By Art Nash
This week’s article is on emergency preparedness. Art Nash, our energy specialist, gives us some hints on how to be ready in case of a disaster.
Winter is around the corner and with it comes the usual challenges of being ready in case of a disaster. Over the past few years, we’ve had several periods of extended electricity outages, necessitating some scrambling by residents to be able to stay in their homes.
Fall is not a big time for disasters, so take advantage of this time to prepare for challenges that could come at other times of the year. Many of us have the food part of emergency preparedness down but often forget about some of the other parts of the kit. This week, let’s look at newly released, efficient products that will help you overcome some of the challenges of lighting and water supply — at a reasonable cost.
Consider what you will use for a light source when the power goes out. There are traditional “stick” flashlights that can act as room lanterns. The lights are set upright on a table (bulb down). Slits on the backside throw the shrouded beam up into the room, creating a room glow. They run about $20 and use three or four traditional batteries at about $1.50 each. There are also LED accordion types of beam flashlights that, when contracted, are the size of a chewing tobacco tin. When telescoped out, they are a foot in length and provide a nice hanging lantern for about $35. These units also have a solar cell on one end to recharge the battery.
Another option is a six-foot strip of LED lights that can be tacked around a room. They operate off a computer USB port and are available for $10 to $20. You can also buy an additional light system for around $100 that consists of a couple of connected small lamps, which are charged by the USB ports.
Another problem is figuring out how to keep water drinkable and thawed when facing cold weather and freezing temperatures. To keep 5 gallon jugs of water from freezing when the electricity is out, you might consider purchasing a small, flexible heating pad for around $5. The pad can hook up to a 6-volt battery (usually around $25) with alligator clips. Or use an insulated seat warmer that can be placed around the jug to avoid freezing. The warmer plugs into your car’s cigarette lighter and can be purchased for about $25.
How do you store your emergency kit? When it comes to storing these items in a compact way and allowing for transport in case you have to move, opt for strong, sturdy containers. The thin-walled plastic storage containers work nicely when stacking but become brittle when it is below zero. Think about day packs, canvas duffels or even old 20- or 30-gallon drums that have a snap lid. These drums are strong and could be rolled along the ground instead of carrying them. You can pick up new ones for about $50 or repurpose old ones. They do hold a lot of goods and keep the vermin out when stored.
This October, make sure you think ahead and plan to have one week’s worth of lighting, food and water ready to go on a moment’s notice. Hopefully, you will never have to use it.
If you have any questions on any of these ideas, feel free to contact Art Nash at 474-6366 or firstname.lastname@example.org.