How to prepare to be snowed in with no power
March 4, 2013
It is hard to imagine that people for thousands of years got along without electric power or even running water. Today, there are very few that are prepared to live very long without electricity from the power company. Losing power during the summer is hard enough but losing it during a snow or ice storm creates new challenges.
Thankfully, most power outages don't last but a few hours depending on where you live. If you live in a medium to large city, most only last a few hours but if you live out of the city limits in the country, it can take a day or more to return power as cities are a priority. However, even if you are in a city, those that are living in an apartment or townhouse have challenges as well. Most people that are living in an apartment or townhouse only have electric heat. If the temperature outside is in the 20's at night, you can get cold pretty fast if you don't have power to heat your place. Thankfully most people living in the country have a wood stove or fireplace to use but there are many that don't.
Here are some of the areas you will want to consider when preparing and what they might cast you.
Light is needed if it is dark when the power is out. A well made flashlight with a bright beam is very important for fixing things and seeing where you are going. I think a reliable, super bright, LED flashlight is important to getting a job done quickly or passing around to different people. I really like the Gerber Cortex Compact Tactical Flashlight. It is sterdy, bright, and you know it is going to work when you need it the most. Another great flashlight that is very useful is a headlamp. When working outside with both hands, like bring in firewood, or chopping firewood in the dark, it makes it so much easer. The other flashlight I recommend is a LED Dynamo Flashlight. You can wind them to recharge them. They are not as bright as a tactical flashlight but I have come to depend on mine not knowing when my batteries might give out and not have electricity to recharge them.
Telephones that are cordless don't work without power so you will want to have a simple corded one around for emergencies. I found one for about $1.00 at the thrift store that works great. New ones are about $15-20. Cell phones are good but they can go dead on you when you need them most. The Dynamo flashlight that we well also includes a cable for charging your cell phone. Very important.
Heat is needed if you live in a cold climate and it is not summer time. If you have gas logs, a wood burning stove, or fireplace, you should be fine. If you don't, a propane heater is a great option. They run about $60-$100. Mr. Heater has some nice ones that are safe indoors.
Water storing is especially important if you are on a well with an electric pump or the city water looses pressure. Without power you won't be able to get water out of the well. I recommend storing about 40 gallons of water for drinking, washing dishes and hands, and cooking with. A set of 5 gallon containers is the best way to go. You can get a 40 gallon kit of 8 for about $144.
Food and cooking is always good to consider especially in the winter. When snow and ice can prevent you from traveling on the roads or even your driveway. It is good to keep food on hand that does not go bad easily like dried fruit, crackers, freeze dried fruits and vegetables, beans, rolled oats, and rice. I recommend storing enough food to last you at least a week for the small storms and disasters and 1-3 months for major turmoil and big disasters.
A simple propane camp stove is a must have for cooking meals and heating water when the power goes out. I recommend a stove like the Stansport Outfitter Series Propane Stove that has 25,000 BTU per burner and Piezo match-free electronic ignition. It is a very solid unit with stainless steel burners and drip pan to make it easy to clean up. They run about $76.
I hope you will consider the importance of being prepared for anything the weather might throw at you. It gives you true peace of mind knowing you have the food, water, and tools needed to handle the next big storm that hits your area.