A few months ago, our whole area was without electricity for nearly 15 hours. My husband and I made it fine. We had oil lamps, matches, lots of blankets, and partially prepared meat and vegetables in the crockpot that we were able to transport into a metal baking dish and finish cooking on the BBQ grill outside.
WOW!! That sure reminds me of two Christmases ago when we were without power for thee days and nights. It got to ten below on Christmas eve and I thought it was just about as miserable as it could get!! Then I thought of Mary, in labor, on a mule, and no where to rest, and I put things into a bit of perspective.
On Christmas morning, in the fireplace, I made French toastand and sausage for breakfast and later on, made some really GOOD Cajun inspired chicken gumbo for dinner all in the fireplace. Coffee was made with carefully measuring the cups of water to measures of coffee...one cup of boiling water to one tablespoon of ground coffee. Boil the water, add the ground coffee and stir. Let steep off the fire for about 4-5 minutes and strain through a fine mesh strainer. It is THE BEST coffee you will ever try!! I remember making my own "stove" out of an overturned bowl and an overturned large iron skillet. Push into the fireplace for hot and pull out a bit for simmer. I remember that the Christmas of 2004 as being one of the most frightening and yet the most humbling and special ones of all!!
We were out for 7 days this last January.We had a gas cook stove so we kept warm with the 4 burners on.We kept our perishables outside in ice chests and used candles and oil lamps for light.
Buy the things you''ll need NOW! Don't wait until you actually have a power outage because there will be shortages of EVERTHING! ... I thought I was truly ready for a power outage, but we all learned a lot when it was out for 5 days in the freezing cold & we had no back-up heat!
---> One of the most overlooked, but very cool things to have if your powers goes out in the winter cold is the hand & foot warmer packet skiers & hikers use. Another warming trick is those back (& knee) warmers they advertise on TV. Don't be confused & buy the ones that have a Vicks or capsicum like stuff on them. Make sure they actually HEAT!
---> You can also buy several hot water bottles (the red rubber ones about $10)... You fill these with boiling water & wrap a few towels around them. You can tuck these into the foot of the bed for your kids, or jsut lay on them. In a pinch, you can even use a large thick glass jar... just be sure to pre-warm it before you add the boiling water or it may break in the cold-to-hot shock. Then wrap it with a towel to prevent scalding.
---> Always have a small cook stove & several propane bottles to warm up food. It's nice to have disposable dishes, cups & silverware too, but your hot water in the tank will stay warm for several days.
---> Have a portable clock with an alarm (for work) & a radio & flashlights with extra batteries for all... Tell kids NEVER to use candles if the power goes out... Make sure kids know where a flashlight is in case you aren't home when the power goes out!
---> Never open your freezer... Our food stayed frozen for 4+ days... If your freezer is packed full, it will stay frozen longer... if not, they say to freeze bags of water if you know the power may go out.
---> MAKE SURE YOU HAVE A PLUG IN PHONE! & regular (non-computer type of service...) People that had Vonage & Cable phone service packages found they were really in trouble! If you insist on have a computer or cable phone service, know where your closest pay phone is (or neighbor with a "real" phone) & be sure to stock up on quarters, because you'll need them! The stores ran out of regular plug-in-the-wall phones!
---> In our area the gas pumps quit working for 7 days in some areas. Stock up on gas BEFORE the storm hits!
---> Make arrangements for your pets before hand, as many shelters won't take pets.... even in cages, sadly.
*** Check up on elderly neighbors... We had many elderly care centers that were stupid & didn't have the common sense to buy generators before hand & these elderly & sick people couldn't be moved. Fortunately, many good people came to the rescue, thanks to a local Seattle radio station that provided a call-in forum for anyone who needed or was offering help. This radio station was a God send!
---> One of the call-ins from the radio offered a tip for families with children. He suggested setting up a tent in the living room, then putting blankets, comforters & sleeping bags on top of the tent. Then sleeping in the tent with the kids. The blanket covered tent really helps keep the heat form all the bodies in!
*** We had MANY, MANY people die from carbon monoxide poisoning last fall, mostly from running generators too close to the house, or in an attached garage thinking that just because the garage door was open everything would be okay! Most of these families were non-English speaking... The radio & newspapers had to put out an announcement for those who sold generators to people who couldn't read the warnings to MAKE SURE they understood the warnings & for neighbors who heard a generator running, to check & make sure it was set up safely & far from the house.
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