When the lights go out during a storm, most of us calmly seek out a candle or two and sit down to wait it out. Most of us also are aware that we should not open and close the refrigerator unnecessarily, and that we will survive quite well for a meal or two on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, or chips and salsa.
If the power is out unexpectedly for 24 hours or longer, if the timetable for restoration of services is unknown, do you have a plan? When the unexpectedly severe storm swept through the Dallas-Fort Worth area recently scores of thousands of households were left without power for an extended period of time.
Some supermarkets operated on generators, allowing shoppers to purchase prepared deli foods and snacks. Luckily, outside temperatures were moderate, and most area residents were comfortable. The outages were scattered enough that life went on pretty much as normal.
But, two days later, some residents were still without power.
Taking Stock of What Won’t Work in a Power Cut
Modern life is heavily dependent on “plugging in.” Not only food storage and food preparation, but timekeeping, keeping in touch, getting news, transacting business — in short, most of the necessities — are disrupted by an electrical outage. Even transportation, in the case of filling a car from a neighborhood gas pump, can become an impossibility.
When home services are interrupted, it is an inconvenience. When commercial or municipal services are interrupted, the situation rapidly escalates, resulting in traffic jams, fear and shortages of necessary supplies, including police and emergency services.
If the increasing regularity of “natural” disasters has not yet prompted you to consider prepping for an emergency, now may be the time to reconsider.
Simple Steps to Take in a Power Cut
Getting through a 2-3 day power outage should not be a major concern. Here are a few steps to take to be ready. Food is generally the prime concern. But in extreme weather conditions, keeping warm or cool become vital as well.
- Camping gear is a great help. Coleman lanterns, portable butane grills, battery-operated fans, heaters and radios, and nutritious food packs are easily stored and are a great help in an emergency situation. Sleeping bags and thermal gear can be important in the winter.
- Have non-electric small appliances and health and grooming aids available.
- Stockpile indoor and outdoor candles and extra lighters or a supply of matches.
- Keep an extra propane tank filled for the backyard barbecue.
- Know how to make dry ice from a home fire extinguisher.
- Make certain you have a supply of appropriate batteries for flashlights and radios, and for other equipment you feel would be necessary or important to your health and happiness.
- Keep jugs of water on hand, and also stock such products as powdered milk, powdered eggs and instant drink mixes.
- Make a “meet-up” plan; develop a way to keep in touch, or a place to meet family members as a contingency. If the power goes out and you are separated from other family members, you will want a way to get together. Schools and businesses usually have contingency plans; families often do not.
- Keep some cash on hand; the amount is up to you.
When planning for emergencies start short then go long
By considering your options in advance of the need, you will increase your ability to cope in case of serious occurrences. And by planning to deal with little problems — such as a short-term power outage, you may just begin your journey toward long-term preparedness.
The editor of Resounding Earth, and pursuer of relatively interesting information, Simon has a Masters Degree in Creative Writing and Journalism from the University of Wales, and is a photo-journalist and writer whose written and photographic work has been represented by the AFP news agency and appeared in newspapers across Europe and Asia.