We’re in the throes of the 20 year December ice storm here in Middle Tennessee. Every 20 years or so we have a big one. Although, this one isn’t as big as the one in ’94. The resulting broken trees and devastation from that ice storm could be seen for 8-10 years afterward.
This one is more inconvenient than life-threatening, and we may have some more ice in a day or two. The city workers were out in force last week coating the roads with salt brine so the roads aren’t iced over in the city. The county roads are another thing, they are icy. Power is out in pockets all over the city as well.
As we lay in bed this morning waiting for our power to come back on, and it did an hour later, my husband and I discussed how different things are now when the power goes out than they were when we had 5 children at home.
These days we just lay in the warm bed or get up and put on warm clothing and check the condition of the roads or fire up the kerosene heater and …. go back to the warm bed and go to sleep!
But with small or young children in the house its a whole other world.
First, every time the power went out, all the children felt it was their responsibility to come inform us of the outage. One. At. A. Time. The baby always being the last and the loudest.
Then we had the pleasure of at least three children climbing in bed with us. A double bed mind you, so we were very snuggly.
And then there was the getting dressed warmly and finding something to eat. And there was usually one who came down with a cold or flu-like symptoms. These are the things where planning pays off and I want to show you what you can do to plan for power outages when you have children.
These are the main things that I learned I needed to plan ahead for.
Food – Cooking has to be part of this as well because if your electricity goes out, you are going to need to cook or at least prepare warm food with heated water. We have a fire pit, a gas grill and a charcoal grill. We have wood cut for the pit and lots of extra charcoal. Normally, we keep two canisters of propane. You’ll need to prepare to cook in what ever way you know you can cook. You should practice cooking on your alternate because its different from cooking over gas or electricity. You’ll be glad you did!
Make sure you have pans that can be used over fire. Cast Iron is best. Aluminum will melt if it gets too hot, so be careful.
At the very least you can boil water over your alternate cooking system. Boiling water can be put into a Thermos and then rice or pasta or other pre-packaged foods can be added, allowed to sit for about 45 minutes and cook. This is also something you should practice.
Its really convenient to have home canned foods that are completely cooked that you just have to open up and heat. You can have the same convenience, if not the same quality, if you buy store bought canned foods such as stews, meats or complete meals. Its handy to have peanut butter and crackers on hand, canned fruit (save and drink the juice!), tuna, canned chicken and corned beef, soups, stews and instant rice.
I’ll make a post soon and show you exactly how to “cook” in a Thermos and how to put together pre-packaged foods to make a meal.
The idea is to used your alternate cooking source as little as possible to conserve. So don’t build a huge fire thinking that you’ll need it to cook a pan of burgers. You don’t need a lot of fire to cook you mostly need hot coals. The best thing to have to cook on in my opinion is a propane gas grill because it can be turned on and off easily and there is little waste.
Water – Sometimes pipes freeze when it gets really cold. If your electricity goes out and stays out for a while, chances are, your pipes will freeze and you won’t have access to water. So you need to store some water. Experts say that humans need a minimum of 1 gallon of water per day, just to drink or cook with. That doesn’t include water for personal hygiene. Years ago, we started storing water in clean 2 liter pop bottles. I filled them about 2/3 full so if they froze they wouldn’t burst. I added 10 drops of household bleach to each 2 liter bottle as recommended by the US Dept. of Health. Water can be purified by boiling as well; filter through a coffee filter then bring to a boil and boil for 1 full minute before storing. You can add 2 drops of bleach per gallon of boiled water to help maintain its purity during storage.
In my next post I’ll talk about how to prepare these areas: