HJL Adds: S.C., age 17, wrote this as a homeschool project.
So you hear an ice storm is coming and you're not prepared, what do you do? This article will show you the ten essentials you need to survive. Back in 2009, Kentucky was hit by a massive ice storm that dumped 2 inches of ice on everything. Consequently we were without power for 8 long days. During the week many people had to leave their homes, because they had no heat, no water, and no food. At the time of the ice storm I was only 13 and really didn't know a whole lot about prepping for natural disasters. It was amazing how much damage an ice storm could do to people's homes, power poles, and roads. It was a huge mess! Now, four years later, I've taken prepping to a whole new level. I've put together bug-out bags, learned survival skills, built survival kits, and loads more. Now that I'm 17, I want to share my experience with others in hopes to educate them about the dangers of ice storms.
Most likely after a storm hits an area, roads will be impassible, water supplies will be gone, walking outside will be very dangerous, and power will be down. Depending on where you live, it may take weeks for power to be restored. What you do to prepare will either mean staying in your own home or suffering the bitter cold until you can leave and go somewhere else-- a family member's, friend's, or even a shelter, if need be. In this section I'm going to tell you the ten essentials that you need to prepare for an ice storm. The items listed below are what helped me and my family survive the ice storm (except for the generator), and may not be everything you might need. FEMA recommends that you have 3 days worth of food and water in your home. Let's face it, in real life how often do you know a natural disaster that's gone in three days? There have been many instances when FEMA or the National Guard can't even respond for three days. Never trust that the government will save you or even cares when a natural disaster strikes. Take it upon yourself to be ready and prepared. Make sure you tailor your preps to best suit you and your personal needs. If you have young children, elderly, babies, diabetics, or someone who requires some other special need, they will have their own specific requirements that will need to be cared for and addressed in your prepping. Here's a list to get you started:
1. A Wood-Burning Stove. The most important preparation we had was a wood-burning stove. When the power goes out there is no way to run a heater, unless you have a generator. Unfortunately we did not have the luxury of having a generator. When we first moved to Kentucky all of the elders in the community told us we should consider purchasing a woodstove. After a year or so we purchased one, and it was the best prepping item we ever acquired. We were able to keep our house warm, boil water for tea or coffee, cook our meals, and so on. Yes, woodstoves can be dangerous if used in the wrong way, but used correctly it can really make a difference when it's below freezing outside.
2. Firewood for the Wood-Burning Stove. Having the correct kind of firewood is key to keeping your house warm. You want a hard wood that is well seasoned or cured. It puts off plenty of BTU's (British thermal units) and burns for a long time. I would recommend having at least a cord (a stack of wood 4X4X8 or 128 cubic feet) of firewood ready to go. The best burning firewoods are Ash (will burn when freshly cut), oak, and hickory. The woods to avoid are pine, juniper or cedar, and poplars. These will burn quick and hot and use up your wood supply much faster than hard woods. This type of firewood is best suited for kindling to start fires and to get them going.
3. Plenty of drinkable water stored up. For us, we were hooked up to the city water system and had plenty of running water for the duration of the storm. However, there were plenty of people who didn't have city water and lost their water supply when the power went down. There wells were dependent upon electricity to pump. So store up at least 5-7 days worth of water. More is better. It's not like you can't drink the water you didn't use after the storm is over. An ice storm is just one reason to stockpile water. You need to be preparing for anything that could taint your drinkable water. Sometimes, even a water treatment plants will accidently put too much of a chemical into the water. It's always good to have some sort of water filtration device or a way to sanitize water when it's of questionable quality. The last thing you want is to get sick from contaminated water and not be able to do anything. You can only live around three days without water so keep that in mind when stocking up on water. Two very basic ways to sanitize water are boiling it or using a very small amount of chlorine in it.
