Spring may be just around the corner, but forecasters have also predicted that this will be an especially long winter. That means that in many parts of North America there may be late winter storms that bring both ice and snow. At the same time, March is typically a very windy month. So there may still be plenty of challenging weather on the menu for March, and that can make it a month when the power goes out unexpectedly.
That increases the importance of incorporating emergency planning into your home maintenance regimen. Storms that knock out power can be an annoyance, and if they are severe enough they can be potentially dangerous. To minimize the inconvenience while maximizing the health of your home and the safety of its occupants, every home should have drinking water, food, a heat source, and adequate supplies of any prescription medicines that occupants of your home need.
Most families know that they need to stock at least a week’s supply of any important prescription medications that family members require. What they often neglect to do, however, is to also stock up on medicines that they pets may need.
Another easy mistake to make is to stash those meds and then just forget about them. That could mean that when you really need them in an emergency they have passed their expiration date and may not be as effective.
The way to keep track of this is when you put prescriptions into your emergency stash, go to your calendar and make a note to check them prior to the expiration date. That way you’ll have a reminder to replace drugs in a timely fashion.
If you drink contaminated water you can develop a terrible illness which will only magnify the gravity of your situation and make you too weak to take care of yourself.
Even if water looks clear and clean, it may contain bacteria that can cause dysentery or other potentially life-threatening diseases. The solution is to boil the water before you drink it, to kill any harmful bacteria.
Fortunately there are also many water purification gadgets on the market that help you filter and sterilize water before you drink it.But if you want to save on money and keep it simple, you can buy water purification tablets that dissolve in water to make it safe.
The Centers for Disease Control also advises that you can purify a gallon of water with 1/8 to 1/4 of a teaspoon of household bleach – as long as the bleach is the plain kind and has no added perfumes or scenting chemicals. Set aside just a pint bottle of bleach and you’re good to go, with enough to purify between 500 and 1,000 gallons of water.
Keeping warm can be one of the biggest challenges, especially for the majority of homeowners who do not have a fireplace to rely upon as a back-up plan. If you heat with gas, and the gas is still working, you’re in great shape. But while your gas stove may work when the power is off, most furnaces use electricity for ignition or in the thermostat. That means that even if the gas is on you won’t have heat if the electrical grid is down.
One way to protect yourself is with a portable heater, but many of these use kerosene or other fuel and need to be properly ventilated so that you don’t inhale toxic carbon monoxide. So use them with care, following all the manufacturer’s safety guidelines.
Keep plenty of warm clothes (including thick socks) and blankets on hand, because you can always pile on the layers to stay warm. Another great idea is to invest in some quality sleeping bags made for camping, that are rated for extreme cold. You can check their tags to find out what temperatures they are designed for, and you can find many high-tech sleeping bags that are also super lightweight and even pack up into a tiny bundle that is easy to store. If you are caught in a worse case scenario, you can always bundle up in sleeping bags and stay warm that way until the power comes back on or other help arrives.
Food is the easy part, because you can purchase emergency food supplies made for military use. We’re talking high-calorie bars used by the Coast Guard or high-protein “meals ready to eat” or MRE’s that are used by all branches of the military to feed soldiers in the field. You can even stock up on Ramen noodles and cans of tomato paste to survive most any off-grid situation for a long, long time.
But the mistake that most people make is that they only stock their emergency pantry with that kind of food, which is ordinary, rather tasteless, and not much fun to eat. Why is that a mistake? You can survive on it, but in an emergency one of the only ways to keep your spirits high and have something to look forward to is if you have tasty treats. Otherwise children, and even adults, can get really cranky or bummed-out with really nothing to entertain them and not much to do.
So make sure you also invest in high-energy granola bars or similar sweet treats that are also packed with nutrition. Think about other treats you and your kids like that have a long shelf life and don’t require cooking.
Make a fun menu for your emergency food supplies – including raisons, peanut butter and jelly, fruit roll-ups, and maybe some marshmallows plus some unopened boxes of saltines that last a long time without getting stale. You can also buy military MRE bread, which tastes a little strange at first but lasts forever without getting stale. When you’re hungry and have something yummy to spread on it you’ll quickly adapt to the taste.
Stash some condensed milk and a tin of powdered hot chocolate, too, plus plenty of coffee. That way you can have a hot cup of java or hot chocolate every hour, and that is great for your morale. Keep some vanilla extract around the kitchen, too, and you can whip up some snow ice cream with that and some condensed milk.