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What We Can Learn From The East Coast Power Outages

>10 July 2012
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It has been interesting to me to read through the stories that have come out of the cities which were hit the worst in the recent storms that have swept the East Coast. For those who are wise enough to sit up and take note, there are lessons to be learned. The first and most important lesson being that preparing for an emergency doesn’t have to be for an all out End-Of-The-World-As-We-Know-It scenario. Something as common as a bad summer storm can be all it takes to cause enough damage to cripple towns and cities with extended power outages.

We were fortunate in that we only lost power for the good part of one day. But even that quickly became uncomfortable as temperatures outdoors rose well over 100*. And as much as we’ve tried to be prepared for stuff like this, there’s always something you realize you forgot to do. I’ll share my thoughts on that in a minute, but first I’d like to go over a few quotes from other articles that stuck out at me, and discuss them a little.

“Today makes seven days without power since last Friday, and we don’t have water either,” said Tammy Pickles, a 40-year-old convenience store manager waiting in line with a dozen other people under a hot midday sun for a meal.

“Money is really tight,” said Pickles, who has a 12-year-old daughter at home. “I’m not sure how many more trips I can make out here to get a hot meal. I’m not sure I can afford the gas.” Chicago Tribune

If you’ve been on my blog long enough you’ve heard me say it over and over again. At the very least, you need to have enough non-perishable food and water to sustain your family for two weeks. This must be a priority. You do not want to have to depend on other people to feed you and your loved ones.

A Safeway supermarket tried to remain open with a limited power supply and handed out free bags of dry ice. But the air inside was stale. Shopping carts with spoiled food, buzzing with flies, sat outside the store. Huffington Post

Don’t be foolish enough to think that grocery stores will always be there for you. Without electricity, food spoils and cash registers don’t run. Gas shortages or price increases can cause truck drivers to be unable to deliver goods to the stores. Fallen debris in the roads, accidents, traffic, and blocked lanes can also cause deliveries to be late or unable to be received. Don’t take it for granted that you’ll always be able to get what you need when you need it.

In this heat, ice has become the most valuable commodity. Pinehurst Wine Shop in Maryland is buying extra ice just to give it away at the end of the night.

That ice may salvage a few more perishables. Families have lost food and have to spend money on eating out.

“We can’t afford to go out every single meal, so we’ve been bringing some stuff home, using the grill, used up everything we could possibly use up in the first 48 hours,” one woman without power said. CBN.news

It’s important to have a backup non-electric method of cooking or heating food. And it’s helpful to have a stash of meals that basically only need to be heated. When an emergency strikes, you may not have extra money to go out to eat with, and local restaurants may not have power either. It’s so much better to have your own home “store”.

The following locations are now serving as food pantries for residents who have lost food to power outages:

Vineland Salvation Army, 733 E. Chestnut Ave., Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. until 2:30 p.m. Residents must make an appointment before arriving. Call 856-696-5050 to set a time. Emergencies will be taken on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  

Please note, NJSNAP (food stamps) recipients cannot make an appointment until after July 20. Recipients must provide a photo identification, proof of income and proof of residence.

A clothes pantry is open at this location Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 1:15 p.m. to 3 p.m., and Friday from 9:30 a.m. until noon.  For food or clothing at this location call 856-691-1841 for an appointment.  You must provide your Social Security card.

• Vineland Ministries Fellowship Emergency Food Bank, at the First United Methodist Church, Seventh Street and Landis Avenue, Wednesday and Friday, 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. However, this location will be closed the Wednesday and Friday nearest to the first of the month.

• Help & Hope Ministries, 216 Howard St., Millville. Emergency food assistance available Tuesday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to noon. Call 856-825-2375 to make an appointment.

• The Bridgeton Salvation Army, 29 W. Commerce St., will serve as the emergency food referral for residents in the Bridgeton area. They will be operating Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., but will be closed daily from noon to 1 p.m. for lunch. A referral from a municipal or county office of emergency management (OEM) and identification is required for food assistance.

You need to understand that even handouts may not be very easily acquired. Food banks may only be open for short periods of time and may be impossible for you to reach. They also may require proof of identification, and food stamp recipients may have to wait even longer for help.

