I live at “the end of the line.” The electric poles end across the street from me. In storms, when the power goes out, it is not unusual for my electric to be out for days. Which means, no water, no heat, no lights, no refrigeration, hot showers, and all the other niceties of modern life. So occasionally I will write a post about disaster preparation, having had a little experience in what it would be like.
Topic One – Water, water, nowhere
Boring, right? The lights go out, you find the way to the bathroom, flush the toilet and wait. But something is different this time. The tank does not refill. Not a problem yet. Until the next person comes along. If you have a pool or a pond or hot tub with fairly clean water, this is what to do: lift the lid off of the top of the tank and set carefully to the side. Fill the back of the tank with water to the fill line. Flush. At 1.5 to 3 gallons per flush, it takes a lot of water to keep a toilet filled. The alternative to filling the toilet and flushing it is becomes unpleasant, quite quickly.
When fresh water no longer flows from your kitchen sink, you quickly realize how much you depend on it. Dishes will now have to be washed and rinsed by hand. Where is your fresh water? If you have an outdoor barbeque and a gallon pot, your fresh water can be heated to a comfortable temperature in a few minutes. But if you don’t have any fresh water stored away, you have a major problem. Put a post-it note on your refrigerator or add a note to your shopping list. Make it a habit of purchasing a gallon of water every week for the next six months. Store it in any dark, cool place you can find. When it comes to water, too much is just enough.
One other water issue, for cooler climates. If you’ve got an electric outage, chances are your heating system is not working. If you have sinks and toilets or, most dangerous of all, a hot water baseboard heating system, you need to keep your home from going below freezing. The copper used in hot water baseboard systems is very thin and splits easily. I found this out the hard way when the tiny little nozzle on my oil burner got clogged after an oil delivery on an 8 degree day. Open all doors between rooms, including closet doors. Open bathroom cabinet doors, also. If the sun is out, make sure drapes are open to let in any free heat you can get. A fireplace is terribly inefficient when your home is at normal temperature but can keep your home above freezing in an emergency. Keep some dry, split wood handy.