Storm Preparation for Emergency Power Outage

If I see a big storm coming in the spring or summer, when power is most likely to go out, I do these things.

- Fill 5 gallon bucket with water, leave in tub. Also fill tub full of water. Both are used to flush toilet.

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- Fill 4-5 pitchers with water. Leave on kitchen counter.

- Get out candles and matches and flashlights. Some of my flashlights turn on when the power goes out.

During winter, much heat is lost through the head and feet. Therefore if you are cold, wear socks and a hat, even to bed. A thick knit hat is uncomfortable to sleep on so I found a cheap, thin knit hat.

Using a tent in the middle of the living room keeps the warmth from your bodies close by. Pitch a tent in a large room and have everyone sleep in it to conserve heat. Use a tent that can be set up without hammering stakes in the ground. Most dome tents can do this.

If you have a gas fireplace, you can turn it on to keep the pipes from freezing. Fan won't work in a power outage though.

I also have a solar charged, battery powered flashlight, and one where you charge the battery by pumping it. One uses a regular light bulb, one uses an LED. LEDs use much less battery power.

I also bought a water filter from a camping store since I used to live in the country with a well. The well won't pump if there is no power and I wanted to be ready to get drinking water from a stream. Get a gravity powered filter so you can fill it up at night and have a pot full of water in the morning.

For cooking I found a German army alcohol stove with stove, alcohol bottle, pot and stand, all for about $6 (shipping extra). It boils a pot full of water in 10 minutes! You cannot use rubbing alcohol because that is 30% water. Try to get methanol in the paint section of your hardware store. It is used to clean up and thin paints.

Chuck R. from Grand Rapids, MI

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January 16, 20060 found this helpful

I like a lot of your ideas, but living in Ore, we don't get as cold as you, so the tent in the living room really wouldn't be necessary, I don't think. I have some of the little hand-warmers that you crush to activate, on hand. Thought they would be nice to put in a couple of pockets. I have a little radio that is solar/hand crank type. I bought a few cans of sterno and a little holder thing, so I could heat water for tea, or soup. A manual can opener is a good thing too!

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January 16, 20060 found this helpful

Great ideas. I would just add putting an ICE (in case of emergency) number of a relative on your cel phone book.

And, in case of evacuation emergency, write childrens' names and an out-of-state relatives' phone number on their arms with a indelible Sharpie-type marker so if your family gets separated as happened in New Orleans, your family can be indentified and re-connected.

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January 17, 20060 found this helpful

It is VERY important to have a radio of some sort. I was without power for 22 hours a couple years ago and my radio was not in working condition. That would be my suggestion - have a battery operating radio. The other thing I have is a flashlight that is activated by shaking it several times - through a magnetic field some way. AND it is renewable every 20 minutes. It's awful dark when it is dark.

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January 18, 20060 found this helpful

Eloise, can you elaborate on what you use the radio for in a power outage situation, besides entertainment? We used a radio before in power outages and found it absolutely useless. They just reported on every day news, not the power outage. If the radio station had power, they didn't mention when the power would be back on, because the power company didn't know either. The power company works on it as soon as they can.

So, when the power comes back on, you'll see your lights come back on. The radio really can't tell you anything you don't know. So I no longer use a radio when the power goes out.

Yes, some type of hand-rechargable flashlight works great. There are 2 kinds of shakelights. The kind that recharges a battery, and the kind that recharges a capacitor. The battery is rechargable, and like all rechargable batteries, will stop holding a charge after about 4 years. So the capacitor kind is better. It doesn't get a memory effect and doesn't wear out.

There are also solar kinds that recharge a battery (I have one but it only recharges in bright sun, like in the summer, and it takes about 10 hours of bright sun to fully recharge.) And a pumper kind which uses a generator to recharge a battery. I have a pumper that uses an LED light and it only cost me $7. I like it.

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December 1, 20070 found this helpful

Well, this is definitely NOT the thrifty way to go, but I bought a Honda super-quiet generator after an ice storm left us powerless for four days. That got real old real fast in February. Hooking it up to the house requires a transfer switch to keep your generator from feeding power back into the power line and killing a lineman. Also, without it when the power comes back on your generator will be "fighting" with the power company over phasing, and you know who's going to win that one. If you're lucky the generator won't explode.

4,500 watts is enough to power the refrigerator, natural gas furnace, small TV, computer, and a few small lights. If you have a heat pump or want to run central A/C, electric stove, or electric hot water heater, the generator should be a permanent installation and the cost will be five figures. Those look sort of like a large outside air conditioner. If you think about a generator, be sure to ask about sound levels, most are amazingly noisy and your neighbors may come after you with torches and pitchforks at 2:00 AM. So for home backup, unless you're isolated from other homes, forget about the $500 contractor's generators at Home Depot. Power quality (the shape of the sine wave) is an issue with cheap generators. It's okay for power tools used for short periods of time but may damage electronics or motors that run for long periods like your refrigerator compressor.

Using a generator can get complicated - you'll have to learn what your power requirements are, and know that motors can draw three times their rated amperage during the starting phase, and understand "load shedding". That means knowing that a hair dryer and coffee maker combined might draw 3,000 watts so other things have to be turned off. Fuel storage is an issue, I kept three five-gallon cans of treated gasoline to run it 24 hours in a detached shed but wouldn't do that in a garage. They can also run on diesel (noisy), propane or natural gas.

My wife was skeptical about spending $2,500 on a generator (soundproofing is expensive) but the first day I had everything working, when she got home from work I asked if she noticed anything unusual. She didn't, so I pointed out that ours was the only one on the block that had electric lights on. That investment proved worthwhile to us, but we haven't needed it since we moved from Rockville, MD to WV five years ago. Go figure.

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September 3, 20140 found this helpful

This is all so helpful. I have my "Go Bag" handy in the event I must evacuate.

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