I tried posting this a couple of days ago, but for some reason Blogger reduced the print size to "microscopic" and wouldn't let me change it, so here's my second try:
My Aussie friend Maggie Justasiam posted on her blog recently that a huge storm knocked out electric power to an entire state in Australia for an extended period of time. She wondered how she would cope if it happened to her where she lives? No electric cooking or lights or refrigerator, no heating or air conditioning, no building elevators....nothing. And now we're having hurricane Matthew pounding Florida as I write this and they're saying some there might be without power for several weeks. Are YOU prepared for something like this?
To follow on my previous preparation posts of September 11, 12, and 13 (you can still read them by clicking on "blog archive" at the bottom of the column on the right), here are some more things I've gleaned on the subject:
First, even if you have a supply of emergency food, how do you cook it? If you have a portable generator you can fire up a hotplate, but most of us don't have a generator, and generators require gasoline that can be tricky and even dangerous to store. You could cook over an open firepit or over your home's fireplace, but again, that requires special tools, too.
For me a simple solution is the propane version of the tried-and-true camping stove. You can buy either the small 14 oz propane bottles or the larger 15 lb ones at the large box hardware stores. (Just don't use propane in an un-ventilated area.) And if you have a barbecue grill, you can cook with pots and pans on top of that, too.
An emergency radio is a must. There are many different brands/models available for under $50. Even if the power is out, civil authorities will still be able to broadcast thanks to their generators, but it is up to you to be able to receive it. From them you will be able to know what is going on in your area, when power might be restored, where/when emergency supplies might be available, etc. These small radios are usually powered by AA batteries, but also have a small built-in solar panel to recharge the radio and any other devices that might meed charging, too. A hand crank for recharging is good to have, too, for those cloudy days.
You should also have a good first aid kit available. And by "good" I don't mean a box of band aids or one of those little pouches that you keep in you car's glove compartment. You'll need blood clotting pads, a tourniquet, antibiotics, allergy meds, etc, AND ANY MAINTENANCE MEDICATIONS YOU TAKE ON A DAILY BASIS. And don't forget a medical kit for your pets, too.
Assuming you still have shelter, you can still get life-threateningly cold in the winter. You should have a good quality (NOT one with Hello Kitty on the cover!) down or synthetic sleeping bag per person.
In addition I suggest you have some "space blankets" on hand, too. These are thin, light, and inexpensive aluminum foil-like sheets that reflect your body heat back towards you. I've used them while backpacking and they really do work. And just a tip, invite your dogs to lie next to you whenever possible. Their normal body temperature is between 101 and 102.5 degrees, considerably warmer than yours.
You'll need some cash and some barter materials to replenish any things you are out of or simply forgot. Having $100 on hand they say isn't nearly enough for a prolonged period without power. If you can afford it, have $1000-$2000 safely put away. Barter materials might include alcohol, cigarettes, toilet paper, soap, batteries....anything you need, your neighbors will need, too. Stock up with extras.
Batteries....try to buy devices (flashlights, radios, etc) that use the same size batteries. AA and AAA seem the most common. By standardizing you can buy giant sleeves of batteries (36 or more) from the box hardware stores MUCH cheaper than at the grocery store. Regardless of the size, just make sure you have plenty. Fortunately today batteries have very good long-term shelf lives.
And of course there are all those necessary-but-mundane things that you need and probably already have: candles, matches, toilet paper, soap, laundry detergent for hand washing, paracord (durable all-purpose rope-like material), some reading/writing materials (so you don't go nuts), some 5-gallon buckets and very heavy plastic bags for sanitary needs, feminine supplies (guys, you DON'T want your family to run short of Midol, trust me!)....really the list of things that will be useful is just too numerous to mention. Fortunately the topic is all over the internet, so you can do your own research.
And finally, on to a touchy subject for many: weapons. You know the old saying, "desperate people do desperate things". You might need to defend yourself if someone tries to harm you or your family out of their desperation. You won't need a whole arsenal....you won't be fighting WWIII....but a good handgun, perhaps a rifle/shotgun, and a supply of ammunition would be wise to have on hand. It is IMPERATIVE that if you have a gun, you know how to safely store and use it. If you're not willing to do that, then do everyone a favor and just take your chances unarmed. As an alternative to violence, why not just stock some extra supplies and share with those less fortunate / unprepared.
My point is, this prepping thing is no longer just discussed among the tin-foil-hat crowd. This is likely going to become more and more necessary considering the world we live in these days. Don't be scared, but do be prepared.
Hope this helps.