In some cases, the days after a disaster can be as overwhelming, if not more so, than the crisis itself. Seasonal natural disasters can be planned for and many times, you have warnings and alerts. Hurricanes can be tracked by satellite and tornadoes can be forecast based on favorable weather events as well as, ice storms and blizzards. In saying this, you have to assume that any natural, or even artificial disaster, can and will cause power outages.
What many people may not realize is that many of the tasks you perform during the course of a normal day will still have to be accomplished during a power outage. Meals will have to be prepared, baths given and the laundry will have to be done. This means that you will need alternatives to washing machines and cooking ranges as well as alternative illumination. In addition, you will need an adequate water supply and ample stockpiles of foods that require little to no preparations.
Power Outage Preparation
Optional items include portable chemical toilets or waste bags designed for human waste. Power outages also mean the water supply is likely to be disrupted, so your sewage or septic system will not operate. In this case, you cannot allow human waste to collect inside the home. If you have the room in your yard, you can dig latrines and screen with a tarpaulin. To control odor and bacteria, sprinkle a full cup of agricultural lime in the trench along with a shovel full of dirt when used.
It is assumed you would have the typical items found in most homes such as eating utensils, personal hygiene items, laundry soap, and clothing for the season. This type of list must also be adapted for specific medical needs such as portable oxygen tanks, crutches, canes and other medical devices.
Furthermore, consider a portable generator for refrigeration if you or a family member has medications that must be chilled. Of course, generators must not be operated in an enclosed space including garages, workshops, basements, crawlspaces and carports. Do not place the generator near your dryer exhaust vents, near any windows or doors, or near any attic air vents or fans. You cannot allow any of the fumes from a generator to enter any living space.
Food and Bacteria
Refrigerated foods will last between four and six hours. Frozen foods will last up to two days provided you do not open the freezer door excessively. Once the power does go out and you expect it to last past four hours, begin removing milk, eggs, fresh meats and soft cheeses. If you can, cook any fresh meats to eat for an immediate meal.
Foods must not be allowed to spoil inside the refrigerator or inside your home. Either bury in the ground or seal in garbage pails. You must do what you can to prevent rodent and insect infestations as well as control the growth and spread of bacteria.
Bread can be removed from its wrapper to allow it to go stale. This will help prevent mold forming. Mold and bacteria will develop because of the moisture description. Bread can be toasted to prolong its shelf life. Hard cheese can last out of refrigeration for several days up to a week, and sometimes longer. Produce can be kept out of refrigeration between three and five days.
Alternative Heating and Cooling
Electric heaters are an option if you have a generator that is large enough to sustain the start up wattage. You have to choose carefully and decide what you want to or have to operate during a power outage. Portable generators vary in size from 3,000 watts up to 10,000 watts. One option is to have an inline, or stationary generator installed, which will take over automatically and supply the entire home once the service from the power company is disrupted. These types must be installed by a qualified technician.
You have to decide what is critical during a power outage so you can decide on size of the generator needed. In addition, you must carefully consider the tasks that must be completed during the normal course of the day and come up with alternatives means to accomplish them, or decide they can wait until power is resorted. Once the power goes out, you may be surprised as you find many of the gadgets and conveniences you thought were life essentials are not essential at all.
Sam Jones writes about how to keep energy costs down in the face of rising prices. He recommends this page http://www.uswitch.com/gas-electricity/guides/social-energy-tariffs/ for people interested in reading more about social energy tariffs for vulnerable people
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