Emergency Homeowner Essentials: Items You Should Have On-Hand No Matter What
Life can be unpredictable, and that’s a reality that many have lost sight of while surrounded by every modern convenience. It’s easy to take things like smartphones, the Internet, and the roof over your head for granted, unless you work in the insurance industry.
Insurance professionals — and their customers — know all too well that the most unexpected things can turn lives upside down. That’s why we turned to our friends at Allstate for info on the emergency essentials that everyone should have on-hand no matter what life throws their way.
In a recent blog post for the company, Lisa Bedford, who also wrote Survival Mom: How to Prepare Your Family for Everyday Disasters and Worst Case Scenarios and founded thesurvivalmom.com, highlighted four must-have essentials for every emergency situation. Here’s what she recommends.
Light Sources / Batteries
We’ve all been in those situations where the lights are out and a stubbed toe is milliseconds from happening. One of the worst experiences of my life occurred during an ice storm in 2000. Remove me from electricity and running water for three days, and I’m like a turtle on its back. Thankfully, my family heeded this advice.
“Have a supply of flashlights (LEDs provide the longest battery life), headlamps and lanterns along with plenty of batteries,” Bedford advised. “You can also bring solar pathway lights indoors when the sun goes down. Be careful about using candles with open flames as a light source, though, especially with young children around.”
Remember that ice storm from 2000 I just mentioned? Well, we could have planned on this one a little better. By the end of the experience, we were eating mayo and bologna sandwiches on flour tortillas. Bedford attests that “you can still eat well when the power goes out or grocery shelves are bare.”
“Just store foods that do not require refrigeration: items like tuna, dried fruit, granola bars, peanut butter, jerky, and V-8 juice provide energy without any preparation,” she says. “Few people feel up to the challenge of cooking hearty meals when a crisis hits, so the simpler the better.”
Additional items that she recommends include seeds and nuts, packets of instant milk, pudding cups, and MREs (Meals Ready to Eat), “which can be purchased online and in emergency supply stores,” Bedford states.
Usually when faced with a power outage, they don’t last very long, and the water is independent of that, so you can still flush the toilet, grab a drink, take a shower (though it would be quite dark at night), etc. In the 2001 ice storm, I had the rare “honor” of losing water as well. That meant flushing had to be kept to a minimum and baths or showers just weren’t happening. For three days.
While Bedford’s tips won’t eliminate every inconvenience that comes from losing connection to a clean water supply, you should store “water for drinking, cooking, sanitation, bathing, and, at some point, laundry,” she says.
“Store plain tap water in cleaned out 2-liter soda bottles and stock up on cases of bottled water. If space allows, larger water containers can be stored outdoors.”
“In addition to water,” she adds, “be sure to also have at least two ways to purify water.”
Bedford recommends unscented bleach for this, noting it “takes just eight drops of bleach to purify a gallon of water, 16 drops if the water is cloudy.”
“But be forewarned: bleach has a shelf life of just one year, and begins to lose potency after just a few months. Buy a new bottle every six months and begin using the old one for laundry and cleaning purposes.”
Fuel has myriad uses, though it probably wouldn’t do you much good on the driving front if you were ever iced in. Nevertheless, in most situations, it can continue to operate your vehicle to get you out and about, thus maintaining sanity until the power comes back on. Additionally, notes Bedford, gasoline can be used for cooking and heating and on the matter of storage, it can be “safely housed in approved containers of less than five gallons each and rotated through every few months.”
“Gasoline should be stored in capacities of 25 gallons or less, should be stored at room temperature, away from sources of heat and ignition, and in a building separate from the house or place of occupancy,” she adds.
It can be hard to imagine a life without 21st Century technology and convenience, but situations do occur in life where it’s better to have these things and not need them than need them and not have. Best to stock up now while supplies are readily available than to be chowing down on a bologna-mayo tortilla three days from now within the walls of your cold, lifeless house.