If preparing for a major power outage seems daunting, here are tips on how to personalize your preparation.
- Keep non-perishable food on hand. These aren't limited to canned goods. Do some online research for the food items that fit your family's style. But whether canned or not, keep track of when you began storing them; you'd rather eat out of a six-month-old can than a two-year-old can.
- One small bite at a time. You don't have to stock up on non-perishables all at once. Every so often, toss a few into your shopping cart, or if you'd rather order online, plan a few spaced-apart sessions and shop. Apply this principle to other things like flashlights, blankets, headlamps, etc.
- Flashlights and batteries. Keep plenty available. Don't rely on candles. A house full of candles is asking for trouble. You're not a caveman; light your house during a power outage with LED flashlights, not fire.
- Know your house. Do you know "where everything is"? For instance, which parts of your house are controlled by which circuit breakers? "Oh, my husband knows all that!" What if your husband is incapacitated in an emergency? What if he's away on business? The whole household, including older kids, should know where the gas valve and everything else is located.
- Makeshift repairs. Make sure you have tools handy for impromptu repairs should some crazy event occur, such as a window blowing out in the dead of winter. What will you cover it with until you can get a professional repair? And in the summer, who wants bugs flying in?
- Communication. Always make sure that cell phones that are not in use are being charged. Ideally you'll have a charger in your car. Add a layer of preparation by getting a walkie-talkie system in case you can't get any cell signal. You can also often send SMS messages in the presence of weak cell signals.
- Home generator. This is practical if you live in an area prone to frequent outages or other problems. Look for other potential causes of outages: For example, is there a huge tree right by your house? What if a lightning strike slices it in half and it crashes through your house? Do you live on a busy street corner? Some nutcase might drive his car into your house. Yes, this happens more often than you think.
- Winter storms. Keep blankets and thermal underwear on hand. Make sure that any space heaters in your house have an automatic shut-off when they're tipped. If not, junk them and buy replacements. Make sure they and any other heat source work ahead of time.