December 2, 2012

Be prepared for power outages


When you’re stranded indoors, keeping abreast of what’s going on outside can be both helpful and reassuring. Music can be a comfort. A battery-powered radio with spare batteries can keep you informed, allow you to put on some background tunes, relax and stay connected.

You should also have an emergency stockpile of canned, dried and ready-to-eat foodstuffs, water, extra blankets and additional warm clothing on hand. In fact, if you think that you may experience a power outage, it’s a good idea to fill the bathtub with water. If nothing else, you can use it to flush the toilet.

If you keep the refrigerator door closed, it should hold the cold in for several hours at least. Open the refrigerator or freezer only when it’s absolutely necessary. If you think that something may have gone bad, toss it. It’s better to throw food away than to risk getting sick. If you contract food poisoning, you may not be able to obtain medical assistance.

Use food from the refrigerator first, then the freezer. If you have a chest freezer, covering it with blankets will provide insulation to keep it cold. Use the most perishable foods first.

If you have an electric cook stove, you may have to cook outside on a grill or camp stove. This isn’t a very enjoyable task in inclement weather, but you should never use a charcoal or gas grill indoors. They produce harmful, odorless gases that can be deadly.

Many of us have emergency heat in the form of a woodstove or fireplace, which will keep at least one room comfortable and livable. You may also be able to cook, or at least heat food up, on top of your woodstove or in your fireplace. If you use a propane or kerosene heater for back-up emergency heat, you need to be absolutely sure that the room you use it in has adequate ventilation.

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