Saturday, January 4, 2014

Are You Ready For An Emergency? How I Prepared For Another Winter Storm

Are You Afraid Of The Dark?

When it comes to losing power I am.  As many of you know I'm a worrier, and I've always had the supplies handy in the event of a power failure, but I learned over the Christmas season, it may not cut it.

Where I live if the power goes out it's only for a few hours (with the exception of the blackout of 2003), so I always knew I have enough to get me through a day or two.  I received quite a wake up call this year as many spent the Christmas holidays in the dark.  You can hear more about that on my Everik Battery Backup post.

Once again my area of Ontario is preparing for Old Man Winter to rear his ugly head.  Overnight we are supposed to get hit with another snowstorm, so today I did a few things to put together an emergency kit.

I went out bought new flashlights (including a headlamp that is supposed to work for 5 hours), lots of batteries, extra food a few things to make things a bit easier if the power went out. When I came home I saw that I received a lot of suggestions on my facebook feed.

Although I already have a lot of the items listed I really went through the Waterloo Region Emergency Management site that was suggested. If you follow this Personal Preparedness link and scroll down to Tips on Preparing a Family Emergency Survival Kit you can see a bunch of bullet points of what you need, scroll down a bit more and see a much more detailed list.

In addition Diane told me about some lights that you can purchase from the Red Cross. This year I plan on purchasing those along with that 2 of those 72 hour emergency kits. One for home and one for my vehicle.

There were a few extra things that I did to prepare.

1. Prepare A Source Of Heat

I have a fireplace insert, but I haven't had a fire yet this year and was worried about starting it up without it being properly prepared for long burning fires, so I went a bought the Chimney Sweep Log that's advertised.  I followed the directions on this youtube video and it burned for about 3 hours without any issues. I also bought a package of six long burning fireplace logs (each one is to last about 3 hours).  I have wood for the fireplace, but again I don't use my fireplace as a heat source, so I don't have a huge wood pile that's easy to get to (I'll fix that next thaw), so between the wood I do have close by and the fireplace logs I would be able to stay warm while I come up with a plan.

2. Prepare Your Wallet And Your Car

Back in 2003 during the blackout I had a full tank of gas and had just taken money out of the bank.  This proved to be helpful as we were able to drive to my parent's cottage, since it occurred in the middle of the summer. I figured we could cook food in the BBQ (or fire pit if it got to that) and if it was too warm we could hang out in the lake.  It was a wonderful surprise to find out that they had not lost power there so we stayed for a couple of days. Even though there was hydro in the area, many of the stores could only do cash transactions because their POS system home base was located in a place where the power was out.

If a storm was to hit and I found out it would be out for days, and I could drive to another area where there is power, that would be my plan. In addition to fuel, also make sure you have windshield washer fluid and lots of supplies in the car.  If you are not planning on leaving (you've heard the power will be out for hours, not days) below are some more things to do to prepare.

3. Prepare For Your Pets

Make sure you are stocked up with lots of pet food. Also fill lots of water pitchers and water jugs with water so you can ensure your pets have lots to drink.

4. Charge Your Devices

During last month's storm, I did not lose heat or hydro, but I did lose my internet, tv and land line.  I did not lose my data on my smartphone. I was still able to text and access the web in order to hear about updates from the news and weather stations and was able to share info with those who had lost power but still had internet access and keep them updated on their hydro situations.

5. Do Your Laundry And Find Your Luggage

If you had to leave at a moments notice would you have enough clean clothes ready to go? Do you how you would carry everything? Do you really want to go up in the attic or down in the crawlspace in the dark hunting for suitcases?

6. Take A Shower And Fill The Tub

Take a shower because you don't know when your next one will be during an emergency situation (see the no makeup/towel dried hair pic below).  In addition this will refill your hot water tank afterwards which I think (which means in my head and not a scientific fact) will help your pipes to keep from freezing up if they have been used recently. Next fill your tub with water.  You can use it to flush your toilet.  I was surprised to learn that many don't know that pouring a bucket of water into your toilet bowl will cause it to flush.  I also fill my sinks and pots with water just so I have it if needed

7. Cook A Big Meal

I've cooked a big roast with lots of potatoes, parsnips and carrots. If the power doesn't go out I have leftovers for work lunch and stews, stirfrys etc.

8. Set Up Your Supplies... Sort Of

I bought new flashlights and batteries, so I set them all up to make sure they are working.  Then I took out the batteries, as I don't want the lights to drain the batteries.  I do have the batteries near the lights that they are for.

9. Have A Landline Phone And Write Down The Phone Numbers Of Your Local Utility Providers

In the past when the hydro has gone out, all of my cordless phones stopped working too, but my kitchen wall phone (land line) has worked.  Because I keep emergency numbers close by I was able to call the local hydro company to let them know it has gone out.  I know a few times I was the first person to call in as they were not aware.  Back then I worked afternoons so I told them most of my neighbours were still at work and wouldn't know until they got home.

10. Be Happy That You Have Taken Precautions

I'm always thrilled when a big storm that was supposed to happen, passes by without any horrible consequences.  Remember all the items you have bought will keep! Better safe than sorry.

What Do You Do To Prepare?

Share your knowledge and we'll all benefit.  Leave a comment about what you do to prepare for an emergency. Perhaps you experienced the Ice Storm Power Failure first hand and can offer some insight and advice. I want to hear from you too!


  1. I read something about having antifreeze at home. If you had to leave your house temporarily you can pour the antifreeze into toilets and sinks to help pipes not freeze where water pools. No idea if that really works but in theory it should help.


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