Emphasizing safety and sustenance if power goes out

Although mid-winter is usually when we think if needing emergency supplies for power outages, now is a good time to make sure you have a few days of emergency supplies. Recent wildfires bring the possibility of power outages. You may need to be self-sufficient for longer, but 72 hours is a good place to start. If you already have a car emergency kit or a camping box. These are general recommendations and should be accompanied by education, training and experience.

Notifications

Sign up for the county emergency notification program.

Notify your power company if you are medically depending on electricity.

Electronics

Keep your cell phone charged and keep a backup battery. Turn off automatic updates and non-essential notifications, close all non-essential apps, and keep your phone turned off or in low power mode. Keep in mind text messages may get through jammed networks easier than phone calls.

A small AM/FM battery-operated radio or a VHF/UHF radio may work if a cell phone does not.

A headlamp or flashlight with extra batteries is important.

Backup Power

Keep a supply of lithium AA and AAA batteries to power the radio and headlamp.

A power pack for your cell phone should be a least enough for one charge.

A solar charger is useful but doesn’t work too well on cloudy days or if the panel is small.

A dynamo hand crank charger can also be used, but likewise doesn’t work too well.

A gas or diesel generator is ideal for long term use, but make sure you store spare fuel properly. Use caution using a generator, as multiple hazards exist with operation. Don’t bring a generator inside. Place the generator outside in a fire-safe area.

Medications and medical devices

Make sure you always have at least a week supply of all medications since during a power failure, pharmacies may not be able to refill your medications.

For devices such as CPAP machines and oxygen condensers, keep a backup battery or a backup device. Oxygen companies should provide bottled oxygen to use in the event of a power failure.

The Car

Keep your gas tank full — a good rule is to never let it drop below a half-tank.

Keep a small emergency kit in your car in case you are stuck on the road, which has happened more than once on I-84. This might include a sleeping bag, blankets, non-perishable food, water, spare walking shoes, warm clothing, a flashlight and a small toilet/hygiene kit including wet wipes and hand sanitizer.

Water

For emergencies, keep a gallon of water per person per day. You may need more in hot weather or for physical activity.

Remember your hot water tank, if you have one, will be full of potable water.

Consider backup water purification. Chlorine dioxide tablets are inexpensive. A UV light pen is also a great alternative.

Food

Three days non-perishable food can be canned goods, pouches, tins, or dry storage. Keep rotating these through your regular meals so they don’t expire.

A small propane or isobutane stove such as used for camping can be used for cooking or heating water.

If you have an outdoor barbecue, keep the propane tank filled and consider a spare tank. Do not bring the BBQ indoors.

Toileting

Although toilets work without electricity, it still might be a good idea to conserve water.

Keep some baby wipes and alcohol gel available for cleaning hands.

House

In the event of a power failure, keep your fridge and freezer closed as much as possible. Keep shades drawn and use blankets or sheets to cover windows in direct sun.

If you have natural gas for heat and cooking, the furnace or oven/stove may not work if either has an electronic lighters. Keep matches or a lighter handy.

Keep a flashlight or headlamp handy at your bedside and near exits.

Other

Keep some cash on hand, since credit cards may not work for gasoline or groceries.

Mitigating heat or cold

Stay inside, stay hydrated, and avoid excessive physical activity.

Keep an eye on pets, as they also can be susceptible to heat and cold.

Christopher Van Tilburg is Public Health Officer and Medical Examiner for Hood River County.

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