Power outages are common occurrences when nature decides to turn rogue. It can be a nightmare for the unprepared to be caught in the dark, without provisions or even injured. We rely on electricity for light, heating, preserving and cooking food, pumping water and a host of other crucial uses. Depending on whether the power loss has been caused by floods, snow, hurricane, tornado or storm, the key is to be prepared.
Firstly you will need food. This will consist mainly of canned staple foods and soups. They should be stored in a water resistant container such as a large covered bucket for every member of the family. It is also important to check that the cans are not close to their expiry date on a regular basis. Personal preferences such as vegan, gluten-free and lactose-free foods need to be included. Another important consideration is baby food if you have a tot. Furthermore, if you have pets, their food should be packed.
Of course, a can opener should be packed. An alternative would be a Swiss army utility pen knife that has different useful tools. Most foods need either cooking or heating before eating. For this reason, some cooking pots basic cutlery including serving spoons should be part of your supplies. A camping butane stove or a kerosene one with enough fuel for cooking should be stocked. If your house has a fireplace, then enough lumber and tinder to last out the outage needs to be stocked.
The next essential commodity is water. With power down, the ability to pump water might be impossible. To ensure adequate drinking supplies, keep at least a gallon per individual per day and a large central container for cooking and hygiene. A water purifying system will also come in handy. If clean water is impossible to get, any other should be boiled thoroughly before consumption to prevent water-borne diseases.
Another essential is warm clothing. One should have a few sets of warm socks and underwear including a couple of warm sweaters and jackets. This is especially true if you are cut off in a cold and remote location. Some heavy blankets, Sleeping Bags or curtains can provide insulation from the cold.
A first aid kit will be needed in case of injury.
Within it the following items are crucial:
• A pair of scissors
• Gauze bandages and antiseptic
• Special medication e.g. asthma, diabetes, etc
• Surgical spirit
• Spectacles, contact lens and hearing aids as needed.
Personal care items such as soap, wet lotion wipes, and tampons or sanitary pads, dental floss and toothpaste should be catered for. Tooth and hair brushes are must have necessities. With no water for the flush toilet, this will definitely be an area of concern. Depending on the location of your house it could be possible to construct a rudimentary outhouse which is a hole in the ground that can be filled in with earth once power resumes. A bucket latrine could also be constructed for indoor use.
A bucket toilet consists of a garbage bag in a bucket. At the bottom, some peat moss or kitty litter is placed and a bit more every time it is used. The bag is then tied and put outside for disposal. For short calls, outside should be the norm.
With no lights, one should stock enough candles and matches, especially where they are unlikely to get into contact with water. If one has solar lighting, this is a huge plus. All the same, a couple of LED flashlights and batteries should be part of your survivor kit. It is also a good idea to have a general map or layout of the house to avoid hazards such as falling down a flight of stairs or tripping on a carpet edge.
Entertainment will help to keep one’s spirits up in the event the outage lasts a couple of days. Pack a novel, a deck of cards or some other games appropriate for a group. A crank radio or battery powered radio is also essential for updates on the situation, especially if caused by a hurricane or other natural calamity. A whistle can be used to alert people nearby should you require help. Other communication gadgets such as mobile phone will require an emergency power pack.
In conclusion, the rule of thumb is better safe than sorry. Provisions for such an eventuality are best made well in advance so that a power outage for a couple of days does not turn into a nightmare. To be forewarned they say is to be forearmed.
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