Sunday, December 02, 2007

Being prepared ain't just for BoyScouts - family caregivers can learn a lesson in it as well

There are very high winds here, an advisory is in effect until around 5 a.m. Monday morning, which means that there is a good chance for a power outage. Being a family caregiver I know that power outages can be a serious matter. We keep a supply of fresh drinking water on hand, but also water that can be used for flushing toilets in the event that the power goes out for very long. Most toilets now have a flushing capacity of under 2 gallons of water, so it is easy to keep enough water on hand to allow the tank to be refilled after use. Water for pets is also something to consider when you are looking at water that will be needed for emergency situations.

Make sure that you have a good flashlight with working batteries and get in the habit of checking it occasionally (every couple of months at least) to make sure that it is still working properly and has a strong charge on the batteries. Candles are good to keep around, but make sure that with them you have some kind of holder that is safe for use in the event of a power failure. You don’t want to be searching for something to put that emergency candle in. I prefer oil lamps, and in the past have used Coleman lanterns. You can also get battery powered lamps from the camping section of most stores, just make sure you double check that they have good strong batteries every so often (particularly if you have kids that like to use them).

Keeping warm is another major consideration in Alaska when the power goes out. We have a Kerosun heater that can be used for keeping the house warm when the power goes out. Just fill the tank with clear kerosene stove oil and it will keep an average sized home nice and warm in most weather conditions. We also have extra warm blankets that can be piled onto beds of into laps when sitting in chairs. On the flip side of that is regions where the home needs to be kept cool. Battery powered fans can help with that, but I have never needed to worry about air conditioning so I’m not as familiar with that as I am with ways to keep a house warm.

Emergency power can come in the form of a generator, just be certain you isolate it from the main power so it does not create a feedback on the lines when the electricity returns. You can also opt for 12 volt to 110 converters. We have run on those in the past and you can get converters that can run everything from a few lights to power tools and even a refrigerator using a 12 volt battery. The time that is usable on this varies based on the items you are running, we have used power tools before by idling a car to keep the battery charged while we ran the tools. Another option that we have used in the past is to just get a 12 volt light bulb and put into a 12 volt lamp that is then connected to a standard car battery using clips.

When the power goes out, a little common sense and a few items that you have set aside for such events can make it a much better experience for everyone. Today with the high winds I have heated water and poured into the thermos so if the power does go out, I can still make my dad coffee. I have the flashlight and candles where I can find them easily, and I have switched to my laptop to finish off my work.

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