How? By being prepared to have an extended time period where I may have to be on my own, setting up a caregiving routine, and managing any potential damage the storm may bring.
As the sole caregiver, I had to be more than just thinking I was prepared, I had to be instantly ready to spring into action.
Because of where I live, it is not unusual for us to lose power for 3 to 4 days at a time due to snow or wind storms. I certainly have had practice at loss of power in the winter, but this pushed the limits and showed me how important it is to have what you need at the ready.
Way too many people had not taken steps to be prepared and it was evident. It was also comforting to know that I had created a comfortable, if inconvenient, way to thrive through the outage.
While I share this from the perspective of caregiving, it applies if you are a parent, a single person living away from home, or you are babysitting when a weather or national emergency hits. Take from my experience and apply it to your situation. Find what will work for you, but take steps.
40,000 people in my area did not think they would lose city services like water and sewer, telephone and cell service, or that gas stations and hardware stores would run out of supplies. There was a needless struggle to stay warm and comfortable because they didn’t think it would happen to them.
Trust me, it can happen to anyone, anywhere.
Caregiving Duties Change When Power Goes Out
Anyone who is caregiving recognizes the need for routine. When you are caring for someone with Alzheimer’s like I am, any disruption can cause anxiety, frustration and acting out.
Regardless if you are a caregiver, parent or babysitter, you should be planning for possible weather events that will disrupt your loved ones schedule now, before it becomes an issue.
I downloaded movies on an iPad to watch without power or internet. I have books on Kindle I keep charged and at the ready. I also keep books he’s read and enjoyed for him to read again. Often he does not remember reading it before and he gets to enjoy it again for the first time.
It was difficult at first for him to grasp why he could not turn on the dishwasher or jump in the shower. He was getting cabin fever from being unable to walk the property because of the ice.
This made it more of a challenge for me to keep him safe and prevent wandering so he wouldn’t get hurt. Especially since I also had to walk the property, survey damage, shake ice and snow off my trees and shrubs to save them from breaking or being knocked over.
It Falls On You To Plan Ahead
I had to be able to leave him alone in the house while I did the outside work like shoveling snow, digging out the front driveway gate from ice so it would open in an emergency.
I had to be the one who kept the wood stove burning non-stop to give us heat, and keep the dogs from going stir crazy because I wasn’t able to spend a lot of time playing in the yard with them.
I managed by suggesting naps in the afternoon. Handing him one of the books I’d reserved for moments like this, or the iPad to watch a downloaded program or movie he would enjoy. He usually ended up napping after all with that and I could attend to the other chores.
Make New Routines Fun
I developed a new routine for him. We ran the generator in the morning for coffee, breakfast and lunch. If the snow was off the satellite dishes, he could watch tv or use the internet. Then it was shut down for the afternoon so I could do the outside chores.
At dinner time, I’d start it back up and it would stay on til 10 pm. By the fourth day he was beginning to accept the new routine and handled it well after that.
My plan worked. The power outage became a non-event. Yes, it was inconvenient, but we were safe, comfortable and warm enough.
How I Prepared For This 7 Day Power Outage
I have a good sized generator that will run enough in the house to keep us comfortable. I also have a small backup generator just in case I need to throw it in the car and go. I have water stored in a 55 gallon tank I bought from Costco.com that stays fresh for 5 years at a time. It comes with a pump so you can use water as you need it.
Every 5 years, we drain the water and put fresh water back in, add a stabilizer and leave it be. It sits in a corner of the garage, out of the way. I have extra fuel for the generators in small containers that I can carry.
I’m not muscular or that strong, I need to modify everything to what I can physically manage. To that end, instead of using heavy propane tanks for the generator I bought a 110 gallon propane tank and had it installed a few winters ago.
Gas is treated and stored in small 1 and 2 gallon containers so I can use them if need be. In the summer, I use it for the riding mower.
I had to think of all the things my husband used to be able to do that I am now responsible for, then I had to modify all of it for my abilities to do it instead. My point is, I did it ahead of time, so when we had an emergency such as this, I was ready.
