Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Ice Storm of 2009

A week or so ago we had an ice storm here in western Arkansas that caused our power to be out for a few days.

On Monday night we were sitting around doing our usual stuff, I was working “online” and the boys were play a little bit of Wii before they went to bed. Then…the power went off. It didn’t get restored until Friday morning but I’d have to say that it was a great learning experience for our family.

Knowing our area, we always are somewhat prepared for power outages but there are some things we found we were not quite as ready as we thought so here are some tips from what we learned.


If you have central heat and air, be sure you have an alternate source of heat. We have a gas fireplace and a large propane tank. Although we use it to “help” the heat pump on really cold nights, the fireplace did an excellent job keeping most of the house comfortable.

Hot water….that was different. We weren’t prepared for that at all and let me tell you…you have not experienced COLD until you wash your hair in ice water! LOL! Our hope is to replace our electric water heater with an “on-demand” gas water heater. This should serve two purposes. First, it would give us an unlimited amount of hot water for our large family and second, it would be more energy efficient since it would only be “on” when we were actually using hot water.

Cooking –

We currently have a Coleman camp stove that we simply place on top of the regular cooking stove. This works “ok” but we don’t like the smell it puts off in the house. We were also unable to bake bread and resorted to eating the stuff from the store (YUCK!). Our plan is to have a small stove similar to those put in camping trailers. We’ll set it up to be “portable” by building a cabinet to put it in and it will probably have wheels to make it easier to move. This is also providing an oven. These can usually be found used for a decent price.

You can also use Sterno cans but we’ve found these a little slow to cook things. Perhaps that’s why they can burn for hours!

My mom and dad, who live next door, just used their outdoor grill. It was funny; it gave her an excuse to “grill” in the winter. 

Another thing that is helpful is to have canned meats and other foods available. These can be home canned or store-bought but anything to help you be a little less dependent on your freezer the better.

Lighting –

We used oil lamps, candles, flashlights and battery powered lamps.

The oil lamps are great for longer periods of time. Be sure to have extra wicks, globes and oil on hand because if your power is out…all the stores will be OUT of these supplies.

Candles are another good choice but be careful if you have children…they seem to attract them like moths! Cheap “emergency” candles can be purchased at most $1 stores for a $1 per box of 10.

Flashlights are great for portable light. I suggest investing in the LED upgrade for your flashlight because it will make the battery last much longer and give an excellent amount of light.

Battery powered lamps are great for temporary lighting but again, I suggest upgrading the bulb to LEDs if possible to make the battery last longer. Also…only purchase the type of lamp that uses common size batteries…that way you can purchase one size of battery to fit several different tools.


If your family is like ours, we like all the electronic gadgets and things but when the power goes out they’re out too….in most cases. You should have several things that can occupy your time. We used board games, cards, dice, coloring, reading, etc. There are lots of things you can play or do as a family and many times this power-outage can bring your family closer together.

Many people believe that harder times are coming and I hope these tips have helped you think about the “little” emergencies. If you’d like more information on preparing for the harder times to come….let me know so I can post things along those lines. I firmly believe that preparation is the key to winning the battle of stress when these things happen.