Ava tried to keep it lit… bless her little heart. This combined with a car towing incident, which I won’t get into, really made me think about what would happen if this really was an emergency. I certainly was not prepared for a few hours without power, but what happens if it was for longer or something even worse?! Are you prepared?!

Aside from a simple Target Emergency Kit purchased on a whim after a September 11th remembrance (I worked at the World Financial Center, right next door and lost a co-worker during the attack), I realized we were hardly prepared. When the power suddenly cut off, DH was running around the house searching for flashlights. What still puzzles me is how he knew were they were and I did not… shame on me… I only remembered vaguely a purchased toy crank from the Brooklyn Children’s Museum which I had put in my nightstand just a few weeks earlier.

What would you consider essentials in an emergency of any kind? I googled and came up with this handy list from NYC, Plan to be Prepared. What I found most important about this list, and call me paranoid, but I was running down the west side highway as the twin towers collapsed behind me with dust billowing everywhere, was making a plan and communicating with your family. Key points I will definitely be implementing:

  1. Have a hand cranked radio on hand… know the EAS (Emergency Alert System) channels. For NYC, 1010am is always a sure bet.
  2. Lots of the hand cranked flashlights… you never know how long a situation will last.
  3. Select two places to meet: a spot outside your home for an emergency such as fire, and a place away from your neighborhood in case you cannot return home.
  4. Identify an out-of-town friend or relative as your “emergency family check-in contact” for everyone to call if the family gets separated.
  5. Keep family records in a waterproof and fireproof safe – and KNOW where it is and how to get to it.
  6. Have emergency supplies on hand similar to my Target Emergency Kit (no longer available), like the SafeGuard 2-Person Emergency Preparedness Kit.

Definitely read the Plan to be Prepared list and tweak it for your own family. As a woman, there is no excuse to leave it up to a man. There might not be one available when you need one. You never can be too prepared for an emergency – natural disaster, power outage or a terrorist act. They can occur quickly and without warning.

Another thing I’ve often thought about and never implemented… but will in the coming weeks… is a HOUSE book. A book which contains every detail about your household from:

  • doctor’s phone #’s
  • vital information on each family member
  • account #’s for con edison, telephone, car insurance including license plate numbers, etc.,
  • a copy of emergency plan
  • warranty plans & associated numbers

Put it in your safe with those vital docs… That box might save yours or someone in your family’s life some day.