Things I Learned From Hurricane Sandy: Tips for Hurricane Survival

Hurricane Sandy, Ocean Grove Pier -  New Jersey, October 29, 1012 - Photograph by Bob Bowné

Hurricane Sandy, Ocean Grove Pier –
New Jersey, October 29, 1012 – Photograph by Bob Bowné

Things that I learned from Hurricane Sandy

1. The excitement and coolness wears off around day 3

2. You are never really prepared to go weeks without power, heat, water etc. Never!

3. Yes it can happen to you.

4. Just because your generator runs like a top, does not mean its producing electricity.

5. If you do not have water stored up you are in trouble.
a. A couple of cases of bottled water is “NOT” water storage

6. Should have as much fuel as water
a. Propane
b. Gas
c. Kerosene
d. Firewood
e. Firestarter, (kindling, paper, etc)

7. Even the smallest little thing that you get from the store should be stocked up.. (spark plug for the generator, BBQ lighter, etc).

8. If you are not working, chances are nobody else is either.

9. I was surprised how quickly normal social behavior goes out the window. I am not talking about someone cutting in line at the grocery store.
a. 3 people were killed at gas stations within 50 miles of my home.
b. I did not say 3 fights broke out, 3 people were killed.

10. Cash is king (all the money in your savings means nothing)

11. Stored water can taste nasty.

12. You eat a lot more food when you are cold.

13. You need more food than you think if your kids are out of school for 2 weeks

14. Kids do not like washing their face in cold water.

15. Your 1972 honda civic gets to the grocery store as well as your 2012 Escalade… but the Honda allows money left over for heat, food, water, a generator, fire wood, a backup water pump, you get the idea..

16. The electrical grid is way more fragile than I thought.

17. Think of the things that are your comfort, your escape, a cup of hot chocolate, a glass of milk and a ding dong before bed, tequila, etc. Stock up on those too. You will need that comfort after day 3.

18. You quickly become the guy in the neighborhood who knows how to wire a generator to the electrical panel, directly wire the furnace to a small generator, or get the well pump up and running on inverter power or you are the guy whose Master’s degree in Accounting suddenly means nothing. (Love you Steve!)

19. A woman who can cook a fine meal by candle light over the BBQ or open fire is worth her weight in gold. And women, whose weight in gold, would not add up to much, usually die off first. Sorry skinny women.

20. It takes a lot of firewood to keep a fire going all day and into the evening for heat.

21. All the food storage in the world means nothing if your kids won’t eat it.

22. You might be prepared to take care of your children and their needs, but what about when the neighborhood children start to show up at your door?

23. Some people shut down in an emergency. There is nothing that you can do about that.

24. Your town, no matter how small is entirely dependent on outside sources of everything.
a. If supply trucks stop rolling in due to road damage, gas shortages or anything else you could be without for a long time.

25. In an emergency Men stock up on food, Women stock up on toilet paper.

26. I was surprised how many things run on electricity!

27. You can never have enough matches.

28. Although neighbors can be a great resource, they can also be a huge drain on your emergency storage. You need to know how you are going to handle that. It is really easy to be Bob the guy who shares on Day 3, not so easy on Day 11. Just reality.

29. Give a man a fish he eats for that day, teach a man to fish and he will never be hungry again.. Now I get it.

30. All of the expensive clothes in the closet mean nothing if they don’t keep you warm.

31. Same goes for shoes… Love you Honey!!!!

32. You cannot believe the utility companies. They are run by politicians!! Or so it seems,

33. Anything that you depend on someone else for is not avail anymore.

34. Quote “A man with a chainsaw that knows how to use it is a thing of beauty” hahaha

35. Most folks don’t have any emergency storage. They run to Wal-Mart and get water and batteries and then fill their tubs with water. That is it. A lucky few will get a case of ramen and a box of poptarts. That will be your neighbors supply.

36. Fathers, all the money you have ever made means nothing if you can’t keep your kids warm.

37. Mothers, everything you have ever done for your kids is forgotten if your kids are hungry.

38. You really do not want to be the “Unprepared Parents” The kids turn on you pretty quick.

39. Small solar charging gadgets will keep you in touch. Most work pretty well it seems.

40. Most things don’t take much power to operate.
a. Computers,
b. Phones
c. Radios
d. TV
e. lights

41. Some things take a ton of power to operate.
a. Fridge
b. Toaster
c. Freezer
d. Hot plate
e. Microwave

42. When it gets dark at 4:30pm the nights are really long without power.

43. Getting out of the house is very important. Even if it is cold. Make your home the semi warm place to come home to.. not the cold prison that you are stuck in.

