My hometown recently experienced the effects of tropical storm, Arthur. Fredericton, a small city in South-Western New Brunswick, got the brunt of this storm’s windy and rainy wrath: Wide-spread power outages, trees falling down, streets covered in stray branches, backyard trampolines tangled in power lines and residents struggling to cope without water. This experience got me thinking about what gurls need to have on hand when a natural disaster is expected. What should you do to prepare for 24-72 hours without power?
I grew up with a Girl Guide leader as a mother, and a Ron-Swanson-type father, so disaster-preparedness has been drilled into my head from a young age. The drill is to always go get gas even if the forecast is for 20cm of snow, always fill up the car, always have extra batteries, always have cash, always have dry goods… the list goes on. Everyone’s survival kit will differ slightly, but if there is ever a real emergency where you need to stay in your home without power for an extended period of time, or if you need to evacuate, this will help you get through it.
Before you have a natural disaster is really the time to get organized here. Let’s say you see on Twitter that there’s a hurricane coming. Ohhh crap, that’s going to be a pain in the ass! Grocery stores will be busy, you’ve got to get gas, it’s a hassle. In order to avoid this, a day or two before the bad weather arrives, I suggest going to fill up your tank, going to the bank for cash and picking up a few dried goods. This includes a loaf of bread, jam, peanut butter, cereal, granola bars, some bottles of water, batteries and whatever else you might want to snack on or drink (WINE, get some wine). Its also important to have some cash on hand as during power outages a lot of stores will be unable to take credit or debit. Have enough cash to re-fill your car with gas and re-stock on groceries. As well, dig out all your flashlights, book lights, candles and matches so that when the power actually is off you don’t have to tear your house apart to find them. Having everything in its place helps greatly. Set aside some spare clothes in case you have to leave your home. In terms of clothes, you’ll want to remember:
Utilize a service like Dropbox, Evernote or iCloud and scan all your insurance documents and place them in the cloud. This way, if there is damage to your home or car your insurance information will be with you and easily accessible. Policy numbers and phone numbers are also important to have to minimize the stress of searching for them in your home. Say a tree falls on your house and you can’t get inside to find these documents. Having them stored in a cloud service will make your life so much easier.
If your power ends up being off for a lengthy period of time (8 days in my case) you’ll want to be prepared to clean out your fridge or freezer. It’s recommended that food in a refrigerator be thrown out after 24 hours of no power. A full freezer can keep cool for a few days as long as you keep the door shut. Any meat that has been un-thawed cannot be eaten and cannot be re-frozen. Throw it out. Big garbage bags will be handy here. You can make a spray of vinegar and water to wipe down your fridge and freezer, as well as put a box of baking soda in each location to help with odors. If you have a cooler or can afford to buy one (if not, this is an excellent holiday or birthday gift idea) you can store milk and perishable goods in there, assuming you have access to replace the ice everyday. If the food hasn’t been properly cooled, don’t eat it. Really, its sketchy and you don’t want food poisoning on top of everything. If you live outside of city limits and you have a well, you’ll want some 4L water jugs to fill up and store clean/safe water. You’ll also want to make yourself a personal care kit, including things that you need for self-care or for your health. My personal kit includes:
The results of Arthur in my city was widespread power outages, 4000 trees down and stores sold out of generators. I hope this is the worst storm I see for a long time. At least I have all the essentials prepared for next time, and you will as well!