I'm not sure about the etiquette on this one. Clearly my post was a joke, designed to lighten the mood, and I'm certain my readers understood that and took no offense from it. Still, it seems like bad form to have made jokes about losing houses when that actually happened to some people.
So I'm going to issue a blanket "I am an asshole and I'm sorry" and leave it at that.
Anyway. Let's review some products whose usefulness is pretty damn salient. When a storm hits, the two things most likely to be lost are water and electricity, and these products not only address those two concerns but they are also very inexpensive -- you can get both of these products for around $50 total.
First up is the WaterBOB (Warning! Loud, auto-playing video alert!) and it's basically a bag that you put inside of your bath tub for water storage. In addition to keeping 100 gallons of drinking water free from all the crud on the inside of the tub and whatever may fall in for up to four weeks, it also comes with a nifty siphon so that you can pump out what you need without contaminating the rest of it.
Full disclosure: I own this product but I haven't used it yet. This is because it's meant to be a one-shot device -- you drain it by slitting the bag open. On the other hand, it holds ONE HUNDRED GALLONS of fresh water in food-grade plastic and if you buy it from Amazon it only costs you $22. I mean, most people spend that going out on the weekend. Stay in, rent a movie, and ensure you have drinking water!
Next is electricity, which is essential for light and communication. The Etón FR160B Microlink is perfect for this, because it is a flashlight & radio that can be charged via a hand crank, a solar cell, or through a USB port. Even better, if you have the right adapters you can use the crank to charge a cell phone or iPod, and the radio receives Weather Band in addition to AM/FM.
I have been using the previous version of this, the FR150, for three years now and I am VERY pleased with its performance. About the worst things I can say about it are:
- While the solar cell will charge the internal battery, it won't charge an appliance that's attached to it. For that, you have to turn the crank.
- It doesn't come with an adapter for phones or iPods. You have to send in a card that comes with the device and you get the adapter in the mail a bit later. Alternately, you could just buy a set of adapter plugs at a local electronics store.
- It won't charge an iPhone at all. I'm not sure if it will charge an iPod Touch or not.
You can buy it for $30 and free shipping at Amazon. If you'd like to pay more and have a more robust housing, you can get the Scorpion for $45, or you can get the Raptor, with digital altimeter, barometer, and compass (but no hand crank) for $88ish. Whichever one of these you get, I am certain you will be happy with them.
You can't beat these prices. The WaterBOB gives you peace of mind (and lots of water in an emergency!) and the Microlink is a handy tool. Get them both and keep them handy before the next storm that knocks out power and water pressure.