Lessons Learned in an Emergency
Where I live in Michigan, we are very lucky when it comes to mother nature. But once in awhile......she DOES get her panties in a bunch! Especially this past year.
Now, I am NOT complaining about our mild winter. Although she could have been a sweetheart and gave us a dusting of snow for the holidays. Spring and summer are something else! We have had very little rain and pretty hot days(but often low humidity, which is fine). She tries to make up for the lack of rain all at once it seems. We just had our first major power outage in a very long time. I always think I am prepared for almost anything, but sometimes I get relaxed about things.
So here is my list for emergency preparedness.
Generator!!!! Plus extra gas cans WITH gas in them. And, if you have not used the genny in awhile, make sure it is working BEFORE you need it! Yup.....lesson learned there!!! 5 miles to get gas and an hour in line at Lowe's(no power there) for parts to get it going. Big happy dance when it finally turned over!!!
Know your wattage........go to this site and it averages then calculates for you.
If you can't afford a generator or they are sold out EVERYWHERE.......get one of those super duper 12V power packs. They are the next best thing. Especially with a power inverter.
Of course, if your generator is working great and it's big enough, half of this list is obsolete.
Lots of heavy duty extension cords! I have this covered because I love Christmas lights:)
At least one big cooler. Immediately take out everything in your fridge you think you will want and put it in the cooler. Then leave that door shut!!! Unless you open it to put bags of ice in it.
ICE!!!! Always keep bags of ice in your freezer AND full ice trays as back up. This will hold you until you can get bags of ice at a store. Huge lesson for me!
Make sure everything that is rechargeable is charged!!!! This includes cordless tools. You may have to board up something in a storm. Another lesson learned here. Label those charging cords so you know what goes with what.......uh huh! I did not do that! From now on I will!!!
Many batteries in all sizes! No further explanation needed.
Candles are okay(not safe), but camp lights are better. Rechargeable, crank, battery or solar. Get them all if you can! Try to get a Dietz kerosene lantern.
Nightlights that come on automatically when the power goes out!!!! Big lesson learned here.....especially when you have pets you trip over.
Battery powered am/fm radio
Small TV or battery powered TV and portable DVD player......remember......keep them charged and label those cords!
Cards and board games......could be awhile.
AA battery cell phone back up power, available on Ebay. USB cord AND car cord.
Battery powered fans!!!
Water!!!!! A gallon a day for each person. Don't forget the furbabies! If you know ahead of time, fill up your tub for flushing toilet or to just dump water over your head because it's 98 degrees out.
Hand sanitizer and wipes
Spray bottles! Yup.....spray bottles. I used these to cool the dogs down around their necks. I also created a shower with them. Fill one with liquid soap and water and another with plain water. Spray yourself with the soapy stuff and rinse with the other. It doesn't waste water as much and when it's hot any kind of shower will feel awesome!!!
Now.....the hair(sigh). You can use baking soda to freshen and absorb oil. If it's long, just throw it up. You can also get thermacell curling irons(Conair).......which I now have one on it's way. Another lesson:)
Battery or key wind alarm clock. Your genny might run out while you're sleeping. Yup....another lesson! Don't forget your cell phone has an alarm clock feature. Just change it to the loudest ring and take it off silent mode.....I DID remember that!
Thermometers to check your food when the power comes back on.
And those cheap magnetic battery LED work lights at Harbor Freight? Priceless!!! Hang them and stick them anywhere you can! Those will be your new lighting for awhile. And leave one on the fridge always! You will always know where one light is at least!
The number one lesson I learned is to keep the major emergency supplies together and organized. I am putting everything possible inside the big cooler and then one big tote on top of that. The smoother things go the better. I tell everyone I will be like a Nascar pit crew next time....LOL!! You might actually enjoy a power outage! It IS possible.... if you're not running around town getting supplies. Have a cook out and eat outside by candlelight. Play games you haven't played in years or gather around your fully charged DVD player, place it on the coffee table and gather on the couch for movie night.
Finally, please check on your elderly or sick neighbors in any emergency. Offer to take them in or to a cooling/warming center. Some won't leave their pets. Let them know you will take care of them AND keep an eye on their home. You could get a thank you in the form of some gooey, wonderful, fresh baked cookies:) YUM!!!
Remember......you can't fight mother nature!
I realize that most of the above was for spring/summer power outages. Probably because I had never been through a bad winter one......until NOW. Yes, Genesee County Michigan was one of the hardest hit areas in the ice storm of 2013. Most of us lost power 4 days before Christmas. Power restoration ETA from the utility company was Dec. 28th. Yup, a lot of Christmas plans changed for everyone!
But enough about that, because it all worked out. But I need to add a big item to the must have list.
I actually survived 3 days WITHOUT the generator(would not start) thanks to 2 kerosene heaters. Super toasty warm the whole time. Used my camp shower, AA USB battery charger for my phone and butane curling iron to straighten my hair. Everything in the fridge went in a cooler on the screened porch and freezer items were in boxes.
I also used an old cell phone for my alarm clock(yes, still had to go to work) to save my smartphone(my lifeline) batteries.
Knowing this storm was coming, I fully charged my back up battery and did my laundry a day earlier than normal. Then I went to bed and hoped for the best. Nope! Middle of the night Saturday, only light in the house were my power outage night lights, which I L-O-V-E!!
But unlike most, I wasn't going crazy trying to buy water, batteries, heaters, etc. I wasn't sitting out in my car charging my cell phone in winter. I was toasty warm and playing games on my phone. Caught up on some much needed sleep, also.
And the best part of it all? All my outdoors holiday lights were intact! Branches fell all around them but they survived. Got power back an hour before dark on Christmas Eve and could not wait to turn them on. I hope they brightened up someones day, because as I am writing this, I know many people still have not had power restored.
Pic below was 2 days after the storm........all that havoc yet so beautiful when the sun came out.