Emergency preparedness lessons from deep in the heart of Texas

Emergency preparedness lessons from deep in the heart of Texas

From deep in the heart of Texas, I am here to discuss emergency preparedness lessons.

I have not blogged since Monday for so many reasons (mostly lack of power and WIFI) and I am still processing all we have been through this week.   I would not ever have seen me sitting in the dark in a house of forty degree cold for days, cooking in a fireplace, and now boiling water to use for drinking and cooking.   The phrase…this is crazy…has now become an understatement.

Emergency preparedness lessons in Texas

For those who think…”Texans are wimps with snow”…please know this is not about the snow…or the ice.  We have enjoyed and navigated those things before.  It is about not being properly prepared for all that can happen when the second largest state is completely shut down by severe cold and lack of power.

Wind turbines in Texas freeze

I think my greatest frustrations right now are with those in essential businesses who knew the same forecasts but did not warn us of the potential of losing power and water statewide.  We could’ve been better prepared.  It was too long before shelters were opened in the city.  There were too many people with life-saving medical devices at home that needed them powered and had no way to do it.   The wind turbines were not the saviors predicted to be.  Groceries are now out of food and may not re-stock until middle of next week.  I am not aware of anyone who knew to stock up before the storm or fill their cars with gas.

Emergency preparedness in Texas

But I am not going to turn this into a bashing session of others.  I want to discuss how Mr. B and I now realize…after a pandemic and after losing all power for days that we need to be better prepared for emergencies.  We have never really taken that seriously.

Emergencies in Texas winter

We are working on a Personal Emergency Preparedness Plan at this time. 

1. We will order solar devices to keep cell phones with power.  We were loaned this one and it worked great.

2. We will keep more water around. 

3. We will keep cars filled with gas. 

4. We will make sure we have good batteries and working flashlights when needed. 

5. We will keep some wood inside near the fireplace so that the wood is not all wet. 

6. I will make sure we have a non-electric can opener that works and keep a small supply of extra food in the pantry. 

7. We are looking into a generator…but it will be a long time before they are available. 

8.  Emergency radios or transistor radios or a necessity.

9. Camp cooking equipment for the fireplace.

These are what we have discussed so far…more will probably surface.  I think this summer a surprise heat event could do the same thing. 

Emergency preparedness deep in the heart of Texas

Hopefully, we will never need what we are discussing.  But this week has taught powerful lessons.  It has also taught us to be more involved in asking the right questions of leadership and we are going to do that.  Most of all, it has taught us to be ready for anything when possible.  Personal responsibility is key.

It just does not seem right at this moment to blog about clothing, beauty products, or recipes.  I will return to that…and hope I can join Jennifer on Saturday with Would You Wear It?  But I know many in Texas read this blog, and my heart and my prayers have been with you.

We are not wimps!  We are Texas strong!  Very few people would laugh in the midst of what we have been through.

But there is hope…always hope…of a better tomorrow.

Emergency preparedness deep in the heart of Texas

Do not assume this scenario could not happen to you.  Be prepared for anything!  Hopefully you will not need the preparations….but don’t be caught in the cold or dark.  My toes are still freezing!

 

Believe it or not…I plan to

 

KEEP SMILING AND STAY HOPEFUL!

By Pamela Lutrell

57 Comments

  1. Here in the Northeast we have to anticipate hurricanes, snow and ice.
    Prayers for all in Texas and other places hard hit by these storms.

  2. I am very glad to hear that you and Mr. B are okay! That is the most important thing.

    Thank you for your post today. I will definitely take your words to heart and make sure that my husband and I are prepared for any unexpected emergency.

    Take care, Pam!

  3. I am so sorry thats happening to you. We noticed your absence from our morning reads. the silver lining is that lessons have been learned. if i may add a few that being a South Floridian has taught me…..keep a little cash on hand… if resturants in your area open with a generator, they may be cash only. …keep propane tanks for the grill topped off…which may not apply to you, i know alot of houses in the midwest have propane lines directly out to their grills from having gas stoves, not that youd want to stand outside and cook, but if your stove is electric, theres a little alternative. i hope your power is back soon, we know thats a real bear to endure.

