The Disaster Plan at Our Little House

Congratulations to Sue Moak, who won the copy of “The Parchment Paper Cookbook,” by Brette Sember. Please email me, Sue, with your snail mail address to claim your book! five­coat Brette also has a great Thanksgiving ver­sion ebook for Kindle for .99 cents through November 19. I hope you check that out too! I will have some more great book give­aways just in time for the hol­i­days. Watch for them on Fridays through November!


The wood­burn­ing stove in The Little House

The bru­tal early snow­storm the East Coast of the U.S. expe­ri­enced a cou­ple of weeks ago should be a reminder to us all to be pre­pared in case of an emergency.

Several of my friends weath­ered the storm in their homes. Many were with­out power for a day. Others had to go and stay with friends and relatives.

Nearly four years ago, we were with­out power here at Our Little House for 10 days.

When one of our neigh­bors could get here from Kansas City, he brought with him two gen­er­a­tors, one for the house and one for The Belle Writer’s Studio.

We were bor­row­ing his small gen­er­a­tor, which gen­er­ated only enough power to run the tele­vi­sion and a cou­ple of lights at one time. By the time he got here with the two new gen­er­a­tors, our power was back, but we have had to use both again since. Not for pro­longed peri­ods as that time, but you just never know.

One of my friends, who recently sat in her home in the sub­urbs shak­ing from the cold for three days and even­tu­ally had to throw every­thing in her fridge away, said, “Well, peo­ple in rural areas really should be pre­pared,” when I told her about our gen­er­a­tor pur­chase, stock­ing up on food (espe­cially when it’s close to win­ter), mak­ing sure we have gaso­line on hand for the gen­er­a­tors, water and plenty of wood.

The truth is, we should all be pre­pared. As I told her, five days after the ice storm here, when we were able to finally make it to town, the stores looked as if they had been looted.

Wal-Mart had stocked up on dozens of large pal­lets of propane for camp stoves in prepa­ra­tion for the storm. They were all gone, as was almost every­thing in the camp­ing depart­ment (includ­ing camp stoves, which we thought we would buy as I was tired of cook­ing on the wood burn­ing stove), bread, milk, water, eggs and just about any other sta­ple imaginable.

A run on stores in an emer­gency can hap­pen any­where, that’s why we should not make prepa­ra­tions to stay warm, but to have non-perishable food items on hand as well.

We have to make sure we are pre­pared here and are able to sus­tain our­selves through another dis­as­ter. With six dogs, even if we could get to a shel­ter, we’re pretty sure they would not allow that many, if any pets.

The two final items we needed for our pre­pared­ness included a first aid kit, cans of food for the dogs and a plan, just in case we lose com­mu­ni­ca­tion and Dale is in town and not able to make it home.

This web­site, at ready​.gov will help you build and tai­lor a plan to fit your family’s needs.

What have you done, if any­thing, to pre­pare for a disaster?





27 Responses to “The Disaster Plan at Our Little House”

  1. great post. So many peo­ple put off prepar­ing for an emer­gency. Here in New York we had our first hur­ri­cane in August — it killed the elec­tric­ity for days — and we found out many of our neigh­bors were not prepared.

  2. Donna Hull says:

    An emer­gency plan is so impor­tant. It's time that I updated ours. Thanks for the kick in the pants.

  3. Sheryl says:

    A good reminder. So far between Irene and the freak October snow­storm, we've had our share of power out­ages. I'd like to think we are pre­pared by now, but if we run out of propane and lose our gen­er­a­tor, we are in deep…well, you know.

  4. I have 72-hour kits posi­tioned on each of the floors in our house, and the garage, just in case. I also keep a good sup­ply of food in my base­ment, every­day foods like cereal and such along with food that lasts for­ever like wheat berries, rice and sugar.

  5. Frugal Kiwi has an excel­lent DIY emer­gency kit on her site: http://​fru​galkiwi​.co​.nz/​2010​/​09​/​d​i​y​-​e​m​e​r​g​e​n​c​y​-​s​u​r​v​i​v​a​l-kit/

    I have to admit, that while we've got a fair amount of emer­gency items stock­piled, I'm not com­pletely ready. And my emer­gency stuff is a bit scat­tered. Thanks for the reminder to keep at it.

  6. Jane Boursaw says:

    Thanks for this, and for the reminder to get pre­pared. I like to think we are, though we haven't had any major dis­as­ters here in Michigan to test out how ready we are. I love that pic of your wood stove. We've got one sit­ting here that's not hooked up (need to put the chim­ney in). That's one of my short-term goals. I would love the secu­rity of being able to heat the place with­out rely­ing on the propane com­pany. Plus, it's cheaper, so we'd do it anyway.

