If the power goes off for longer than an hour, and you cannot contact your power company. Make these preventative emergency decisions:
Get a Radio: Locate a battery operated radio and go to the emergency channel. You will be informed if the problem is long term or short term, and you can keep up with the progress. Rechargeable batteries are vital, as is a solar battery charger. Check E-bay for a charger and purchase rechargeable batteries.
Store Water Quickly: Fill bath tubs with water as parts of the city water system will not continue to work if there is a long-term city power outage. You will need 1 gallon of water per person per day for drinking & cooking water and personal hygiene. Start by storing three or four cases of bottled water. Use them regularly, and rotate them. Do not store water bottles without using them as the plastic will get weak and crack and leak. Water is also available from your water heater, as most water heaters have faucets on them. Check now to see if your water heater has a faucet. There will probably be sand in the water, so make sure and filter it before drinking or cooking with it. If you can store water in lined 40 – gallon drums, use unscented chlorine bleach to purify the water. 1 tablespoon per 50 gallons.
Lighting: Pre-plan what type of lighting you will have available for a long-term power outage. Candles can cause fire damage and must never be used while walking around the house. Wind-up lanterns are great until the windup spring breaks. These are not very reliable! Rechargeable battery lanterns work well, as do kerosene or oil lamps that should be stationery and not carried around the house. Fragrance free kerosene works well long term. Don’t forget matches or a lighter.
Plan A Porta-Potty: At some point the city sewer may back up because the sewer is run by electricity. If you have two bathrooms, designate one for fecal waste and one for water waste. You can use bathtub water to pour into the toilet bowl to flush. Or you can empty the toilet bowl; tape the flush handle to the wall so it’s not used, and line the toilet bowl with a plastic bag. As often as needed, tie off the bag and put in a designated container outside until you can dispose of the waste either by a city pick-up or bury it in the yard. Purchase several containers of an air freshener to keep smell controlled. Also if you use a bag in the toilet bowl, or a home-made porta-potty with a 5-gallon bucket and toilet lid, use kitty litter after each use. Water, waste and trash elimination are going to be one of your biggest challenges. Think it through well before you need to deal with it.
Calculate Supplies: Figure out how much of the following you will need for one month, and then three months. The blog “What To Buy, How Much and Where” will give you those details.
- Paper Supplies: toilet paper, paper towels, paper plates.
- Shampoo, deodorant, shower soap, dish soap, laundry soap, tooth paste, dental floss.
- Medical supplies: band aides, sterile tape, cotton pads, Neosporin, alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, ace bandage, Tylenol and other pain medications. Cayenne pepper to stop bleeding, small sewing kit.
- Special needs: Take into consideration medication, glasses, walker, cane, oxygen, and any durable medical equipment.
Store Food: Begin adding food to your pantry, making choices of food you already eat. If you eat canned tuna, purchase two more cans when you are at the store. Learn to make meals that do not require a lot of cooking. Do not purchase expensive pre-packaged disaster food kits as they contain lots of preservatives and may not be the type of food you eat.
Print this out and keep it on the side of your refrigerator so that you can have easy access to it if the power goes out and doesn’t come on within a few hours. Then be prepared, get organized, and stop procrastinating. Last of all, don’t allow fear to enter your mind or your home!