Superstorm Sandy: Survival Tips from a Family Living Off the Grid


"If you're using an alternate heat source, be sure you're using that safely. You won't have a carbon monoxide detector. Don't use a gas oven to heat your home," she said. "Don't sleep too close to your heat source. Your bedding is flammable."

People should also exercise caution when using generators for power, Dr. Besser said. Generators emit carbon monoxide when running, which is an odorless and colorless gas that can be deadly.

Generators should never be used inside the home or garage, even if the windows and doors are open. The generator should be 20 or more feet away from the home's doors and windows. Battery-powered carbon monoxide monitors should be in every sleeping area in a home, Dr. Besser said.

Gas Fires Still Burning in New Jersey Where Threat Remains of Possible Explosion

Kuncaitis said to keep children away from candles and warned people not to fall asleep with lit candles or leave them unattended.

"If you're still in your home and don't have a heat source, you're going to want to wear layers," Kuncaitis said. "Wear a hat, wear layers that breathe."

She said times of need bring people together, encouraging people to cautiously reach out to neighbors, if possible.

Speaking at the Red Cross headquarters in Washington D.C. on Tuesday, President Obama said it could be important for people to look out of for their neighbors, especially older people, while first responders are tied up.

"You know, if you got a neighbor nearby, you're not sure how they're handling a power outage, flooding et cetera, go over, visit them, knock on their door, make sure that they're doing okay," the President said. "That can make a big difference. The public can be the eyes and ears in terms of identifying unmet needs."

The Kuncaitis family was forced partially back onto the grid in 2012 when Angela Kuncaitis contracted the H1N1 flu and became seriously ill. Water was swelling around her heart from pericarditis, which is the inflammation of the sac-like covering around the heart, after doing wringer washer laundry four times a day.

The family now has three outlets that they use for a washer and dryer, but they still use an outhouse and heat and cook with wood. Their six children, ages 3 to 19 all live in at home and pitch in with the farm.

"Try not to panic. If everyone starts panicking, then they're going to feed off each other and that won't help any situation," Kuncaitis said. "It's going to be okay. It really is."

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