Tuesday, May 7, 2013

How to Prepare for a Power Outage

Storms. They're part of living on this planet. But are we prepared with the supplies we will need if the power should go down?

During that snowstorm last week, when we had that 32 hour power outage, I was reminded of how very dependent upon electricity I am. I've already written a post about that, so for now, I'm going to list some items that I will always keep on hand in the event that a storm causes us to be without power for an extended period of time:

Items I was very glad to have on hand when the power went out:

Drinking water. We had a case of bottled water bottles which cost $3.00/24  (each bottle appx. 17 oz.) I don't know if you have Kwik Trip gas station/convenience store where you live, but if you do, and you watch the sales, you can get bottled water at that price. We also had two gallons of purified water.

A source for water (not potable) for laundry or flushing the toilet or anything else. I didn't worry about this, for I was pretty sure the grid wasn't down and I was counting on my electric company to have the power up and running in a short while. Why waste that precious time doing laundry - by hand, no less!
Coffee and a way to make it.  (I realize that not everyone cares if they have a morning cup of coffee). But for those of us who do: If you don't have a wood-burning stove, you'll need a Coleman gas stove or something.  Coffee pot.

Food that does not require refrigeration. Canned goods, (can opener), berries, nuts, protein bars, coffee, bread, peanut butter, grain-free dog food. (Just checking to see if you're paying attention. Actually, it's important to make sure you have the supplies you'll need for your pets also. You don't want to become your dog's next meal.)  I was able to keep the refrigerator and freezer closed during that time and everything in them was still cold after 32 hours. If I'd been opening and closing the refrigerator during that time, I might have lost everything we had in the refrig.

Battery-operated radio. I happened to have a little radio that only picks up WHWC Menomonie, (Wisconsin Public Radio), and I turned it on after I was settled in for the night. I am not kidding you  when I say that the first words I heard when I turned on the radio were, 'Are You Prepared to Die?'  Remember, Kevin was gone overnight and it was just a blind dog, a lame dog, a curious whining cat, and me in that dark house. I quickly turned off the radio and shuddered! It wasn't 'Darkness Radio' or anything, it was probably a program on preparing a living will. Nevertheless, it gave me the creeps!

Flashlights - good ones - ones that actually throw a lot of light.  I think I had 5 flashlights on the floor beside the sofa when I went to sleep in the living room. Backups to backups, you know.


A source of heat that is not dependent upon electricity. We are fortunate to have a wood-burning stove in the livingroom as well as a wood-burning cookstove in the kitchen. Because we hadn't used our Quadrafire in the livingroom for about a month, we didn't realize that the chimney was almost totally plugged up. Needless to say, I could not have a fire in that stove, so I built one in the cookstove.

Firewood. Kindling. Dry newspaper. Matches.

(This was winter weather. What do you do in a hot climate in the summer??)

Oil lamps and lamp oil.  I had two oil lamps that acted as nightlights, one sitting on each of the two pianos. Don't ask. They were perfect for nightlights, and took surprisingly little oil for the 10 hours I had them lit.

Antiseptic wipes. You'd be surprised at how often you normally wash your hands throughout the day, especially when you have pets in the house. And when water is no longer easily accessible, you need to have a way to keep your hands clean.

Cell phone, car charger for the cell phone.  I was able to go to the car and charge my cell phone  a couple times during the power outage. It was nice to have the ability to communicate.

And, if you want to be really prepared, a loaded Kindle with a car charger for the Kindle. :-)
(Written especially for Sandra. :-)

I had written a tutorial for building and tending a fire in a cookstove, but I think that I'll wait and post that in October. Friday it was 28 degrees. Today it is 70 degrees. Now that we have green grass and warmer temps, I'll be using the cookstove to hold the jar of dog cookies and my vintage Singer sewing machine.

So that's what was on my list.

QUESTION:  What are some things you can think of that should be added to the list? How are you prepared for a power outage in your part of the country?


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This post may possibly be linked to a few of the following: Mop it Up Monday  and Get in My Tummy and  Cure for the Common Monday and  Clever Chicks Blog Hop and  Barn Charm and  The Marketplace  and  Mix it up Monday and Make it Pretty Monday and    Making the World Cuter Mondays and Make the Scene Monday and  Something I Whipped Up Monday and  Motivate Me Monday and le chateau des fleurs and  Making Monday Marvelous and Get Your Craft On and   You're Gonna Love it Tuesday and Creative Showcase and Memories by the Mile and  Tweak it Tuesday and  Coastal Charm Tuesday and  Take a Look Tuesday and  Tasty Tuesday  and Love Bakes Good Cakes  and Overflowing With Creativity and Mom on TimeOut  and Adorned from Above and Wildcrafting Wednesday and   Cast Party Wednesday and  We Did it Wednesday  and All Things With Purpose and Home & Garden Thursday and It's a Party at Creative Princess and Artsy Corner Thursday  and Creative Things Thursday and Be Inspired and Time Travel Thursday and Thrifty Things Friday  and  Friday Fences and  Thursday's Inspiration and  The Self-sufficient Home Acre and  I'm Lovin' it Thursday and Creative Things Thursday and   Mandatory Mooch   and Foodie Friends Friday and Freedom Fridays and  Anything Blue Friday and Junkin' Joe and  Serenity Saturday and Get Schooled Saturday  and Inspiration Friday(ThursNite) and Vintage Inspiration Friday and Photo Friday and  A Favorite Thing Saturday and Share Your Creativity and Sunny Simple Sunday and Sunlit Sunday and  Market Yourself Monday and  Saturday Nite Special


