Power outages come in all flavors. Some outages are planned, some are the results of mother nature kicking up a storm, and some are the unexpected result of a natural or man-made crisis. Whatever the reason, there are various measures you should take now to insure your comfort and safety when the power blows.
First the basics:
This is the short list. Unless you have been living with your head in the sand, these items are already set aside so that they will be readily available when the lights blink off. And for a three or four hour outage, you will be just fine with these items.
But what if the power is lost for a longer period of time – for whatever reason – how will you cook your food? How will you keep warm? How will you insure your safety in dark? These are just a few of the issues you will face if there is an extended power outage. Add infants, the elderly or the infirm to the mix and you have a big problem on your hands.
Today I would like to offer some very basic suggestions and ideas for preparing your household for an extended power outage. My goal is to get those wheels cranking (in your brain, that is) and to provide you with a starter checklist of suggestions that can be implemented in stages as your needs and budget allow.
1. Store foods that your family normally eats without warming, heating or cooking. Suggestions? Canned chicken or tuna (although given the recent events of Fukushima, I would be wary of new tuna purchases right now), cold cereals, peanut butter, crackers, canned fruits and veggies. The list is endless but let me caution you: if you gag at the thought of cold ravioli out of a can now, you will also gag if you have to eat it in an emergency, power out situation. Don’t be silly – store foods that are meant to be eaten cold or at room temperature. And don’t forget the manual can opener.
2. Acquire one or more alternate cooking sources such a fire pit, charcoal barbeque or camp stove. We are lucky that we have a propane cook top in our kitchen that can easily be lit with a match. In addition, we have a Patina Cast Iron Fire Pit that is set up for cooking, a couple of butane stoves, a gas grill, and a Volcano Stove on order.
3. Have at least one lantern that will cast a wide beam that will fill a room with brightness when the sun goes down. (We have both a Coleman propane lantern and a battery driven lantern.)
4. Store fuel for your chosen energy device. This could be wood for the fire pit, propane cylinders for the gas grill, or 100 pounds of charcoal. It could also be a bank of batteries for your lantern. The point is to store fuel – you are going to need it. One more point: educate yourself on the proper storage of fuel. All of the food in the world will not help you one bit if you blow yourself to bits.
5. Blankets are good but a nice toasty sleeping bag or down comforter is better. And a heavy jacket, plus socks are good, too. It is easy to strip down when the temperatures soar – not that that is the optimal way to keep cool – but when you are cold, you need to bundle up and stay warm.
6. Invest in a generator. We recently invested in a 10 kw whole house generator that will automatically power our home during the frequent outages on our island. Think it won’t happen to you? A few years back, the city of Seattle was dark for almost a week. It can happen to anyone, any time. (More on the saga of the generator in another post – what an ordeal.)
A portable generator can be purchased for as little as $500 or $600 and the sky is the limit after that. We know people that have spent over $10,000 on a whole house generator (not us). Just keep in mind that the installation by a qualified electrician is probably going to cost as much as the generator itself. Your mileage may vary but in our case, budgeting and saving for a year was worth the cost.
7. If you have the proper sun exposure, the budget and the space, consider solar power as a backup to your local power grid. Many local utilities, states, and yes, even the federal government offer financial incentives and policies that promote renewable energy. It is worth checking in to.
Okay. So we have covered basic power needs. But what are some of the other essentials that you will want to have on hand during a power outage?
How about the following:
- Battery operated or Hand Crank Radio. Remember, without power, there may be no way to use your computers plus your DSL or cable service is likely to be kaput at well.
- Solar Battery Charger . Very handy for charging cell phones.
- Amusements. Books, games and playing cards. My favorite? A couple of decks of Canasta cards .
- The Spirit of Adventure. Okay, I had to throw that in. Let’s face it, a positive attitude plus your emergency preps will help you soldier through an extended power outage.
I hope these ideas will start you on the road to thinking about a power outage and how you can prepare to keep yourself warm, light, and well during a power outage. And once you are prepared, I suggest you pop up a big pot of popcorn and get yourself a copy of the movie “The Trigger Effect ”. I saw this film when it first came out and still find it chilling. Here a synopsis:
“Do yourself a favor and buy some canned goods, a flashlight, and a radio before you watch this film. Unfairly dismissed by the critics and missed by the public, this pre-Y2K suspense film is a chilling, sobering experience that will turn any practical person into a paranoid, apocalyptic loon. When the power goes out in the big city and society starts to break down, husband and wife Matthew and Annie find out that not even suburbia is safe.”
Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!
Backdoor Survival Tip of the Day: I am enamored with duct tape. Give me some tie wraps, Elmer’s glue, WD-40 and tie wraps and I can fix almost anything. It should come as no surprise to learn that I included duct tape in my Backdoor Survival kit over at SurvivalGearBags.com. One of the ways I use duct tape is to temporarily patch leaks in plumbing hoses that always tend to leak and drip when Survival Husband is not around to fix the problem. From tacking up plastic sheeting, to using it as a lint picker-upper, duct tape in an essential in my tool box, the car of my trunk and my emergency kit.
From the Bargain Bin: Amazon still has the Kingston 4GB flash drive for $7.95 (you need one for your survival docs) and the Lodge 12-Inch Pre-Seasoned Skillet is $18.97. And finally, the price of the price of 20 Gallon size Mylar Bags & Oxygen Absorbers. The price is now $16.99, down almost $5 from a month ago.
And finally, don’t forget to check out Emergency Essentials for your long term storage food items. Check out the July specials, including 20% off on prepackaged meals.
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