Saturday, February 8, 2014

Emergency Preparedness

Over the last couple of days, our lovely Eugene, Oregon, has gotten approximately 8 inches of snow.  Today, we got around an inch of rain.  Everything out there is freezing tonight.  My neighbors and I were standing outside listening to the tree branches around the neighborhood crack, break and fall.  It sounds like gunshots.  My friend in Pennsylvania described their ice storms in similar terms, so here's our little ice storm!  I have three trees (the same kind that are coming down all over town) looming over the apartment triplex I live in.  I hope we don't have branches breaking on us in the middle of the night, but we'll see!

I checked in with my neighbors to make sure they were all prepared in case we lose power tonight.  It's completely possible - across the street, the electrical wires to our complex have a huge branch leaning on it.  If it breaks, we will likely be without power.  Many of my neighbors, bless their hearts, are idiots.  Most of them looked at me blankly - "Huh?  We could be without electricity?  Why?"  So I explained it to them using small words :)  Hopefully they'll at least know to have a flashlight by their beds now and extra blankets etc.  If it goes out, I'll have to check on them all tomorrow and make sure they haven't frozen to death.  I wish I were joking, but in some cases (basket cases) I am not!

At the very least, you need a very basic kit to get you through a storm like this one for 72 hours or so.  I am assuming you have SOME basic stuff if you live anywhere that has winter - blankets, hats, gloves, maybe sleeping bags.  If not, go to Goodwill or Salvation Army or St. Vincent de Paul's and pick up some sleeping bags for under $10 each.  $5 at the laundry mat in the big washers and you are set.

Heat - Sleeping bags, hats, wool socks, long underwear, hot water bottles, sleeping hats, mergency blankets for $2 at Walmart (put them between your blankets if the power goes out).  If you don't have boots and you have to go out in snow, put on a pair of wool socks, then a plastic vegetable bag from the grocery store, then another pair of larger socks over it, and then your shoes.

Light - Flashlights, batteries, candles, 60-hour candles, memorial candles from the ethnic section of your grocery store, oil lamps & lamp oil & wicks, battery lanterns, smoke alarms & fire extinguishers.

Cooking - Camping stoves, Sterno stoves, BBQ's, charcoal, firewood, wood stoves.  Cast iron is the only thing that stands up to cooking over a fire.  Get some.

Food - Store food that doesn't need refrigeration or long cooking times (bouillon soup bases, canned soup/meats/veggies/fruits, salamis that require no refrigeration, bouillon for making soup, instant potatoes, Cream of Wheat, peanut butter, honey, Nutella, instant rice, baby food).  Stock up with fresh fruit, veggies and breads.  Make sure you have cooking oil or butter.  If you lose power, eat what's in your refrigerator first, then freezer (tape it shut if you keep forgetting), then pantry.  Don't forget to have pet food on hand!

Water - Keep a gallon per person and pet, per day, on hand at all times.  A water filter would be helpful, as would real quality buckets (you can find excellent buckets at feed stores).  Do you know where your nearest source of outdoor running water is?  What is the water quality?  What would you need to get it, store it and purify it?  Think about it.  Consider a 55-gallon barrel for storage under your home's eaves.

Sanitation - Got toilet paper?  Diaper wipes, plastic bags, soap, laundry detergent, buckets, pads, diapers, washcloths, solar showers (from the camping section).  If you know a storm is coming, wash your clothes and wash all the dishes in your sink just in case.  Put aside a few gallons of water in the bathroom in case you have to use it to flush with.

Communications - Keep a battery operated radio handy. Keep batteries.  Charge your cell phones.  Talk with your neighbors, family and friends.

Special needs - Stock up on your prescription medications, glasses, diapers, pet food, cat litter, first aid kit, condoms, baby formula, tampons etc.

So for $20 for 2 people:
Candles & Matches: $4 - 2 candles & a box of matches
Emergency Blankets: $4 (2)
Diaper Wipes: $3
Cheap Flashlight and batteries: $7
2 gallons of water: $2

Good luck and play safe!

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