India’s massive power failures this week have put us all on notice: it’s good to be prepared for temporary and long-term power outages.
How to prepare will vary depending on where you live and how you receive utilities, so consider when you rely on electricity. Does your water come from a well with an electric pump or is it municipal water? Is your heating and air-conditioning powered by electricity? How about your phone? If you rely on your mobile phone, or if all your land lines are cordless, you need electricity to call out.
Not everything that looks like it relies on electricity really does. A friend told me recently that every time the power went out, her neighbor left town for a few days. One day she had the opportunity to ask her neighbor about these regular evacuations that took place while the rest of the neighborhood stayed put. The neighbor replied that without electricity, she couldn’t light her gas stove. No stove, no food. She had to leave. She didn’t realize that a match could solve her problem, igniting the gas stove safely during a power failure.
Here are a few steps to take to be prepared when the power goes out. And they’ll stand you in good stead for other types of emergencies as well.
- If your water supply relies on electricity, secure a three-day supply of water for everyone in your house, which is a gallon for each person per day, plus more for pets. Build up to seven days.
- If your range and oven are electric, get a simple butane burner of the type used by caterers, and cook simple meals.
- All refrigerators run on electricity. Keep a few days of supplies to make emergency meals. Think of meals you regularly enjoy that don’t rely on fresh food or that can be readily adapted.
- Have a source of lighting. I prefer LED lanterns rather than candles (nice, but can cause fires) or flashlights (harsh light, battery-hogs).
- If someone in your family has health requirements such as refrigerated insulin or other electricity-dependent treatments, plan ahead with a generator and sufficient fuel.
- A solar charger for your mobile phone will power a bit of talk time, provided the sun cooperates.
- Consider your need for amusement. Do you have books not on your e-reader? Have you memorized a poem to share? (I recommend anything “Winnie the Pooh” to amuse all ages; “Lines and Squares” is nice. And John Ciardi’s “Mummy Took Cooking Lessons” could set off a whole night of fun rhymes.) Get a deck of cards. Use pipe cleaners or chenille sticks to fashion all kinds of animals, characters, and scenery. They are cheap, small to store, and useful for most ages. During a power outage is probably not the right time to begin learning to play the recorder — everyone’s nerves are frayed enough — but if you know a few notes, make a sing-along.
For a quick look at some of my favorite emergency preparation tools, visit my Pinterest boards.
Do you have a story about coping when the power went out? Share it by leaving a comment here.