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Prepare for a Storm

Updated on January 8, 2014

Things Most People Forget to Do to Prepare for a Storm

The Great Blizzard of 2013 is here! There are some great websites that have lists of things to make your storm preparedness kit.

But, if I'm just bunking my family down in my home for a storm, with the possibility that we may need to function without power for a few days, and without needing to evacuate, then there are some smart things that I can do to make my life a lot easier.

And, these things are usually not found on those storm preparation lists. So, here they are.

1. Laundry

A Storm without Clothes - Been There, Done That


Few think of it. We're so busy buying water, matches, batteries & flashlights that we forget about the laundry.

Check your laundry baskets now, a few days before the storm gets here. Check your towel supply. Clean it all now - and get it folded AND put away before the storm hits. You'll be so happy you did when you're trying to find a clean pair of socks in the dark.

2. The Dog(s)

To the Dog Park!


What is destined to ruin a tranquil, candle-lit, game night with the family?

A hyper dog, that's what.

Take the dogs to the dog park now, one or two days before the storm hits. It really doesn't matter how muddy, cold or yucky it is out, or how dirty your car will get. A storm - and more importantly - lack of power - is so much easier with sleeping dogs.

Emergency 3-day Kit - Read to Go!

Ready America 70280 Emergency Kit, 2-Person, 3-Day Backpack
Ready America 70280 Emergency Kit, 2-Person, 3-Day Backpack

Yes, you can put your own version together.

But, sometimes, I just want to buy it already put together, and done well, so that I time to focus on other things.

This kit has a first-aid kit, plus meals for 2 people for 3 days, plus lots of other important emergency items.

And, it's compact enough to keep in your car. Or, you can keep it in your front hall closet and just grab it and go in case of an emergency.


3. The Kids' Rooms

Cut a Path

I have one friend - yes, one and only one - whose kids' rooms are always immaculate. The rest of us? We can barely keep up with the living room, kitchen, kitchen table area, and home office to even dare to look at what the kids call "cleaned up" in their rooms.

So, now is the time to venture forth with courage!

The main goal here is not necessarily the cobwebs in the corner or the last dust microbe hiding behind the bed, but rather . . . cutting a path from the door to the bed without running into toys, clothing, forts, puzzles, books, games and old potato chip cans. You get the idea.

The secondary goal is to have a clean and spacious area for the kids to play in after the initial high of the family Clue game night by candlelight in the living room wears off. By Day 2, they usually want their own space to chill out - and so do I. A clean and spacious bedroom helps promote that.

4. Dry Mice

That's Dry Mice, Not Dry Ice

Hey, the mice want to stay warm and dry during the storm too! So, install that extra weather-stripping, or garage door stripping now, to keep them out. They are always easier to keep out than to evict! And, just in case they do find a loop-hole in your outer wall, set out a few of traps of your preferred style.

Along those lines, they'll be hungry. And your week-old garbage will be irresistable to them. So, if the storm's approach coincides with your garbage pick-up schedule, take it to the dump now.

5. Entertainment

What to Play? What to Do?

Do you really want to wait until you're tired, cold, unshowered and lacking caffeine to go searching by flashlight through the game closet for the games (that no one will agree on) to play when the power goes out?


Rather, what you want to do is get the kids' and parents' game commission together now to decide on the choicest Top 3 games of the storm party. Pit, Clue and Pictionary. (I always try to squeeze Scrabble in there but no one in my family wants to think that much in a stormy game night party.) I stay away from Monopoly because it's so long that the kids lose interest or end up crying. I'd insert Risk, but that's usually reserved for my adult siblings and friends get-togethers, rather than parents and kids family game night.

But, go beyond the initial family candle-lit game night. What will the kids do the next day? And the next evening? And the next day? And the next evening? (without tv, dvd, ipad, ipod, etc.) Lots! Read, paint, color, crafts, toys, cars, trucks, dolls, lots of cool things. . . . So, if you want to keep your sanity, you'll get those things in an easily accessibly and organized place now, rather than looking in 16 different places for little Sally's favorite clay modeling book via flashlight.

Game Night & Toys

Family Game Night

Pit - Best Card Game Ever

Non-Electronic Gifts for Children

6. Coffee

Warning: This is a mirage . . .

Warning:  This is a mirage . . .
Warning: This is a mirage . . .

Coffee Without Power

I'm lucky. I have a gas stove, which means I can light the stove by hand and boil water, and then pour it into my french-press type coffee maker.

You may not be so lucky. You may have an electric stove, or may run out of propane. Or worse, you may have a Keurig-type coffee maker.

But, if you are a coffee drinker, you WILL need caffeine. This is a dilemma which could result in the the collapse of the whole point of the preparedness scenario. A parent without electricity and without caffeine for an extended period of time will be a man-made disaster of huge proportions. Now is the time to plan ahead.

