Hurricane Sandy lessons

A dozen must-have products for the next hurricane

Hurricane lamps
Long before LED lanterns came along, hurricane lamps or lanterns were the standard source of light (other than candles) when the power went out. Karp’s Hardware on Long Island, N.Y., sold more than two dozen before and after Hurricane Sandy. So owner Alan Talman bristles at the notion that hurricane lamps (which burn kerosene or lamp oil) have become obsolete. He noted, “All the wicks sold out of the [Do it Best] warehouse.”

Chainsaw manufacturer Husqvarna maintains a Storm Center page on its website ( that contains real-time updates on tropical storms from the National Hurricane Center. It also contains advice and instructions for first-time chainsaw users on how to safely clear away downed trees and brush. “Statistically, there are more injuries during the cleanup process than ever occur during the storm,” the company warns.

Sandy wasn’t Dorcy’s first hurricane, and the Columbus, Ohio, manufacturer knew that retailers who felt her fury would sell out of the flashlights fast — and need resupplying. So retailer and distributor orders from New York, New Jersey and other areas in Sandy’s path were automatically bumped to the front of the line. They also got free overnight shipping. “We’re focusing all our efforts on shipping to anyone affected by the hurricane,” said a company spokeswoman. “The other orders, we’re filling as best we can.”

Gas cans
The shortage of gas cans was acute following Hurricane Sandy, a situation made even worse by the Chapter 11 filing earlier this year of Blitz USA, a major manufacturer of fuel canisters. Joe Leopoldi, owner of Leopoldi Hardware in Brooklyn, N.Y., heard tales of citizens using 5-gallon buckets and funnels to refuel their generators and cars — a dangerous and illegal practice. “We got two-dozen (gas canisters) with one delivery and they were gone in 30 minutes,” Leopoldi told HCN. The True Value dealer had to ration the precious items: only one to a customer.

Along with flashlights, generators always seem to sell out quickly after a storm. Dave Davis, VP merchandising and marketing for distributor Bostwick-Braun,  sold “multiple truckloads” of gas-powered generators to its retailers. Many of the dealers doled them out to customers on waiting lists. Generac, the largest manufacturer in the consumer channel, encourages homeowners to beat the crowds and have a back-up generator installed. But they also sell the portable models that sit in the garage, waiting for the next storm.

Salt Off
Hurricane Sandy presented some unique problems to the residents of the New York-New Jersey area because of the corrosive nature of the salt water that flooded homes, pump stations and public transit corridors.  But a product called Salt Off, made by Star Brite, is formulated to remove salt deposits from any non-porous surface, leaving behind a protective polymer barrier to help repel salt. It is ideal for restoring any metal surfaces exposed to salt water, including boats, cars, motorcycles, trucks and even metal appliances, as well as for flushing engine cooling systems. The biodegradable, non-toxic formula is safe for use around people or pets. It will not harm painted surfaces or fiberglass, plastic, rubber or glass surfaces.

Emer Crank Weather Radio 
This lifeline to the outside world runs on AA batteries, A/C power (if you are lucky enough to have it) or a hand crank that recharges its internal NiMH battery. It receives all seven NOAA weather channels. The manufacturer, Midland Radio Corp., also included an LED flashlight and an alarm clock.

Muck boots  
The original, authentic Muck Boots start at around $140, but Ace Hardware sells a pair of waterproof vinyl “Buffalo Boots” for $20.99. Made by On Guard Industries in Havre de Grace, Md., these 16-in.-high boots are net lined for easy on and off; have a cleated sole; and the manufacturer claims they are highly resistant to acids, chemicals, industrial oils, greases or whatever else Mother Nature stirs up. They come in one color: black.

Batteries are a staple of any emergency kit, but what good are they if the juice is gone when the lights go out? Duracell has addressed this issue with a new line of Duralock batteries with “power preserve” technology. Some last as long as 10 years, and all carry a guarantee. The retail launch is this summer. 

Duct tape by 3M 
Seriously, what is there you can’t do with duct tape, especially in an emergency situation? You can use it to affix bandages, make a temporary roof shingle, or patch a hole in your siding. Hang security lights with strips of duct tape. Repair your eyeglasses or rain gear. Seal cracks in windows. And if things get really hairy, it can be used to restrain an unruly individual.

Sump pump   
Most of Zoeller’s competitors chose to source, and assemble, their products offshore. But this family-owned business, based in Louisville, Ky., is a “Made in the USA” company that deals with domestic suppliers. As a result, Zoeller is able to double its production run when there’s a sudden demand for submersible pumps. Good news for anyone with a flooded basement, who can’t wait for a container ship from China to arrive with the next shipment.

Enviro-Log fireplace or pellet stove logs are made from 100% recycled wax cardboard boxes that were used to transport fruits and vegetables. This is an important distinction from petroleum-based logs; they are safe for cooking and also a great source of heat. The recycled wax is food grade, so if you are desperate enough you could actually eat them, although the manufacturer does not recommend it. The logs are available at Home Depot, Lowe’s, and select True Value and Ace stores.  

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