I have learned that preparing for the occasional winter power outage helps relieve stress. My intention here is to detail a few of the specifics I have learned over the years. This is not a definitive guide to survival without power. I am not talking about a zombie scenario. I am talking about anywhere from a few hours to a couple of days without power.
Also, I am not skilled in the area of electricity. I leave that to the experts.
Here are a few things that help take the stress out of a possibly stressful situation.
- 1. Have on hand:
- a. Have enough water for each person in the home for, at least, 3 days. The suggested equation is one gallon of water per person, per day. It never hurts to have more if you have the space. I would not wait until a storm is coming to stock up as supplies may be diminished due to other people buying water and a storm may come when you do not have the extra money. Think ahead.
- b. Plan to have food available for such situations. Canned goods are great to have: soups, beans, prepared pastas, etc. If you have the space and the inclination, you can make these items homemade and keep them in the freezer. Just be sure that you rotate food out so that is not too old. Always rotate your food stock.
- c. In order to eat hot food or drink hot beverages, it is worth the investment to get a camp stove and with that get extra propane. This way if you are not able to leave your home, you can still cook or warm up food. The idea of having a hot cup of soup and a cup of tea can be very comforting in a stressful situation. PLEASE remember that you cannot use a camp stove in your house. It needs to be ventilated or you could get sick or even die. READ the instructions and know them before you need to use this item.
- d. Having granola or power-type bars on hand help keep energy levels up and burn calories. You can buy these in bulk in most grocery stores or on-line. Having other types of snack foods available can also create comfort. I try to keep cookies and bars in the freezer as they provide a sense of normalcy.
- e. I have a To-Go bag packed and ready at all times. This bag contains basic first aid and personal care supplies (bandages, first aid creams, toilet paper, toothpaste, soap, first aid booklet, wet wipes for personal cleaning and for area cleaning), small supplies (metallic survival blankets, ponchos, hand warmers, flashlights or lanterns with new batteries, crank weather radio, garbage bags, heavy duty tape and rope), small tools (a multi-purpose tool is hand to have), personal items (phone/address list of family and friends, specific medications, maps of the area, matches sealed in plastic, and a cellphone charger) as well as other items you may feel you might need. I also keep a stock of food bars in this bag and a bottle of water. I purchased the items for my bag over a summer and utilized discount stores for a lot of the bulk. This way I was able to get lots of items without breaking the bank. Start being on the lookout for items that you might find useful. I take this bag with me when I am out on the roads in the winter, just in case I was to go off the road or some other catastrophe happened.
- f. It is also a good idea to have some real books (not electronic), board games, craft items, etc. to help keep children and you busy. These can go a long way to making memories also.
- 2. Things to do:
- a. Try to keep the gas tank in your vehicle above ½. I try to trick myself into thinking that at ½ I need to fill up. It does not always work, but you never know when you may have to go, so you want gas in case gas stations are closed.
- b. Try to keep a few dollars tucked away in case of an emergency. Most of our power outages do not happen on a pay week. So have a little emergency fund that does not depend on an ATM machine (which may be down).
- c. Have your local electric company’s phone number in your cell phone. When the power goes off or if there are downed lines that you know of, you will want to call the power company immediately. You do not need to be searching around for their phone number, just keep it in your phone or planner.
- d. Try to keep your cellphones charged at all times. If the power does go out, limit the usage as to maintain power for emergency calls. I also keep a charger in the car; you can always take the phone out there and do a mini-charge in your car. If you are going to sit in the car (with the heater on), be sure to always crack the windows and have fresh air come in so that you do not get sick or die from the exhaust fumes.
- e. I keep my store of blankets and warm clothes washed and ready to go. Being prepared helps elevate all kinds of stress.
- f. Have a plan. Sit down with your family and come up with a plan. If you are separated during a storm, come up with a plan on how to deal with that. There are a lot of useful websites that can help you detail a plan and they also can provide useful information about basic survival. Please just think ahead.
Other things to consider are: heat sources (can you burn wood or do you only have blankets?), making sure pipes do not freeze (again, I leave that to someone who knows more than me), and can you flush toilets (a plan needs to be in place for this).
As I stated before this is not a definitive guide, but it should help you start to think about what you would do in an emergency situation. Another thing to remember is if you have small children, people with special needs or pets, their needs are to be assessed also. I do not have those situations, so I am clueless as to what supplies you would need.
I try not to freak out during these times and keeping a cool head helps when things go wrong. It also helps keep everyone else calm. In times of power outages, it is imperative to be prepared, have a plan and communicate with the rest of your family. Please use sources on the Internet to help you make a comprehensive plan – one I hope you never need, but will have peace of mind knowing it exists. Good luck and stay warm and safe!!!