With ice in our forecast, Vince and I have taken a close look at our preparedness plan.
I never want to be the one waiting in line with lots of other people for MREs or bottled water. Those things are great if you have nothing else but most of us don’t need to be in that “have nothing else” category. Whatever I can do to be sure we have what we need, I’ll try to do.
Before I go into all of this, things like earthquakes, tornadoes, wild fires . . all bets are off because your preps are probably destroyed or you have to leave with just what you have on your back.
This is mainly my preparedness efforts for what we would do if we were safe at our home but had no electricity for an extended period. Or, look at what’s happening in China. It probably would never happen here but . . what if it did? Stay home. Don’t leave your house. Grocery stores and restaurants are closed. There would probably be some kind of food delivery for people living in urban areas but for people living where we live . . we’d be on our own; we know it and are prepared.
There have been three things in my fairly recent past that have changed the way I look at being prepared.
Ice Storm in Louisiana in 1994
I lived in an all electric house. I never thought about what would happen if the power was out for days and days and it wasn’t just my house or my street but it was the entire region.
It was January but it was southwest Louisiana and it wasn’t terribly cold. I went to bed with a light rain falling and at some point in the night, I was awakened by tree branches snapping. The temps briefly dropped below freezing, the tree limbs, heavy with accumulating ice, came down and so did the power lines. We had no power at my house for seven days but many people had no power for two weeks. Even though the temps got above freezing after the second day, it was still cold and damp in a house with no heat and no lights and worse . . an electric stove. Even though I had a bit of canned food, cold green beans just weren’t going to cut it. Thank goodness my parents had a fireplace. Their neighborhood got together and grilled and cooked on gas burners and everyone shared. That was great teamwork.
Snow Storm in Kentucky in 2004:
According to an old blog post, it started on December 22 and snowed all the way through December 23. We ended up with 20″ of snow. The wind was blowing and there were huge drifts. The snow was up to the top of my garage door where the wind had blown it. Cars were parked on the streets, it was Christmas and the snow plows weren’t making much progress. I think it was four days before we could get out of our neighborhood. Trucks had not been able to make deliveries so even when we could get out, there were few groceries to be found in the stores.
While I was not personally affected, my family in Louisiana was affected. They had no electricity for ages. Very few restaurants, even fast food restaurants, were open and those that were had extreme lines and often ran out of food. Banks weren’t open. Grocery stores weren’t open. Family and friends stood in line to get MREs and bottled water from FEMA. Again, this incident was widespread. You couldn’t go to the next town and buy groceries. My parents had evacuated 2-1/2 hours north of where the hurricane came ashore and had more damages there than they did at their home, about 40 minutes from where the hurricane came ashore.
What I’ve Learned:
There are some things I’ve learned that are “must do” preps and some that are “it would be nice to do” preps.
Under the must do preps:
- Have food for several days minimum. It needs to be food you like – not vienna sausage and sardines, unless you like those. We love sardines. Vienna sausage – not so much. I’ve always tried to be sure my prep foods were foods we’d eat any day so we’re not buying things that will be thrown out if there isn’t some kind of issue.
- Have a way to heat food. This is why I will always have a gas stove. An induction stove would be nice but that wouldn’t give me a way to cook if we had no electricity. I’ve heard not all gas stovetops can be used when there’s no electricity. The one we have will but we have to light it with a match. Our house in MO was all electric so we kept a gas grill with a burner and kept extra gas bottles so we could at least heat food on that but who wanted to be outside heating food when it was near zero? But, that was about the only option we could come up with. Chad keeps these little stoves and they’re pretty amazing. He uses fuel in small cans that he buys from Walmart and they re-seal themselves when removed from the cooker. Chad told me that one small can, that runs about $5 as I recall, has lasted them through a whole summer of camping.
- Have water. Most municipal water will continue to flow, at least for some amount of time, but those of us with wells . . the power goes out, the pump doesn’t work. We keep a couple of 5 gallon buckets of water in the bathrooms to use to flush toilets, I fill a few half gallon jars of water for drinking, brushing our teeth, etc. Otherwise, we will run the generator to fill the pressure tank as we need water.H
- Have a way to stay warm. The solution to staying warm will, of course, depend on where you live. Here in Texas, we’re going to have ice tonight and in the morning but by Thursday, it’s going to be warm again . . not comfortably warm but warm enough that we would be fine with extra socks and jackets on, or a few extra quilts on the bed. We have a fireplace and firewood. I am concerned more with how to stay cool in the summer if there was no power, than I am how I would stay warm in the winter but that’s just for central Texas.
Under the “would be nice” preps:
- Disposable plates, utensils so the sink isn’t filling up with dirty dishes and no water to clean them.
- Wash all the laundry ahead of time.
- Think about what you’re going to need from the freezer/fridge and try not to have to open them very often.
There’s so much to be aware of and different people have different requirements. Vince needs his C-PAP. He has rigged up a way to run it with a battery charged by solar panels. For those who need electricity for medical devices . . I don’t have a solution but it’s something to think about.
I really only concentrate on the things we need to meet our needs if we had no power for an extended period but I would encourage everyone to think about your own circumstances.