Gustav has just left, but Hanna, Ike and Josephine are all churning away in the Atlantic. I shared on My Simple Life about some of our hurricane experiences, and my feelings on being prepared. All of the tips I will be sharing are not directly related to the kitchen, but in a sense they are because it seems most of what you do while in survival mode will center around your kitchen. While this list will not be exhaustive, I hope that it will help nudge your memory while you are preparing.
Water: Water is vital for survival, actually being more important than food. If you have to choose between food and water, go for the water. For our family of 7 I try to keep as much drinking water as possible. I have 3, 5 gallon containers that I will fill up before the storm arrives. I will also fill up every pitcher in the house with water. I will clean the bathtubs well and fill them. The water in the bathtubs will be used for filling toilets, cleaning and washing.
Food: You need to have food on hand that can be prepared with little or no water, if you have access to a cooking appliance that doesn’t require electricity. You could use a grill, camp stove, and even your gas stove. If your gas stove has electronic ignitions you will need to turn on the gas and light it with a lighter, but please be careful when doing this. If you don’t have access to any means of cooking, you will need to have ready to eat food. If you are planning on using your grill for cooking, remember to stock up on plenty of charcoal and lighter fluid. You will want to have several bags of charcoal, because with widespread outages, it can take days or even weeks to get power back up. Don’t expect to run to the store after the storm has passed for these supplies, I can almost guarantee you that the shelves will be empty. You will also need to plan for food when it is raining and you can’t use the grill. It is also a good idea to bake up snacks before the storm hits. Bake snacks that will require no refrigeration, and if they are finger foods, such as cookies, all the better.
Drinks: You can buy any ready made drink you wish to have on hand. You might also consider milk, Tang, Kool-Aid, and lemonade all in powdered form. If you have no power you will have no refrigeration, you will not be able to keep milk and juice cold, so you can use the powdered form to mix just what you need.
Paper Products: You will not want to use any more water than you have to for cleaning, because it could be days or weeks before it is restored. It is good to have a supply of paper plates, disposable cups, paper bowls, plastic knives, forks and spoons, paper towels and paper napkins.
Lighting: Candles, flashlights with good batteries, camping lanterns, and hurricane lamps are all good choices. Remember that anything that has a flame needs to be used with caution around small children, and they also produce heat. If you have no A/C because the power is out, you may not want the extra heat created by candles and hurricane lamps. If you have small children you will want to think of something to create a nightlight for them. It is incredibly dark when there is no power on anywhere in the city, and you may want to provide for that. When we camp we get the girls light sticks from the camping department. They are fun, and last 24-48 hours.
Children: Severe storms are scary times for kids, so try to have as many activities for them as possible. We have tried to make the time as light and fun as possible listening to fun music and playing games. We are honest with our children and they know what is going on, and we always reassure them that God is in control of all that happens to us… no matter what.
Radio: A battery operated or hand crank radio is a must. When the power goes out, you will need to be able to hear weather forcasts and emergency information, and besides listening to fun music can lighten the mood on a dark and stormy night. I purchased a hand crank am/fm radio at Wal-mart for $10, which is about the same price as the batteries for our boom-box. It also has a flashlight and an emergency siren. I haven’t figured out the use of the siren… except for the girls to irritate each other.
First Aid Kit: Ours is made with an inexpensive tackle box. I have everything I can think of in it from bandages, gauze and antibiotic cream to vinegar and baking soda. Vinegar is great for stopping bloody noses and baking soda is great for hundreds of things, including stings. It helps to have it all in one kit that can be grabbed and taken if needed. Make sure that you have a good supply of any necessary daily medications on hand, it could be a few days before you could get to a pharmacy.
Special Medical Needs: My daughters have asthma and often take breathing treatments which caused us to be concerned if we had to deal with a power outage. I then remembered that in our van we have a 12v/AC converter. You plug it into your cigarette lighter and then you can plug a regular plug into it. Some of them can even hold the load of a large television.
Gas: Make sure that your tank is topped off, even if you are staying at home. After returning from Rita, it was hard to find gas for several days.
Clothing: If at all possible, catch up all of your laundry before the storm hits. It could be days before you are able to wash again.
Ice: I would have several bags on hand before the storm, if you have room for them. Another good idea is to freeze gallon water bottles. When they are frozen solid, they work very well in your ice chest keeping your food cold, and they thaw less quickly than the ice cubes do.
Refrigerator/Freezer: They will keep your food cold for a couple of days if you don’t open the doors often. To help out with this keep your freezer full, or put water bottles in to freeze to take up the extra space. You can also place frozen water bottles in your refrigerator to help keep it cool.
I hope that these tips are helpful to you. For more kitchen tips drop by Tammy’s Recipes.