4. Propane gas to heat your water. Our water from the city was hooked up to a propane water heater. Even with the power out we were able to wash our hands in hot water and take hot showers, which was much nicer than taking cold showers. Without propane-heated water we would have to boil water and use that to take showers, which takes a long while. I understand this may not be an option for some people. If you have city water or water coming from a well, consider hooking it up to a propane heater. Another reason for needing hot water is to care for livestock; our family had buckets of hot water that we could carry out to the animals to thaw their water troughs.
5. Cast iron cookware. Having cast iron cookware enables you to cook your meals on the woodstove. Unfortunately, having no electricity meant we had no microwave. During the eight days we were without electricity, we used the woodstove to cook every meal, from eggs to chicken. The reason cast iron cookware is important is because it can withstand more heat than traditional cookware. Another great plus to having cast iron cookware is that after the storm you can use it on camping trips to cook meals over hot fires.
6. Food Storage. This matter is very important. Without food you're not going to get very far. During the summer before the ice storm we planted a large garden and canned just about everything out of it. That winter we were pretty well stocked up. For those who don't have the ability to plant a garden, canned or dried foods from the supermarket will work just as well. You need to have around 5-7 days worth of canned and dried food. When buying food, buy items you're going to enjoy eating, not just staple foods such as pork and beans. Our family made sure the food items we purchased were easy to heat up on a wood stove in a skillet or pot of water.
7. LED Lamps and Oil Lamps. Nowadays they make low draw LED lamps that can last for days and put off considerable light. These are great way to safely produce light without the risk of fire. LED lights can range anywhere from $5 up to a $100. If you prefer something for lighting that is not battery dependant, then an oil lamp is what you want. I know that using oil lamps sounds a bit old fashioned, but they've been used for hundreds of years. You can find very basic oil lamps at Wal-Mart for around $10. Oil lamps are very simple to operate and hardly ever need any work done to them, except an occasional cleaning or a new wick. There are, however, a few risks involved with oil lamps. If you have small children, keep the lamp out of their reach. Also, put the lamp in a safe location away from flammable items to prevent the risk of fire. Before refueling the lamp, make sure that it has cooled down enough that you won't get burned.
8. Small personal flashlights and batteries. Flashlights are far smaller and more mobile then oil lamps when trying to work outside or moving around in your house. You can easily carry a flashlight anywhere with you on your person. When buying a flashlight, don't look for the most expensive ones; just look for ones that feel well made and that use batteries that don't weigh a ton, which is the case with size D Batteries. You can usually find low draw LED versions that take small batteries like AA and AAA. When it comes to flashlights, there are so many out there ranging in price from a few dollars to hundreds of dollars. You're not looking for the brightest one possible but just something you can use to do work, read, or help you see to get to the bathroom.
9. Board games and books. When the power is out and there's no TV, no way to charge your electronics, and no video games what will you do? Board games are a great way to help you pass the time, hang out with your family, and relax a little during this stressful time. You can also read books to pass the time or learn valuable skills, which might help you prepare even better for the next ice storm. When I say books I don't mean electronic versions; I'm talking real hard copies. It's always good to have a book, like the Bible, to give a little relaxation when trying to weather the storm.
10. A small generator. I would recommend a small generator because, as I stated earlier, we did not have one. During the eight days without power, our fridge and freezer lost a lot of its coldness. We had to put our meat and perishables in a cooler outside in the cold. Although this worked for us, if the power would have been out any longer we would of lost a lot of food. A small generator would have been a lot easier. Losing a whole fridge and freezer worth of food means losing a lot of money and wasting food you could have been eating. For people with wells, a small generator will be great to power the well and give you a constant source of water for drinking, showering, and cooking. One major drawback to generators is buying enough fuel to last several days; in previous years it has become somewhat expensive.
I hope this article has taught you that being prepared means being ready for more than an ice storm. Whether it's a hurricane, a blizzard, the grid going down, or a flood, you'll be ready for whatever comes your way. The point I'm trying to stress is being prepared so you can help yourself and others. When you have preps ready to go, it will give you peace of mind knowing you neither have to worry whether the supermarkets have food on their shelves nor risk leaving the safety of your home.