The Parents’ Guide to Severe Weather Planning

I’m sitting here writing this while hanging out with my good friend, Sandy. Well, we’re not good friends really. To be honest, I think she’s kind of a bitch. I even had to prepare for her visit. And really, Sandy blows. A lot. On the bright side, however, I am now a bit of an expert in storm planning, and by “expert,” I don’t mean I can help you with the real-life survival skills you will need in this type of situation, but I do know some helpful hints that aren’t on the “buy 20 cases of water and 35 D batteries” lists.

So here is my parents’ guide to severe storm planning.

  • Get the kids outside. No, I’m not talking about once the storm hits. That’s just crazy talk. But, DO get them outside for fresh air and running (lots and lots of running) before the storm blows in. Most parents seem to know this. In fact, I commented to someone yesterday when we were at the playground and it was chock full of parents and kids that there are two groups of people who head out right before a storm – surfers and parents with young children. All of us at the playground knew our storm-induced incarceration was rapidly approaching, and we were taking full advantage of the last remnants of good weather.
  • Make coffee. Are you a coffee addict? Is there a chance that your power will go out for an extended period of time? Make coffee and put it in the refrigerator. The last time we lost power for two days, we had no cash on hand (see next point) and ATMs weren’t working. I resorted to trying to make sun tea in a desperate attempt to get caffeine into my system. No, I’m not proud of it.
  • Have cash on hand. In a world where credit cards and debit cards are king, we forget that when the electricity goes out, sometimes so does our ability to purchase anything. Make sure you have at least some cash on hand in case you need important things like…coffee…or maybe diapers or something.
  • Run your dishwasher and your garbage disposal. Have you ever lost power for an extended period of time when your dishwasher was full of dirty dishes and your disposal had yucky food still in it? I have. I don’t recommend it.
  • Turn your heat up & your refrigerator down. If it is cold outside, turn your heat up a little higher than you normally would. If you lose power, it gives you a little wiggle room before it gets too cold. Likewise, turn your refrigerator down a little lower than you normally would. It may buy you some time on food freshness.
  • If you need it, know where it is. You may not use your flashlight all that often. Do you know where it is? Do the batteries work? What about inhalers or other medicines? What about your kids’ snugglie blanket or toy? Trust me when I tell you that the ideal time for searching for these things is not the middle of the night after the power is already out.
  • Have ice on hand and a cooler. Breaking news: groceries are expensive. Oh right – we all knew that. It is heartbreaking to have to throw out an entire refrigerator of groceries that has gone bad. After the last storm, we bought a cooler. I’m not a huge fan of bags of ice (I mean…ice is one thing I can actually make by myself!). So this time, I have been making ice cubes and putting them in ziplock bags and in bowls in the freezer. If I need to break out the cooler…I’m ready!
  • 5 am is your friend. I tried to get gas and groceries during the day to prep for Sandy. The lines for both were atrocious, and I gave up on gas altogether. One of my sons is notorious for getting up at the crack of dawn. Who knew what a blessing it could be! Do you know how many people get gas at 5am? Not a lot. It was like I won the lottery. I filled the tank and then headed into the grocery store to pick up some of the items I forgot the day before. Big score for parents!
  • Inflate blow-up beds if you need them to camp in your basement. I don’t know about your inflatable mattress, but ours has a little motor to blow it up. I can’t even fathom how we would do it without that trusty little motor. And let’s face it, that little mattress could mean the difference between one more of the kids in bed with us and one on the floor. The latter is always the better option.
  • Shower. I don’t know about you, but I’ve seen very few bathrooms with natural light. Showering by candlelight is rarely an ideal situation, so if you think you may be in for a few days without power, take a few minutes for yourself. You won’t regret it!

So that is my quick and dirty storm-prep list. It’s not fancy, because quite frankly, I typed it up in my basement in a frantic attempt to finish it before the power went out. If you are reading this, I succeeded! Do you have any tips? Add them to the list!

Shannon Hembree is a SAHM for a first grader and twin toddlers. She does not recommend being trapped inside with Halloween candy. She is also the co-founder of Mamas Against Drama. You can follow her on Twitter @Shannon1Hembree.

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