    • Kerri says:

      I love the fact we aren't pay­ing a util­ity com­pany every time we heat Our Little House! I do get tired of load­ing the wood and it is a lit­tle of a has­sle that con­tin­ues year around — chop­ping, split­ting, stack­ing, cur­ing — but it is so well worth it!

  7. About ten years ago, Kansas City had a major ice storm that shut down power to large parts of the city, includ­ing ours. We had no elec­tric­ity for a week. We used our fire­place for what lit­tle heat it pro­duced and bun­dled up in warm cloth­ing. We had a bat­tery pow­ered T.V., a gas stove and gas water heater, so we could take show­ers, eat and watch news to see when we might expect to have power again. At the time, my daugh­ter had a pet gecko that had to be kept warm, so we brought his cage into the liv­ing room and kept it in front of the fire. One of the things I was most grate­ful for at that time, were emer­gency lights that plug into elec­tri­cal out­lets. They charge con­tin­u­ously while plugged in, and if power shuts off, the lights come on instantly. my hus­band had bought them sev­eral years before the power out­age, and I'd actu­ally for­got­ten them, but was very grate­ful to have them when we lost elec­tric­ity. Even city dwellers need to be pre­pared for loss of power!

    • Kerri says:

      I remem­ber that ice storm. We had buried lines in our neigh­bor­hood so we had power after a day or so. My mother, on the other hand, lived across the busy road on the older side and didn't have power for sev­eral days. I know some peo­ple in Overland Park even got free gen­er­a­tors from the gov­ern­ment. I think peo­ple in the cities have a false sense that every­thing will be ok. In fact, I think it's even more dan­ger­ous there, with more peo­ple going on runs on stores and crowd­ing into shel­ters. There's absolutely no way a city could care for an entire pop­u­la­tion of res­i­dents in the event of a ter­ri­ble dis­as­ter. That's why we should all plan on self suf­fi­ciency for at least a week in our plans.

  8. Mary Brown says:

    We were with­out power from Hurricane Irene for 4 days. We had already bot­tle with water and froze it so when the power went out we did lose any food, every­thing stayed at the right temps. We have an elec­tric stove so we cooked on the gas grill. Our neigh­bor was walk­ing his dog and asked what we were cook­ing on the grill at 8am so we showed him hot water for tea, eggs with bacon and cheese in it and we toasted bread, he couldn't believe it. Later he saw us cook­ing with a pot on the grill and we made a pot of chili so he went and started his grill to make soup…LOL I actu­ally enjoyed cook­ing every­thing on the grill. As you know we sold our house and we're rent­ing well, after the storm the apart­ment com­plex total every­one they had to get rid of their grills so I hope not to lose power again.

    I also keep an emer­gency back­pack and sup­plies, one for my hus­band in his car and one for me in mine. The cat & dog also have kits to go.

    I keep a sup­ply of non-perishable food and drink.
    All food item are rotated reg­u­larly so noth­ing is old. I would sug­gest not buy­ing food for your sup­plies that you wouldn't nor­mally eat and don't know how to prepare.

    We also have CB radios and a met up plan if we are apart and some­thing happens.

    Yes, I'm one of those overly planned people…LOL

    • Kerri says:

      Doesn't sound like you're overly planned, Mary, but planned just right! I can believe that about the apart­ment com­plex. When I worked in apart­ment man­age­ment (a mil­lion years and about 3 life­times ago), we didn't allow grills due to the fire haz­ard. I think I would keep one in stor­age though. They should allow grilling some­where on the grounds in the event of a power outage.

  9. Sue Moak says:

    Kerri, thank you for the book! I've sent you an email with address info. I look for­ward to try­ing some recipes! Speaking of emer­gency sup­plies our lit­tle town doesn't sell parch­ment paper so I buy it when I go to a big­ger town and always have it on hand!
    We are in a pretty tem­per­ant cli­mate so don't have ice issues much. After all the com­ments though I am going to talk to my hus­band about get­ting a gen­er­a­tor. We have a fire­place and plenty of wood and keep the pantry stocked but we also are on a water well and as Roxanne says that is a prob­lem. I like Mat's sug­ges­tion of a solar charger for the phone also. Good arti­cle to remind us to get ready for winter!

  10. Teleia says:

    Yeah, that New England snow­storm over Halloween week­end? I was caught with­out heat for 18 hours, and wow, did it get cold! While I had food and water, but I didn't have any way to cook because my stove is electric.

    I have to fig­ure out how to get heat in there; I've since asked around and the elec­tric­ity goes out a few times a years, so this has become a pri­or­ity. I con­sid­ered pulling out my tent and sleep­ing in that so that any heat my dog and I gen­er­ated would stay with us!

