This past August We had a hurricane and a small earthquake here in Virginia in about the same week. We were without power for over a week at my house, other people were longer. Cooking, cleaning, among other things were quite a challenge for everyone.
Below are 10 things Either I learned I needed to do differently next time or that I promise you are the first to go after a huge weather event that you will NOT be able to find.The good news is you can grab a few this week to feel like you've gotten a jump start on being better prepared.
With Hurricane and Tornado season coming soon here on the East Coast, in Virginia we have an upcoming tax free weekend for preparedness supplies. Batteries, tents, you name it will be on sale and you don't have to pay sales tax, so it's the perfect opportunity to stock up on a few things.
1) Water: Many of you have stored water set aside, but you'd be shocked at how much we really use every day in our lives. a gallon per person per day is just the bare minimum for drinking and staying alive! It doesn't count for dishes, laundry, bathing/hygiene/first aid, pets, etc. Seriously stock pile water and store it under every bed in the house if you need to. Fill empty soda bottles, or buy the 5 gallon water containers from the store and slide them on their sides under the beds, couches, etc. (hey, the kids can't cram their stuff under them when "cleaning" their rooms, when they have water bottles under them instead!)
2) Batteries. I can assure you when you need them in an emergency, the D batteries as well as the C and 9 volts are impossible to find! Batteries last longer if stored in the freezer. The perfect way to store them is in recycled plastic containers such as spice jars and crystal light drink containers!
Stock up while they are on sale, label some empty plastic containers and store in the door of your freezer.
You can never have enough of these.
3) Fuel: Cooking, driving, and generator', and misc:
Cooking: Stock up on several kinds of fuel for cooking. With Memorial Day around the corner, they will be on sale. Pick up some propane either the little green coleman ones or a couple of big propane tanks (like fit on your gas grills: we have 3). Also stockpile charcoal, lighter fluid and matches, matches, matches! You can never have enough of these and your neighbors will be desparate, so plan on an extra bag or two to share with loved ones that weren't prepared. We have like 20 bags stored away that we picked up on sale. Don't forget the lighter fluid and matches!
Driving & generators: I guarantee you, the first thing that people have problems with everytime we have an extended power outage due to extreme weather is gasoline. People drive everywhere looking for any open and working gas station and the lines are CRAZY! Do yourself a favor. This week pick up some appropriate 5 gallon gasoline containers and fill them! I know gas is expensive, but you will really appriciate it when you can drive a little bit or fuel your generator without going all over the place. You can use them for your lawn mower to rotate and freshen the supply, but get more than one and store them properly.
Miscellaneous: If you have oil lamps stock up on clear lamp oil and grab some extra wicks. If you don't have an oil lamp consider buying one or two.It helps to light up larger rooms like your family room in the evenings, when it's too early to go to bed and your' all hanging out together. Also stock up on long burning emergency candles. ( During power outages, we keep one burning in the bathroom in a safe spot. We have no window so it's pitch dark, for sure in the middle of the night, so you can see to use the bathroom.
4)Food: Add some canned dinners/proteins to your pantry: Take a second look at the food in your pantry. During emergencies cans of food that can be heated and served are a really a huge stress reducer.
So many of us are avoiding those premade conveneince foods, but in a week or more with no power you will come to appriciate the simplicity of opening a can of something for dinner or lunch.
So add some canned hash, chili, ravioli, stews, etc. to your pantry. I recommend, that you plan a day's worth of emergency food and store them altogether in a gallon sized ziplock bag and label them and set them in your panty.
Also make sure to have powdered milk and canned gravy. Canned gravy sure can make a lot of dry ingredients like rice and potatoes taste a lot better! Don't underestimate the power of canned gravy for your mental health!
Cooking oil: During world war II cooking oil was in such demand that you could trade a quart of it for a ton of other foods and supplies! Without it you are forced to boil just about everything. Store some cooking oils and shortening cans away. You will not regret it!
5) Ice: Besides fuel, the next thing to disappear like in a matter of seconds at every store in town after a disaster is ice. If at all possible store some bags of ice in a deep freeze. If you don't have a large separate freezer, try to store a few gallon sized freezer bags with extra ice and also identify the closest convenience store to you and keep some reserved cash on hand to run as quickly as you can to get some. It will help keep your food in your fridge or in my husbands case his diabetic insulin cold.
6) Non electric gadgets: Hand crank can openers, hand crank rechargers for phones (as well as car chargers for phones) and hand crank flashlights and radios, even duct tape to seal windows. along with a tarp, to duct tape and close off rooms can help retain heat in the winter. Since we lost power in August in the south, the heat and humidity was awful! Being too hot makes you sooooo cranky!!!!! Especially if you don't have a generator, invest now in a few battery operated fans. In the camping section of the store their should be some that are small but stand alone so you can set them by your bed, etc. Also a heat source such as a propane heater for winter, may be on clearance now that winter's over. Seriously buy them this week. The peace of mind is priceless.
7)Communication With Family: Prepare an emergency message command center out of state if possible. When an earthquake hit (yes it was minor, thankfully) local cell phone towers were so jammed with calls that no one could reach their loved ones to check on each other. I couldn't reach my husband or my youngest child in high school. I found it much easier to reach my two oldest children who lived across the country.Often times long distance calls work better than local ones during an emergency. So, decide on a common friend or family member, preferably out of state that can be your message relay center. Program that number into your children, spouses, parents, etc phones.( put them on the schools emergency contact list on the child's records) whom everyone has the number to and can leave a message on how they are and where they are.
8) Umm...T.P... It's miserable to run out!
More precious than gold maybe in an extended emergency is toilet paper. You could not possibly store too much of this (or fuel, water ,or food). You may need to share some with neighbors. Oh, and stash some extra feminine supplies, diapers, wipes, etc. specifically put these in a closet for an emergency.
9) Misc. Necessities: Hygiene: tooth paste, soaps, etc.,deodorant, hand sanitizer. Grab some extra's nothing makes you feel more human than feeling clean.
Other: Cash! When power outages hit for an extended period you can't run to the bank or ATM'S! For heaven's sake even though times are tight, next time the store clerk asks you if you need extra cash when you use your card, say yes and tuck a twenty dollar bill away for emergencies. Start a small fund no matter how small. Even a dollar a week is better than no cash at all when you need it! Do it!
10) Fun Activities The longest week of my teenagers life was without any electricty for his entertainment. Pick up some, games: Like uno cards, battleship,etc, books (especially ones that take you to another place like fantasy, mystery, etc.), simple crafts (playdoh etc) and put them away, so they are new and fun during an extended power outtage.
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