    1. We have been praying hard for you and other Texans. It angers me to hear anyone calling Texans wimps. You folks are pioneers and Texas Strong! We love visiting Texas and find Texans the kindest and friendliest people. I live in Alberta, Canada and agree with Sheryl’s comments. . Have some cash on hand to survive for a week or so as part of your emergency preparedness; gas stations or stores may not have their credit cards Moneris devices up to charge. Having non electric can openers and canned food (tuna/ salmon) on hand is vital. Your meals will be boring but at least you aren’t hungry. We try to keep our cars filled up most days; try not to let it go past 1/2 tank. We have a propane BBQ and cooked on that. We just endure a crazy polar vortex with temps plummeting to – 20 to -40F with Wind Chill; our pipes and building codes can withstand those crazy temps. We kept saying to ourselves “this is crazy” too. Thankfully it is now back in the 30sF. We had a once in 100 years flood in June 2013 causing $6 billion in damages, killed 6 people…. It was a bad combo of 100 cm (40 inches) rain with melting snow caps in the Rocky Mtns that caused our rivers to turn into raging floods knocking over homes and bridges Our power was knocked out for 7 days. At least it was June! These crazy storms can happen anytime is my point. Can’t imagine you folks sitting in the cold and dark under blankets. Praying for you and wishing you well from Canada. As my Scottish mother in law says, “this too shall pass”. God bless!

  4. I have read that even the wind turbines had not been winterized. The part of Texas that was on the Southwest Power Poll grid, which encompasses 1 states had no outages. The rest of Texas was privatized not regulated or kept up. I know we very one cannot afford a generator. My dad was in the process of installing one when he dies, as he was on oxygen, but even a small one would help. If people are in life saving devices they must make plans.
    I’m sorry you had to go through this and admire your plan.

    1. I am so sorry this is happening to you and others! I sincerely hope you are all okay and this ends very soon. It is frightening and sad. I hope power and water are restored to everyone as soon as possible.

      It takes some work to think about what you might need in an emergency. When I lived in Miami after Hurricane Andrew, I heard horror stories as many were unprepared. I read up on the topic and bought a huge plastic tub that was my hurricane box. I had water and non-perishable food of all types (enough for two weeks, flashlights and batteries, candles, cash in there along with some other items. I would rotate food out of it to eat and put new food in each time I went to the grocery store all year long. I also trained myself to fill up the car more frequently when storms were identified and heading to the U.S. I also got a good pair of rain boots and some clothes to keep warm and dry. It also helps to know what you need to take with you if you have to evacuate and to put those things in a central place so you can load the car and go if necessary. Now I live in Southern California and have a similar kit for earthquakes and fires. Take care!

  5. Oh, we have been praying for y’all in Texas!
    I have lived through many a blizzard and ice storm, being from the Northeast. Conversely, I would be lost without the A/C here in the South-if we lost power then!

    I’ll help add to your list: Those firestarter logs are excellent to keep on hand to get wet wood burning. Definitely keep an extra propane tank for the grill, just in case. Bleach and water purification systems (the small portable ones) are excellent for extra water. Outside patio heaters, work well on a porch, and can warm you up a bit at times. Those prepackaged dehydrated food/meals keep forever, and need just water to prepare. Salt put in a can and set into hot coals and then emptied into a sock, can warm up cold hands.

    I’m so sorry that you have suffered from this. Many prayers for your endurance.

  6. I live in the Midwest, & it has angered me that many of my fellow Midwesterners have poked fun at Texas. One of my nieces has recently relocated to the Houston area. Their house was 32 degrees a few mornings ago. They have a fireplace, but wood was in short supply, & they hadn’t been there long enough to do much stocking up on supplies. Their power just came back on a few hours ago. I have told a few people that this was not a joke. My prayers have been with all of Texas, & I will still be praying for all of you living there.

  7. Thank you for reiterating that we ARE Texas strong and WILL get through this. Your planning ideas are spot on. I might add that the Thermal Wraps, which I use for my arthritis, are helpful in providing heat to back, neck, and limbs without depending on a plug-in heating pad. As much as I hate to admit it, stocking up on some items for COVID, such as hand wipes and sanitizer, paper plates, etc. has proven helpful over the past few days too. Remembering about filling up the bathtub from Hurricane Celia days (1970) was also useful in allowing us to flush toilets and maintain rudimentary hygiene until the water came back on (even though we’ll probably have to boil until next week). I recently started reading your blog and enjoy it. Keep up the good work, Texas sister!

