Be Prepared Please! Part 2

Last updated: January 2019

In 2012, Hurricane Sandy struck the Northeast United States with a vengeance. I wrote about this previously in part 1.

Speeds as high as 89 mph were recorded when Sandy moved through the Garden State, our home, according to data from the National Weather Service.

Trees were fallen. Coastal areas flooded.

There were so many trees uprooted by these strong winds that no one in our town was able to leave. Trees lay across the town’s roads and had also brought down the electrical power lines with them.

Our entire town was without power for 10 days!

A portable generator

My COPD diagnosis had come the previous year (2011) and while I had been prescribed and given an electrical oxygen concentrator, I rarely had need for it.

But just to be safe, we bought a portable generator. Nothing big or fancy.

We just went to Home Depot and told the salesperson what we needed in terms of the concentrator’s energy needs and maybe a few other electrical dependent items.

We brought it home and, thank God, never had a need for it.

Until yesterday - January 19, 2019.

A winter storm

A few days ago, the National Weather Service started forecasting a winter storm (11 inches of snow!) for northern New Jersey, parts of New York and southern Connecticut.

My wife and I went shopping for extra water and other supplies we thought we might need.

I asked my son, Sam, to check on the status of the generator. It had been sitting in the back of the garage and had only been started up once, for a test run in 2012, soon after we bought it.

When we got home, Sam said, “Dad, it won’t start. I’ve pulled on the pull-rope starter a hundred times and it won’t catch.”

I knew the problem right away. Old gas in the generator’s tank was collecting moisture. Under those conditions, a spark plug just won’t spark.

We emptied the tank, and we put in fresh gas and “dry gas” (eliminates moisture). After his 3rd pull, Sam had the generator up and running.

A good thing.

Losing power

This morning (Sunday, 1/20/2019), we thought the storm had passed us by. Maybe 2 inches of snow and some high winds. We were relieved.

But suddenly (and quite frighteningly), the power went out.

I was sitting at the kitchen table, with my oxygen hose still going from last night’s feed (I now sleep with oxygen) and I heard the concentrator die.

But we were able to get the generator going right away. We plugged the concentrator in and we were back in the oxygen business.

Fortunately, the power came back on about an hour later and the sun came out soon after!

We need to be prepared

The point of this long-winded story (lol) is that we need to be as best prepared as we can be. Especially those of us who are oxygen-dependent to one degree or another.

If you haven’t done so already, I think it helps if you take a few moments and think about what your needs are - during storms, long winter months - and can they bet met in circumstances other than “perfect?”

The steps we've taken

There’re a few steps we’ve taken along these lines besides purchasing the generator.

I keep a few extra “E” size metal oxygen tanks in the garage in case I can’t get the generator up and running. If I’m not “active” those tanks will last a few hours.

Our electricity utility, PSE&G (Public Service Enterprise Group) has a special service for those who are medically dependent upon gas and electricity.

There are a number of advantages to signing up for this service not the least of which is the fact (and reassurance) that your service will never be turned off for any reason - including being late on your bill payment!

We researched and found a nearby motel that has its own generator in case there’s an outage and ours is not functioning. I keep a backpack in the closest with a fresh change of clothes just for this purpose.

I’m sure there are a number of things we can all do to be “best prepared” and I hope you’ll share your ideas with us all!

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