44. Someone in your family must play or learn to play guitar.

45. Things that disappeared never to be seen again for a very long time.
a. Fuel, of all kinds
b. Matches, lighters of any kind etc.
c. Toilet paper
d. Paper plates, plastic forks and knives
e. Batteries, didn’t really see a need for them. (flashlights??? I guess)
f. Milk
g. Charcoal
h. Spark plugs (generators)
i. 2 stroke motor oil, (chainsaws)
j. Anything that could be used to wire a generator to the house.
k. Extension cords
l. Medicines (Tylenol, advil, cold medicine etc)

46. There was a strange peace to knowing all I had to do each day was keep my family safe, warm, and fed, but my peace was someone else’s panic.
There were also many things that were not learned from hurricane Sandy, but reinforced. Those things were the importance of my family and their love and support, especially my lovely wife, that my Heavenly Father is really in charge, period, and finally that I am very thankful for the upbringing and experiences that have taught me and brought me to where I am .. Wherever that is…hahahaha..

God Bless!!!

Pressure Cookers

So you got a pressure cooker and you never use it because you just don’t know how?  This is a very common thing.  Pressure cookers seem to have an unknown quality about them that make people scared to use them.  However, pressure cookers are a great help in the kitchen and a lot of times you can make dinner in half the time.   Here are some brief instructions on how to cook with a pressure cooker.  Give it a try and see what a difference a pressure cooker can make!

To start off, put the contents of what you are cooking in the pressure cooker (such as chicken and veggies).

Add water, stock, or sauce.  Make sure you never cook dry.

Turn the burner on high; put the pressure cooker, with the ingredients in it,on the burner, making sure the burner isn’t too big for the pressure cooker.


pressure cooker 2    cooker

You can either start the pressure cooking process, or let the contents boil ahead of time. If you let it boil without the lid it is brought up to pressure much faster.

Making sure that the pressure valve is on 0, place the lid on the pot and lock it into place.

After the lid id locked make sure you move the pressure valve to the desired pressure either 1, or 2. Foods that require pressure 1 include vegetables, and fish. Foods that require pressure 2 include all other meets, potatoes and rice. If you have a combination of pressure 1 and pressure 2 foods to be cooked at the same time for example chicken and vegetables cook the chicken most of the way bring it back down to pressure add the vegetables bring it back up to pressure on pressure 1 for the vegetables and finish cooking.

After you have locked the lid into place and have turned the pressure valve to the desired pressure it will take a few minutes until it come to pressure. You know when it is under pressure when the Red pressure indicator is visible. After you see the indicator pop up it will take about a minute or so and steam will start to escape from the valve. At this point turn the burner down to low. The pressure cooker is now under pressure and you can start your timer for how long you want your food to be cooking.

When your food is done cooking you must bring it down from pressure before you remove the lid. Don’t try and force the lid off or you will break it. There are three different ways that you can bring it down from pressure. 1. Take it off the burner and just let it come down naturally. By doing it this way you preserve more nutrients than any other way, but it does take a long time to bring it down. 2. You can put the pressure regulator valve back down to 0, this way is fast but not a good idea if you are cooking soups. The liquid in the soup will end up all over your kitchen. 3. You can run the lid under cold water, this is also a quick way and you will not get the contents in the pressure cooker all over your kitchen. If the food is not done you can put it back on the stove, and put it back under pressure for a few more minutes.

Things to remember

  • The pressure regulator valve must be turned to 0 when locking the lid in place.
  • After you see the pressure indicator and steam starts to escape, you must turn the burner down to low.
  • You must always remember to set the pressure at either 1 or 2, do not leave it at 0 your food will burn
  • Most recipes have you sauté vegetable then add the rest of the ingredients and bring the pressure cooker up to pressure. This can cause burning I would suggest sautéing vegetables in a separate pan and adding them later.

Create A Family Emergency Plan!

family emergency plan
Before an emergency happens make a plan. Find out which disasters and emergencies can happen in your area and create a plan of what you and your family will do if it happens.

