Tips for Weathering Through a Power Outage

Just like an unwelcome relative coming to visit, natural disasters make their appearance regardless. They don't care how prepared you are for their arrival. They come anyway and there was nothing you could do to stop them. In southeast Pennsylvania, hurricane Sandy made her appearance early Monday morning. Her arrival seemed to be nothing more than a drab, rainy morning, but by mid afternoon her disposition was becoming more apparent. She wasn't going to make this a pleasant visit. Just like her sister Irene, hurricane Sandy required a bit of preparedness. In our area we deal with power outages all the time that stem from ice storms to thunderstorms...etc. Below are a few tried and true methods we have used to weather storms in my area.
Any natural disaster should never be downplayed. The first thing I like to have on hand is water. Whether you buy bottled water from the store or supply yourself with fresh tap water, make sure you have enough for a few days. More is always better, but a few days will ensure that once the storm is over you can make an effort to get more. For those of you that have city water this should not be a problem until after flood advisories are in effect when tap water can be tainted with bacteria and such. Most areas will want you to supply yourself with tap water or boil your water to kill the bacteria that can be lingering in your supply. Well water users with no electricity will needed store their own water ahead of time or buy bottled water as well. Well pumps run on electricity which equals no tap water.
Not only is drinking water important, but water for flushing toilets is also a concern during a power outage. Using old juice, water or soda bottles can be a great way to make sure you have enough water to empty your toilet effectively. If you have not had enough time to store bottled water, why not try to collect rainwater from down spouts? This can be an effective way to ensure you have enough water to make sure your toilets will flush properly.
Batteries are always a good thing to have on hand for flashlights or battery operated lanterns. If you can charge up your rechargeable batteries, great! If not, then an eight lack of AA's will do wonders. Make sure that your flashlights and battery operated devices are all centrally located. You want to be able to get to them quickly and easily when the power goes out.
Another good item to have on hand is unscented candles. They are great to have around when no other light source is available and to illuminate well used spaces such as the bathroom or hallway.
Always make sure you have a good supply of canned food on hand. There is nothing like a power outage to make you appreciate a can of Chef Boyardee. If you are lucky enough to have a gas stove or grill another cooking source, then your options can expand further than the inside of a can.
Keeping warm when the power goes out is always a big concern as well. If you are lucky enough to own a wood stove or fireplace then you don't need to look any further. For those of you that don't keeping warm can be quite a challenge. Bundling up is key. Don't be afraid to layer your clothing and add some extra blankets until power is restored. Make sure you report any power outages in your area as well. This will help emergency crews to get to your area faster than if you said nothing at all.
Entertainment is always a great way to divert attention away from what might be happening behind closed doors. It's not always possible to make sure you have the batteries in the portable DVD player charged so keep it simple. Break out a deck of cards, play flashlight games or just make up your own stories. Imagination can be your best form or entertainment during a time like this. Is there a book that has been sitting on your bookshelf collecting dust? Wipe it off and transport yourself to another world. It sure as heck beats sitting around worrying.
Out of all the advice I have given, the most important is to keep calm. Any unwelcome visitors from mother nature can set an otherwise calm person into a panic. The calmer you are, the better your ability to think straight. Nobody likes to be without power, food, shelter or water. If you know you cannot accomplish these tasks on your own, the Red Cross always has disaster relief shelters for those in need. Never let your pride get in the way of taking care of your basic needs. Don't be afraid to ask for help.