Family Preparedness Friday

Who Turned the Lights Out?

When temperatures dip to the single digits, and the winds are blowing in from the north, and snow is piling up at your front door, what’s your plan for when the power goes out?

Photo attributed to Flickr user Roadsidepictures.
Photo attributed to Flickr user Roadsidepictures.

Unfortunately , winter power outages are not an uncommon occurrence in many parts of our country. If you live in one of these areas, here are some tips to help you and your family get through the next power outage.

  •  If you have no alternative heat, you can consider staying in an emergency shelter, call your local fire or police department or local Red Cross chapter for shelter locations.
  • Call your power provider, if your power is likely to be out for more than a few days, you may want to call your plumber and ask about draining your home’s water pipes so they don’t freeze and burst.
  • Keep your car’s gas tank full. You never know if you may need to go to a warming station or emergency shelter.
  • Wear layers of clothing. Layering can keep insulating air between layers to help keep you warmer. Remember to keep your head and hands covered.
  • Cook using charcoal or propane grills – ONLY OUTSIDE.
  • Put aside buckets of snow and melt it to use in toilets.
  • Keep a land line phone, you won’t have to worry about charging a cell phone.

You might also consider stocking up on:

  • Candles, oil lamps, lanterns and matches
  • Battery operated weather radio
  • Flashlights and batteries for  each family member
  • Non-perishable food items
  • Bottled water
  • Propane for an OUTDOOR grill
  • Extra gasoline if you have a generator. A portable electric generator can be a valuable backup source of power to operate your furnace and appliances.
  • First-aid supplies
  • Emergency numbers – fire, police, doctor
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Paper goods: Paper plates, paper towels, plastic ware

Source: “Winter Power Outages: Be prepared for that unexpected winter power outage” from Michigan State University Extension

Family Preparedness Friday

Pack It Up

The school year is finally coming to an end. Which means your children will be spending more time at home, and driving you insane. (I’m just kidding, I know your children are perfect little darlings ALL the time.)

Have you thought about utilizing this summer as an opportunity to get your family prepared for the next disaster? You can get your whole family involved while the kids are home this summer.

Why don’t you start by implementing some family preparedness games into your children’s playing regime? FEMA’s has quite a few game options to choose from. I personally really like Pack It Up, a disaster preparedness spin on the classic matching game.

Pick It Up
Screen capture of the Pack It Up game from

Take a look around the site. Not only do they have my favorite matching game, but also scavenger hunts, crosswords, coloring pages, and so much more.

Making disaster preparedness fun will encourage your children to take action. Work as a family to get a kit, make a plan, be informed, and get involved! Make this the summer your family becomes prepared for anything.

A Week of Traumas: Helping Others Cope

This has been a week to remember, and many of the memories will be sad ones. The 2013 Boston Marathon, held Monday, will be remembered for the two bomb blasts near the finish line. Three people died and nearly 200 were injured. On Wednesday evening, an explosion at a fertilizer plant in West, Texas, devastated the town of 1,800. Unconfirmed reports indicate 5-15 fatalities with approximately 200 injuries and some people still missing.

Children have been directly affected in both incidents, while thousands of others are being indirectly affected through exposure to news stories on television, radio, and the Internet.  The effects of disaster on children who are directly exposed to danger and trauma are different from the effects on children who witnessed but did not directly experience traumatic events. Differences in age, experience, maturity level, and personality lead to varying reactions to the same incident.

Several resources are available to help you help your children cope with violence and disasters. Here are two: the National Institute of Mental Health offers guidance for parents, and the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services provides information on common responses to traumatic events.   Also review EDEN’s Children and Disasters page for other resources.

 You can also find on the EDEN website mental health resources for Extension educators and other professionals who don’t normally talk about stress and behavioral health.

How are you helping others cope with the traumatic events of this week?