Discuss with your family if ___________________________ happens we will:

If we aren’t together we will meet at

Neighborhood Meeting Place:

In-Town Meeting Place:

Out-of-Town Meeting Place:

We will contact each other by

Home Phone:

Cell Phones:


Out-of-Town contact:

If phones don’t work we will

Email address:

Social Media:


What we will do with our pets

Hotels/motels that allow pets:

Kennels/ pet care centers in the area:

What will we do if

The kids are in school:

Parent is at work:

Things to plan

Get an emergency kit for every member of the family.

Keep an emergency kit in your car.

Find a safe area in your home for those kind of emergency’s that you don’t evacuate for.

Develop an evacuation plan.

Determine two escape routes from each room in your home.

Teach children how and when to call 9-1-1.

Learn basic first aid skills. Take a CPR class.

Check for hazards in and around your home and eliminate them.

Know the location of the emergency shelter in your town or neighborhood.

Practice emergency scenarios with your family.

Pets in an Emergency


Your pets depend on you for survival. It is important for you to include them in your disaster and evacuation plans. Pets (not including service animals) are not usually allowed in emergency shelters so other arrangements need to be thought of and made. Be ready to adapt to any emergency situation. Prepare now so that you will be ready when an emergency arises.

 Get prepared now:

  • Get a pet emergency kit.
  • Make an evacuation plan that includes your pets. Include in the plan what to do for your pet if you are not at home.
  • Keep pets current on vaccinations.
  • Have identification tags secure on pets collar.
  • Get an emergency litter box.
  • Find out which hotels/motels allow pets.
  • Locate pet boarding facilities or choose a designated caregiver.
  • Have on hand a two-week supply of food water, treats and medications
  • Get a pet carrier. Label it with pet’s name, any medical conditions, and your contact information.
  • Get an extra blanket and pillowcases. (Pillowcases can be used for emergency transportation of pets and items).
  • Assemble veterinary and proof of ownership records.

 A Pet Emergency Kit should include:

  • Two-day supply of food and water
  • Extra collar and leash
  • Pet first aid kit
  • Food and water dishes
  • Toys or comfort items
  • Pet waste bags
  • Signal whistle
  • Light stick


Add to the kit:

  • Pet medications
  • Pet treats
  • Current photo of your pet
  • Card with your pet’s name and behavior listed on it.
  • Familiar items that will calm your pet


A Pet First-Aid Kit should include:

  • Tweezers
  • Trauma Scissors
  • Disposable Gloves
  • Self-Adhesive Bandage roll
  • Gauze pads
  • Cold Pack
  • Splint sticks
  • Cleaning wipes
  • Band-Aids


Add to the kit:

  • Pet medications
  • A muzzle for dogs (if needed)
  • Information card about your pet


If you have to evacuate during an emergency

  • Remain calm!
  • Take your pet with you.
  • Follow the evacuation plan that you’ve made.
  • Take the pet emergency kit
  • Take the pet carrier and leash. Animals can become aggressive in stressful situations.
  • Take a copy of pet vaccinations, picture and card with pet’s name.
  • Take the litter box (if needed).
  • Take any medications your pet needs with you.
  • If the weather is cold, cover carrier with extra blanket


If you don’t evacuate during an emergency

  • Remain calm!
  • Bring any outside pets inside
  • Keep your pet inside
  • Only let your pet outside when it is on a leash
  • If pet is showing anxiety, put in carrier with a sheet draped over to calm them down
  • Get everything ready in case the need to evacuate arises


Planting a Garden

Tomatoes copy

As I have watched the news lately, I have become even more alarmed at the cost of food. Prices have risen astronomically, and it is scary to think about. It’s not really an optional item in anyone’s budget.

We all need to eat. So what are we to do? I, for one, can think of a lot of options, and none of them include not eating at all. Most of us have within us an ability to work. Quite a few of us have a little space, or a lot of space, that we could use for a garden. I have heard a lot of people complain that it’s not worth it to grow a garden, and that they can get the food cheaper at the grocery store when they consider their time and all. Perhaps to them it’s the better option, but I, for one, could not afford to purchase all that my family can eat. And besides, we have an affinity for fresh berries, and we would have to take out a loan to buy what we eat every year just in that category.

It is true that many foods are readily available at a reasonable cost during the case lot sales. But that may not always be true, and prices will continue to rise. Certainly, there are some things that we need to purchase, but there are a lot of items that we can grow ourselves. The idea is to make the funds available to us go as far as possible. And a little hard work really doesn’t hurt anyone, even children, although they may sometimes have a different opinion.

