Saturday, February 06, 2016

Living the Pantry Lifestyle - Storm proof

I've been interested in reading what various people who experienced the blizzard conditions went through.  I must admit, we've had a very mild winter so far so it is kind of nice reading about the storms instead of experiencing them.

But it did remind me again how these things can seem to pop up out of nowhere.  I thought I'd share what we have done to prepare... on the cheap.  Remember... your immediate goal is to make yourself victim proof... meaning you will be warm and cozy at home, not standing in long lines before a storm hits.

1.  You know I'm all about water storage these days.  Just experience over two weeks without indoor plumbing and it will make you put it at the top of your priority list, too.  Yes... I know there are people who live off the grid but they are set up for such events.  We are not.

So I now make sure we have two or three cases of bottled water and about ten gallons of tap water (which is well water in our case).  If you have a way to purify your water, you don't need to do anything to the tap water.  However, if you don't have a water purification unit (the kind you can run water through, not the under the sink kind that purifies water coming into the house) then you need to do some online research about how much bleach and such to put in your water.

I have read that city water has enough chlorine added to it that you do not have to add any bleach.  But various towns are different so do some research on websites where they have long articles about water purification (there are tons of them).

When a storm is on the way, fill your bathtub with water as well as any clean containers that can hold water.  I have three pitchers and when we had water issues, all three were filled (when we could) with drinking water.  Victoria's water container was filled completely.  Other containers were filled to use for such things as flushing the toilet with tap water.  

2.  My son used to look at the pantry shelves and tell me there was nothing in the house to eat.  I came to realize what he meant was, there was nothing on the pantry shelves that didn't need to be cooked to have a meal.   That has been a long time ago but I did realize I needed to have more snack items on the shelf.  They are also perfect for when there is no electricity.

I keep crackers, peanut butter, granola bars, canned fruit, a few different kinds of cereal, corn ships, salsa, etc. on the pantry shelf.  I usually have cheese, milk, some kind of lunch meat, etc. in the refrigerator.

Should I know there is a storm coming, I will see what needs to be added to the pantry shelves according to opportunity and budget.  I have found it very helpful to spend some time every few months just looking through grocery store shelves for items that can be helpful for an emergency, whether it is a storm coming or in the past... a hungry teenage boy needing food and right now!

3.  Since my daughter has lived in New England; she has been through blizzards, hurricanes, and a very large tornado outbreak in their town.  She has learned that if any very bad weather is possible, not only to stock the pantry but to make certain the dishes have all been washed and the laundry is caught up.  Just in case the electricity doesn't come back on for days (which has happened more than once!).

This is the time to locate all forms of lighting including flashlights, camping lanterns (should you have them), candles (not scented) to be placed out of reach of children and pets, matches, and check for batteries where needed.  You do not want to be looking for these items in the dark.

This is also the time to locate your paper plates, paper cups, napkins, disposable forks and spoons, etc.  Should the power go off, you will be glad to have them on the kitchen counter and ready to be used.  It wouldn't hurt to have a case of bottled water in the kitchen ready to go, with instructions that it is there if the water is not available.

VERY IMPORTANT:  Charge your cell phone, iPad or other tablets, etc.

4.  Check around your yard before any major storm hits.  Bring in objects that can be picked up in high winds, or tuck them in a safe place where they cannot become dangerous missiles for your house or people.  We live in an area that tends to have a lot of Tornado Watches so as soon as one pops on the TV screen, or on the iPad... I get the porch and deck ready for high winds.

If you live in an area that has hurricanes, it is a really really (really) good idea to have your hurricane gear ready far in advance.  If you know you may need plywood, get it now.  Before you have to stand in line, pay extra money for it, or worse yet... find it all sold out.

I hate to tell you this but not preparing for an emergency does not make it never happen.  Speaking as one whose house was hit by lightening.

Most storm situations will have you hunkering down in your house for safety.  In a hurricane warning, you may have to leave the premises.  If you have a "bug out bag" already packed, routes to get out of town already planned, your pets already taken care of, a phone list of people to check on, reservations at an inland hotel or with friends, your house prepared, etc., then should that storm take a sudden turn right toward your house... you have a much better chance of coming through it as good as possible.

5.  Having a NOAA All Weather Radio is a big help.  I have the kind that has to be plugged in, which is better than nothing.  I also have a very small (inexpensive) emergency radio that can be wound up should the power go out.

