Be Prepared!

Written by on October 6th, 2015 –
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My neighbour’s fence, damaged in the storm.

A few weeks ago, Vancouver, BC and the surrounding areas were hit with a pretty substantial wind storm. It was a Saturday afternoon and I was home with my husband. I had a crock pot of soup I’d just started cooking and a loaf of homemade bread rising on the counter when without warning, our power went out.

I didn’t think was going to be any big deal-in the past, the power had only ever gone out for a couple of hours. I hoped it would come back on soon so I could continue with dinner preparations. Having recently moved, I had no idea where our flashlights were, but I did managed to scare up a bunch of tea lights. Then I realized that because we’re a house of non-smokers, I didn’t have any matches in the house to light them with. I ended up using a butane BBQ lighter which was almost empty to light them.

The storm was pretty bad-trees were coming down all over the place, including in our neighbourhood which is on a green belt.  A neighbour across the street had two large trees come down and take out his back fence. The trees fell across the road and struck a parked car, smashing out the rear window. It was quite a mess, but within 10 minutes of this happening, a number of neighbours showed up with chainsaws and hand saws and quickly went to work cutting up the trees and removing them from the road, so traffic could get through. I love the people in my neighbourhood!

As the afternoon wore on, it became clear that the power was not going to come on any time soon. I didn’t have anything in the house that we could eat cold-I hadn’t done my weekly grocery shopping and since I cook from scratch, there wasn’t anything in a can I could just open and eat. We decided to venture out and see if we could find a restaurant that was operating. We managed to find a one in a small pocket nearby that still had power. Thanks goodness!

Saturday turned into Sunday. By this point, I was getting worried because my cell phone was running low on power. My husband suffered a major heart attack at the beginning of the summer and is still recovering. Having access to a working phone line was really important, in case of an emergency. It was challenging finding somewhere to charge my phone. I eventually managed to do it at Starbuck’s, but outlets were at a premium because everyone else had the same idea.

Sunday turned into Monday and still no power. I made a trip to the grocery store to see what I could bring home that we wouldn’t have to cook to eat. It was a good idea, but the trouble was that I wasn’t the only one who’d had it. When I got to the store, the deli was completely wiped out and so was the bakery. Good for the store, not so good for me! I managed to cobble together enough provisions to make a decent dinner.

Our power finally came on very late on Monday night. In the end, we lost everything in our fridge and fridge freezer and about half of what was in our chest freezer. It took us 3 hours to clean up that mess!

This was an unusually severe summer storm and we’re just now heading into storm season in Canada. (Winter is coming….) So what did I learn?

-Keep flashlights in easy to access places around your house and make sure you have fresh batteries or rechargeables charged and ready to go.

-If you need to resort to using candles, make sure you have some matches or a fresh lighter on hand.

-We have a small transistor radio that run s on batteries. We used this to get news updates since we had no internet access. I was able to tune into the local news station and get a progress report on when the power was estimated to come back on. (Although the report kept changing because of the severity of the damage-one day turned into three.)

-We used our BBQ to cook on, but I needed to go out and buy a pot that we could use on the grill to heat water for tea and coffee. Warm drinks are a must when you have no heat.

-Try to refrain from opening your fridge or freezer. It will keep food cold for awhile without power, but if the outage stretches longer than 24 hours, it’s best to err on the side of caution and dispose of perishables. Fruits and veggies are usually okay, but meats, eggs, milk, etc. are much quicker to go off. The last thing anyone needs is food poisoning!

-Get to know your neighbours and establish a buddy system. Make an agreement to at least knock on one another’s doors in an emergency and check to make sure everyone’s okay. It’s always good to know you’re looking out for one another. There’s safety in numbers!

It occurred to me that anyone who relies on a fridge to keep their medicines cool would need to be thinking about what they would do if the power went out for some time. Might be something to think about and plan for now…

So folks, I recommend getting prepared. Need some guidance on just how to do that?

You can download an Emergency Preparedness guide for free from the Government of Canada here: http://www.getprepared.gc.ca/cnt/rsrcs/pblctns/yprprdnssgd/index-eng.aspx

 

They also have an Emergency Preparedness guide specifically for people with disabilities which you can find here: http://www.getprepared.gc.ca/cnt/rsrcs/pblctns/pplwthdsblts/index-eng.aspx

 

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