Preparing for a Power Outage

For years, residents of the Piedmont Triad wondered why winter didn’t stop in our communities and paint it white. In 2014, each of us experienced some emotion over single-digit temperatures, icy road conditions, and a good heaping of snowfall. Many of us can tell interesting stories of how we managed, especially through power outages; however, why tempt fate a second time? It is never too late to plan ahead; there are steps you can take to minimize food loss, and maintain a level of comfort for every member in your home.

68-88318349-ResizedThe Emergency Bag
An old, roomy backpack or duffle bag would be the perfect “container” to hold your most important emergency essentials. It should be kept in an accessible location on the main level of the home, such as a pantry or hall closet. Essentially, the “bag” will become a great resource to bring the family together, distribute light, and discuss the plan.  Items to consider storing in your bag:

• A light source, such as oil lanterns, candles, and flash lights. Remember to include matches, the necessary sized batteries or LEDs. To help small children feel less frightened, consider including glow sticks, flashlights, or battery operated lanterns.
• Without the worry of batteries, a self-powered radio is a great option to keep the family well-informed on weather updates and advisories.
• A manual can-opener for canned goods.
• Medical items, such as various sizes of bandages, gauze, tape, scissors, an antibiotic ointment, and pain medicine.
• A luggage tag attached to the bag. Of all the important phone numbers, list your power company first.

While the body can live without food for a time, it requires water; therefore, buy cases of bottled water. In addition, think about how many gallons of water your household would use in a day, and begin filling and storing all those discarded milk jugs. You’ll be grateful you had available water to boil, wash hands and, quite possibly, care for pets.

Facts to remember:
• During a power outage, do not drink the faucet water; however, allowing a slow drip will prevent pipes from freezing.
• Pouring a pail of water directly into the bowl can flush a toilet. Snow will become a priceless water source; therefore, full up numerous buckets and place them near the fireplace.

Seated near a fireplace or propane stove, every member can maintain a level of comfort. With a cast iron pot or two, count on a number of creative meals.

Two things to consider:
• One member of the family will need to maintain the stockpile of firewood near or inside the home throughout the winter months.
• While a stocked pantry is ideal, plan ahead and think what you could make for a minimum of two breakfasts, lunches, and dinners. Items such as peanut butter and crackers, and cereal bars are easy crowd pleasers, but you will need something more to brighten the mood after a long evening and night. Consider having on hand the best snacks of all: graham crackers, chocolate bars, and marshmallows.

Rules for Refrigerated and Frozen Food
There is positive news regarding refrigerated and frozen items. A full freezer will maintain food safety levels for 48 hours while a refrigerator’s contents will stay cold up to 24 hours as long as the doors remains closed. With Styrofoam coolers at the ready, take one minute to retrieve milk and other dairy products, meats, fish, and eggs, and other spoilable leftovers (if they matter) from the refrigerator and pack them with Ziploc bags full of snow from the outside.

When food reaches above 40 degrees for over two hours in the refrigerator, it is time to discard. Since frozen items are packaged closely together, you will have to check each individual item’s temperature. It would be safe to assume meat, poultry, seafood, milk, and eggs that were without refrigeration for four hours should be, without question, discarded.

Making Lemonade?
Who can make the best tent in the living room or win a game of Monopoly? Sometimes unusual circumstances allow for an impromptu, indoor night of camping. Does anyone want another fireside s’more?