About 286,000 utility customers throughout Virginia are still without power this morning as a result of violent weekend storms that have been blamed for at least 11 deaths in the state, Gov. Bob McDonnell’s office said.

Officials are urging Virginians to take precautions from the high heat and advising those with immediate need for shelter, food or water to check with local governments, social services departments or volunteer groups for assistance. Roanoke.com

Think about it. Would you really want to be waiting with thousands of other unprepared residents for food, water, and shelter? Doesn’t it seem wiser to just be ready to take care of yourself and your loved ones?

Residents using walkers struggled to navigate doors that were supposed to open automatically. Nurses had to throw out spoiled food, sometimes over the loud objections of residents. KCRG News

 

She said she had lost $400 to $500 worth of food from her freezer and refrigerator when the power went out. Chicago Tribune

Many of these folks lost hundreds of dollars worth of food that spoiled. It would be wise to keep only a limited amount of food stored long term in your freezer. Canning what you are able to would be a good idea. The sooner, the better.

The area has been without power for a week to run the gas pumps, and locals are struggling to find gasoline to run the back-up generators.

“You couldn’t get gas for two days to run anything,” said Darius Snedegar, a retired 71-year-old truck driver, as he took a break from cutting his lawn. “It ain’t been good at all.” Chicago Tribune

 

The Stop Lights were out, the streets were blocked off, Gas Stations across this area were lined up all the way in one block. Fast Food Restaurants were packed including the drive thru. Surviving a Derecho Wind Storm

Be sure to have backup fuel stored for emergencies. You do NOT want to be caught in an emergency without it. You’ll need gas or diesel for vehicles, a generator, and chainsaws, all of which can be vital in disasters. We’ve all heard the stories of people getting in fights at the pumps, gas stations running out of or rationing fuel, or gas stations simply being without power and unable to run the pumps. Don’t allow yourself to depend on them last minute.

Dollie Gabbert, 64, said she had just finished dumping food from her two refrigerators and two freezers. She was worried about her husband Gene, a 79-year-old diabetic who is on oxygen for heart and lung ailments, she said. Without power, the Gabberts have been using bags of ice to keep his insulin cold.

“We are having a time, having a time,” she said, a miniature flashlight in one hand.

The Gabberts have been able to recharge the batteries for his oxygen pump from a neighbor’s generator and he has been sitting in their truck running the air conditioning to feel more comfortable, she said. Chicago Tribune

 

The lack of power completely upended many daily routines… People on perishable medication called pharmacies to see how long their medicine would keep. KCRG News

If at all possible, get a backup generator if you don’t have one already. Something that you could at least use to run water if you’re on a well, the fridge/freezer, and a few small appliances. People who depend on electricity for life-saving equipment or perishable medications particularly need to have this in place. It could mean life or death.

…Vineland Police say they’ve stepped up patrols in the hardest hit areas. Lieutenant John McCann tells NBC10 there have been at least three reports of stolen generators within the past week.

“The best thing is to make sure they’re chained to something and locked.” NBC News

You’ll want to have a heavy duty chain and a good lock to secure your generator with as well.

For the Brennan’s, a young family in the Chicago area, it was bedtime stories by flashlight, followed by sleep soaked in sweat, for the second night in a row.

“It’s sweaty. It’s got to be above 90 in here, it’s hot, there’s not much air moving around,” dad Pat Brennan said. CBN.com

At the Springvale Terrace nursing home and senior center in Silver Spring, Md., generators were brought in to provide electricity, and air-conditioning units were installed in windows in large common rooms to offer respite from the heat and darkness. KCRG News

If you do have a generator, a window unit a/c would be a good thing to have as a back-up to central air, especially for unbearably hot days when you are stuck at home. A small unit is all you would need to cool a single room, and would give your family a retreat for relief from the heat.

In Baltimore County, Eveena Felder, a registered nurse, had been relying on air-conditioned public areas to keep cool during the day and a fan to help her family sleep.

“We’ve purchased a ton of batteries, that’s where most of our money has gone,” Felder said. “Turn the fan on and keep still, don’t move, less energy.” KCRG News

Be sure to have plenty of batteries and a couple of box fans on hand. Or battery operated fans.

