I’m rarely on my personal Facebook page. Wednesday, during our 12 inches of snowfall, I decided to see what people were up to. There were a lot of snow pictures which I skipped. I can go look out a window if I am desperate to see it. Or just open the broken basement door:
There were also a few “staying home and warm” posts. However, my news feed included the following:
“Our power is out. Don’t know how I’m going to make food.”
“Bye Bye Power and NO COFFEE!”
“I have NO water!”
“We’re freezing. May have to go to a relatives.”
You get the idea.
Whether people live in the south or north, the lack of preparation was surprising to me. I’ve lived in both. What is needed in one is pretty much the same as the other except for a heat source in winter. It doesn’t matter if you’re facing hurricanes or a snow storm – you keep preparations on hand. Especially when reports are all over the place warning you that bad weather is coming.
A lot of stuff has happened from chemical spills in water to winter weather in the south beyond what they are used to. Even here it seems like we are breaking low temperature records at least once a week or so. This means people are turning up heat sources which strains the power grid. Same with extreme heat temperatures – people turn up the air conditioning. Trees fall, lines come down, people not used to driving in certain weather conditions crash, etc.
I’ve posted before that FEMA recommends at least two weeks of supplies for every person. At the very least you should have three days. Some people aren’t sure what to do, what to have on hand or where to store it. I said I would post what we have, but life intervened and I forgot. But let’s touch on this a bit.
What food people store is up to them and their eating habits. For those who don’t care if food is processed, you can store cereals, canned stews, canned soups, etc. Just make sure you store a manual can opener as well. None of these require heating and can be eaten straight from the can or a bowl.
If you’re in cold weather, warm foods and drink are important. A single burner camp stove can be used by a cracked window (for ventilation). Keep a propane gas detector nearby along with a carbon monoxide detector for whatever heat source you’re using. If you own a wood stove, you can use the top to warm foods. A fireplace can have a camping cooking grill added to it, but please be careful.
I saved up and switched our electric stove to one with a propane cook top. Being trapped at the top of an icy hill with no way to cook for over 3 days during an ice storm was terrible especially with my crew. To begin with, I had to cook on the side burner on the grill. Huge pine trees overhang the deck it’s located on. When ice fell and hit me (what is it with me and ice?), I began using a camp cook stove inside near a cracked window.
I vowed to change that as soon as I could. It was a double-edged sword: cook inside and let heat we needed escape or eat cold food and lose heating our systems. I very carefully used a camp stove until I had enough saved to install a tank and stove. It took two years and four power outages. Thankfully two were in summer, so we used the grill to cook.
We have a bit more trouble than most when it comes to food storing for obvious reasons (food sensitivities for those who don’t know). I do have a basement, so I can store items like cases of water. Nothing should be stored directly on the cement floor due to the concrete leaching. Our basement is a bit on the damp side, so a box will start molding within weeks. Everything, including water, is up off the floor.
Everyone’s situation is different, so you have to do what is right for you.
For three days:
Three days may feel like a long time, but it really isn’t. As long as you won’t die from the elements or a medical condition, you will survive it – assuming you have water or a way to filter and purify some. This includes water for animals. If it’s winter, you can usually grab snow, melt it and the animals can drink that or you can filter/purify it for your family. Obviously that won’t work in summer or places that don’t get snow.
Storms come with warnings. Even someone off-grid can usually tell by the signs nature gives. Then again, someone off-grid is usually prepared no matter what. Katrina, Sandy and the recent chemical spill in WV has shown that having water on hand, or a way to purify and filter it, is an absolute must. This is also true if you have a well with an electric pump – like us.
If you don’t have an alternate cooking source, you will need food that doesn’t need heating (sandwich items, crackers, peanut butter, etc.) Plan a menu before it happens. Scrambling to figure out what you have on hand after the fact is a bit stressful. Ask me how I know.
Make sure what you store for emergencies is food you already eat and rotate it out as it gets near its expiration date. Coming from someone who sells it (me): “Emergency food” or “freeze-dried” items aren’t necessary for short-term emergencies. Some do like to keep MREs or packaged camping food. It’s a personal choice. I hate cutting onions, but I keep a can of dehydrated in the kitchen for every day use. Only you know what is right for you.
Planning for three days is easy. Even a limited budget can watch sales and pick up an extra can of veggies or soup. If you can and grow some of your own food, then you’re already set. Keep in mind this is beyond what you normally buy as groceries.
You have to plan by order of importance for your needs/situation. It does you no good to have water, but no insulin for a Type 1 Diabetic. You can have all the food necessary, but if you don’t have a back-up inhaler for your asthmatic child what good will it do you?
Plan what would happen if you lost power or even just water for one day. The best way to do it is to turn it off. Doing this gives you a choice of turning it back on if you discover your brand new back-up heater won’t work or your alternate cooking source catches fire. You won’t have that option in an actual outage. It also gives you the opportunity to figure out what is missing, what needs to be changed, what can you actually do without, etc. It’s a camping trip at home.
Start with one day of supplies, work up to three-day, one week, etc. You may never need it, but if something happens, you’ll certainly be glad you have it.