Now that we can be without power or clean water at practically a moment’s notice, wouldn’t it be smart to start thinking more about the future?
Keeping five gallons of water means you’ve got enough to let you cook, do a little washing and maybe wet your fevered lips regularly for a few days. (By then, the emergency should have lifted — or you’ll be able to scrounge more. Or keep ten gallons handy, just in case. Some people also fill the bathtub, kettles, etc. when a storm is predicted, just in case.)
Stocking a shelf of cans, mixes and boxes means you won’t go hungry. Cans of chili and soup, boxes of scalloped and cheesy potatoes (or even easier, dried mashed potato flakes), cans of meat or chicken and vegetables. This same shelf acts as a good emergency dinner starting spot, too, if you’ve been sick and the rest of the cupboard’s looking a little bare. (Make it even easier on yourself, and keep a can-opener on the same shelf, just in case Husband has “borrowed” your regular can-opener and forgotten to put it back in the drawer. Not that this has ever happened at our house…)
Note: Keep a box of dried or shelf-stable milk on your emergency, including some dried egg, plus a bag of flour and a can of Crisco. You’ll be able to bake, as well.
Can you still cook? A camping stove, plus a gallon of fuel, solves the problem — and gives you options for camping in the summer, too. Or invest in a simple grill — it makes for delicious meats, and gives you yet another cooking option. The authors of Apocalypse Chow, one of the best what-to-eat-in-a-disaster cookbooks out there, do an awful lot of gourmet cooking on their grill when hurricanes knock out their power. (Not an uncommon occurrence in their neck of the South.)
Don’t forget the batteries or the flashlights. Keep a small Maglight, for fitting in the pocket, plus a sturdy large-sized torch that lets you check on damage. An assortment of batteries comes in handy for all sorts of appliances and tools.
Note: if your area has snowstorms, don’t forget extra shovels and gloves. Kitty litter makes a good stabilizer if your car gets stuck in the drifts — sprinkle kitty litter behind the wheels, to give them traction. (Keep an extra blanket and some protein bars in the car, as well.)
Got room? A few gallons of gas, and some cash, give you more options. A five-gallon gas can could get you safely to Aunt Margaret’s — or at least out of the city. Even if you don’t have a lot of money, an extra $20 or $50 could mean a bus ticket away, before it gets worse — or gas for the car. (if it’s available — it often isn’t.).
Get advice from those who’ve been through it. Like the blogger One Frugal Girl, who struggled through Hurricane Sandy — she put flashlights within easy reach; prepared a huge batch of food ahead; washed/dried clothes and ran the dishwasher before the power went out.
Smart — you can be, too. Laugh at the storms, all right…but be prepared, just in case things turn nasty.
Cindy Brick is a personal property appraiser, judge and national teacher who loves to write about frugality and other personal finance topics. She has written six books and hundreds of articles, but often focuses on quilting, her teaching specialty. She lives in Colorado with her husband, two golden labs and a flock of very suspicious chickens. Find out more at Brickworks, http://www.cindybrick.com, or visit her personal blog: http://www.cindybrick.blogspot.com