I have roll out shelves filled with food, coconut and drinking water and emergency supplies. Not only do I have to deal with power outages in the winter, but come summer, wildfires are now the new normal. If I have to grab my family and pets and bug out in the car, I can grab the bags and containers set aside for that purpose.
Sadly, too many people were not prepared at all.
Running CPAP or Oxygen Equipment During Power Outage
I have a solar generator called a Yeti, that stays in the house. It will run for 8 hours on one battery charge and keep the CPAP running quietly so we can all sleep.
Our roads were icy and treacherous. More than once an ambulance had to be towed out of a ditch.
One person didn’t make it because the ambulance was sideways and the crew was unable to maintain life saving efforts.
Plan how to be on your own for a few days because during an emergency, you may be all you have.
What To Do Before An Emergency Strikes Your Family
Think ahead now to what you will need when there is no help coming for a while.
Where will you go if you can’t get to your home or it was damaged so badly it was uninhabitable?
Fuel and Food sources will probably not be open, how will you eat, get to water and fill your car up?
Water is needed to live. We can live without food for a while but without water, our body will shrivel up and die. My supplies includes a house size Life Straw that can filter and make potable water out of our creek if it came to that. I also have a 2.5 gallon Berkey Water Filter that does the same thing. The Life Straw is portable so if we have to bug out, I can still make safe drinking water.
There are sleeping bags, air beds, tarps and tools at the ready if the house becomes uninhabitable.
My cars all have emergency backpacks with solar blankets, flashlights, jumper cables, protein bar, water and MRE’s in case we’re stuck in our vehicle for a while. Don’t forget your pets too! I have this one.
Everything fits into plastic crates and are marked for ease of use. A stash of paper plates, plastic forks/knives stay safely in the emergency food supplies, as well as small bottles of the most common herbs and spices I’ll need for cooking. These get rotated out every year so they stay fresh.
I keep chains in the car, and I did need them to get out of my long driveway.
I’m thankful for friends who came through with studded tires and broke up the ice a bit for me first. It was not fun sliding sideways out of my garage.
Don’t Wait For The Emergency To Strike
I urge you to take the time now, before you need it, to assess what you have on hand, what you may need and how you will access it.
I have begun learning how to dehydrate food. This will save me shelf space and make it easy to create meals on the go.
Dehydrated meat, jerky, potatoes, rice, pasta, all of that can be cooked and prepared ahead of time, dehydrated and be ready to eat with a pour of hot water to rehydrate it all.
My generator kept all of my food safe to eat. My freezer did not thaw. My fridge stayed cold by adding ice packs to the top shelf when the generator was off.
One last caveat. Never, ever let your cars fuel tank get below 1/2 tank. Always fill it up. Should this emergency have us evacuating and getting stuck on an interstate as happened to hundreds of people during this storm, we would have been comfortable with the heater on while we idled for a long while.
Gas stations were empty of all fuel sources very quickly during this emergency. Consider that in your plans. People were hunting for generators, propane tanks or the gas to run them. It was not available for several days.
Be Grateful When Help Arrives
Plan ahead. Prepare for possible outages that your local authorities will not be able to handle in a crisis and keep your head. Do what you can now, so when it eventually does occur, you won’t be a statistic, but instead you will survive and thrive through it.
I am deeply grateful for all of the work crews who came from all over the country to help restore power.
Check on your neighbors. Make sure they are ok. Facebook played an integral part in keeping my community up to date and aware. Telephone lines were out, many cell towers also went down. With the generator, I was able to get online a few hours each day to stay updated.
There are portable radios that are hand cranked, with a flashlight and some even have a USB plug to charge your cell phone. I have this model but search online and in local survival stores. You will be amazed what is available for you.
Friends use to make fun of my supplies. Guess who was unprepared to thrive during this storm? It wasn’t me.
A hot meal or a hot shower can go a long way to helping your neighbors feel strong enough to keep going til they get their routine back. Do what you can to help. Most of all, prepare and hope you never have to need it.
That is the best outcome to any scenario.