  8. Glad you’re back, Pam! And I’m so glad to hear all is well. And yes, emergency preparedness is a thing. We live in an earthquake/wildfire/tsunami zone & have been evacuated a few times for the latter two. This has resulted in our having not only pretty good emergency supplies & systems set up, but well-stocked “go bags” for both ourselves & the cat. We rotate things like water, cat food & the like monthly so nothing goes bad or gets stale. Your suggestions are excellent & I encourage people to heed your voice of experience!

    Please note, though, that failing wind generators were NOT the cause of your blackouts, in spite of the best efforts of some of your politicians & ERCOT to convince people otherwise. ERCOT — the Electrical Reliability Council of Texas — took the Texas power grid off the federal system, which also means it is no longer protected by federal safety & system mandates & is run like a free-for-all in which profit trumps reliability. The system failures occurred primarily in thermal stations (coal, gas, nuclear) & their distribution grids & is a direct result of cost-cutting measures in design, load capacity, maintenance & infrastructure replacement. ERCOT’s primary purpose is to make & distribute power to the barest minimum of requirements in the cheapest way possible to maximize profit as a privately run business. In most countries, the power grid is owned & run by the government as part of its mandated requirement to provide secure supplies of power for its citizens. [Sorry, the engineer in me takes over at times & I’ve spent quite a bit of my career working in power generation so I’ve been following the ERCOT nightmare closely :-)]

    1. Thanks Janet. What we have wanted is answers…and you just gave one of the best ones I have read anywhere!

    2. My husband & and I live in central Texas. We have not lost power or water, yet. The weather forecast changed from bad weather for a few days to very bad weather for almost 2 weeks. While we always keep our gas tanks filled, we cannot get our vehicles out of our garage. Our driveway is iced over & is too steep to navigate. We brought lots of firewood onto our covered patio, then had to cover it with a tarp because of snow blowing onto the patio. I did stock up on some groceries and filled containers with water.

      Janet D. is spot on about the power industry. It used to be so much more efficient. My husband worked in the electric utility industry for 30 years. While we know that things have to change as time goes by, it should be to make to everything better. That has not happened. We pray this nightmare ends soon.

    3. Living in Houston I have most of those things on hand for hurricane survival just in case. They are things you can always use when the emergency passes. I start restocking my non perishable food, batteries and water in the spring a little at a time. Always have bread in the freezer. Battery powered fans have come in handy in summer when power goes out occasionally. Think outside the box. I have box almond milk and individual milk cartons that don’t need refrigeration.

      1. My heart goes out to the citizens of Texas. But not your politicians who pushed deregulation., which then allowed essential power services not to have to prepare for potential emergencies. Wind turbines are not the problem. I hope that FEMA and emergency services, donations is there for everyone who needs help.
        We live in an active 55+ community in the Pacific Northwest and are strongly encouraged to have earthquake preparation supplies, kits, papers etc ready to access at a moment’s notice. We have homes, with generators, identified to help neighbors; we know our neighbors and have plans in place to check on them and help. Every six months the neighborhood reviews the plans. Last year we bought the emergency backpack for our daughter.

  9. You have been on my mind the past few days, Pam, as I’ve been in contact with a friend in Waco who has been going through the same things. In the midst of it all, her husband ended up in hospital… an emergency brought on by trying to install a gas generator in the extreme cold. Thankfully, he is okay.

    I’m so thankful that you have a fireplace! Heat would be our biggest concern in a lengthy power outage as we don’t have one. We do know to keep water on hand as we have our own well and without power to run the pump, we’re also without water.

    Thank you for letting us know that you’re okay and for sharing what you’ve learned through this ordeal.

  10. I live in Northwest Washington, near the Canadian border in a rural area and we have learned, mostly because of earthquake threat, but also windstorms, to be prepared with extra food, water, fuel, alternative heating sources, first aid supplies, and energy sources such as generators, deep cell batteries, solar chargers, etc. we have lost power for over a week at times. It is also good to talk to your neighbors about preparedness. Emergencies can happen at any time! If you need power for something like a CPAP machine or an oxygen tank, you may be able to get a 12 volt battery pack that you can keep charged.

