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A ‘Hurricane Sandy’ Frugal Emergency Plan

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You’ll never guess what made me think of this one.

I hope this column finds you back in a normal routine in the wake of last week’s weather.  The more news footage I see, the more I realize the thousands of us affected by it here in Chester County barely felt just a fraction of Hurricane Sandy’s wrath compared to hearty New Jersey-ians who are still without electricity, water, passable roads or – in many cases – a home.  My heart goes out to them.Emergency kit photo: blog.fema.gov

One big lesson we can take from “Frankenstorm” is that those who had an emergency plan were far better prepared than those who flew by the seat of their pants.  There’s nothing like living a week or more without electricity to get you well-prepped for the next (yes, next) life-altering weather we encounter.  

Winter is right around the corner, folks – imagine another potential crummy weather situation, perhaps only half as bad as Hurricane Sandy, but with a foot or so of snow to contend with. Ugly, no?  Luckily, with an inexpensive checklist of items, you can make your next power outage a lot easier to endure.

(1) Emergency Kit -  During the next outage, keep your comfort level high, your irritation levels low and your expenses to a minimum with a brilliantly frugal power outage kit.  The basics to include: two flashlights per person in your household, with enough new batteries to replace the flashlights at least twice. Add a small battery-powered radio and/or television set to keep up with news and weather announcements, as well as your Deluxe Scrabble game and a full set of playing cards for some perfect power-outage entertainment.   

(2) Phone Charger - Make sure you have a car-charger for your cell phone (you obviously can’t charge it in a wall outlet during an outage) and if you currently have only cordless phones in your home (unusable in power outages), give some thought to installing a hard-wired phone for emergencies.
Generator photo: preparednesspro.com
(3) Power Generator – This seems like a big expense to many (often thousands of dollars when bought brand new at retail), however, thirty seconds with a calculator will show that it pays for itself within two or three power outages (depending on how many nights you found yourself waiting in a hotel, how much meat and produce you had throw out, you get the idea).

The big trick for keeping the price down – never pay retail!  This last storm had many upgrading to a mack-daddy generator, bought last-minute at full retail, and leaves them their “old” one to sell for a fraction of the price on Craigslist. Get online, figure out the generator that fits your home’s needs, and offer Mr. & Mrs. Craigslist cash and immediate pickup on the spot. Everyone’s a winner!

(4) Flood Insurance – For those “Sandy Veterans” evacuated out of danger zones prior to the storm, the one thing worse than wondering if their home was still standing was worrying if the damage was covered by insurance.  Many homeowners are shocked to learn that a standard insurance policy often doesn’t cover flood damage.  When it comes to renters, many are still under the (very mistaken) impression that their landlord’s property policy is responsible for replacing a renter’s ruined television – absolutely not true!  If you rent, you need renter’s insurance to cover your possessions in case of weather disasters – if you don’t have it, go out and get it pronto before the next severe weather hits – you could save thousands of dollars in the long run.

Here’s to a storm-free winter!

Kristen Hagopian is a Syndicated Radio Talk Show Host, Syndicated Columnist, Motivational Speaker & Author of “Brilliant Frugal Living”.  The Kristen Hagopian Show airs on Philadelphia’s 1180AM WFYL, and Nationwide via Business Talk Radio Network.  She resides in Chester County, PA with her husband and two kids. You can find her online at www.BrilliantFrugalLiving.com

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Emergency kit photo: blog.fema.gov

Generator photo: preparednesspro.com