Each spring, Minnesotans prepare for severe weather to roll in -- and every autumn residents stock up in case they get snowed in, but how do you prepare for a disaster like Hurricane Sandy?
The superstorm that socked the East Coast left millions without power, and they were lining up at pay phones to contact loved ones after their cell phones ran out of juice -- if they were able to get a signal out to call anyone, that is.
In the era of the cell phone, few people have land lines -- and pay phones are also becoming a thing of the past. With electronic address books, it's unlikely that most people have the phone numbers of their loved ones memorized -- and that could leave you cut off if disaster strikes.
If Sandy taught us anything, it's that a superstorm can make it super difficult to use the tech tools that make communicating super easy. Victims on the East Coast depending on those devices are now depending on strangers with power to get their phones up and running.
So, how would you contact your parents, your kids or your friends in a prolonged power outage?
"You really need to think about what your individual needs are," recommends Doug Nevile, of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety. "We rely so much on information in our phone. If that phone dies, do you have access to some important numbers as part of the kit? Print it out and keep it in your go-kit."
Nevile also suggests using text messages instead of calling because it keeps bandwidth available for emergency workers, and it doesn't require as much of a signal to tell mom you're OK.
Of course, there are other ways to communicate when a cell phone signal or number isn't available, but you'd still need power and an Internet connection, so Nevile recommends having a plan to keep those avenues up and running through a crank or solar charger.
Other things to keep on hand in the event of a disaster:
A planned meeting location where loved ones can reunite