    1. Thanks Cathy…my husband has a CPAP and he helped a neighbor with a machine that supports his IV of heart medication. Our hearts go out to those with medical challenges. We just received notice that the hospital near us is sending patients other places because of lack of water. It has been snowing all day and I do love to watch it, but weary and ready for this to end.

  11. Pam,

    Many people call us crazy but I have been a “prepper” for years. Food, water, alternative heating, light sources, medicines and first aids are just a few. Knowledge, skills are just as important. Always keep your gas tank full or 3/4 tank at the minimum. Chainsaw and other tools for wood cutting or any repairs around the property and home.
    Right now we are under 17 inches of snow and very cold temperatures. This much snowfall all at once is unusual for us here in my part of the Midwest. Luckily, we don’t lose power very often but with high winds and wet, heavy snow or freezing rain, you never know.
    Texans are a pioneer people and I know that you will rise to the occasion and help each other through this disaster. Our thoughts and prayers are with you all.

  12. We have been following the news of Texas closely. I am so sorry you got caught up in this misery. It does sound like there was failure of all energy systems because of lack of winterizing. Last week we had -29 degrees below zero here in the north country and even though my house was warm, I wore long underwear, fleece AND a poofy vest—in the house! You’ll have to post a picture of yourself all bundled up. Hope things get better soon.

    1. I have looked so bad for the last week, Sue, that I wouldn’t want to scare anyone. When you a layered in several sweaters, leggings, multiple socks and a bathrobe it is really funny!!

      1. I live in Oklahoma. We have had 3 storms dump ice and snow on us, and our power system did rolling blackouts for as much as 3 hours at a time without any warning. One town that this happened in lost power at their water treatment plant and the entire town now has no water going on two days. Folks here are livid! They keep threatening us that we are running out of natural gas too, so they want us to turn thermostats down to 55. It is unbelievable to have to drip our faucets at -12 degrees, and the city tells us we also have a water shortage because the demand is so great. Many of our water mains have broken because of the severe temps. This morning, we had an earthquake of 4.6 close to the Kansas border, but we felt it! I am just thankful God sent sunlight today.

  13. I knew why you weren’t posting and have been praying for you Pam. I understand your frustrations and can appreciate the hardships you’re facing. These things are incredibly frustrating and then there is that feeling of being powerless. Not good at all. I’ll continue the prayers and hopefully you will see the weather shift back to more normal and get the necessary supplies restocked. Your plans are sound to be prepared in the future. I agree, you all should have been warned. Take care, this is going to pass.

  14. Glad to hear that you and your husband are safe, Pam. I highly recommend a whole house generator. After yet another straight-line wind event here in the Philly area last year with widespread power outages, my husband and I decided it was time to get a generator. Everyone else had the same idea, of course, so we had to wait several months for the installation. We don’t have a gas line in our neighborhood so we had propane tanks installed at the same time. We now have peace of mind that, if we lose power for any length of time, we’ll still have heat or air conditioning, our fridge and freezer will still work and we won’t have spoiled food, we can cook, etc. It’s a great investment and worth the wait. You and Mr. B take care, and I’m glad you’re back up and posting again.

  15. My sympathies. The news reports make it sound awful. We bought a generator last year, but did not get any of the predicted hurricanes,am keeping my fingers crossed for this year. one never knows .Hopefully for you all, it won’t be too long

  16. So glad you are safe Pam! I would add bottled water to your list. Just heartbreaking what everyone has been through.

  17. I’m so sorry for what you and your fellow Texans are going through, Pam – my prayers are with you all for strength and comfort during this time. Nebraska is in the Southwest Power Pool so we’ve had rolling blackouts this week to compensate for the power needed down south. We have a newborn grandson and just knowing that he was in a rapidly cooling house during an hour or two of a blackout in minus 26 degree temps was stressful – can not imagine how stressful it is for people with no electricity in Texas, much less the elderly and those relying on electricity for medical needs. We have friends in Austin who have been sleeping in their car to stay warm – they’re newly arrived in Texas and currently building a house. Am guessing they’ll be adding a gas fireplace to their new home. Stay strong, and when you can’t, have a good cry and a little chocolate. Prayers to you!