Will your local coffee shop be accessible and with power? In my case, it's doubtful. My 2 local chains are but 5 miles away, but they could have been in China given my inability to go a 1/4 mile without hitting a blocked road due to flooding or downed tress in the last storm. My 2 local family deli's - closer, but only sometimes have a generator.

Here are some solutions:

1. A sterno burner with a little pot to boil water (then use a french-press or other non-electric coffee maker)

2. Take your caffeine in the form of soda - which means buying it now from the store, and leaving it out of the fridge so that it's accessible to you when the power goes out and you don't want to open the refrigerator

3. Chocolate - it has caffeine, makes you feel happy and is as close to that soothing richness of coffee as you're gonna get

4. Bottled Coffee Beverages - you know the kind, they come in those tiny milk-bottle-shaped bottles, and are usually sold at room temperature in supermarkets, and taste sort of like an ice coffee

5. Kick caffeine cold-turkey (your family asks that you reconsider options 1 through 4)

7. Paper Plates

Paper Plates, Napkins & Towels

Plastic Utensils & Cups

Without power, you probably won't have a heating source to heat your water. Without hot water from the faucet, or a way to boil water, you probably won't be able to properly wash your dishes. Can your family really go for 3 days with everyone eating 3 meals a day at home and not washing dishes?

My sink is full after each meal. I'd hate to see what 3 days looks like. And, paper makes life easier in the short-term, so be nice to yourself and make your life a little easier during the power outage - especially since you'll be putting extra effort into preparing different meals.

Stock up on paper plates, plastic utensils, plastic cups, paper napkins and paper towels now. Especially paper towels. A lot more things get spilled and wrecked while the kids are inside for 3 days without power then they do otherwise. And, the kids always use 5 times more paper towels than they need to. So, get a lot of paper towels.

Then, use the paper and plastic during the power outage. Ahhh, at least one thing was easy.

Want to stock your pantry NOW with paper plates and plastic utensils so you won't have to think about when the power goes out? If you get it now, you'll be able to scratch this item off your list for a very long time.

Dixie Everyday Paper Plates, 10 1/16 Inch Plates, 220 Count (5 Packs of 44 Plates); Designs May Vary
Dixie Everyday Paper Plates, 10 1/16 Inch Plates, 220 Count (5 Packs of 44 Plates); Designs May Vary

Don't do dishes during a storm. If the power's out, the water heater and/or well-pump probably won't work. A few dollars now can make life a lot easier later.

Solo 18-Ounce Solo Squared Cups (Colors May Vary), 20-Count Packages (Pack of 12)
Solo 18-Ounce Solo Squared Cups (Colors May Vary), 20-Count Packages (Pack of 12)

Solo cups are the perfect solution - especially when paired with Sharpie markers to everyone knows which cup is theirs.

Sharpie Permanent Markers, Fine Point, Black, 12 Count
Sharpie Permanent Markers, Fine Point, Black, 12 Count

The perfect partner for your Red Solo Cup.


8. Vacuum

Sure, it looks fine now . . .

But, after one or two days of running around preparing for the coming storm, and after two or three days of the storm, it won't be pretty.

And worse, the kids will be laying on the floor more during the stormy candle-lit game night parties than usual. In my experience, this is exactly when the living room forts get made and the kids love sleeping on the floor . . . with the dogs.

Get it dust, dirt and fur-free now so that you can breathe easy while the kids play in their blanket-fort on the floor, while you read your book with your little booklight (you have one, right?) and bottled coffee beverage.

9. Phone Numbers

Hey, let's call Grandma! . . . Oh wait, I don't remember her number.

aka The Memory Game

I like to think that I have a good memory. Or, I used to. I'm not sure if it's age, or that I've succumbed to the siren of cell phones.

Regardless, if I had to call my Mom's cell phone tomorrow on a landline, I wouldn't know what buttons to push. It's sad, but true. (Hey, at least I know my husband's cell phone number by heart!) And, guess what? If her cell phone battery was dead, I definitely wouldn't know her work number by heart.

So, that leaves us with the obvious task of jotting down a few phone numbers that we may want to have handy in case a 3-day camp-in turns into something else, and just in case we need to call from something other than our cell phone. And, put that phone number list on something sturdy, like an index card & with something clear, big & legible, like a sharpie. And, make copies and put it in your purse and in the car just in case you need to call from a remote location in an emergency situation, like a roadside, a hospital, etc.

10. The Basics


Flashlights/Batteries, Candles/Matches

As I noted at the start, there are good websites for your basic storm or emergency preparedness kits.

And, the basics for an at-home power outage party are:

- water, bread, peanut butter, apples

- flashlights

- batteries

- candles

- matches

- gas up

- get cash

- charge, charge, charge your cell phone and laptop

Emergency Preparedness Kits - the Basics

Make sure you have one.

Here are a few good websites that have lists for and "how to" guides to make your own storm and emergency preparedness kits.

Give Us Your Storm Suggestions!

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