MadSnapper said...

you have listed every thing we keep ready almost year round. remove the heat source and kindling. we don't need that even in winter. but this list is exactly what we do for hurricane supplies. we have a cabinet in the kitchen that is just for all this. we cook outside on a propane grill, of course that could get blown away but it works for normal power outages. i can't think of anything else, batteries are the one thing we are most likely to forget. and we do not wait until there is a warning, we keep all this ready before time. when everyone panics the shelves are empty. ramen noodles are great, they only need boiling water. also a box of cheerios is good for snacking...thanks for remembering my kindle. I just bought a car charger for it....

Unknown said...

Great post Judy! I think we all tend to get too comfortable in our lives and we forget like things like long power outages can still happen to us. Even here in the sunny desert, where we rarely nasty weather, it's still something we should be prepared for... need to go make sure our flashlights all have batteries in them :)

Anonymous said...

we are far from prepared the way we were in the house, but still to some degree,
I love your kitchen, its beautiful.I love everything I see.

Suzan said...

WOW! You pretty well covered it all! Being from Fla. - our severe weather are the hurricanes and tornados. In Fla. there are few basements, so you have to know where the safest place in the home. For hurricanes- have a special place in your pantry for the peanut butter and bottle water. Radio is the life saver. Growing up- it was the transitter radio and plenty of batteries for it. And Be ready to evacuate. The one summer that we had 3 hurricanes in one month. We put all our photos in large zip lock bags to protect and backed everything up on an external harddrive, so if we had to evacuate - we can grab the external hard drive and leave.
Every part of the county has its challenges. Love your stove!! NICE!

Vee said...

Well now, you have provided lots of food for thought. Because we're up here in the tundra and lived through the ice storm in the last decade of the last century, we have a generator. Back then, I had to move home with my parents who had a nice woodstove in the kitchen similar to yours. (Oh the baked chicken and baked potatoes that old oven turned out...hmmmm) I will be checking into car chargers for phones and Kindles and iPads for sure! Two pianos?

Life Happens said...

Great list. I have a board on pinterest that I pin lots of emergency ideas. It's kind of scary to think about losing power for a long period of time! We have a 2 yr old so we need to make sure we have things ready for him in an emergency too. Our church encourages us to have 72 hr kits ready as well as food storage. I think it's time we start to really look at how prepared we are in an emergency. Thanks for the reminding us. :)

Cherry's Prairie Primitives said...

My husband keeps telling me we need a generator. We have a charcoal grill perfect to use anytime of year. My fireplace is two sided and sits right between the living room and dining room, its always up and ready with the crazy weather here in Colorado. I definitely need to stock up on water.

Deanna said...

We were once without power for a week during an ice storm and we learned a lot. We always make sure to have a couple of propane tanks for our grill. It has a side burner so we can boil water on it for tea or coffee (we use a French press all the time anyway). One thing that surprises me when we have winter power outages is that people forget they can put food in secure containers outdoors to keep frozen. Our water isn't dependent upon electricity but repeatedly washing hands in ice cold water can lead to some serious chapping. We put some heated water in a thermos and use that for middle-of-the-night trips to the bathroom.

Like you, our power outages have been in the winter but I think those in the summer (hurricanes) would be worse. One of my New Orleans friends was just telling me that after about three days of it in the steamy heat she was about to lose her mind.

Unknown said...

Extra water to accomandate the pets and a couple of extra gals in case the neighbors needs them. I also
like to check the neighborhood elderly and/or alone to see if they are prepared or need a lift to a relative/friend or whatever.

Heide at ApronHistory said...

Flashlights, yes indeed! The last big power outage we had was caused by a wind sheer off the Lake. We could only two small flashlights in the house! I requested a flashlight for my birthday after that.......

Terri D said...

Living in Florida, we are always prepared during hurricane season. We were without power for 36 hours a few years ago, when the three hurricanes hit central Florida. We have a very nice generator, to keep the refrigerator on, along with fans and the TV/radios. It's not powerful enough for the AC, but having a fan is nice, and a few lamps for light. We keep extra gasoline in certified containers. We have a gas grill, and all the batteries, flashlights, car chargers, etc., also mentioned, as well as food that doesn't need to be cooked, and always bottled water. We have a swimming pool full of water that we can use for bathing and the toilets, if needed. We don't let the cat food run out, either! We just never know when disaster will hit - be prepared! Good post!!

Anonymous said...

