What I learned During a Recent Power Outage

You can find a wealth of excellent emergency preparedness checklists online, ranging from generalized to specific types of emergencies and from your basic three-day stores to long-term “prepping”. I’m a firm believer in being prepared, but in reality, even those of us who are very aware of the need are not always on top of it, and for many people emergency preparedness is another thing on their on-going to-do lists that continually gets skipped over as the more pressing matters of day-to-day life completely run over the best intentions. A recent five hour power outage on a cold, snowy day was a great drill that quickly made me aware of some very easy things that we should all do to maintain a basic level of preparedness. I would like to share these insights with you.

My Tips for Always Being Prepared

  • Don’t wait until you run out of the things you use on a daily basis to go buy more. Some things, like toilet paper and pet food, are common to most households but little things like your favorite soda or juice can make a big difference, too. When the power goes out you’ll kick yourself over the things you put off yesterday.
  • Always have plenty of propane or charcoal for your grill, even during the winter. You’ll be able make use of your normal, everyday food and cooking tools instead of having to rely on items that are purchased solely for emergencies.
  • Always have checks and some cash on-hand even if you normally rely on credit and debit cards. Many businesses will not be able to process cards and some will not take checks during an outage.
  • Always have a corded, landline phone, even if you normally only use your cell phone. At least one cell phone carrier was out all day here, it happened to be the most popular one in our area.
  • Always have a good manual can opener. Seriously, if you normally use an electric can opener, don’t just buy a cheap can opener and throw it in a drawer for emergencies. Actually test it out to make sure it functions well. You do not need the added frustration of fighting with a bad can opener.
  • If you are a coffee drinker, get a coffee press and learn to use it. It’s easy and it can alleviate unnecessary tension. Bonus: the coffee is excellent! You’ll want to have coffee grounds on-hand for this, but if you normally use pods you can cut them open and dump out the grounds in a pinch. Whole beans are a different story.
  • Have something to do, especially if you have children. A deck of cards and a couple of board games can turn an inconvenience into a great memory. In a more serious emergency, it will keep the kids occupied and out of your hair while you take care of essential business.
  • Keep paper plates and plastic wear on-hand, even if you normally eschew them. If you have hot water at all, you don’t want to waste it on washing dishes.
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