More than 2,200 Vineland residents were still in the dark as of Friday afternoon, due to multiple problems municipal utility workers have been encountering this week, including instances of stolen cables.

“…people out there are stealing cables, for the copper or aluminum and trying to get whatever they can for them. People don’t have a lot of money in some areas, and it is disrupting the work to get everyone back to power.” Nj.com

There were many stories of people coming together to help each other. But let’s face it, there are also bad people out there just waiting for an opportunity to take advantage of a catastrophe. They will do whatever it takes to take care of their #1: themselves.

Power was out for 100 hours. The landline telephones were down for 3 days, 911 was down for two, and the water restrictions lasted upwards of a week. Some counties are asking its’ residents to boil their water before drinking it. Surviving the Derecho (a fun, interesting first hand account)

911 is not a given. Their lines can easily be overrun with calls and put out of service. Be prepared to protect yourself, your loved ones, and your home. Don’t assume help will always be available.

Brooks will likely fork over more cash for a hotel room rather than sit and bake inside his Woodlawn home.

 “It’s rough. It’s wiping out my account,” he said. CBS News

Even if you don’t plan on going anywhere, it is a good idea to set aside some cash just in case you absolutely cannot stay at home, and you have nowhere to stay but a hotel. You just never know.

Did you gather any other lessons from these article clips, or from others you’ve read??

The kids and I were fortunate in that we only lost power for half of a day during the storms. But with it over 100* outside, indoor temps were quickly hovering close to a very humid 90*. And when we lose power, we lose water as well. So, the very first thing I did was run all of the water in the taps into a container and stuck it in the fridge. This would be for drinking, mainly.

Here were a few thoughts I jotted down as the hours went by:

When changing diapers I had run out of wipes solution, and had been using just plain water on a wet rag to wipe baby. Fortunately, I had a squirt bottle of water I could use for diaper changes. I had rain barrel water and sanitizer to wash my hands. Disposable diapers and wipes would be good to have as a back-up.

The thought crossed my mind that we could use the ice in the freezer to drink if it started melting.

I had to remind the kids to keep the fridge closed to keep the cool air in.

I was grateful when my phone rang. It’s a new phone that a friend gave us recently, and I didn’t realize it was a rotary! It was nice to be connected to the outside world.

It’s tricky to clean the kitchen without water. Usually I wet a rag and wipe counters that way. And the dishes just had to wait. It occurred to me that disposables would be nice to have in an emergency, when dishes can’t be washed. Paper would be better than plastic, as it can be safely burned.

Toilet drop-ins are not a good idea. The water in the tank is potable otherwise.

Little battery-operated hand held fans would have been nice. I considered folding some paper to make Chinese style fans for all of us.

The only food we could eat immediately was stuff that didn’t need to be cooked. I was glad to have sandwich stuff in the fridge, and fresh fruit and veggies.

Make sure you’re caught up on laundry.

It also occurred to me that disposable feminine hygiene products would be good to have on hand when running water isn’t available. I know I’ve talked about the Diva Cup and washable pads… but now I think disposables that could be burned should also be stocked up.

Even though my kids are very low-tech, they quickly got bored when they couldn’t go outside to play and there wasn’t much to do indoors. Crafts or games are good to have ready and waiting. For those whose kids would be bouncing off the walls without video games or movies, some battery operated hand held games might suffice. Have batteries ready.

It didn’t take me long to realize that I didn’t have a single battery operated clock in the house. I had no idea what time it was until I called a friend.

Keep your cell phones charged.

Flashlights or “sun jars” would have been necessary had the outage lasted through the evening.

Of course, this is not a full on survival primer. Just my thoughts on miscellaneous things that should be considered.

Did you or someone you know experience the recent “derecho” or long term power outages? Were there any lessons to be learned that really stuck out at you?

