Saturday, September 20, 2008

Necessities during an "emergency"

We did great during the recent windstorm. We used to live on the east coast so this wasn't really anything unusual to us. We did have some decent sized branches come down and a little flashing blow off the roof (David has since fixed that) but no real damage. Our neighbor had a huge tree split and part of it came down on his roof (minor damage) and he's still working on cutting up the remains. We also had someone's awning fly into our side yard and narrowly miss our electric lines. I realize just how incredibly blessed and protected we were during this storm. We were without power for less than 48 hours (another HUGE blessing) and we found a few more parts of our 72 hour preparations that could use some tweaking. All in all, it wasn't actually an unpleasant experience. I enjoyed the quiet time without tv or other noisy distractions and it was nice to see so many stars!

So now here's my list, based on previous and recent experiences with storms and power outages as to what are some of the best items to have on hand:

1. A corded phone. If you don't have one in your house and you've lost power I'm sure you've figured out why this is a necessity. We've always kept one somewhere in the house and it's come in handy when all the other phones don't work. (Cell phone batteries go dead rather quickly and during extended power outages or severe damage the cell towers themselves often lose power and are unusable.) A cheap corded phone costs less than $10 and is a valuable investement.

2. A battery operated lantern and spare batteries. These are far safer than candles and give off a much larger amount of light. We use one that has a flourescent bulb which takes little power and provides a decent amount of light. We'll be looking to purchase a second one soon. (A funny side note- the little solar yards work good for extra lighting and as nightlights in the house! Let them charge in the sunlight as usual then just pop the top (lighted) part off and bring inside! My daughter appreciated having a small light in her room so it wasn't pitch black at night.)

3. Plenty of canned food on hand, especially things like canned stew, chili, raviolis, etc. Anything that can be opened and heated with little preparation. We should all have at least enough of these for a 72 hour kit.

4. That brings me to a way to heat up the above mentioned foods. Everyone should have a BBQ grill or a camping stove. If you're into charcoal grilling make sure to keep charcoal, lighter fluid and matches on hand. I prefer gas because it's easier and we try to make sure we have plenty of propane in the tank. A spare tank is on the list of supplies we want to add to our storage. It's amazing how much comfort a warm meal can bring during times of stress.

5. Extra gas. It's always a good idea to keep your car filled but I realize that sometimes life happens and the tank gets low. If you were one of the ones who had to sit in a line to get gas for an hour or more you're probably realizing how valuable it would be to have a 5 gallon gas can filled and ready for emergencies. Just practice safe storage methods (don't keep it in your house or near sources of heat or flame!!) Use it regularly in the lawnmower or the car and then replace it.

6. Cash. We're very dependent on our debit cards nowadays but with a power outage most places can't accept anything but cash. It's always good to keep some on hand for emergencies.

7. Ice. If you have room in your freezer to fill, consider adding a large bag or two of ice. You can rotate it easily by using it in drinks and such on a normal basis and it's nice to have extra to keep perishables cold during an outage.

8. Books, including crossword puzzle, sudoku and other books. Sitting at home without power for days can get kinda boring! It's good to keep some books and stuff to do on hand.

With these few items I've found I can be quite comfortable in a "powerless" situation! We are blessed to have a gas water heater so we were still able to have showers and wash dishes (I won't live in another house without a gas water heater!! I've been through a previous extended outage with an electric water heater and that wasn't nearly as pleasant!!) We were also extremely lucky that David had a generator he was able to borrow from work so we could keep our deep freeze running. (That was all that we plugged in. I didn't feel a "need" for anything else.) We're talking about investing in a generator (eventually) but one thing I found out is that they are really NOISY. Keep that in mind if you think about purchasing one.

How did you weather the storm? Did you find anything that really helped or conversely anything that you want to make sure to change for the next time?


Shayleen Lunt said...

Great list! Aaron would agree with the lantern part. I think he wanted to buy another at Meijer today (they are less than $20)...instead, we bought their small propane tanks on sale! I do need to get some boredom busters for myself though!

Mama D said...

Great list! Added to our combined meeting today, we should have a fairly comprehensive list to access our "have's" and "need-to-get's" emergency and storage necessities.

Cassie said...

I can't complain to much because I have a gas stove and waterheater. BUT...
Being the Last person with out electricity kinda stinks, yep I am only on the comp because we took a trip done to Kentucky to the inlaws during our showing,
which leads to what I want for next time.
A little vaccum, if you can even call it that, like they have at church the little red one. We couldn't vacuum for the showing today, hopefully they understand and over look everything on the floor.

chelle said...

We were with out power for about 36 hours. Not too long considering others who might still be without power. We did very well. Mostly because I had just gone to the store Fri./Sat., we had bought a gas grill when we moved here and I had bought a nice manual can opener this summer. We had an old metal one that made your hand cramp before you got one can opened.
And being without car for two weeks prior to that. My boredom buster stash was pretty full!
Glad you all did so well and were pretty prepared. And yes a warm meal was wonderful! :D

Louann and Bari said...

We love all the camping gear suggestions. The kids spent one night in the tent in the back yard- and somehow the darkness out there wasn't as scarry as in the house. (Which was ok since Bari and I had a FABULOUS ROMANTIC CANDLE-LIT evening by OURSELVES!!!!).
So, the moral of the story is, lanterns might be safer than candles, but candles are much more ROMANTIC!!!!