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How do I open a can of tuna when the electricity is out?


Last week’s ice storm — brutal as it was — served one very useful purpose.

The storm forced a lot of people to look at their own state of home preparedness. They learned what they had, what they should’ve had, and what they’ll need to ride out the next big storm as comfortably as possible. (Of course there will be more big storms, silly!)

Here are a few points to ponder:

Heat — Food and water are basic necessities, but heat comes first during wintry weather. Little-used wood stoves, pellet stoves and fireplaces have all been dusted off this week. Did you have a good supply of fuel on hand? When was the chimney last cleaned? Was there a mad scramble to find matches? Did you crack open a window to supply the fireplace with air, or did your upstairs bedroom turn into Ice Station Zebra? (Didn’t know that, huh?)

Food — How do you cook spaghetti on the barbecue? Or burgers in the fireplace? And what will you feed a house full of refugee-relatives when the pizza place is dark?

Light — It gets awfully dark at night when the power is out. Think about lamps and lamp oil, or candles (not the scented or decorative type) for illumination. Extra batteries for the flashlight never go to waste.

News — Portable radio with extra batteries. Next question?

Gasoline — Did you see how many people were lined up to buy gasoline? A full tank lasts for days, while an empty tank will drive you only to despair.

Water — If you don’t have water, there is no substitute. Putting aside a few 5-gallon water bottles, preserved with a dash of bleach, can make a huge difference. And you’ll need water for flushing and washing, too!

Generators — Very nice to have but almost useless unless hooked up to your electric box. A “transfer switch” directs the power from your generator into six or eight of your favorite household circuits and it is well worth the cost. Pay an electrician to install it correctly, please.

Little things — Can openers. Hot showers. Garage door openers. Games to keep the kids amused. Make a list of what worked and what didn’t, then think it all through.

One thoughtful item is a BOB — or Bug-Out Bag — with clothes, medications, a little food and water, flashlight, radio, etc. If you’ve got to leave home, at least leave in style.

All of these items should be considered now, before the next disaster strikes. An extra case of canned goods in the basement, an extra pack of batteries or a quart of lamp oil, refill the propane cylinder — all of these little measures are inexpensive but they can really pay off when the need arises and we’ve seen how it might.

Disaster preparedness is your ultimate insurance policy. Good luck!