“Do I have enough stuff? Is there a way to make do with what I have right now?” I’m sure many folks in the path of Hurricane Sandy are asking themselves these types of questions right now.

Not 30 minutes before starting this blog post, I ran out to the local drug store to get a few last-minute books and snacks before the wind and rain of Sandy become hazardous. A young man in the store was searching frantically for lamp oil, after he had tried unsuccessfully to find it all over town. As I looked around I noticed that there wasn’t a “D” or “C” cell battery, jar of peanut butter, jug of milk, or loaf of bread in the place. The store shelves were looking bare, which is good in that It means that at least some people are thinking ahead. But it’s also bad. It means that the stores weren’t planning ahead for the demand.

So what if your stash of goodies is not good enough? How do you make do with only what you have?
The food category is very low on the hierarchy of short-term survival needs, but it’s a big deal after a major disaster, especially a disaster that requires a lengthy cleanup and restoration process. To make do with a limited food supply, you have to get creative. Much of this creativity will depend on the available food items and the available cooking methods. You may have to eat foods in a way other than they were intended to be eaten. A simple camp stove or even a backyard campfire can provide you a hot meal, so don’t overlook them as options. If you didn’t plan ahead, or your preps were lost in the storm, you cannot afford to be finicky. Eat what you have, however you can choke it down. You may not want to eat an entire jar of jelly for lunch, but in a survival scenario, calories are calories.

Ran out of toilet paper? My grandparents used to have a Sears catalog hanging up in the outhouse for just that purpose. Today, phone books and newspapers can take their place. Just crumple a sheet of this kind of paper into a ball and then flatten it out, do this repeatedly until the paper is soft enough to work for TP. But don’t flush it! You’ll have to go “Third World” and throw the used paper in the trash. Modern American plumbing can’t handle such tough paper, just like other countries’ plumbing can’t handle any toilet paper.

What about the lamp oil that the young man needed? I stopped him before he left the store and mentioned that either kerosene or cooking oil would be good substitutes.

Keeping up-to-date on the storm can be impossible if you’ve lost electricity and don’t have a battery-powered radio… But I’ll bet your vehicle has a radio. If it’s safe to get to your car or truck, you can hang out in there periodically and listen to the radio for updates.

If you find yourself without enough water, set out some heavy containers to catch the rain. Just make sure you find a way to boil it or treat it with purifiers before drinking it. The bottom line is that you need to be smart when you find yourself in trouble, and don’t be finicky. If you’ve got any storm survival tips, please don’t hesitate to share them in the comments. Be safe, everyone.