Did you see that storm that came through northern Virginia on Saturday evening? It wasn’t a derecho but it was legit and it reminded me of how ill prepared I was for The Derecho of 2012. Do you remember that one? The horrendous storm that left many of us without power for days. I remember it well. I had two babies under 2 years old and we lost power at our house for four days. FOUR DAYS. If that wasn’t a test of wills for a new mom, I don’t know what is. This picture pretty much sums up how we handled the power outage in our family.
This picture was taken on day two of living with no power. It was hot. It was quiet (well except for the boys). And we were desperately trying to figure out how we could save a freezer and refrigerator full of food. Thank goodness we are blessed with good friends who took us (and our food) in for a couple of nights. Which was welcomed news for Nathan and Andrew.
Unfortunately, a lot of people who lost power during that storm were forced to power through (no pun intended) on their own. Are you prepared for another derecho? If not, it’s time to get prepared! Here are some easy tips that will prepare you for the next storm.
BEFORE THE STORM
Tip #1 Preparing Your Home
The FIRST thing I think of during a storm is my home’s areaway and sump pump system. It is critical that the areaway drain stays clear at all times and especially during heavy rains. If the drain gets clogged with leaves and debris, the water will build up inside the well and eventually jump the threshold of the door. This is very very bad. The other source of water in a basement is through the sump crock. Most homes are equipped with a sump pump system which collects the water around the foundation and pumps it out of the house so the basement stays dry. If the sump pump fails or if there is a power outage, the sump pump won’t be able to do its job. So buy a battery backup for your sump pump. While it will only last limited time during a power outage, it will be enough in most cases to get you through until power is restored.
Tip #2 Protect Your Food
One or two days without power can be costly as food will spoil in freezers and refrigerators. After the Derecho of 2012, there were two things you couldn’t find anywhere. Ice and bottled water. Here’s an easy tip…fill Ziplock bags with water and stick them in your freezer. If your power does go out, the ice filled bags will help keep it cool and when the ice melts, you can use the water for drinking. If you’re without power for more than 4 days, see tip #4 below.
Tip #3 Gas Up & Get Cash
This is just an all-around good tip no matter what time of year. Have gas in your car and cash on hand at all times. Aside from the obvious benefit of actually being able to go somewhere in your car during a blackout, your car may also be your only charging station for your phone and other electronics during a power outage. And remember, ATMs don’t work when the power is out. It’s always good to have a little cash tucked away for a rainy day (again, no pun intended).
Tip #4 Keep the Grill Tank Full
Even if you lose power, with a full tank on your gas grill, you can still cook a hot meal. This becomes very important if the power outage is for an extended period of time and you are starting to lose some of your frozen foods. If your grill is working, you can cook everything in your freezer (invite the neighbors for an instant block party!) instead of letting it go bad.
IF THE POWER DOES GOES OUT
Tip #1 Unplug It
Once the power goes out, unplug everything and make sure any appliances that were “on” are “off”. About 10 years ago, my sister’s neighbor in Richmond was cooking during a storm. They lost power and left the house until power was restored. Unfortunately, they forgot to turn off the stove before they left. When the power came back on, the house burned to the ground. Thankfully, no one was home at the time.
Tip #2 Keep the Fridge Closed
The less you open the doors, the longer your food will keep. A fridge will keep food cold for about 4 hours if the door isn’t opened. A packed freezer can keep food frozen for about 48 hours if left unopened.
Tip #3 Creative Lighting
Do you have solar powered landscape lights? Bring them indoors at night for lighting. You can put them back out during the day for recharging. Also, use flashlights over candles. They give off better light and they won’t burn down your house!
Tip #4 Fill the Bathtub
When the power goes down, the city water system may soon follow. Fill up the tub (and any other containers you might have) BEFORE the water is deemed no longer potable. If the water system should shut down, you’ll have plenty of fresh water for drinking, bathing and washing.
Are these tips helpful? Remember as Murphy says, if you’re prepared for a storm, it probably will never come. But the ill prepared…well, you know how that goes.
How do you prepare for a storm?
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