  18. I am relieved to hear from you today! I have been praying for you all week! Your list of preparedness is good for all of us. I live in Minnesota & think I am prepared but I have never gone through a winter storm without electricity! Bravo! You made it through the ordeal! Hugs of warmth & joy!

  19. We learned that between rolling blackouts every device has to be plugged in. With that, we were able to keep going. I’m in the Texas Panhandle and we were very blessed to have the rolling blackouts (versus long-term blackouts). I was so grateful to Excel Energy that while they were doing them, they were done at a time that we would know what it was (example: at half past the hour …. I knew that as we and friends were experiencing them, exactly half past the hour wasn’t a fluke outage likely to go on for a long time). Plus schools and businesses were good neighbors – when asked, they shut down so that residents had enough gas and electric to continue.

    This has been awful … especially to our more southern Texans … but we have made it through! I’m proud of who we are!

  20. Bless you Pam! So good to hear that you and Hubby are doing okay after enduring this horrific event! No one is laughing. Every winter we Are taught to put together a similar preparedness plan for our home and property, Your plan looks complete and well thought out. With the changing weather patterns we all have been experiencing – its a must do!

  21. I am so sorry that this has happened to you.
    Both tuna fish and chicken come in pouches so .
    Freeze dried camping food is actually tasty.
    Milk and soup come in shelf stable containers that do not need refrigeration…use all the soup at once… the milk comes in boxes like the juices.
    Fill the bath tub…
    Think about buying the space blankets that retain body heat… for your car.
    Buy those packable down coats and vests.

  22. Our market based, for profit power generation decision decades ago caused this. For profit generators do not have reliability as a priority. This isn’t a “state vs feds” question. Texas politicians use that to jazz up the masses. This is a market vs managed question. While I firmly believe the market offers the most to the many for the long run, the market has failed in providing a vital public service too many times

  23. My heart has been with all of Texas experiencing this terrible storm. You have especially been in my prayers. So thankful you and your husband are ok.
    The preparedness advice is good for everyone. Since I am diabetic, I would add to always have extra medicine on hand for emergencies in case you can’t get to pharmacy.

  24. I love all the comments, suggestions and encouraging words especially from those living in the mid-west and northeast. As a fellow Texan, I’m plugging along with you, Pam, and so grateful the sun is shining today (where we are), hoping the snow and ice will melt soon.

  25. Pam, I thought of you every day as I went to your website, and saw Monday’s post. This week has certainly stressed the need for being prepared, and like you, I’ve worried so about those who needed electricity for their medical needs. Living in an area of frequent hurricanes, we know come summer to fill containers of water, to keep our pantry supplied, to be sure the generator is in working order, to secure valuable papers, pictures, etc. However, the big difference is that you had no heat. In summer time when we sweat through 12 days of no electricity as we did after Hurricane Michael, and endured bugs, 90+ degree days of heat and humidity, cowboy coffee on our gas cooktop, we are not cold.
    Your experience is a difficult way to learn your preparedness lessons, but thankfully, you now know what needs to be done. Continuing to pray for all those so severely affected by this event.

  26. I am thankful that you are safe and in good health. Another attempt by Nature to let us know we must do more to respect her.

  27. A close friend pf mine lives in Texas and shared this hint – she does a lot of backpacking, hiking, etc. If you have a tent, set it up inside your house (yes, you may have to move some furniture). Tents are made to keep out the elements, including cold. Bring in your sleeping bags, blankets, etc. I never would have thought of this, but it works.!

  28. So very sorry that you’ve had to experience this disaster personally, Pam. However, you did your readers a massive favor by sharing points of hard-earned wisdom in dealing with outages. My husband and I are ordering 2 solar chargers today. Many prayers for all the Texans who have suffered.

  29. All great suggestions and enlightening discussion around the nuts and bolts of who and what may have created this energy deficit. No matter the market/political fumbling, we all contend from time to time with natural disasters. Forest fires have been especially worrisome here in southern Oregon, but we’ve had earthquakes, snow, ice, and even the occasional tsunami warnings (though never the actual tsunami, thank goodness!) to contemplate. The “Go Bag” is a critical element of preparedness, as someone else here mentioned. There are plenty of ideas online as to what you should include; I would do this alongside your shelter in place planning. Sometimes we must run on very short notice, and having all your essential documents, some cash, medicines and basic necessities will allow for some peace of mind should that day ever come.

