Anyone on the East Coast of the United States knows there was a huge storm system a couple of weeks ago that took out lots of old trees and, subsequently, the power lines in much of the Washington area, and surrounding states.
We were affected at my house, losing power for nearly a full 24 hours, and we were among the lucky ones. This meant trying to sleep on a hot, humid night with no air conditioning, no coffee the next morning and wondering how to re-adjust our Saturday with no power. Sadly, most of the businesses we visit were suffering from the same power outage.
In addition, we were in a bit of shock — we NEVER lose power during these events — whether caused by thunderstorm or snow. Our street is an evacuation route, and we have been fairly well protected, so we really kept expecting the power to come right back on.
Lesson learned. We had a bit of an emergency kit, but after about one hour, we realized we were ill prepared. So did, apparently, much of our surrounding neighborhood, based on the run on D-batteries at local stores. (They were totally sold out at the Target and the CVS.) Lines at gas stations were blocks down the street when folks realized not all stations had power. So, time to get prepped. Not like ‘Doomsday Preppers,’ but reasonably prepared in case a very likely thunderstorm system comes through again, or we will have it ready for the next Snowmageddon.
Step 1 – Check out the Red Cross preparedness lists. These are reasonable targets. Their ‘Be Red Cross Ready’ General Preparedness list looks like a good model to me. State Farm insurance also has some good advice, under Disaster Preparedness.
Step 2 – Make our own readiness plans. We realized we actually have a lot of what we need in the house, but the frustration of having no air conditioning and no access to TV news or the Internet really threw us off.
Step 3 – Go shopping. There are definitely some things missing from our emergency kit, and one of those things is a real ‘KIT.’ Time to take these things seriously.
Here’s my shopping/packing list:
- Hand-crank/solar-powered NOAA radio
- Candles, a lighter and matches.
- Box of easy-burn logs for the fire place. These don’t keep us super warm, but they do help take the chill off when the furnace isn’t working. Hard to prioritize this when it’s 90 degrees outside, but they ought to be cheap right now.
- Bottled water — we have a water filter in our refrigerator, but it’s easy to keep a case of water bottles in the basement.
- Dry goods — cereal/oatmeal for a no-electricity breakfast, canned soup for lunch, other foods with long shelf life we can store for a year or two. Shelf-stable rice milk.
- Contact numbers for family and utilities — these were all on my mobile phone, and my reception died, and so did my phone batteries. That said, we do have a land-line phone that works in our house. Points for that.
- Solar-power cell phone charger (I have this, but it wasn’t where I needed it!)
- Fresh 6-volt battery for our large camping-type flashlight. This is the light we relied on most, and we definitely should have a backup battery for it.
- AA, AAA, C, D batteries – Everyone seems to want them when the power goes out. If we don’t use them, I suppose under dire circumstances we could barter them.
I’d love to get your suggestions and hear your power-out stories. My fingers are crossed that we don’t see another week without power around here this summer. We’ve paid our dues.