When dawn broke on city streets Christmas morning, it revealed hundreds of abandoned vehicles littered along the shoulders and stuck in snowbanks from the previous day's blizzard.
The scene was an eerie reminder of the devastating ice storms Oklahoma has endured in the past 10 years, including the 2007 event that led to 15 deaths and a record 600,000 power outages statewide.
It is then understandable that consumers might be looking to fully outfit their own, top-of-the-line 'fraidy hole.
The American Red Cross aims to educate the public on how to prepare for the next ice storm by posting tips on its Web site, www.redcross.org. Most are basic, logical staples to keep one's family warm, fed and hydrated until the roads clear up.
Those wanting something less Boy Scout and more James Bond might make a side trip to Radio Shack, where various hand-crank weather radios allow a listener to keep track of conditions without depending on disposable batteries.
The Excalibur Weather Channel EZ Crank Radio Flashlight even pairs the need for end-of-the-world updates with one for a battery-free flashlight. There's also a small, handheld version available for the survivor on the go.
Taking a stab at trekking out of the hardest hit areas? Consider the Stealth Apache XR 4x4, which has a 40-mile range, 116 pounds of torque and an optional gun rack in case things go really bad. Cleo Land of Heartland Outdoors, 1444 N. Kelly in Edmond, said the shop sold more than 400 models of the off-road electric vehicle well before the snowstorm.
"We sold them really, really big when the tax credit was going on," said Land, who hopes to restock if the federal and state tax credits are reinstated. With lighting, entertainment and transportation accounted for, now it's time for grocery shopping. MREDepot.com has supplied the public with food products since 1998, offering a full pantry of long-lasting edibles, from canned bacon to coffee beans.
There are water-treatment products and full meals, complete with heaters so that even in the most dire of circumstances, one can still have a warm plate of macaroni and cheese. A pack of 12 MREs ("meal ready-to-eat") with heaters can be had for $79.95, which can be stored for more than 10 years. Other survival supplies, from flares to first-aid kits, also are sold.
Maj. Lindy White, deputy public affairs officer for the Oklahoma National Guard, has eaten MREs since her days serving in Operation Desert Storm. When it came to dessert in the desert, she enjoyed older-generation MREs, such as brownies, which have been upgraded to M&M's, Skittles and Tootsie Roll varieties.
"Some had Tabasco sauce, which helped kill the taste in the older, dark brown models," White said. "They weren't that bad, depending on which ones you got. I liked them all, but I don't eat them all the time, either."
Next-generation MREs " which are light tan " come with heater packs and options like vegetarian with Thai chicken. But could you survive on them?
"They have all the nutritional value you need and have a lot of calories in them," White said. "They've been made for people to survive on."
Suburban survivalists wanting to stay close to home are opting increasingly to install generators, according to Bryon Brandon, vice president of service for Osborne Electric Company.
With generators running on natural gas lines or liquid propane, he said a fully automatic generator for a home typically costs between $5,000 and $6,000, with smaller, portable models for less.
Brandon warned that do-it-yourselfers should avoid hooking up their own portable generators by running power from the model back through the outlet into which it's plugged. That is dangerous to the homeowner and utility workers working on power lines.
He added that homeowners wanting to brace for the next natural disaster need to start ordering generators now, since they take weeks to install and have to be city-approved. Once the next ice-pocalypse hits, it'll already be too late.
The American Red Cross urges residents to prepare for the next winter storm by stocking the house and car with everything needed to hole up and wait for the ice to melt. More info can be found at www.redcross.org.
At home, individuals should keep a three-day supply of water (one gallon per person, per day) and non-perishable, easy-to-prepare food.
Other supplies include flashlights, battery-powered or hand-crank radio, extra batteries, first-aid kid, multipurpose tool, seven-day supply of medications, cell phone with charger, cash, sanitation and personal hygiene items, emergency contact information, personal documentation, extra supplies for babies and pets, sand, rock salt or non-clumping kitty litter, and plenty of winter clothing and extra blankets. Any additional heating methods, such as fireplaces or wood- or coal-burning stoves, are a definite plus.
Special provisions need to be kept for pets, since families might not be able to find a shelter willing to take in their four-legged friends. Kyla Campbell, spokesperson for the American Red Cross of Central Oklahoma, suggests finding a room in the house where the pet can stay with plenty of food and water until the family returns so they aren't left in the elements.
Campbell suggested packing many of the same items in the car as well, especially blankets, extra shoes and changes of clothes to stay dry; food and water; something heavy to weigh down the back tires; and kitty litter and a shovel in case the vehicle goes off the road.
"It's an extended disaster, not like a disaster that hits like a tornado and the next few weeks are spent in recovery mode. The disaster lasts as long as it takes the ice to melt," she said. "Charles Martin