9. Generators: If you can afford to purchase a generator, do it now. They will be gone in about 10 minutes after a natural disaster warning or after the earth stops quaking. If you cannot afford a generator, consider purchasing one with a relative or neighbor. The key here is that someone will have to house it, and of course, that is where neighbors, family, and friends who have helped with the purchase, will come to in an emergency.
10. Firewood: To produce heat effectively, wood must be seasoned. This means it has dried for at least a year after being cut. These stockpiles of wood will disappear quickly. Acquire a supply of firewood now. Hardwoods such as madrone, eucalyptus, almond, oak, etc. are the best for heating. Pines, firs, spruce, and redwoods are soft woods and will burn cooler and more quickly, providing fewer coals and less heat.
11. Batteries: Make sure you have extra batteries of various sizes for flashlights, radios, clocks, and tools. And, make sure you know where you have stored them.
12. Manual Can Opener: All the food in the world is no good if you can’t get into it.
13. Detergent: Liquid laundry and dish detergent and a large tub or bucket for washing. Remember, good hygiene still counts in an emergency.
14. Matches or Lighters: Long wooden matches are the best to store as they are easier to use and burn longer.
15. Extra Blankets and Sleeping Bags: These will not only be useful at night for sleeping but also to keep warm during the daylight hours. Don’t forget the mylar blanket in your 72-hour kit. Use your resources to their best advantage. Zip two sleeping bags together and sleep two to a bag, if appropriate. The combined body heat will keep you warmer than sleeping alone. Contain your body heat as much as possible. Remember when as children you built forts under a kitchen table covered with a large blanket? This is a great way to contain heat. Drape the table with the survival blanket from your 72-hour kit, blankets, canvas tarps, or bedspreads and then place throw rugs or even a mattress under the table, crawl in, and snuggle under a blanket and you will be surprised how warm you will be. Two and three man tents set up in the living room can achieve the same result. Both of these “tents” are another great place to use your glow sticks.
16. If you have a well that supplies your water, it is extremely important that you have ample water stored. Even if you are on a water system you should be storing extra water. Water pipes can freeze, and if they do, turn off your water and do not attempt to unfreeze the pipes. Keep jugs of water stored for flushing toilets. You will also need water to prepare meals, have water for pets, and for cleaning. Most importantly, remember you will want to drink warm drinks so make sure you have water stored that can be used for hot cocoa and other hot drinks. Store wet wipes and liquid hand sanitizer for cleaning hands and conserving water.
17. Do not drink alcohol. It dehydrates the body.
18. Dress in loose fitting layers. Trapped air between layers helps to insulate thus keeping you warm. As it gets dark it will get colder. Layer your clothing to maintain as constant a body temperature as possible. If you don’t over dress early in the day you can avoid overheating and then being chilled as the temperatures fall.
19. Close off unneeded rooms. Take personal items from bedrooms and close the doors. What little heat you generate from a fireplace you will want to retain in the rooms where you will live during the outage. The family should gather in one or two rooms and use only one restroom until power is restored.
20. Close off hallways by hanging blankets or other fabrics across them. Remember the draperies between rooms in the 1800s and even into the 1940s? These were closed to seal off rooms. To seal off a hallway use your shower curtain rod hanging it as close to the ceiling as possible.
21. Place rolled up towels and rags under and around doors and windows where weather stripping may not completely seal the area.
22. As soon as the sun goes down cover windows in the room in which the family is gathered. Once again, the mylar blankets from your 72-hour kits work great for this. You can also use blankets, sheets, tarps, plastic sheeting and drapery for this purpose. Newspaper in layers is a great insulator, too. At night, wind chill will become a real factor in keeping your home warm. Do all you can to keep the wind outside by using weather strip and caulking where necessary.
23. Games: Make sure games, books, and puzzles are easily accessible, and use them to help pass the time. When the sun goes down place a flashlight, battery-powered lantern, or glow stick in the middle of the floor and huddle around it like a campfire. Drink hot cocoa and tell family stories or appropriate spooky tales (like Ichabod Crane and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow). By appropriate, I mean go easy on the scary stuff with young children if you want a full night's sleep.
With a little bit of preparation, a power outage can be a memorable adventure for your family, and not a big deal. Without planning, well, you might be on your rooftop trying to flag down a helicopter in your mukluks. Good luck!