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23 Comments »

  • Jenn said:

    Kendra, acutually it wasn’t just the east coast that got hit. I live in Indiana, a little north of Fort Wayne (a very large city). We had no power for 4 days. My grandmother lives in Fort Wayne and had no power for 6 days. And I know there were still power companies that it took 8 days. Yes, this got my husband and myself thinking very hard about what we need yet to do. On day 2 we did try to go to home depot and get a generator and they were sold out. Having a power outage is very expensive. Like you, we live in the country so had no water either. My neighbor ran a generator and he said it cost at least $75.00 per day to put gas in it. I know I spent extra, eating out, extra trips to my moms for showers and water runs to flush the toilet. And your very right about not counting on grocery stores. In Fort Wayne, there were 4 walmarts that had no power for at least 2 days and were closed. I don’t know about smaller stores. Those people would have had to have drove farther for food. But what do we do? We have stocked shelves in pantry, but temps were 111 with humidity and one day we did grill out but it was just too hot. So we ate out. Thankfully, my freezer was almost empty, I had put off going to get our big meat order, praise the lord cuz we would have lost all that meat. Sorry to go on but maybe you have some answers or suggestions. One thing that would have helped is to have a hand pump on our well. Very costly though.

  • John Stott said:

    Good sound advice Kendra, I hope folk take heed. I pray that essentials are restored soon for all. I think you hit the nail firmly on the head with your comments. Many people do not seem to bother, seem to never learn.

    A long time ago I lived on a small island. We depended on a ferry to bring weekly supplies, rough seas meant two or three weeks without. I grew up in a remote part of northern England, snow meant we would be cut off for weeks some years. My present farm is isolated too, I now fear other things will soon mean shortages.
    Now having experienced this kind of thing all my life, I have a habit of preparing. Water filtration was our most recent acquisition, with spare filters for several years. A freeze dried supply of Mountain House for six months. Fuel for vehicles and machinery, oil lamps, generator, heck the list goes on.

    Our friends on other smallholdings are the same, we all look out for each other. We share and I feel God has brought us together for this reason. It is easy to group together with neighbours, pool your knowledge. If money is short, buy things over time. Once it becomes a habit, like homesteaders the world over, well you know the rest!

    Sorry for the ramble, but keep up your excellent work, by educating others now, well it may mean a life saved in the future. That is priceless.

  • Kendra at New Life On A Homestead (author) said:

    Jenn,

    Thank you so much for sharing your experience! Wow, I’m glad you were all okay and made it out unscathed. What a mess.

  • Kendra at New Life On A Homestead (author) said:

    Very good advice added in, John. Thank you! You sound like you have and are leading a very interesting life!! Sure wish I could visit your place in England one day ;)

  • Suz said:

    Count Your Blessings
    A note from friends without electric for 8 days
    Okay, here’s the top ten blessings of being without electricity:

    1. We’ll save 5 days worth of electricity on our electric bill.
    2. The bathroom always looks clean in candlelight.
    3. I cleaned out the fridge without freezing my fingers.
    4. Great time also to look at cookbooks and plan to restock the fridge with new things!
    5. Everyone goes to bed early, even Mom and Dad.
    6. The neighborhood is completely quiet at night, because everyone else went to bed early, even the dogs, and no a/c units running.
    7. I was able to use up many candles from my secret sisters.
    8. We sat outside at night in the moonlit yard, because it was cooler outside.
    9. We ate healthier–all those fruits and veggies that don’t have to be refrigerated!
    10.The kids could go in and out the door as much as they wanted; there’s no cold air to keep in the house!

    And one blessing of 100 degree temps: The new shingles sealed really well as Troy repaired the roof from storm damage :)

    I’m sure there’s more than that, but that’s what I came up with. We are very thankful for the Lord’s provision. We may not have had everything we wanted, but we had everything we needed. Then we had our missionaries from India come on Wed. night, and talk about how it is 130 degrees there, and they lose their electricity 10 to 12 hours every day. Wow!

  • kim said:

    Unfortunatly most people will refuse to do anything to help themselves. They all think it wont happen to them, and if it does theywill be taken care of somehow. Is this a wakeup call for these people? I doubt it. It is very sad to think that people have become so reliant on everyone but themselves.

  • Barry said:

    Good points Kendra. Up where I live it seems that long term power outings are becoming common yet the people are out protesting transmission line improvement. Makes you wonder.

