Careful what you ask for....I had proclaimed just prior to the events of this whole blog post, that I was wanting to try living like the Amish for a month. I wanted to know if I could do it. Well...I learned I wouldn't last long. I have some prep work to do! But in all fairness to myself, the Amish are way more prepared and have a system that works for living simply. Us mainstream Americans, we are 100% not prepared for the comforts of our daily lives to disappear. And that should scare us all.
We also learned this past weekend that candle buying and candle hoarding is actually a very good thing. Next time you "need" that $30 Anthropologie candle, don't question the purchase. Buy it, knowing you are adding a much needed provision to the survival kit. We're not joking. We would have had many hours of sitting in the dark if Wren didn't have a penchant for yummy smelling candles!
All joking aside, after having just experienced the Ice Storm of the century for Portland and surrounding areas like Canby, where we were, we have compiled a must have list of items every household needs on hand. I know we all think we've got time and we'll get that item later, but then never get around to getting it. Or that you won't ever need it. But in reality, you just don't know when you'll need something and trust us, you'll be so thankful you have every item on this list. You'll be sitting pretty on your porch drinking coffee, while everyone on the local Facebook page is trying to figure out how far they have to drive for a cup of coffee, a generator (which of course all sell out immediately) and a case of water.
Had I (Vanessa) been at home in Colorado when this happened I would have been a little more prepared since I've been a bit of a prepper since the debacle of 2020 hit us, but Wren's household....not so much. We had hours and hours of free time on our hands so we compiled this list because she needs the list as much as the rest of us! I'm back here in Colorado now....and we'll be buying a generator this week and filling up some gas cans.
We are going to try to go down the line from what we feel is most important to least important. I'm sure some of our Texas Gals can add some things for us, as they are now going through the same thing.
Thankfully we didn't need ammo, but we still believe it and a firearm are the most important thing to have in your home, thus taking the number one spot.
- Ammunition. Obviously, you'll need a firearm too, but we're assuming you have one if you're one of our followers! If the blackout goes on for a week or more, you may have to go find a squirrel or something. Desperate times call for desperate measures. Seriously.
- 4 cases of water. Although we were lucky to still have water, many didn't and still don't! Maybe more than 4 cases. They're cheap and if you end up needing it, you'll never complain you had too much water.
- Generator. Pricey, but oh so necessary. Took us 48 hours to get our hands on one when a family member reluctantly gave up one of theirs.
- At least 5 portable gas cans filled with gas, for your newly acquired generator. You know, like the ones you have for your lawn mower. If you live in an apartment, I'm not quite sure how you store something like this. You'll need to research this a bit.
- Candles. Have many different ones on hand, including long tapers and chunky ones.
- Matches. Yes, the old fashioned kind. The long portable lighter we had on hand ran out of juice. We had to resort to using a propane torch to light our candle!
- Food that doesn't need to be cooked. Granola bars, cereal, peanut butter and jelly, nuts, crackers, etc. If you want to freeze some supplies, make sure you include lunch meats and breads that you can thaw and use. We had some frozen meals but no way to cook them. At home I have a bunch of frozen meat, but now I realize that'll do us no good with no way to cook them and would probably go bad before we could use it all even if we had a bbq or hotplate. Sandwich supplies and dips are what we ended up eating when experiencing our real emergency weather situation. Oh and candy and dessert!
- Blankets. Lots and lots of warm blankets.
- BBQ with a couple of extra propane tanks that are filled at all times. Wren's boyfriend Jake has all of his family within about 10 minutes of where they live. His Aunt and Uncle have a bbq and we were able to take one of the frozen meals we had over there and heat it up on the top rack of the bbq. Worked like a charm! His Aunt also made a bell pepper, olive oil and cheese dish in a cast iron skillet on the bbq that was delish! I'll be recreating that all year long. One thing is for sure, we definitely didn't starve to death. But if it had gone on for weeks, we may have.
- Baby wipes and showering wipes. Like I mentioned above, we had water, even hot water, but many others didn't and my friend in Texas, now going through the same weather problems, has no power or water and said to be sure and include wipes on the list.
- Paper plates and plastic silverware. I don't ever use these, but will have some on hand for emergencies!