In order to maximize the usable yield from our gardens, it is important to start with a plan. What does your family really like? What won’t they touch? How much of something will they eat before they get tired of it or it goes bad? There isn’t much sense in planting a whole row of radishes if your children would rather play kick ball with them. Perhaps a few would be fun because they come up fast and grow fast, but mix them in with the carrots, and they don’t take any more space because they are ready to pull before the carrots get big.

Are carrots a big thing in your family? Can they eat a five-pound bag in a week if there is veggie dip? Then maybe one row wouldn’t be enough. My sister-in-law pulls carrots, leaving the fluffy green top on, and tells her children they are “What’s up, Doc?” carrots, and the kids think they are so cool. We plant lots of carrots so we can eat all we want during the summer. Then we are sure to have enough left over for drying and cold storage through the winter.

Corn is very popular at our house. We can eat it at dinner for several weeks and not get tired of it too fast. We also freeze a lot of it. We don’t like the taste of home canned corn, though. So when we plan how much corn to plant, we think of three things. First, how much do we want to freeze? Then how much do we want to eat? Third is how to stagger the ripening of the ears. Either we plant it in two or three plantings about two weeks apart, or we use three different varieties that take a differing numbers of days to mature. For fresh eating we want it to ripen gradually, but when I freeze it, I would rather it all ripen at once so I can get the job over with. We are also very careful to plant corn in blocks instead of single rows so that they are pollinated more thoroughly.

We like to grow enough pumpkins to let each person in the family either carve one or draw on one for Halloween, according to age. We also want a few more for pies and breads. However, I don’t really think we need five dozen of them, although I am sure the neighbors would be happy to help us dispose of them if we did end up with that many.

That brings up another point. Gardeners are fond of sharing. I think it’s partly because they like to be good neighbors, but I also think that there may be some bragging rights involved. We had a neighbor who grew onions the size of basketballs, and I am not exaggerating. They were huge! He loved sharing them with friends and neighbors. My bragging rights come from handing our tomatoes to neighbors in June from the plants in our greenhouse, while their plants are still only ankle-high. I love to share what I have grown, and I love to be the recipient of someone else’s bounty. I have found great new varieties this way, and have learned some new techniques. Never be afraid to ask someone for advice. Gardeners love sharing information too!

Our family likes peas, fresh and frozen. We plant a lot of them too, but not as many green beans, even though we can a bunch every year, and eat some fresh. We don’t do much with kohlrabi or turnips, but we should. Broccoli is great to have, but I don’t seem to be able to grow much of it.

Potatoes are a big crop for us. We eat a lot of them, and the children love to go out with Dad to dig them up in the fall. It’s a treasure hunt for them. But we are always careful to plant some red potatoes that will be ready to eat much earlier, when the peas are on, so we can have the old family favorite dinner of peas and potatoes. We plant several rows of potatoes.

Consider planting cucumbers, summer squash, cabbage, tomatoes and peppers, among others. I like to plant a lot of tomatoes. We like them in tacos, BLT sandwiches, and I make lots of salsa and spaghetti sauce. I have a few children that will eat them like one would eat an apple. I certainly don’t want to run out of them! I also grow the onions and peppers for the salsa, and I need to grow lots of onions for freezing and drying. That makes it easy to throw a handful of them into a soup.

When I set out our garden, I take the needs of our family into consideration and plot out our available space with what is most important to us. There is no reason to waste time and space on something that they won’t eat. But then, maybe a little of something new would be good for them. Just don’t turn half of your garden into a brussels sprouts patch if your family will mutiny if you serve them more than once a year.

Think about staggered planting, or two crops in one season, such as lettuce or peas. How much does each foot of row produce? How much do you really need? Remember that the first year that you raise a garden is a learning experience. Also remember that the twentieth year that you raise a garden is a learning experience. You will always find new and better ways to do things, and you will also find out what really doesn’t work for you. You will be able to experiment with different varieties of vegetables, and perhaps some wonderful neighbor will share some heirloom seeds with you. Gardening is definitely an adventure!

Our children, as they fill their tummies with fresh bread and fresh homemade raspberry jam and an apple or carrot on the side, or with still-warm peas from a sun-kissed pod, talk about how wonderful their life is. It really makes me smile. What they are eating is quite inexpensive, but very good for them, and they are probably also content remembering that they helped weed, water and pick the produce, and that gives us all a great deal of satisfaction.