Home Emergency Tips
Mother Nature has a mind of her own and sometimes natural disasters happen. They’re not super common in the Pacific Northwest but they happen. The power goes out. There is a wind storm, an ice storm, a fire storm, a storm storm. They exist no matter what the season and all we can do is be prepared for them so that the disasters feel less disastrous. Below is a list of certain ways to adapt to the unpredictability of nature.
So the power goes out…what do you do? You can either sit in the dark when the time comes or read and play games by candle light, like the pioneers used to. Or you can be proactive, be the cool kid on the block and get a backup power supply. There are so many options to choose from these days. We will leave the exact models and comfortable price ranges to you.
The most popular and probably the most familiar option is a Portable Generator. This requires some kind of fuel and should be used outdoors only because it puts off fumes but it allows you to plug in a few essential items at a time (like your fridge). It can also be carted around and utilized in various locations, hence the name “Portable”, as well as being easily stored.
Another option is a Permanent or Fixed Generator. These are home systems that get installed into your homes wiring systems and turn on when the power goes out. They are outside units, much like an AC, and are meant to run your whole house for hours. This is definitely an investment item but can you imagine looking like the Griswold house in the middle of a blackout?!
Solar Generators and Wind Generators both use mother nature to charge a battery and when the power goes out, the battery kicks in and badda bing, your house has power. These come in both portable and home installation types. This isn’t the technical explanation but you get the gist, science is cool.
The last option is a Portable Backup Battery Generator. It has that nice and convenient Portable option and allows a few essential items to be plugged in at once. But it also becomes pretty useless without a charge, I mean, we all understand how batteries work, right? In a real emergency you can always jump it with your car to get the charge you need, that’s called using your noggin.
Keeping the Fridge Cold
In a power outage the first rule of thumb is to LEAVE THE FRIDGE CLOSED! This allows all the cold air to stay locked inside, because the more times that door is opened the more cold air escapes and the shorter the lifespan is for your food. And bad food brings bacteria.
But sometimes the power is out for hours upon hours, in rare cases, even days. If that’s the case we recommend opening the fridge, but move fast! Rearrange your items with space in between them. Take out the things that aren’t perishable, like all those canned drinks and juice boxes. Buy a few bags of ice, place them in garbage bags or pour the ice into bowls so they don’t leave a leaky mess when they melt, and allow your fridge to act like a giant cooler. This is a temporary solution but should keep food from spoiling for the time needed.
Yard Clean-Up Tips
High winds and storms leave a mess in their wake. But there are a few ways to make cleaning up easier. First, make it a family affair. Brew up some friendly competition and make a game out of it. Whoever collects the most pinecones wins! Another way to speed up the cleaning process is to dust off the old leaf blower and blow what you can into a pile. This makes pick up a little less strenuous and makes putting the debris into debris bags or garbage bags a little easier. Your local recycling company may have special pick up options after a storm too. Use a saw or chainsaw for the bigger limbs, and if it’s a big mess, you can go in with your neighbors to rent a dumpster or wood chipper. I mean, it’s likely you all have a mess on your hands so why not carry the load together.
Before the storm even hits the ground though we recommend keeping shrubs trimmed and removing any hanging limbs near power lines, roof lines or windows. This just gives a little extra peace of mind during those gusty winds and protects your home, your family and your neighbors from potential harm.
We live in the Pacific Northwest which means we get a LOT of rain, but sometimes the rain is heavier than we’re actually prepared for and our gutters can’t keep up. Year long gutter maintenance is important for us, since it rains all year long. That requires keeping them clear of debris as often as it takes. This will help keep those pesky pine needles from collecting into every bend and joint of your downspouts as well, because let’s just be honest, pine needles are the worst! Once the debris has been collected from your gutters flush those suckers with the hose. This is the true test on if they’re clean or not.
Clean gutters and downspouts keep water from pooling on the roof or near the foundation. It’s critical that these parts of the house are clear of debris and in good working order. Replace any sections of the gutters or downspouts that are damaged as soon as you notice them. It is also important that the downspouts drain away from the house. You don’t want any water to come back towards the foundation, EVER! If needed, your local hardware store should sell gutter extensions to ensure a safe 4ft to 6ft reach away from the house. There are also ways to bury the end of the downspout and use a pipe to drain away from the house if you want a cleaner look. This method isn’t uncommon but requires a little more engineering and planning to be done correctly. In neighborhoods these will drain through the curb so make sure your storm drains are also clear of debris.
Evacuation Packing Tips
Fire season is getting closer to home every year and home evacuations are becoming more real. We want you to be prepared when it comes to the things you MUST pack when you’re told to “go now”. You are not limited to just this list.
- All Original Documents
That means Birth Certificates, Social Security Cards, The Deed to your house, Wills, etc.
- Medication Lists and Medical Supplies
Better safe than sorry.
- Insurance Papers
We also recommend taking pictures or recording a video of everything in your house and outbuildings. Make sure to capture what is behind every door and in every cabinet so that all your personal items are documented. This will ensure that nothing can be disputed during a claim.
- Passports, ID, Credit Cards, Cash
If you don’t have cash in your pocket, make sure you get cash as soon as possible just to ensure you have a tangible security net should you need it.
- Personal Items
This mostly includes items of sentiment and things that can not be replaced. Don’t the kids and household pets comfort items, because timing may be strange and they will need a little extra tender loving care.
- Book a Hotel ASAP
It is likely that you are not the only one in the neighborhood being evacuated which means that hotels are a hot commodity, so book your room before there are no rooms.
As a method of preparedness we should ALL have an emergency kit, we should also all be CPR and AED certified. We may never use an emergency kit and that would be great, but you know that if you don’t have one you will most definitely need one at some point or another. Our phones are also great resources when it comes to collecting information during an emergency but in case you don’t have access or service at the time of whatever you’re facing, it is also good to have the old fashion way of doing things in your kit because the goal after all is to just be prepared. We have compiled a list but don’t feel limited to include just these items.
- LED Flashlight or Lamp
- First Aid Kit
- Emergency Blanket
- Sanitation and Personal Hygiene Items
- Family and Emergency Contact Info
A good rule of thumb is one gallon per person, per day. A 3 day supply is a good start.
- Non-Perishable Food
This is food that is easy to prepare and won’t go bad. This can include canned foods, dried snack foods, dehydrated foods and anything that doesn’t need to be chilled. Don’t forget to include sustinats for your four legged friends too. A 3 day supply is a good starting point.
- Battery-Powered or Hand-Crank Radio
Ideally you would also have a NOAA Weather Radio but it’s not required. A regular battery operated or hand-crank radio will deliver any information you need to know.
- Multi-Purpose Tool
Because why not, you know you’ll use it on something.
- Cell Chargers
Make sure these are the chargers that don’t get stolen to replace the one by your bed that for some reason keeps disappearing. Forget that these emergency chargers even exist just so that they are there when you might actually need them.
Just a little tangible money will do. It is a great back up when uncertainty fills the air.
- Map(s) of the area
In case of an emergency it is also important to have a plan, and talk about that plan with all members of your family. Discuss with little ones the types of emergencies and identify responsibilities to each member so if/when the time comes you can work as a team to be as safe and prepared as possible. It doesn’t even hurt to practice the plan and their roll’s responsibilities so there is a familiarity if a situation ever were to arise, much like a school fire drill.
It is also important to stay informed, both during crisis and beforehand. Learn the different weather alerts, know where your state/county/district resources are, know the hotlines to call to collect information, etc. Take ownership of your education and be proactive. Fingers crossed no one needs to do anything with that knowledge, much like long division, but if you have it you know it.