Our Direct TV almost always goes out in a storm. Which is why we also kept a second TV hooked up to the old antennae.  It tends to stay on as long as we have electricity and we get local channels that often switch to all weather related coverage in a warning.  If you only have satellite TV, I highly recommend having a backup with an antennae... or some other way to receive information.

6.  One items we do not have is a generator.  It would be nice, especially the solar generators, but we do what we can with what we have.  I purposely have my insulin come in pens as they can go quite a long time without refrigeration.  If it is really cold, we have sleeping bags and a Maine Coon cat.  The only argument will be... who gets the cat to cuddle with.  ;)

I know this is not an extensive list of how to make yourself storm proof but I hope it helps a little.


Deanna Rabe - Creekside Cottage Blog said...

We store bottled water too, and fill gallons with water. In the summer, if it is a big thunderstorm that may knock out electricity, we fill the big bathtub with water. In the winter with snow, we just go out and fill a pan with snow and melt it on the wood stove. (this is for flushing toilets only)

We try to keep stocked up on toilet paper, and things that will cook over a campfire, on our grill or on top of the woodstove. My kids love to snack so I try to keep that kind of thing available as well.

We have camping lanterns - the kind that run on small propane bottles, oil lamps and lanterns that burn candles.

This last blizzard we did not lose power, but we were ready in case it did. The woodstove keeps us warm, we have a gas stove so we could have cooked even if the power went out. It was cold outside so we could have moved perishables out to the deck if it had been necessary.

I like these posts that make me think. An area we need to improve on is battery storage. We have a weather radio that runs on electricity but also can run on batteries, so I need to make sure we have some of the right size stocked.

mdoe37 said...

Good list. I too have a pantry FULL on ingredients, not much to eat. I'm fortunate enough that I have a propane kitchen stove so I can cook. I have one 35 gal. food safe barrel for water in the basement, along with gallons and bottles. I'm looking to add two more barrels. On the shelf in buckets to use is a Sawyer ZeroTwo filter. I think I'm going to hook that up and purify the water before I barrel it....more for practice.

And I just bought myself a glass oil lamp. I've got several of the Dietz type lanterns for decoration and I have Never, Ever used them. Really and actually wasn't sure how to put them out after use. Really. So I have extra oil in the basement now and I use the glass lamp every morning for ambient lighting...easier on the eyes.

I purchased a generator probably 15 years ago and have maybe used it a couple hours total since. We were set for a possible storm earlier this season and I realized I needed to go out and "kick" Bessy. It didn't start. I figured it needed a new plug and I then managed to break the plug off in the machine. :) I got it out, got to the town over for a new plug and she fired right up. But its now definitely on my list of things that MUST be maintained....within my limited small engine skills. lol (and yes I bought TWO sparkplugs while I was there)

The best thing I ever purchased for power outage was a propane wall heater (ugly but useful). It hangs in the dining room and is large enough to heat the upstairs with no power. $125 on clearance and some gas piping help from dad. At some point, I may purchase a smaller unit for the basement and hang near the water pipes.

Antenna is on the wish list.

Kimberly said...

Great tips!
Indoor plumbing is nice. :)

Doris said...

We have a propane wall heater in our basement. Works well heating the upstairs. It's right under our bedroom and keeps it warm if there is a power outage. My husband talked several people into getting one including my daughter. Definitely worth the price.

Jane said...

We still use an old tv so have to have the converter box, but rabbit ears work fine as the antenna. Could try that first before having a roof antenna installed. Of course, we don't get cable channels but mostly watch PBS anyway and there are 4 on PBS with the digital channels.
One year I got everyone one of the wind-up radios for Christmas gifts! Must say that we haven't lost electricity since the power company put the lines underground but before that we could lose it if a branch fell on the lines so we were used to being without electricity.
I really like your preparedness lists! Such good ideas. Since the hurricane season goes from June through November here in Florida I'm always happiest Dec. through May.

Heather said...

Brenda,l always enjoy your stocking up posts. We live in Northern Delaware, and recently went through the blizzard. We were snug and well stocked. We are blessed to be able to store our travel trailer in our backyard, so if we were to lose power we can always move into it. It has propane heat, and we have generators for it.

The blizzard stopped late Saturday night, and we had no plans for venturing out. But, our youngest had a sledding accident on Sunday afternoon and had to be taken to the emergency room for stitches. We decided to hed over to Walmart afterwards, since we would be close and we could pick up some extra Almond milk. Wow! I was shocked at how empty the shelves were. Thankfully, there was almond milk. It was crazy how empty everything was!

I am so thankful for your time and effort to help us learn over the years. It is coming in handy as we face unemployment.

Love, Heather