22 August 2013

Emergency Preparedness For A Blackout

So last night at about 8:30 we lost electricity along with 2500 of our neighbors. It seemed fun until just after I got candles lit all over the house. I headed for my laptop, happily knowing I had a fully charged battery. Depression sank in when I remembered I couldn't access the internet with the modem having no electricity. Such a drag.

Two hours later I had no phone battery left and with two flashlights in hand headed to our parking garage to plug my cell phone into the car charger. Just as I sat down in the car, the lights came back on. Crisis averted with just nine percent charge left on my phone.

So this inspired me to write a post on dealing with power blackouts. Here are a few ideas to get you through and a few handy things to have in the house during a blackout.

1) A good supply of candles. I always try to keep two IKEA 100 tealight candle packs in the house. I have enough little lanterns and glass candle holders that I can light the space up pretty well with a few well-placed tea lights. I also have a good supply of larger candles as well. No lack of candlelight if we need it.

2) A quality lantern with batteries. My mom bought this lantern for all of us for Christmas a few years ago. I keep the batteries in a separate space so they don't corrode in the lantern and ruin it. It requires quite a few large D batteries, which aren't cheap.

3) An emergency charger. The Man just bought this last week and he tried it out yesterday afternoon. Unfortunately last night when I needed it he'd already drained it testing it out earlier. But I definitely became a convert. It works like a charm. He mentioned buying another one which I am totally supportive of now.

4) Solar powered charger. You can get these for a phone or even for a laptop. These are super helpful during the day, but not so much at night. Wasn't an option during our nighttime blackout unfortunately. These are great for camping and the outdoors too.

5) Frozen ice packs in freezer. I started getting worried about the food in our freezer and refrigerator when initial estimates stated our power would be out for 10+ hours. The first key is to keep the fridge and freezer doors tightly closed. Don't let the cold air escape. Keeping frozen ice in bottles or buckets or packs in the freezer can help keep it cold too. Depending on the season of the year, the food should stay cold/frozen for several hours before you need to worry.

If we were to get to the breaking point where the refrigerator couldn't do it's job anymore I would grab our small coolers, load them with ice packs and put in all the hard core necessity items: milk, meats, etc. I would pack them tightly and then wrap them up in as many heavy blankets as I could find for insulation.

A couple of other things to consider during a blackout is safety. When the power goes out, the gates to our apartment parking garage have to be left open so that people can come and go. That means anyone can get into the building with easy access to the elevators up to the apartments. It also leaves cars and anything in the garage vulnerable to theft, especially when it's pitch black in the garage. The building security system also does not work.

Last night was also a good reminder to run the dishwasher as soon as it is full. Once the power was out, I was doomed to a load of still dirty dishes until morning. We also learned a good lesson in cleaning things up as soon as you are done with them. Once it was dark and the power was out it certainly was a lot harder to clean up a mountain of tiny Legos off The Bug's bed with only a flashlight to illuminate things.

It's also good to keep a flashlight handy in key places around the house and to try to keep those emergency tools in the same place all the time. It was nice to know I could go right to my nightstand and grab my headlamp to wear around the house while I was trying to wrap up the day. I also keep a pair of shoes right there under my bed for nighttime emergencies as well as my lantern & batteries. Every person in our family knew exactly where to find their own flashlights to use. We have them in bedrooms, by the front door, in the kitchen, etc.

You may wonder how we have so many flashlights. Well, The Man is Mr. Super Prepared and seems to have a bit of an obsession with high powered flashlights. If the world comes tumbling down, he's the guy I want to be with because he is beyond ultra prepared. I was also glad I knew exactly where to go for matches and a lighter. No frustration was had trying to immediately get the house up and running on flashlights and candlelight.

If you would like to know more about emergency preparedness during a blackout, The American Red Cross provides lots of information on their website. They have links to all sort of emergencies that may affect us, so it's a great spot to review all the scenarios we should take responsibility to prepare ourselves, our families and our homes for. Provident Living is another great place to get information on emergency preparedness.

I've written quite a few posts on emergency preparedness and it's interesting that they always seem to come when there has been some sort of emergency. Here are a few links.

Are We Ready? Taking The First Steps
Food Storage
Be Prepared, Safe And Comfortable
Three Important Efforts Towards Personal Preparedness
Water: An Emergency Essential
Learn To Defend You And Your Family

Hope you find something here that helps you be more prepared. It's a good feeling to know you have what you need when unexpected events happen.

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