National Preparedness Month, observed every September, serves as a vital reminder to prioritize readiness in the face of unforeseen emergencies. One of the most common and impactful emergency scenarios is an extended power outage. In this blog post, we'll delve into the essentials of creating a comprehensive emergency kit tailored for such situations and emphasize the importance of having a family plan.
Stock Up Your Emergency Kit Essentials:
When the lights go out unexpectedly and stay off for an extended period, having a well-equipped emergency kit can make all the difference. Here's a list of key items to include in your kit in today’s world:
- Water and Non-Perishable Food: Chances are you are going to have access to your home during an extended power outage. However, having dedicated bottled jugs of water in an emergency tote is important to have on hand. Aim for a three-day supply (one gallon per person per day) and non-perishable, ready-to-eat food items like canned goods, energy bars, and dried fruits.
- Lighting and Communication: In 2023 besides water and some food, this is an extremely important accessory. Having some extra battery charging packs and chargers dedicated to your tote will help to allow you to connect for any emergency related services and stay informed.
- Personal Hygiene Items: Don’t overlook items like hand sanitizers and wet wipes. Having these items dedicated helps keep you healthy when you don’t have access to power.
- Emergency Contacts: Compile a list of local emergency numbers, medical facilities, and community resources, have them printed and placed in your kit.
- Special Needs Consideration: Consider the unique needs of family members, including infants, elderly individuals, and pets. Ensure your emergency kit caters to these requirements.
Items to have on hand or be able to locate within your household:
- Multi-Tool Kit: A versatile tool set featuring a knife, pliers, and screwdrivers can be invaluable during power outages.
- Cash: In a digital world, having some cash on hand can be crucial if ATMs and card machines are rendered useless.
- Important Documents: Keep copies of essential documents like identification, insurance policies, and medical records in a waterproof container.
- First Aid Kit: Your kit should include basic medical supplies like bandages, antiseptics, pain relievers, and any necessary prescription medications.
Crafting a Family Plan
While having a well-stocked emergency kit is essential, a comprehensive family plan adds an extra layer of security.
This plan should include the location of the emergency kit and what is inside. Discuss the importance of the do’s and don’ts of an outage. Possible evacuation plan and any other pertinent information to the area you live in and your family dynamics.
Do’s and Do Not’s if the power goes out:
- Report your outage immediately. Do not rely on your neighbors to report your outage.
- Stay away from downed power lines, flooded areas and debris. Treat all fallen wires and anything touching them as though they are energized and report downed lines by calling (800) 648-9401.
- Turn off all appliances, including your furnace, air conditioner, water heater and water pump. Leave on one lamp to know when power has been restored. That way you can avoid a circuit overload and another outage that may result when power is restored to all appliances at once.
- Keep freezer and refrigerator doors closed. Food will stay frozen for 36 to 48 hours in a fully loaded freezer if you keep the door closed. A half-full freezer will generally keep food frozen for 24 hours. For refrigerated items, pack milk, other dairy products, meat, fish, eggs, gravy, and spoil-able leftovers into a cooler surrounded by ice. Inexpensive Styrofoam coolers are also fine for this purpose.
- Follow safe operating procedures for generators. Never operate one inside your home or in an enclosed space, such as a garage.
- Listen to the local radio station on your battery-operated radio for regular news and weather updates. Follow Crow Wing Power on Facebook for regular outage updates.
- Make sure your area is sufficiently ventilated if using portable stoves, kerosene heaters or lanterns.
- Avoid travel, if possible, but if you must, please help protect line workers and crews when you see them on the roadside making emergency repairs. Move over from the lane nearest the workers or slow down until you can safely pass the work site.
- When it is hot outside, close drapes, and blinds on the sunny side of your house, drink plenty of fluids, take your pets to a cool basement location or go to an air-conditioned civic center, mall, or library if necessary to stay cool.
- When it is cold outside, open your blinds during the day, cover windows with drapes at night, avoid alcoholic beverages and gather in a central room where there is an alternative heat source, such as a fireplace or kerosene space heater. If the indoor temperature drops to 55°F or below, open your faucets slightly so they constantly drip to prevent pipes from freezing.
- Do not hesitate to contact a physician if you have any health-related questions.
Creating a well-rounded emergency kit tailored for extended power outages and formulating a solid family plan are essential steps towards ensuring the safety and well-being of your loved ones. By being prepared, you not only gain peace of mind but also empower yourself to face challenges head-on and emerge resilient in the face of adversity.