Open Phones: Lessons Learned From Sandy

Friday, November 16, 2012

A man sorts through clothes at the Midland Beach FEMA staging area in Staten Island Monday. A man sorts through clothes at the Midland Beach FEMA staging area in Staten Island Monday. (Amy Pearl/WNYC)

What did you learn about emergency preparedness during Sandy? What measures worked and what didn't, and what will you do next time? 

Call in to 212-433-WNYC, 212-433-9692 to share your tips at 11:45 this morning. 

Comments [21]

Jon Nielsen from Huntington

We will be installing a manual transfer switch to our main electrical panel. I’ve plagiarized the description from Jim Baugher at Electric Generators Direct. Here’s the link to his buyers guide for manual disconnects:
“A manual transfer switch is installed beside the main electrical panel and connected to the circuits you'll want running during a blackout. When the power goes out, you simply crank up the generator and run a single power cord from it to a transfer switch.” Only the circuits that you choose get power and a 230 – 240 volt generator is required.
We will have the circuits for our gas furnace, our refrigerator & freezer, our phone & cable and lights in one room connected. These all ran comfortably on our 5500 watt generator via extension cord. My plan is to have a waterproof plug with a cap sticking out the back of our garage. So, when the power goes out, I’ll have the correct cable ready to connect the generator, we’ll have the power we need to get by with no extension cords required & no packing partially open windows with towels.

Nov. 16 2012 12:29 PM

most phones that use the old copper POTS (plain old telephone service) lines will get dial tone during a power outage even if they need wall current for fancy features. memory dialing, auto-answering, speaker phone, etc probably won't work, but basic dial tone and dialing probably will. sill, never hurts to have a no frills phone around if you have POTS service. (unfortunately POTS service that actually works well is becoming scarce.)

Nov. 16 2012 12:03 PM

Yes I freeze milk - works best as pints for me (I buy i straight on the farm and it's raw)

Great thing - solar LED lights from Ikea

Nov. 16 2012 12:03 PM
Karen Baker

We will never get rid of our "land-line," good ol' fashion telephone, and after losing power for 5 days or more 3 times in 13 months, Santa will be bringing us a generator. Most important, the more, the merrier; body heat of 8 people in one room is very underestimated!

Our hearts go out to those who lost and suffer much more than we did.

Nov. 16 2012 11:58 AM


You mistakenly said that old-fashioned telephones don't run on electricity.
THEY DO RUN on electricity, but the electricity comes through the phone line. When Bell set up the original lines they brilliantly planned for contingencies such as blackouts and even placed batteries in buildings as a back-up for electric failures. Name me a company that would have such foresight/long-term vision today!

Nov. 16 2012 11:56 AM
elizabeth ellis from Greenwood Hts, Brooklyn

Put the milk in the freezer if you think you might lose power, then it will last longer if you do.

Nov. 16 2012 11:55 AM
Jake from Nassau County

CORRECTION: Old-fashioned phone service is still "electric" - they just have (had?) their own independent power systems

Nov. 16 2012 11:55 AM
Jay from New York

Bought batches of LED under cabinet lights after Snowtober Storm of 2011. They are small, light, bright and use AAA batteries and are easy to carry and can easily light up a room.

Nov. 16 2012 11:54 AM

BTW: small flashlights designed to clip onto the brim of your own ball cap are available at hardware stores.

Nov. 16 2012 11:54 AM
foodaggro from Brooklyn

If I hear that Freakonomics spot about sniffing a vomit-filled baby food jar to lose weight again I will vomit myself.

deh deh deh whoa-oo-whoa-ohhhh ...

Nov. 16 2012 11:53 AM
Scott from Summit NJ

Neighbors advised, correctly, 1) Do all the laundry you could ahead of time 2) Make as much ice as possible. Put water into sandwich bags to make more ice blocks.

Nov. 16 2012 11:53 AM
John A

Guilty pleasure: Internet during blackouts using Dial-Up.

Nov. 16 2012 11:53 AM

I bought I house on high ground.

Nov. 16 2012 11:52 AM

One of those small propane cylinder screw on camp stoves

Nov. 16 2012 11:52 AM
John A.

A Sears battery called a "deep discharge" can power all these for a week: room light (LED), TV (1h/day), laptop and radio. Whole deal comes in at less than half the cost of a generator and no fumes; no need for outside access, so can work in an Apt.

Nov. 16 2012 11:51 AM
Holly from Kinneloln, NJ

Love my wood burning stove! Of course a good log splitter comes in handy too.

LED battery operated coleman lanterns, they last two weeks on battery and do not get hot, do they are very kid friendly!

Nov. 16 2012 11:51 AM

hand cranked radio came in handy.

Nov. 16 2012 11:50 AM
Laura from Staten Island

I have a deep freezer in the basement. I filled plastic containers with water, and put them in the empty space in the freezer. The extra ice kept the food frozen until our power came back on.

Nov. 16 2012 11:50 AM
John W from NJ

I kept an old princess phone. A non-cordless phone. When the power was out, I plugged it into the wall and it worked. Keep your old copper phone line, or DSL line. This will only work for 8 hours if you have triple play phone, internet and cable combo.

Nov. 16 2012 11:49 AM

fully charged mobile wifi hotspot came in handy.

Nov. 16 2012 11:49 AM
Rebecca from Northern NJ

What I did right-- I had contributed to WNYC at a pledge drive and received my free gift of a hand-crank and solar powered am/fm radio with usb cell phone charger! It came in very handy that first night to find out what was going on out there.

Nov. 16 2012 11:48 AM

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