Wonderful tips! In our new home, it is total electric, so we need to prepare as north GA often gets ice/snow.

Butterfly 8)(8 Bungalow said...

To me, you sound prepared, but I don't know much about the cold. I'm just glad I left California. A few weeks ago I saw a post that Arizona was either one or two in safest places to live in regards to nature. The people that live here know how to handle the heat, but visitors don't. We have flash floods, but the main thing is don't ever walk in a wash because there could be rain up stream. And don't drive your car into a wash that has water. Don't play golf when it is windy during the monsoon, because of dry lightning. Pull off the road as far as you safely can, and shut off your car lights in a dust storm.

TexWisGirl said...

i keep flashlights handy. we have a wood-burning free-standing fireplace. i've used it to boil water for coffee when the power's been out. i also keep a jug of water and some gaterade drinks. cereals, nuts, etc. :) good tips!

Samantha said...

I'm loving seeing a glimpse of your house there in the background of the cookstove pic :)

Also, two pianos? I know you said not to ask but hey, I'm a rebel!

Also, also, I think we're rubbish here about emergencies. I don't know anyone who would be prepared for a power outage like that. We certainly wouldn't. I don't know where the torches are, we have no way of heating if the gas was off, no back up water, nothing like that. How very fortunate I am to have never needed emergency supplies. I truly live a blessed life.

RURAL said...

I love the list...it's surprising how many people think that someone is coming to save them if the power goes out.

When we lived on the coast there was a high risk of earthquakes...so no water, electricity, help, for at least 72 hours they told us.

To be fully prepared in a little tiny condo isn't easy. But we had shoes and extra clothes under the bed, in case the glass broke. Canned food, and water in the closet. Flashlights, and batteries, radio and other stuff we always had.

If it's bad here, we can use the BBQ, or go to the farm where they have wood stoves..I feel better up here, then the condo.

A really great post, and I am going to go and check our supplies.


Chatty Crone said...

You have a GREAT list there. Things I had never thought of. I think we take things so much for granted. I never even thought about a cup of coffee. Great job Judy. sandie

podso said...

Good post. It's kind of how we are prepared, but we have not lost electricity for a period of time since we got rid of our land line and only have our cells. So we need to be thinking about that.

Is that the stove you cook on? It's wonderful!! Or maybe you just keep warm with it. :-)

One more thing, if you place a sleeping bag or pillows on top of your freezer it will keep it cold longer, at least that is what we always did in Africa!

Parsley said...

I once had similar advice so it's good to see another blogger spreading their thoughts on this. Great post!

Denise said...

Such helpful information, thanks.

Unknown said...

I'd say you pretty much had everything covered here Judy!!!
That cooker is beyond gorgeous!

Cheryl @ TFD said...

That's a good list! I would add candles. Fortunately, we've never been without lights for very long.

laurie said...

What a good list. You really thought of everything. We have always talked about guying a generator, it would be good to have one on hand for times like that.

David said...

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Magali@TheLittleWhiteHouse said...

We rarely have power outage but due to the renovation I know I'll have to live two days without electricity and your post was indeed very insteresting. Filling the tub with water is still my best idea to have water when there's a problem.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Judy, how funny that I found this immediately after waking up thinking about this very subject. It's my goal to have my emergency "kit" replenished and updated by June 1. I'll be referring to your list!

Claudia said...

Good advice. We have most of the things you've listed available, especially since we get big snowstorms and now, for the last two years, hurricanes! What we don't have are wood stoves or a fireplace and I wish we did.

Thanks so much for joining in this week.


Debra at HOMESPUN: http://www.thehomespun.com said...

Sadly lacking what is most needed...fireplace and cookstove

But I love love love your beautiful stove and Singer as well ! :)

Ivy, Phyllis and Me! said...

Good Afternoon Judy, This was a really interesting post and it made me stop and think about what necessities I would need if a disaster occurred.
I keep a stock of tin foods in my cupboard, I have lots of candles, George has his camping lights and stove, but it occurred to me it was the water I did not have and I did not think about wipes.
Where I live we have not experienced the disasters that other people around the world have to contend with, but that does not mean that it will never happen. Yorkshire and the south of England have suffered a lot with flooding, and our weather is certainly changing.
Thank you for giving me food for thought.
Have a lovely weekend.
Best Wishes

Susan Freeman said...

I am not as well prepared as you but should be. Thanks for reminding me. Love that stove!

Big Hugs,
Susan and Bentley

J_on_tour said...

Wow, looks like you are well organised.

I had a very rare electric power failure about four weeks ago on a sunday . The landline phones are mostly electric these days and was consequently dead. The mobile was theoretically the lifeline but on reading the contact details on the bill, I discovered that the phone number was only available from monday - saturday. The suppliers phone number was not given as there was a website for a list of regional numbers on the national grid. Unfortunately, you've guessed it, the internet was down & I don't have it on my mobile. The next best thing was to leave the house & the street with the house alarms going off, drive to the police station & ask for the number there. Success ... & I put the photocopied sheet in the relevant place for another time.


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