    I was shocked to find out that our local grocery stores shut down with the power outage even though they have backup generators. They immediately threw the perishable food out! The only thing I could figure is they were afraid of lawsuits if someone claimed against them. To many dishonest people I think trying to game the system. Very sad.

    We have considered setting up an alternate power box to connect to our generator to power essentials. The cost with generator included is around $1500.00. We are reluctant as we are trying to sell our home (to no avail)and move south. Propane gas generation is the cheapest way I think as the price of gas doesn’t lend itself to cost effectiveness. Ultimately we will use this power box to set up our solar / wind power that is on our horizon.

  • Dawn said:

    Good post!

    Our eyes were opened to the need for emergency supplies even while traveling.

    We were at a family reunion in West Virginia when a storm knocked out the power. Our relatives there were without power for a full week, in temperatures over 100 degrees. Their church had power, so we held the reunion in the church basement.

    These poor relatives lost all of their food, some are getting older and cannot handle the heat well, and if not for their church, they would have had a very hard time with this power loss.

    Several area grocery stores lost all of their perishable foods. Walmart was still open, and the lines were LONG as people got what they would need.

    From there, we traveled to Pigeon Forge, TN for a few days. The a/c was not functioning in our cabin when we arrived, and it was over 100 inside the cabin. The problem was quickly repaired and we were refunded our money for that night, so we can’t complain.

    Later in the week, a storm knocked out power throughout the area. Our cabin was without power for about 13 hours. The extended family was at the cabin when the storm struck, but our immediate family was in a restaurant. The road to our cabin was blocked by downed power lines, and we almost had to spend the night in the car.

    I’d packed lots of flashlights & batteries, so our relatives at the cabin were able to use those. Later, we were able to find an alternative road, move some trees out of the way, and return to the cabin…and boy, was I glad we’d packed several flashlights and extra batteries!

    For our home, we have a generator large enough to handle our water pump, a space heater or fan for use in one room, the refrigerator, and a lamp or two. We also have a small propane camping stove. We usually have 3 – 4 gallon jugs of water and a few cases of bottled water in the garage. That’s it.

    This storm was a good reminder to be PREPARED, even in the summer. I’d like to have a larger food supply, a larger storage of gas for the generator, and a larger supply of propane.

  • Kendra at New Life On A Homestead (author) said:

    Dawn,

    I never would have even thought about bringing supplies with me while traveling. GREAT POINTS!! Yeah, you never know WHERE you’ll be when a storm or other crisis strikes. You may NOT be at home. Thank you for reminding us that carrying an emergency kit in your vehicle is such a wise idea. I’m glad you all made it through alright.

  • ashlee said:

    We lost power for a few hours one evening, then for a little over 24 hours. I think we were lucky. When the first storm hit here and we were huddled in the basement I realized that had that storm been a tornado and we had to be in the basement for a while, or if our house got blown from over our heads we had nothing. I am now planning on getting some emergency supplies and keeping them in the basement. You have some great suggestions, too. Luckily we have a generator, so for the small amount of time that we had no power we could keep the fridge going, use the microwave so we could eat, and have a fan running during the night so we could sleep. Of course that set up is contingent upon the availability of gasoline.

  • Laurie B said:

    Kendra, excellent post. A great one too for those still living under the assumption that it can’t happen to them.

    Along with the things mentioned in your post and above, we always make sure to never let our gas tanks in our cars get below half, so that if we need to drive a few hours away, we can. And the cell phones charged up too, like you recommended.

    We’re living in a world that, for a variety of reasons, is now a world where anything goes. The only safety we have is in God, and as a friend of mine says “God gave you a brain, and He expects you to use it!” Use wisdom and be prepared, people!!! We can only truly depend on God and the wisdom He’s given us to be self-sustainable!

    Thanks so much Kendra, for the great post. I will indeed be passing it along!

  • Still Think it Can't Happen to You? | Christian Mom Living said:

    [...] Kendra at New Life on a Homestead’s post yesterday gives us a glimpse into what kinds of things are happening here that may be more common in the foreseeable future.  The storms that swept the East Coast recently have left millions without power, and Kendra gave us a peek into their lives with this recent post.  [...]