  30. Pamela, I have been praying for you and all of Texas as folks struggle to keep warm and make do with what they have. My daughter lives in McKinney and she said they have a gas stove and gas water heater, which has been helpful. She said she has “staff” (namely daughter Zoe), to melt snow to use as needed. Texans are tough and these are hard lessons to learn but Texans are also smart…they’ll apply this experience to being prepared for whatever comes their way.

  31. Glad you are ok – had a relative doing a driving trip back home from the west and taking the “southern route” – thankful she found overnight stays in Texas with power and heat – and beat the worst weather. She will have to pick another time to see your lovely city.

  32. I’m glad you are safe, and my heart goes out to all Texans. Around here, I’ve heard only sympathy expressed, not any you-don’t-know-bad-weather. Most people are really pulling for all of you! I’m one who begs to keep politics off blogs, but will say that in my opinion, some crucial responsibilities are better off with some government regulation or oversight and less of a profit motivation (shutting up now). Your ideas for preparedness make sense and we have most of the simpler ones. Because I live in a condo, I try to have plenty of extra water and canned food here, in case neighbors are without. This will become part of your family lore. Consider writing down some things while it is fresh, and maybe make it into a story for the grands.

  33. Hi Pam,
    It is good to receive an update from you. I am so sorry for all those who are suffering. I haven’t read all the replies, so perhaps you have already thought of these items. Living in the snow belt of western New York, we have found sleeping bags, hand & toe warmers (check expiration dates), and ready to go fireplace ‘logs’, have helped during power outages. Thinking of you and everyone during this very tough time. Prayers for all!

  34. Thinking of you with hope that the temps turn around soon. The pictures from Texas are heartbreaking. In the PacNW, we have to be prepared, and have experienced a week of winter without power. Here are some things we keep in our “Go Bags”. Cash in small bills as well as a three month supply of all prescription medicines. A Weber 2000 propane grill purchased for preparedness turned out to be a treat all year round. Solar is a great option. We also have a small wood cook stove by Jotul and a supply of wood so that one room of the house can be warm, and we can cook on it. The Red Cross has excellent material on how to be prepared, and yes, we all hope never to have to use any of it.
    Whenever a storm is forecast now, we check the bags, fill gas tanks, check the generator and batteries on hand, cook at least one big pot of something like chili or stew, check our supply of bottled water and/or fill the tub with water, and then sit back and wait. We are very thankful we have rarely had to use our preparations. God bless you all in Texas.

  35. My daughter and granddaughter who live in MN flew to Texas on February 11th to spend the 4 day President’s Day weekend with her best friend in Houston. They were scheduled to fly home on Monday but were rescheduled twice and finally returned yesterday. They lost power for 3 days and had low water pressure for two. Fortunately her friend had a gas fireplace and stove so they brought mattresses into the family room to sleep where it was warm, and were able to make meals and boil water. They had the foresight to fill the bathtub and lots of pots with water in anticipation of an outage.
    Even in the north, where we had -20 temps with -40 windchills, we aren’t prepared for a total power grid failure. We can all use more preparedness tips.The entire populations of ND, SD, WY, and NE is equal to the number of Texans who lost power. I think if 4 states lost power to every resident there would be more sympathy than Texas is getting. My Friday morning Bible study prayed for Texas and all the states affected by the two storms.

  36. Good post. I’m glad you are ok. Power outages are very real. My cousin who lives nearby, relies solely on in home dialysis for kidney function and has her own machine at home. This can be hooked up to a gasoline powered generator if the power goes out. You can imagine the problems there could be. In our neighborhood we help each other at times like this. Consideration for others is a powerful tool.

  37. I’m glad to hear you’re safe. It’s always good to plan ahead for the next time. While you could look at a short power outage as an adventure, I’m sure you’re way past that now! I’ve always been thankful for the years we spent camping. It’s helped us and trained our children to make do when modern conveniences are interrupted. Even though we haven’t camped for many years, we still have sleeping bags, a tent and cooking equipment.

