Is your power out? Stay with a runner! (just bring matches)

Hurricane Sandy taught me a lot. I’m normally a bit critical of extreme weather predictions, chalking them up to hype and a quick economic boost, but thankfully I had the sense to fill up my car at the gas station, buy a bag of ice for my freezer, buy a lighter, and cook all my perishable food before the power went out.

The flag outside my apartment window hours before Hurricane Sandy hit New Jersey.

I was originally hosting my brother-in-law, Tim, who had been in the states for a course on Long Island, from Tuesday to Thursday, but the impending superstorm cut his course short, and he came on Sunday. Power was out by Monday evening (and stayed out for exactly one week), and boy am I glad I took those precautionary steps. It also helped that my brother-in-law and I are distance runners, which made us expert Sandy survivalists.

Runners have:

  • Cabinets full of reusable water bottles: Every race gives out aluminum or plastic water bottles these days. I have some in my car, a couple at work, and tons in my apartment. Before the inevitable boil water advisory, I filled them all up and stuck them in my fridge, then refilled them when outside the geographical boil water zone. Sandy can’t keep us from hydrating! (not to mention, they kept the fridge colder for a little longer.)
  • Mountains of energy bars: Unfortunately I keep most of my stash at work (still without power), but prepackaged, nutrient-rich energy bars come in handy when your other food is gone. They’re also perfect donation items, as they make great fuel for tired emergency crews, police, and displaced people living in local shelters.
  • A huge variety of layers, including marathon heat sheets: Layers of Under Armour and similar-brand cold-gear can always be found in a runner’s dresser, as well as many heat-gear options. The temperatures in New Jersey dropped significantly after Sandy swept through, leaving the powerless without heat. Perfect time to throw on some spandex tights underneath your pajamas jeans! If the situation is dire enough that heat sheets come in handy, any marathoner would have at least one hanging around, I guarantee it.
  • A headlamp: Flashlights are great, but headlamps are better. Ever try reading and/or eating while holding a flashlight? Enough said.
  • The ability to go where cars cannot: When the storm clears, everyone has questions: “What is the damage like?” “What roads are closed?” “What bars are open?” In most situations, runners can go where cars cannot. All runners should always exercise caution deciding when and where to survey the area and, as long as we stay safe, we see what most other people will not. The pictures below were all taken on runs:

Running with RVRR during the February 2010 snowpocalypse.

Take that, Route 18! The bane of my existence, at bay for a week after Hurricane Irene (2011).

Route 18 after Hurricane Irene.

Scoping out the height of the Raritan River during Hurricane Sandy’s State of Emergency (2012).

Tim hurdles over one of the many downed trees in Johnson Park after Hurricane Sandy.

There is, however, one key survival tool that most runners do not have at home:

  • Matches or a lighter: I have a gas stove and some candles (that I apparently never light), but Tim and I had to run to the convenience store across the street in gale force winds to buy a lighter. If you head to a runner’s house, be sure to pick one up on the way.

Did you have any runner-specific items that helped you during this storm or others? Please share!

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4 thoughts on “Is your power out? Stay with a runner! (just bring matches)

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