29 September 2013

Frankenstorm Prep

Dear Lissy,
A monster hurricane-Nor'Easter combination is bearing down on us as I write.  We have the usual emergency preparedness kits, but I wanted to give you a few ideas about easing life for your family and yourself during a 72 hour to week long power outage.

Fill the bathtubs.
We use far more water than we realize, and it's a shame to use drinking water to flush the toilet, do dishes, or simply heat a pot of water to clean up.

Know how to draw water off your hot water heater.
Chance are you have about 40 gallons of potable water sitting in your water heater.  A simple spigot makes it easy to refill pitchers and gallon jugs.

Pre-cook your meals.
It's pretty simple to keep food  cold for 72 hours with only a cooler or even in the fridge.  It takes only minutes to reheat a meal over less-than-stellar heat sources like a grill or woodstove.  For this storm I cooked off

  • 6 pounds of chicken, 
  • A ham (this is the most versatile since it can be used at any meal)
  • A steak 
  • A batch of meatballs
  • 2 dozen eggs
  • Rice pilaf
  • Barley pilaf
  • Spaghetti
  • Rotini
I have fully stocked the fridge and pantry with canned and fresh fruit and veggies as well.  Instant pudding and a bag of chocolates provide a few treats for morale. 

Have "comfort" snacks available.  
I normally hate the idea of manipulating emotions with food, but favorite snacks, drinks, and a few extra sweets will go a long way during a tense time and can be taken to a shelter if necessary.  I like to stock up on cheese sticks, beef jerky, granola bars, graham crackers or celery with peanut butter, fresh fruit, carrot sticks and dip, and nuts. We almost always have Gatorade powder on hand, but Kool-Aid or Mio works well, too. Nothing decompresses tension quite as well as mom yelling "OH, NO!!!!  The power's out!!!  Quick!!! We NEED to eat ALL of the ice cream before it melts!!!!"

Have all the laundry washed, dried, folded, and put away.  Iron a church outfit for each person if there's time.
One time during a hurricane I was already 3 loads behind and then had 4 days worth of laundry before the power was back on.  Never again!!!

Fill the car with gas.  Check the oil, wiper fluid, etc.
Gas pumps need electricity to run and for payment, and gas prices always rise following a storm.  It's a win-win to just fill up.

Bring sleeping bags, pads, and cots into a "safe" common room in case you have to move in the middle of the night.  It's no fun to have to search for those items in the dark.

Bring flashlights and batteries to a central location.  
Camping headlamps are a great choice since they're hands free.  We've tried to purchase flashlights and lamps that use a wide variety of battery sizes.  We also have candles and Kerosene lamps.

Have games, books, crafts, and coloring sheets available.
Even teens can get into crafts and coloring if there's no power!  

Keep your mood light and upbeat, even if you're tense.  Your kids (and animals!) pick up on the fear and tension.

We're optimistic that Sandy won't hit us too hard, but we can manage well for up to a week if the need arises.


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