Thursday, January 29, 2009

Winter Storm Makes Me Think

Most of our family lives in Kentucky and they have been hard hit with a winter storm. It has knocked out power and one of the counties doesn't even have water service. It is estimated that it may take up to a month to get the power restored. My mom is tucked away with my brother and his family. We have had very little communication with them due to the fact that phone service has been out of order. Cell phones have not been working either. Apparently the cell phone towers have been frozen with the ice. We did get a phone call today and I was told that they were fine, but they were cold and starting to run low on food. The good thing is that the roads are passable so if they get too cold or hungry they could head to our house...that is if they have enough gas in their cars. There are very few places that are able to sell gas. Apparently without power the gas pumps won't work. We don't think of these things until it is too late.

This whole winter storm has helped me to see some of the holes in our own emergency plan. I always figured we would be able to take care of ourselves in the event of a catastrophe. While we would be far ahead of many people, there are still things that we need to improve. Here are the areas that have come to mind these last few days:

First, water would be our main issue. We do not have a well so we are at the mercy of our city to provide us water. I have wanted to buy a Berkey water filter system for some time, but today I realize that it isn't a luxury. It could fill a great need by turning nasty pond water into fresh drinking water. While drilling a well would be wonderful, it is very costly. So instead of that, we will be purchasing a Berkey very soon. It still costs several hundred dollars, but it could be a life saver.

Second, I want to make sure that we keep our gas tanks filled. We are the world's worst about believing that "E" on the gas gauge in our car stands for "enough". While I am sure that most of you realized that you couldn't get gas without power, I never knew that until today. I would like to commit to keeping at least one of our vehicles filled to the top at all times. I also realized that having two propane tanks for the gas grill is great, but neither one will help if they are empty! I have decided that we need to keep one of the propane tanks filled to the top.

Third, I have decided that I will be ordering Carla Emery's Country Living book. We have always meant to order that book, but with the Internet and all the information we just never did. No power would mean no Internet service. Which for us would mean that we would lose the instant access to information. A book can be on the shelf to be used at will.

Fourth, I am a frugal shopper. I always buy what we need and no more. This storm has helped me to see that attitude could leave us undone. I am planning on renewing our Sam's Club membership and purchasing larger quantities of things to tuck away in case of an emergency. I would like to have extra batteries, candles, and Tylenol on hand. Simple things that could save the day if needed.

These are just a few small steps that I plan on taking to make sure that our family is covered in the event of an emergency. We have lots of food in the pantry and we still have a freezer full of food. My family may get tired of applesauce and tomatoes, but at least we wouldn't starve! I have another list of things that I would like to see us do over the next few years to make us even more self sustainable. These things cost a considerable amount more money. I would love to have a well dug here on our property. I would also like to purchase a propane tank and a gas stove so I could still cook in the event of a power outage. A gas water heater would be nice too. Michael would like to invest in a generator to at least run our freezers if need be. We also need to have large amounts of firewood stocked up just in case. I also will be purchasing some Aladdin oil lamps and a good amount of oil for light.

The last thing that I have taken away from this storm has been the importance of communication. We have one teenage driver and one soon to be driving. We have never even thought of the importance of having a plan in the event of a catastrophe. We have just always relied on cell phones to communicate. We will be sitting our children down and giving specific details of what we expect of them in an emergency. For instance, if the roads are passable then they should get home immediately. If the roads are not passable, they should stay put and come back to our farm as soon as possible. One would think that these kids would know this, but as I have learned over the years with teenagers one should never assume anything!!! If you have any ideas to add to my list, please leave a comment. We can all help each other get to thinking about what needs we may have in the case of an emergency!

grace and peace,


Paige said...

I'm surprised that the gas stations don't have a generator. Bad planning on their part.

Boysaplenty!! said...

Wow, your post today brings back all those memories of the three hurricanes we survived in central FL in '04. That was a wake up call for our family! No power for 2weeks in August!! We have a long list of items to purchase towards self sufficiency as well.
That experience has changed the way we think/buy for sure. For example, the smoker/grill hubby just made is a back up oven "just in case". I know we would get tired of smoke flavored everything but like you, we wouldn't starve! I am so thankful for my husband who plans ahead in providing for his family. I am also thankful for our Heavenly Father's promise that He is in control :)

Marci said...

Lots of good thoughts there Julie.

Dreamer said...

I think its hitting them so hard because they are not used to such storms. While we may have bad ice storms in MO that knock out the power, sometimes for weeks at a time, I've never had trouble getting gasoline or groceries as long as the roads are open.

Until you get your Berkey, do what we do, get a couple (or more) large cases of bottled water from Sam's and store it in the basement. If you have a basement it is a good place to store your emergency supplies because that's where you'll be in a tornado. Just keep it off the floor in case of a flood. Boy, do I sound like a midwesterner!

I keep an old pair of tennis shoes, rope, leatherman all-purpose tool, forever flashlights, emergency blankets, first aid kit, copies of important legal documents and insurance policies, a roll of toilet paper, matches/lighter and a few food stuffs among other things.

Put it all in a back pack or spread it out amongst several back packs, one for each family member. If a natural disaster hits, you will want your supplies to be portable because you may need to hike out!

Dreamer said...

Oh yeah, during the May 1999 F5 tornado that hit Oklahoma City, we learned something else. Sometimes phone service is out directly after a natural disaster because of overloaded circuits. However, the people in those areas may be able to send/receive calls from outside the immediate area. I am in in MO and when the tornado tore up OK, my family there could not call each other, but the could call me. I relayed information as they called.

Now we all memorize the number to an out of town relative and know that if we can't call each other because the phones are down in our area, that we are to call that relative and report our location and condition. We'll give it 30 minutes or so and call back to find out who has or has not reported in.

Leah Spencer said...

I'd suggest that you make a habit of refilling up the vehicles when they get halfway empty. Not only so you can move a few miles in an emergency, but you also get better mileage in the first half of the tank.

Think of it like drinking a glass of water. The first half of the cup tips easily into your mouth, but the second half you have to reach higher and higher with each sip. Therefore, you use more energy/muscles. Keep the tank half full or more. :)

TnFullQuiver said...

Wow, You people really have it together where emergencies are concered. Thank you so much for taking the time to give me such great advice. Keep them coming!!! I need all the help I can get.
grace and peace,

Pam's Pride said...

Here is a great site that has emergency preparedness. You would also be a great asset to the site by sharing some of your canning recipes and such!