- Hot plate to hook up to the generator and/or camp stove with propane to use outside.
- Fire extinguisher.
- Battery run carbon monoxide detector.
- First Aid Kit. At least have some Band-Aids, Neosporin, Ibuprophen, Period Supplies and Benadryl. Also stuff we never needed, but better to be covered.
Of course there are many other things we could add to the list, but we wanted to cover what we thought were the bare minimums to get you through a week or two of no power, no water, no open stores or gas stations. We were lucky because we could still drive and a couple of towns over had minimal power and had a grocery store, Starbucks, gas station (but they did end up running out of gas) and some fast food places open. They may have been running on generators, we don't know. But what if our Country's entire power grid was taken down? Which is a distinct possibility with the recent suspension of one of the E.O's put in place a year ago. I won't say more about that, in fear of risking our website, but it's all out there if you'd like to look it up! To be safe, let's just prepare as if we couldn't get to a store or gas station for a short time. Prepare as if you were going tent camping!
Here is a secondary list, of things you probably have on hand, but not in proper working order. In the event of adverse conditions, whether storm or otherwise, coming your way, these things should always be ready.
- Fireplace, whether wood burning or gas, make sure it works. Side note: Next time you go house hunting, try to find a place with a wood-burning stove or a real fireplace. Here in Colorado it isn't even legal to put in a wood-burning fireplace anymore. Ridiculous, they're taking away our ability to survive! If this had gone on for even a day or two more, with no generator in site, Wren and I were ready to remove the gas fireplace insert that was getting no gas to it, and explore whether the original fireplace was safe to use with wood. But we also had no dry wood. We decided we'd burn the fence first. We were so ill prepared!
- Flashlight with several packs of fresh batteries.
- Recharge and keep charged all power tool batteries. Because, as happened to us and my friend in Texas, a bad plumbing leak also sprung up at the same time as no power. Luckily, Jake's Dad is in the plumbing field and had the necessary tools to get the job taken care of. But all of Wren's batteries for her drills were dead, so useless.
- If you hear of a bad storm coming in, fill the bathtub(s) with water. You won't have to use the pool or jacuzzi water to flush toilets! Even if you live in an apartment with no tub, fill your sinks and a bucket or two with water.
- Keep your car full of gas at all times. Don't ever let it get less than half a tank and don't run it on fumes, you may not be able to get to the open towns down the road if any gas stations are open! Canby was 100% out of power. Not one gas pump working.
- Wren has this nice fancy lantern/light thing that runs on a battery that she got for Christmas. Not charged. Useless.
- Extra battery pack for phone charging. Our phones really weren't working very well, calls were pretty much non-existent, in and out LTE, but good idea to keep them charged up.
- A small stack of firewood. You may end up having to build a fire outside if you need to cook or warm your hands.
- Chainsaw. There were many trees down everywhere, across roads and driveways. You may need to be able to get through roads and things like this.
Throughout our few days with lots of time to discuss and mull over thoughts and ideas, we had several epiphanies. We came to realize the following things:
- It's a wise idea to live on a couple of acres, where you can grow your own food, chickens for eggs, dairy cow, chopped wood, near a creek, etc. The people that are going to survive these situations if they become lengthy, aren't sitting in a little apartment or house in town.
- No one is going to come to your rescue; you, yourself and I, better be self-sufficient and prepared. It's up to you girl.
- For the most part, not one house has everything so you may need to exchange and barter with friends and neighbors. Just like we took our frozen meal over to the house with the bbq!
**We are not credentialed survivalists so take our advice with a grain of salt! But with what we just experienced, we think the above items are what everyone should have on hand at all times.
**Do not sit in your running car in a garage. I feel like everyone knows this, but apparently someone's parents didn't drill it into their heads, because someone did perish this way trying to stay warm. Side note to this since I'm being such a mom - If you are stuck in your car in a snow storm and the snow gets over your exhaust pipes, the carbon monoxide can come into the car and kill you. Be sure to frequently remove the snow building up by the exhaust, even if stranded on the highway.
**Do not bring a bbq into the house. Someone also did this this last weekend and almost killed their whole family.
Whew, I think I've said everything I want to say. Get prepping!