Summertime once again. Hot summer days and cool summer nights and oh yeah, summer storms.
I’ve written about this before, and it is once again time to think about your emergency preparations. I personally like to give my emergency preparations a good look at the beginning of the summer and at the beginning of the winter. Some of the information is the same, but some is just a bit different.
There are a lot of emergency possibilities in the summer. Tornadoes for one. Really, the biggest thing you can do to prep for a tornado is to have a plan of where you will go and how you will meet up with your family afterwards. And hope you will never need those plans.
Hurricanes are another issue. I’m lucky that I don’t live near enough to the water to make them a real risk (we just sort of get the edge of the storm) but if you do live in an area, you should have an evacuation plan in place. Put together a bag of the items you will absolutely need should you have to evacuate. Make sure that you have any medications you might need, some snacks, extra clothes, pet food, etc. I know a lot of people who keep a few Rubbermaid totes with their evacuation kits in a hall closet, ready to go if needed.
But what about the rest of us? I live in an area where the biggest storm risk, aside from trees falling on my house, is just a long term power outage. Not quite as dangerous in the summer as it can be in the winter, but it’s something to be prepared for.
First off, double check your flashlights. Make sure you have one near your bed, and if you have kids, give them little flashlights as well.
Make sure that you have food in your house that you don’t need to cook. One advantage to summer storms over winter storms is that it is unlikely you will be trapped in your house for a long time, but going out to eat every day will get expensive. And the grocery stores will be mobbed. Also make sure you have bottled water in the house. Just in case. This is also helpful if you find yourself in a “boil order” alert area, where the water must be boiled before you can drink it. This can happen due to broken pipes or all sorts of other issues. It’s so much easier to not have to worry about boiling every sip.
If you have a grill or a fire pit in your yard, you may be able to cook outdoors, which is awesome! Except that if you’re grilling meat, that probably had to be refrigerated, which becomes a problem without electricity. But hey, it’s not bad for the first day of that power outage.
What about the food in your fridge and your freezer? The USDA has a great food safety list. For the most part, if your freezer stayed at 40 degrees or less, you’re probably good, but everything has to be evaluated. One key to keeping the freezer cold is keeping it full. If you don’t have enough food in your freezer to keep it full, many people recommend taking plastic milk jugs filled mostly full (leave room for expansion as it freezes) to fill in the gaps. This can also be a way to easily see if your freezer has topped 32 degrees. Fill a water bottle halfway full and place it upright in the freezer. Once it’s frozen, tilt it on its side (make sure it’s capped, of course). If the bottle thaws and refreezes at the new angle, you know that at some point, your freezer got a bit warm. There’s also a list for refrigerated food, but a good lesson is that if the power outage is under 4 hours, just keep that door shut and you’ll be fine.
Having candles around isn’t a bad idea, but remember that you have to be very careful about the fire risk. A good camping lantern is probably a better bet. And if you’re stuck for an evening or two without power, try to have fun with it. Play games with the family. Hang out in the yard with the neighbors. Frequently, if there is a big power outage, people end up outside, grilling up whatever meat they have in the freezer and eating all of the ice cream and popsicles that are soon to be melted. Why not make it into a party?
Summer storms are usually just an annoyance, but being prepared for them can make the annoyance so much easier.