The storm that hit Arlington on Friday night caught many residents off guard.
A fourth-generation Floridian, I weather storms well. I keep a small basket full of batteries, flashlights, candles and lighters at all times. Even so, like most Arlington residents, I was not prepared for multiple days without power.
This made me rethink my personal emergency preparedness plan.
I’m not talking about medical supplies. Let’s be real. For most of us, weathering the storm means finding ways to stay cool, connected, fed and entertained.
I own a Blackberry, Kindle Fire and a laptop. I also own a power strip that can be charged from my car. This provided plenty of power to keep my electronics charged — but not enough for my Nespresso coffee machine, which caused a fuse to blow when I tried to make an espresso in the front seat of my car.
Arlington’s public libraries are the best. County officials deemed them “cooling stations.” They looked like charging stations to me, with laptops, iPads and cell phones plugged into every available outlet.
With blinds and curtains closed, my first-floor condo stayed surprisingly cool for days. I have lined curtains over blinds on the windows that get the most sun. I bought these lined curtains to insulate the home in the winter, keep it warm. They have done a great job of keeping my place cool. Sunday afternoon — Day 2 without power — I managed to take a nap, under covers.
I keep a large bag of ice in my freezer all the time. Like most people in Arlington I live walking distance from a grocery store so I don’t keep my freezer stuffed with frozen goods. I buy fruits and veggies as needed. As soon as the lights went out, I moved perishables from the fridge to the freezer, where the bag of ice would keep them cool from Friday night through Sunday morning.
If it appears your power will be out longer than a day and the ice is melting in your freezer, start cooking the raw meat, which will last two to four more days cooked. I love grilling. A power outage is just a good excuse.
Radio becomes extra important during emergencies, especially to drown out the eerie silence at night. I don’t own a battery-operated radio and feel no need to buy one for the three to five disasters I will encounter for the remainder of my life. I do, however, use wireless radio, a great source for information and entertainment.
I used apps on my cell phone to listen to ESPN radio, including a podcast of "Pardon the Interruption," one of my favorite shows. On C-SPAN radio I listened to "Meet the Press." The site tunein.com allows you to stream live radio from local stations too, such as WTOP. I downloaded some movies and television shows to watch on my Kindle Fire.
My son used his laptop as a DVD player. We caught up on reading during the day and watched the electronics at night.