  • Kendra at New Life On A Homestead (author) said:

    Ashlee,

    I’ve been meaning to put together a kit to put in my dad’s basement for the times we have tornado warnings here. We always head to his place, but if something did happen we wouldn’t have any supplies. It’s been on my to-do for a while. Thanks for the reminder!!

  • Anonymous said:

    We had an ice storm a few years back and I never expected relatives who were without heat to camp at my house. So even if you have the good fortune to not be affected, expect to take care of others (sigh).

    Pay the money NOW and get the hand pump for the water well (I recommend a Made in Maine Bison) and INSTALL IT NOW! Same goes for a wood stove (I recommend the Baker’s Oven…great for a small space but you can still bake bread and heat saucepans on top). Same goes for a propane camp stove/oven combo with enough stored fuel to run 1000 hours.

    Think about replacing all your curtain rods with the kind that have sliding clip to the fabric rings. In heat, clip up wet sheets over open windows so that when the hot breeze blows in, it passes through those wet sheets and makes the interior of the house seem a bit cooler and less dusty (here the hot, dry winds sweep through the plains, can’t relate to hot and muggy).

    Say “NO” to vacations, birthday gifts, Christmas gifts etc. until your basic needs are in place. Yes, you REALLY can skip vacations several years in a row if necessary.

    Keep lots of tuna, Vienna Sausages, canned ham, canned chicken, dry cereal, Spam, simple foods on hand for when it is too hot (or too crazy) to cook.

    Excellent post Kendra!

  • amdenning said:

    In my mind,it is easier to prepare for life inconveniences over time versus all at once. Few extra water jugs means when our water heater busted a pipe, we could keep up hand washing etc. We don’t have a basement, but in the last year we bought an underground storm shelter that was put in in under 3 hours. It was cheaper for the drop in kind, versus what my husband estimated for building one. Plus much quicker! 9 tornados in our county last year really made us question what we needed on hand and where! In there besides extra food and water, we put 3 days worth of clothing after witnessing a coworker lose her home in a fire. With the drought this year, I put my cake keeper in my sink to catch the water from rinsing fruit and veggies, then use that to water our blueberries bushes late in the evening. Or a pitcher to catch while waiting for water to heat up to wash dishes. After realizing how much we truly waste, it is a habit I now want to keep up! Thanks for all of the suggestions! Some we have ran into ourselves and others were great food for thought!

  • Denise said:

    We lost our power for two weeks after an April tornado last year. It was challenging. People do get crazy especially about food and gas and their cellphones. We had our cars gassed up and since I work at home (on the computer which of course didnt work) our gas in our cars lasts several weeks. We have two cars so knew that hubby would have enough gas to last him four weeks at least. He works at a grocery store and they had power in about four days so he continued to work during this time. We used as much as we could from the freezer but ended up throwing a lot away. I now try to can as much as possible. The freezer will stay cold if you throw a heavy blanket over it and do not open it up for three days. I did my laundry in the kitchen sink and hung things out to dry. I read a lot and recommend having some reading material handy. It did get rather cool at night but we had extra blankets on the bed.

    I have since gotten a solar oven. It works wonderfully! Having a little charcoal grill as backup is a good idea as well as propane tanks can be hard to come by when there might not be any deliveries of such near you. I have also gotten a hand cranked weather radio/am/fm that also works on solar power. We had oil lamps to use but tried to go to bed as soon as it got dark. I do cross stitching, knitting and found doing that in the daylight was better than at night with the oil lamp. Using mirrors around the lamps will make the room brighter. Also if you sew, I found instructions on the internet how to convert an old sewing machine to a hand crank machine or treadle.

    We were lucky to have water during this time. But if you have enough time to do it filling up the bathtub with water and filling all containers possible with water will get you through a rough patch. Also if you have the weather radio going, check to see when the rain might be coming and put out containers to catch any rain water.

    During the duration of our two week outage, I actually saw kids out playing. Everyone was talking to strangers. It was actually kind of interesting to see how close disasters bring us closer together as people. Everyone is equal during a disaster. All those walls break down.