    • Kerri says:

      Yes, that snow storm. Sorry you were with­out power for that long. I think we should all make it a pri­or­ity on know­ing how we can sus­tain our­selves in the event of an emergency.

  11. We are work­ing on expand­ing our emer­gency plan (food … includ­ing dog food, gen­er­a­tor, water, wood, etc.). My lat­est worry is that when we lose power, we also lose water because the pump to our well is elec­tric, so I really want to have a way to hand pump water from the well (Little House on the Prairie style) … if we're cut off for an extended time.

    • Kerri says:

      Our pump is elec­tric too, Roxanne. We do have a hand pump on it we could use, but our gen­er­a­tor is large enough to run the well pump and sev­eral things at once. We can­not have every­thing going with it, but it can han­dle two large things (the stove and hot water heater or HWH and well pump), a cou­ple of lights and the tele­vi­sion for news. We also have one of those alarm weather alert radios.

  12. Alexandra says:

    Thanks for this reminder! We were with­out power for 4 days after Irene, and that was really no fun. Cannot imag­ine 10 days in win­ter with­out power. Yikes!

    • Kerri says:

      Yes, Alexandra, you've writ­ten many times about the fail­ure of our gov­ern­ment to pro­tect our food sup­ply. Believe me, they are just as inept in the event of an emer­gency. When our area was declared a dis­as­ter area due to the ice storm, which was pretty quickly, the fed­eral aid did not go to the peo­ple (for instance, in pur­chas­ing gen­er­a­tors for the many rural older folks). It went to the power com­pa­nies to cover their losses and over­time to repair their own lines. Our local gov­ern­ment gave out cases of water and that was it, unless you stayed in a shelter.

  13. mat says:

    We've been very, very lucky in the 6 years we've lived in our house. I think we've been with­out power for more than a day just once.
    Food for a cou­ple of days shouldn't be a problem–we can usu­ally piece together some­thing good from our pantry. We also have a new cooler to put the cold stuff in and the local cats out.
    Our stove is gas, so no prob­lems there–just need to track down a lighter or raid the camp­ing bin for matches.
    Heat…well, it's an old, low-voltage reg­u­lated boiler, so if push comes to shove, we can con­nect 2 car bat­ter­ies to get a 24V sig­nal sent to fire to the boiler. I've never tried it…probably should before I NEED to…but it's a plan.
    We've got lots of camp­ing lamps and flashlights–as well as a small stock of can­dles.
    So…I think we're cov­ered. I'd love to have one of those solar cell phone charg­ers, but that's it.

    As an aside, I'd like to stress the impor­tance of dri­ving on good tires this win­ter. I have used ded­i­cated win­ter tires for the last 4 years and call tell you that they're head-and-shoulders bet­ter than the best "all-season" tires. If you're on the fence, and can afford to have them, GET THEM! If you can't get them, at least make sure your tires have well over the legal min­i­mum (2/32). Most tires start out at some­where between 9/32 and 11/32, so you'll want to be at least half-tread to drive effec­tively in the snow. Give your­self lots of room to stop and use smooth inputs on both the gas and brake so you don't lose trac­tion. Be safe, be smart, be courteous!

    • Kerri says:

      Yes, you should try that before you need it, Mat. You won't want to be in a sit­u­a­tion where it doesn't work, espe­cially with your baby. I failed to men­tion that one of my friends, in the moun­tains of rural Virginia, did have a gen­er­a­tor, but they hadn't ran it in so long, it wouldn't start. We drain ours of gaso­line and test it every 3 months or so just to make sure it will still run when needed. Thanks for the advice on the tires! Good reminder for our community!

  14. Jan says:

    We have all the things you mention–camp stove, gen­er­a­tor, fuel, foods, etc. I know this stuff takes up "space" and hardly any­one keeps these things around but let me tell you after sev­eral ice storms and extended power out­ages in our area in the past sev­eral years, guess whose house every­one arrives at? Throughout the year we get teased about all the "stuff" we have in stock but if push comes to shove, I know that my fam­ily and pets are going to be fed, watered and warm if we do expe­ri­ence a larger event and then I may just turn those so called "neigh­bors" away!

    • Kerri says:

      Those who laugh last, Jan.….I think there's a dif­fer­ence between being pru­dent about such things and being a "tin foil hat" wearer. I would rather be pre­pared here than to go through what we went through with our ice storm. Aside from our trip to Germany, where we didn't know the lan­guage, we had never felt so help­less in all our lives. We made due, but I would rather do more than that, espe­cially when it extends for 10 days.