Emergency Preparedness Tips and Tricks

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As I write this, it is 65 degrees and sunny outside, which makes it hard to believe that a few weeks ago at this time, the trees were covered with ice and we were just at the very beginning of an emergency in the form of a multi-day power outage.

ice storm 2022 emergency

Even though we were without light and heat for nearly 80 hours (with some folks in the dark even longer than that), it wasn’t a bad experience overall for our family. The reason for that is the fact that we were prepared for this very type of emergency event. Scratch that. My husband—a cross between MacGyver and a Boy Scout—was prepared.

But as a beneficiary of that preparation, I am so grateful that we were able to stay in our house, safe and warm, the entire time. For my kids, it felt like indoor camping, and the oldest even admitted near the end that she wasn’t ready for the power to come back on because it was kind of fun.

We have a gas-powered stove/fireplace (something like this would be great) that put out enough heat to warm the three rooms we dubbed the “Warm Lands.” We were able to cook, or at least heat up water, on this stove, and most days we were able to escape to somewhere fun. So, yes, we were very fortunate, and it is not lost on me that many were not.

Yet, even though we were prepared and had a pretty good set-up, there are definitely some things we learned for next time. Because there will be a next time. Maybe not an ice storm, but perhaps some other type of emergency, like a tornado or unexplained power failure. It would be so easy to move on now that the lights are on and the sun is shining, but we would be remiss to not reflect on the event.

I truly believe that each emergency experience prepares us in some way for the next one, with this power outage being no different. Here are some things we learned:

  1. A stocked pantry is clutch, and having a plan for perishable foods is a must (since it was cold, we put many things in a cooler outside).
  2. Create a kit with flashlights, matches, batteries, etc. (see the next part of this post!) in an easily accessible place. One of our darling children most likely relocated (hid) one of our good flashlights and weather radio, and we couldn’t find them when we needed them.
  3. Keep battery chargers charged and/or know if your car will charge devices.
  4. Don’t start laundry on a day you expect the power to go out, particularly if it is a front-loader that will lock when there is no power connected. I learned that one the hard way.
  5. Know your neighbors and pool resources if necessary. If we had known that our next-door neighbors were without hot water, we would have been happy to invite them over to use our shower.

Knowing that i needed to stock up on/replenish supplies after the storm, I went to my local Dollar Tree to see what kind of emergency kit I could put together. (Yes, you can do this on the cheap!) Even with the store not fully stocked, there was plenty to choose from! The entire thing, including the plastic storage bin was $15!

emergency preparedness kit

  1. Batteries. They had every type, but I chose AA, AAA, and D because that’s what the flashlights and headlamps I already have at home take.
  2. Lighter. I prefer these lighters over matches because I know my kids can’t work them! Also they’re nice for lighting candles in jars that have burned down a bit. Oh, and if you have to light a burner on a gas stove or fireplace these save your fingers!
  3. Flashlight. I liked this one because it’s bright, can be hung on things, and also has a kickstand on the back so it stands up!
  4. Candle. They only had one unscented candle left. I learned my lesson the last time the power was out: have some unscented candles handy for when you’re cooking! The flowery scent of the candle didn’t quite mix well with what we were cooking.
  5. Drink Powder Packets. To make your bottled water a little more exciting.
  6. Non-perishable Food. Dollar Tree has lots of good options for non-perishables.
  7. Baby Wipes. The Swiss Army knife of parenting obviously needs to be in there.
  8. Duck Tape.
  9. Instant Coffee. Because coffee.
  10. Glow Sticks. So you can keep track of your kids in the dark and they can have some fun too.

There were a few other things I didn’t purchase, but would be good to have. A case of water, a first aid kit, some fun snacks, and small toys or coloring books for the kids. Dollar Tree has a ton of toys, books, coloring books, and art supplies!

Then you can grab some freeze-dried meals like these and you’ll be good to go. A headlamp is really helpful to have on hand as well.

We actually took detailed notes about what worked and what didn’t because we’re like that, but I know that we stayed calm in what could have been a stressful situation because we were prepared. Hopefully we won’t need that information any time soon, but if we do, we’ll be ready!

Contributor Colleen also contributed her know-how to this post! Thanks for the collaboration!
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Originally from Kansas City, Kristin met her husband, a Seattle native, in Germany. The military brought them to Memphis, and they chose to stay after transitioning to Reserve duty. While it is hard to be away from family, they love this city so much that they bought a house in Midtown where they are raising two spunky daughters, E (May 2013) and L (January 2016), and a curious son E (November 2019). Kristin considers herself to be primarily a stay-at-home mom, but she occasionally escapes the shenanigans to teach college-level writing classes. If she had any spare time, she’d spend it curled up with a good book in a blissful state of hygge. Her family is happiest when on an adventure, especially camping, riding bikes, or enjoying all Memphis has to offer.

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