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 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?





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27 Responses

  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:

    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!

    • Kerri says:

      Congratulations on the book win, Sue! You will have to let us know how some of those recipes turn out! 🙂 Wow, our town even carries parchment paper! 😉 Yes, believe me, you do not want to be without water with your well being electric. We resorted to bringing in ice, letting it melt in the tub and then filling the toilet so we could flush. And we had no shower for 10 days! The first thing I did when that power came back was take a hot bath! I like the solar cell phone charger idea too and I will look into that. (Thanks, Mat!)

  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.