I'll skip the common sense tips - like gathering batteries, flash lights, extra food, refilling prescriptions, filling your car with gas and charging your devices - and head straight for things that may not have occurred to you.
- Fill the bath tub with water. We're on a well so helps us flush the toilet, etc. Even municipal water systems can go down in severe storms and a bathtub provides a lot of clean water.
- Fill any empty space in your freezer with bottled water. The extra ice will keep food cold longer, plus you have additional potable water for cooking and drinking.
- Keep some bleach on hand in case you need to purify water for drinking or cooking. Use just 2 drops per gallon.
- How to open a can without a can opener: just rub a can top-side down against concrete until the top seal is broken, then squeeze the can with your hands. The lid should pop off.
- If you're caught in water, here's how to use your long pants as a floatation device:
- If you run out of candles and batteries for your flashlight, a crayon stood on end will burn for 30 minutes
- Here's another candle substitute: Melt some vegetable shortening into a container, put a string in the liquid, and once it hardens, light the string.
- Speaking of candles, you do have some waterproof matches and disposable lighter on hand, right?
- Plastic bags: storage bags, freezer bags and trash bags. Trash bags can be used to store more than trash, such as making rain gear and improvising a toilet. If the power is off for a few days then you'll appreciate this: fill a black trash bag with water, hang it in a tree so the sun warms the water, poke holes in it and enjoy a quick warm shower.
- 5 gallon buckets, especially with lids. You can haul water and bail water, store extra food, even make a toilet by lining the bucket with a trash bag (put some kitty litter in the bottom if you have it). Again, you may appreciate that lid even more if a potty bucket has to stay in your house for a period of time.
- If you're without power and lucky enough to have a generator, please read over the user's manual and its page of precautions. LET ME REMIND YOU: don't use your generator indoors, including in your garage; don't place it near a door or window to keep fumes from coming in the house. And you'll need to keep the power cord dry so use a plastic storage container as shown at right.
- Same goes for your gas or charcoal grill. DO NOT use it inside your garage or near a door or window. Carbon monoxide is a huge threat from the devices we use differently during a power outage.
- A clay flower pot can serve as a terrific little portable grill. Set it up on a couple of bricks, so that combustion air can enter from the bottom. Add sticks or other small fuel and light the fire. Add a grilling surface such as a disposable pie tin. If you have a saucer to make a lid then you can use your flower pot as a smoker, too.
- Speaking of grills, they can be used to cook most anything you would normally bake or fry if you have the right cookware. Don't even think of using teflon pans and the like because they won't hold up to the extra direct heat. Invest in a cast iron pan or 2 and you'll be able to cook anything you have on hand! Here's my opportunity for a shameless plug for our cast iron cookware.
- Speaking of shameless plugs, hurricanes and major storms mostly come during the summer months, but some of the nastiest storms in history have been in October and November, not to mention the blizzards that happen, of course, during the winter. The right gas stove, gas fireplace or gas insert can heat all or most of your home during a power outage.