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/GAF) - If Hurricane Sandy taught us anything, it's this: Almost anyone can suddenly wind up living like a caveman for days or weeks on end.
Geography didn't matter. (Huge swaths of New York City, not normally associated with ferocious weather systems, lost power, heat and hot water.) Neither did social status. (Homes of the rich and poor along the Eastern seaboard were equally devastated.)
Here are some lessons learned from the superstorm to help you from becoming a future statistic:
* Generators alone don't cut it. Websites like Ready.gov advise people to "install a generator for emergencies." Rarely mentioned, though, is that as good as they are at keeping you powered, unless you've also got a carbon monoxide detector -- which costs all of $20 or so -- you risk being slowly poisoned by fumes spewed by generators in too-tight quarters. At least nine fatalities were linked to that one omission alone, and Dr. Robert Glatter, a physician at Manhattan's Lenox Hill Hospital, called it "a major concern of public health officials after the storm."
* Cash is still king. Guess what those who routinely pay by credit or debit cards discovered also doesn't work during power outages? ATM machines. And since many stores could only accept real money, it fell to those like the Hoboken, N.J., woman who'd kept a "$100 emergency bill in a safe at home" to bail out neighbors.
* Fortify your roof.
Roofs suffered some of the biggest casualties from the ferocious winds. While there's nothing you can do to prevent trees from smashing through them, other homeowners might've gotten off more easily had they heeded the advice of Jason Joplin, program manager of the Center for the Advancement of Roofing Excellence: "Always install a drip edge to prevent wind-driven rain from entering the roof fascia and deck." And he notes that the line of pre-cut Starter Strip Shingles from GAF (www.gaf.com
), North America's largest roofing manufacturer, includes the industry's "strongest and most properly positioned adhesive to help prevent blow-off."
* Avoid your basement. Not only did many drown there in the storm surge, but the death of hero cop Artur Kasprzak should be a real wake-up call: After rescuing seven other relatives, the 28-year-old was electrocuted by a live wire when he raced down into the family's flooded Staten Island basement in search of his father. "People don't think this could happen, but it did," said his sister.
Finally, a survivalist blogger had this alternative for those who refused to evacuate to protect against looters: "Hang a glow-stick somewhere near the window," and leave.