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?