  38. I empathize with your situation. Lots of people don’t think about disaster preparedness until the disaster actually happens. You’re on the right path to get your essentials procured and properly stored. We live in the Pacific Northwest and have fall/winter heavy rain with wind. It’s not unusual for us to lose electricity for several days. We have two cases of bottled water, enough freeze dried food for two weeks, sleeping bags, camp stove, hand crank radio, etc. The list is long. Having all those things on hand, gives me peace of mind. Good luck!

  39. One more item to add to your emergency list would be clay flower pots. Placed over a lit candle, they are good heat producers. We used to use them when camping. Thankfully, our home in Plano did not lose power, but so many around us did and will be trying to put their homes and lives back together for remainder of this year. So grateful you fared well and have given us all some good pointers to think about.

  40. I’ve been there. Done that with an ice storm a number of years ago. it is scary if you are not prepared and even if you are. my mom was born in texas and i’ve been saying my prayers for you all. while most of you have weathered the storm. the after effects are awful to say the least. hang in there. one day at a time. you’ve got this #TexasStrong . take care.

  41. Pam, So glad you and your husband are ok.
    Thank you for the reminder to be prepared. I will be looking at items on your list.
    Here in Southern California we should always be prepared for earthquakes, fires and now blackouts as they have be happening frequently in the past year.
    I really enjoy your blog and emails!

  42. I’m a Texan and it was an awful week and so many have suffered so much, needlessly. Don’t blame the wind turbines. They only provide 10% of our energy and somehow the cold Scandinavian countries keep them spinning! 40% of our generating facilities failed. Lessons learned after a freezing episode in 2011 where not heeded. Leadership & greedy power companies bear the blame. Yes we have personal responsibility to be prepared, but I have no authority over the electric companies. However I’m sure all our rates will increase.

  43. As a neighbor to your far North (Canada) that lives in a snow belt and earth quake region, I extend my heartfelt sympathy and concern to all those who have been affected plus I am glad that you and your husband are okay. With that said, having experienced similar, for your preparedness list you might wish to consider adding the following —

    Collapsible LED Camping Lanterns that will provide sufficient lighting for at least a 15′ x 22′ space . (The brand Etekcity is highly dependable. Amazon carries them, but ensure you order their most recent model and allocate them throughout your home for an emergency purpose.)

    Metal contained ‘non-fragrant’ tea lights have numerous benefits which range from providing light, warming up food etc. and on the whole are more safer, easily stored and cheaper, than other types of candles. For how to use, there is plenty of information on the Internet.

    Instead of matches, purchase a supply of gas lighters used for lighting stoves/bbqs which are far more convenient to use.

    A few additional tips —
    When purchasing any type of battery, check their shelf life which is often notated on their package and mark when purchased.

    As water often becomes a precious commodity, use it wisely. In other words use for food prep and ingestion and stock up on disposables like cutlery, plates etc. Also if freezing pipes could become an issue, keeping one cold water tap ‘open’ with a continuous slow drip will usually solve the problem. *Fresh fallen snow can always be melted and once boiled for 10 to 20 minutes is acceptable for consumption.

    For warmth; layer, layer your clothing. Designate one or two rooms as your living space and close off the remainder (for example by closing their doors). To warm up regular bedding; a rubber hot water bottle or a heated clay pizza stone wrapped in cloth will make it nice and cozy. Also an emergency (Mylar) blanket is another option. i.e.: Name brand S.O.L. designed by NASA. is a good choice as resistant to wind and water, as well as locking in body heat.

    To conclude the above are only suggestions but lesson learned on my part and the hard way; the more you are prepared the more comfortable you will be. -Brenda-

  44. I think it’s a testament to how good the weather where you live is that you weren’t prepared!
    I had Hubs gassing up the cars just a week or so ago when snow was forecast. Here in the Mid-Atlantic we’ve got bad weather 12 months a year. It’s easier to deal with when it’s warm, although I will say that it’s hard to sleep on the porch with our neighbors running their generators. They are so noisy!

    We go camping and have a propane stove. It’s not a big thing to keep a couple of extra cannisters around. Those are nice to have when the power goes out. Most disasters are easier to deal with after a cup of hot coffee or tea.

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