  • Jessica said:

    I read about someone taking the solar lanterns along their walkway into the house in the evening for some battery-free light. I don’t think you could use them to read by, but it’s good in a pinch to get around without banging into everything. I also saw somewhere that you can do your laundry by walking around on it in the bathtub. I’m totally doing that with rainbarrel water the next time the power is out! The last time we had a major outage it was for almost two weeks. That’s a ton of dirty laundry! This winter we plan on making a greenhouse by bending a hog panel over a few existing raised beds and covering it with plastic. Takes a lot longer for food still attached to the plant to go bad. Same with animals; don’t have to worry about the chicken spoiling in the freezer if it’s still running around the back yard. Plus, if it’s a hen that’s still a good layer you get fresh eggs delivered almost every day!

  • ann said:

    Every year I put together a box of hurricane supplies. Non perishable food, batteries, flashlights and candles. Cases of water. I do another box of just paper goods, plates, cups, paper towels, diapers, tissues, and any other thing made of paper that I regularly use cloth for. Instead of using multiple cups, you can write each persons name on one cup and use more than once for water. Don’t forget long shelf life milk. Last hurricane, our little one was on soy milk. We were out when we found 2 gallons at Target, we bought one and left the other for someone else. Keep extra meds and pet food. Don’t forget a hand operated can opener, you will need it as well as a lighter and or matches.

    Don’t count on getting anything at stores. The minute anything happens people clear the shelves, even if it is something they don’t need, they buy it. When we have to evacuate, we leave an electric powered answering machine on. If we call home, and it picks up, we know we have electricity.

    Don’t forget to rotate the food items in your emergency stash. Usually, at the end of hurricane season, I donate the food in mine to a local food pantry.

    I also pack a “grab and go” box. This box has any important papers we might need, passports, car titles, insurance information, bank information and copy of house title. If I can’t take anything else, this box would go with me.

  • Kendra at New Life On A Homestead (author) said:

    Very good advice, Ann.

  • ann said:

    One more important thing, we live in town so don’t have a well. I have several clean, new trash cans in the garage. If we are going to evacuate, I bring these in and fill them with water. While we can’t drink it, we can use it to bathe and clean with, two important things after a storm or flood. I also pack some of our clothes in zip lock bags, we can have dry clothes then if we need them.

    I know many of us don’t like to use bleach, but after a flood you really need it for cleanup. a box with clean up supplies is handy, it can be next to impossible to find a broom, mop, or anything for cleaning with after a bad storm.

    Make an inventory of your house now, don’t count on your memory, you will forget stuff when you file a claim. It does not take long to take a picture or make a video of your “stuff” and this can be a huge help in an insurance claim. Make more than one copy, and send the copy to someone else, plus have one in your “grab and go”.

  • Kirsten said:

    Great food for thought, especially that being prepared doesn’t just mean being prepared for a an end of the world scenario – it could just be storm damage to the power lines!

    We have always got plenty of non-perishable food on hand, and an alternate cooking source, but we don’t have any back up power. We are 100% solar powered, but it’s grid-connected, so if the grid goes down, we go down. We also have some tank water but it’s not potable (we just use it for the garden) so I’ve been meaning to invest in some those water sterilisation tablets, but haven’t done it.

    I think water would be our biggest issue, and power for the freezer the next one. It doesn’t get incredibly hot or cold here generally (no snow) and we have good insulation and shades on our North & west windows, so no heating or cooling would be an inconvenience more than anything.

    Anyway, great post. You’ve got me thinking. There is definitely more we need to do to really be prepared.

  • Arya said:

    Hi!

    These are some very good tips! Something that I think is great, as opposed to storing clean water is to use iodine. Boiling water is great, but you never know if it will be convenient. Especially if you can’t stay in your home.

    http://www.instructables.com/id/How-To-Purify-Water-Using-Iodine-Tincture/

  • Amy said:

    I was without power during and after an ice storm for 13 days. We got by with our kerosene heater and bottled water we had stored up. Thank goodness we live right on a river so we could use river water for flushing! HAHAHA But seriously, having lots of canned foods to heat up on our kerosene heater, being content and happy to work using the light of day and go to bed early, and cooperating with neighbors for food and other basic needs got us by quite well. But oh how i long for the days when i was growing up and we had a wood burning stove. Cooking and even baking would have been so much easier in the storm aftermath.

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