Saturday, July 7, 2012

When The Lights Go Out In Your City

Despite blogging and teaching classes about Organizing for Emergencies, I learned this past week that you can never be truly prepared until you're in that situation.  Our power was knocked out for 5 1/2 days by a derecho (a.k.a land hurricane) which swept through the midwest and eastern seaboard.  To add insult to injury, we were experiencing record high temperature (high 90's-100's each day).  The power did come back eventually and here are some tips that I learned to help in case of another outage:

  1. You Cell Phone Can Become Your Lifeline...In a world without cable and internet, a cell phone can become a great tool for information about weather, news, traffic, power restoration, what is open, what is closed and entertainment.  You can even download flashlight apps on both Android and iPhone which can be very handy when you've misplaced the lighter you were using to light candles.  Keeping your phone charged without power in your home can present challenges.  Make sure you have a car charger (some newer cars can charge phones without needing to be turned on.)  Take a charger to work if your place of employment has power.  You can also check into these handy and relatively inexpensive solar chargers from Solio available at Radio Shack and on Amazon.
  2. Eat from Your Fridge First...According to most research I read, keeping your refrigerator closed after you power goes out is the best course of action to save your food.  The second you open your refrigerator or freezer, the temperature starts to rise and food begins to spoil.  If you need to get at what is in the refrigerated part, cook at eat what you can in the first 12-24 hours (depending on how soon after the power goes out you open the door).  If you keep your freezer well stocked and closed, you have between 24-48 hours before the items inside start to thaw.  Keeping cooler stocked with ice (or even better dry ice) can keep condiments and other refrigerated items at an acceptable temperature until power is restored.  Check with your local supermarket to see if they carry dry ice.  Remember, if items in the freezer start to thaw, they cannot be refrozen and need to prepared and eaten or disposed of.
  3. Get Your Grill On...The grill can be used for more than just burgers, brats and steaks.  During the outage we cooked everything from frozen pizzas to frozen burritos.  If grilling is unfamiliar territory for you, learn how to safely light it from someone in your home who knows their way around the grill.  From there, get creative.  It's better than all that good food going to waste.  There were even reports of neighbors getting together during the outage and sharing grilled goods to keep everyone well fed and their spirits up.  Be sure to keep grill lighting instruments (lighters, matches, propane, etc) filled and accessible.
  4. Keep Cool Creatively...The temperature in our house got as high as 95 during the outage, which with an 11 month old, two dogs and a cat is just no good.  We purchased a baby pool which became essential to keeping body temperatures down for all of us.  We had to get creative for nap time during the hottest part of the day.  Thankfully we had air conditioned malls to walk around in the stroller, kind friends who lent us rooms (and laundry facilities) and pools with shade.  And some days we just drove around in the car (enjoying the a/c and charging the phone).  Environmentally sound, probably not.  But definitely sanity saving.  
Do you have any tips from power outages you've experienced with your family?  If so, I'd love to hear your suggestions below!

No comments:

Post a Comment