A few weeks ago, the lights in my house flickered, came back on, then died. The temperature was 32 degrees outside, and it was getting dark fast. I live out in the boondocks and that happens a half dozen times a year. I’ve learned to prepare myself for these little adventures in time travel back to the year 1794, and it’s not so bad really. Why, I can remember as a kid we used to love when a thunderstorm would knock out the power or when a blizzard would come and snow us in for days at a time. But in 1965 people were better prepared both physically and mentally for a loss of power. We lived in a different era.
Christmas is almost here, so I thought we’d take a little break from doom-and-gloom, surviving-the-end -of the -world scenarios and just look at short-term survival. For purposes of this article, we’ll assume it’s a three-day power loss and that emergency services such as ambulance, fire and police are still functioning. I know to some of you hard-core preppers, this will be boring you with the basics, but please humor me and just pass this article on to your friends and loved ones who are either just beginning the road to self sufficiency or you have yet to be converted. It’s a good starting point, and can help bring them up to speed.
When the power goes out, what are the top ten things that every home should have? I’m sure you can ask a hundred different experts and none of the lists would be identical. So let me just give you “my” list, and all you good folks can consider it and modify where you see fit.
In compiling “my” list, I’ve taken into consideration the following question:
How long can I live without that item?
Having said that, my very first item has to be:
Personal protection is always at the top of my list, whether it’s long or short-term, since even in good times, a bad guy can take me out in seconds.
Every home should have at least one of each of the following:
Shotgun – most commonly a simple 12-gauge pump (20-gauge if weaker-statured people will be using it.)
Pistol – If you live in a state where it’s legal to own/carry a pistol for self defense, then you should be doing it.
Battle Rifle – We’re talking those mean, state-of-the art, misnamed “assault” rifles. Mine’s in .223 caliber, and I make no excuses for it. It’s accurate out to long distances, accepts a 30-round magazine, and puts out a high rate of suppressive fire.
And make sure you have plenty of ammo. (We’re talking thousands of rounds. No one ever came out of a firefight saying “Darn, I wish I’d had fewer bullets!)
2. Water – Most experts agree you’ll need at least a gallon a day per person. I’m the king of overkill, so I drove a handpump well in my yard. It’s 70 feet deep, and gives me an unlimited supply of fresh water even when the power goes out. If you live in the city, keep bottled water, and water purifying tablets, (Chlorine bleach will work as well.)
3. Heat – For you southern folk this isn’t a big deal, but here in Michigan we’ve got 6 inches of snow on the ground and it’s 24 degrees outside. I put in a wood stove and I also cook with it when the power goes out. You can also use propane, kerosene heaters, space heaters or pellet stoves (if you have a generator). The important thing is everything is used properly and is safely ventilated.
4. Food – I eat like a king when the power goes out, because I practice at it all the time. City dwellers may not have that luxury, so keep a combination of canned and dried ready-to-eat meals in a safe place. Store three times what you think you’ll need for the three-day period. (That’s 27 meals per person.) Here’s a hint: Don’t depend on frozen food to stay frozen without power. Store shelves will be bare.
5. Medical supplies – A basic, well-stocked first aid kit is a must. But more important than that are all the prescription meds your family depends on. For example, are you diabetic? Store up all the meds you’ll need to keep your family alive and comfortable.
6. Power and Lights – A good, reliable gas generator will make your life more comfortable and take you from the year 1794 back into the 21st century. But you’ll need a three-day supply of fuel. Buy the largest generator you can afford and is practical for you. Flashlights with extra rechargeable batteries are better than open flames as a light source. You’ll need one per person.
7. Communications – Make sure you have a cell phone, CB Radio, or Family Service Radio with which you can call out on should you have a medical emergency. You’ll also need communication coming in, so have a reliable hand-crank radio or a regular radio receiver with extra batteries so you can get some intel on your local news channel.
8. Transportation – If the three-day power outage turns into something longer or even indefinite, things in the city will get nasty, and you’ll have to leave. Be prepared for this with a full gas tank plus fuel in reserve. A larger vehicle with extra storage space and four-wheel drive is best.
9. Entertainment – This may sound silly to you, but have you ever been trapped inside a house with four screaming kids with nothing to do? You’ll need books and board games for your own sanity. If you have the generator and lots of fuel, make the whole adventure an apocalyptic movie marathon! I’m talking about good family movies like Tremors, Zombieland, and Red Dawn, you know, the basics.
10. God – No home should be without God, especially in a time of emergency. I know that God isn’t considered a “thing”, but he is the ruler of all “things”, so I’m using Him to round out my list of 10 things every home should have for short-term survival.
And one final word, it goes without saying that all the above-mentioned things are useless if you don’t know how to operate them. Set up a power-outage-practice weekend and make it as fun as you can for the whole family. You’ll find chinks in your preparedness armor you never knew were there.
Skip is the Founder of Whitefeather Press. He just published Lessons from Armed America by Mark Walters, of Armed American Radio and Kathy Jackson of the United States Concealed Carry Association. Take a moment and check the book out! Thanks ~ Mike P.