Don't Be Left in the Dark - Weathering Floods, Storms and Power Outages--Preparing for the Storm or Outage

What to Have on Hand

Use the list below to help you prepare a reserve food and supply list.

Food & Water Household Supplies & Equipment
  • Bottled water - two gallons per person per day
  • Ready-to-eat canned foods - vegetables, fruit, beans, meat, fish, poultry, pasta, soup, juice
  • Milk - powdered, canned or shelf-stable brick pack
  • High energy foods - peanut butter, jelly, nuts, dried meat (for example, jerky), granola, trail mix
  • Cereal and snacks - cookies, crackers
  • Staples - sugar, salt, pepper, instant coffee, tea bags, cocoa
  • Candy - chocolate bars, hard candy
  • Infant and small children's needs - baby food, formula, disposable diapers
  • Specialty food - for elderly or people on special diets
  • Pet food (if needed)
  • One gallon liquid chlorine bleach - unscented with no soaps or additives
  • Battery-powered radio
  • Flashlights - one in each room of the house
  • Extra fresh batteries for both radio and flashlights
  • Candles and/or oil lamps filled with odorless oil
  • Matches
  • Gasoline (if you plan to use a generator)
  • Propane fuel (if you plan to use a grill or camp stove)
  • Charcoal (if you plan to use a barbecue grill)
  • Disposable tableware, including paper towels and napkins
  • Manual can opener
  • Plastic bags - zip sealing, garbage
  • Cash/travelers checks
  • Fire extinguisher (small canister "ABC" type)
  • Food product thermometer - able to measure temperature from 0 to 220 degrees Fahrenheit
Health & Hygiene Supplies Tools
  • Prescription medication
  • First aid kit with bandages, gauze pads, antiseptic, pain killers, tweezers, scissors
  • Toilet paper
  • Premoistened hand wipes - premoistened towelettes or baby wipes
  • Disinfectant no-rinse hand soap
  • Toiletries - toothpaste, deodorant
  • Feminine hygiene supplies
  • Rope (for rescue, tow, tying down property)
  • Shovel
  • Hammer and nails
  • Utility knife
  • Work gloves
  • Duct tape
  • Electrical tape
Clean-Up Supplies
  • Broom
  • Buckets
  • Disinfecting spray
  • Dust masks
  • Mop
  • Paper towels
  • Rags (to clean with)
  • Rubber gloves
  • Scrub brush
  • Sponges
  • Trash bags

About Your Food Supply

Helpful Hints: Storing Your Food
  • Keep canned foods in a dry, dark area where the temperature is fairly cool - between 32 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • To protect foods from pests and extend their shelf life, store them in tightly closed cans or metal containers. Do not store your reserve food supply in the basement if it is prone to flooding.
  • Rotate your reserve food supply. Try to use food by the "best if used by" date. If foods don't have a "best if used by" date, then mark (in ink) the date you purchased the item. Place new items at the back of the storage area and older ones in front.
  • Inspect your reserves periodically to make sure there are no broken seals or dented containers.
  • Tailor your supply of food to the type of things your family normally eats. Familiar foods can lift morale and give a feeling of security in times of stress.
  • Consider whether there is anyone in your household with special diets or allergies that you need to accommodate.
  • Buy foods that require no refrigeration and little or no preparation or cooking.
  • Build up your reserves by buying a few extra items a week until you have a supply large enough to feed your family for three to seven days.
  • Have extra fuel/charcoal on hand if you own a grill or camp stove. Never use a grill or camp stove in the house because dangerous carbon monoxide fumes could build up and cause illness or even death.
  • Keep an appliance thermometer in your refrigerator and freezers at all times. This will eliminate the guesswork of just how cold the unit is. The key to determining the safety of foods is knowing how cold they are. The refrigerator should be set at 40 degrees or less, and the freezer should be set between 0 and -10 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Plan ahead to keep your frozen and refrigerated foods cold if you live in an area where loss of power occurs frequently.
  • Keep your freezer as full as possible. A full freezer will keep food cold longer and also is more energy efficient.
  • Turn the refrigerator and freezer controls to their coldest setting if you fear a power outage is likely. This will extend the length of time the food will keep without spoiling.
  • Buy freeze-pack inserts or fill plastic jugs with water and keep them frozen. Put them in the refrigerator as soon as possible after the power goes out.
  • Know where dry and block ice can be purchased.
  • Develop emergency freezer-sharing plans with friends in another part of town.

Other Emergency Preparations

  • Keep your electric and natural gas company's emergency number on or near your phone.
  • Keep your water department's or water company's number near your phone.
  • Know ahead of time when and how to safely turnoff your electric, gas and water supplies. Have the tools available to turn these services off if it becomes necessary to do so.
  • Contact your utility company if anyone in your household uses life-sustaining equipment, such as a kidney dialysis machine or a respirator. Your utility company can advise you on how to prepare for power outages.
  • Prepare a plan for anyone in your household who has mobility problems or other special needs.
  • Have at least one telephone in your home that does not need electricity (wall plug style or cellular). Cordless phones do not work when there is a power outage.
  • Fill your car's gas tank.
  • Check to be sure that you have an adequate supply of your family's prescription medication. Keep a current list of family prescription medications, their dosages, schedules and prescribing doctor.
  • Fill your bathtub with water if you are on a well. The water can be used for purposes other than drinking (for example, washing, flushing toilets).
  • Make a written record of household possessions for insurance purposes. Record model and serial numbers. Be sure to include expensive items such as sofas, chairs, tables, beds, chests, wall units and other furniture too heavy to carry. Store the list somewhere away from home, such as in a safe-deposit box.
  • Buy flood insurance if you live in an area that is flood prone.
  • Have plywood available to cover windows during a hurricane, especially if you live along the coast.
  • Make sure your fuel oil tank is securely fastened to the floor. If your basement floods and your tank is not fastened, it could float. Connection pipes might break and spill fuel oil, resulting in clean-up problems and potential health effects. If you are unsure if your tank is secure, contact your oil company.
  • Make arrangements for your pets. Most shelters do not allow pets. Prior to the emergency, call your County Emergency Management Office and ask them where you can leave your pet. Have ID, collar, leash and proof of vaccinations for all pets. Have current photos of your pets in case they get lost.

About Emergency Generators

Helpful Hints: Generator Safety
  • Consult with a licensed electrician if you decide to connect a generator to your existing household wiring system and install all recommended safety devices.
  • Notify your power company if you have a generator installed.
  • Never run a generator inside your home, basement or attached garage. Generators should only be operated outside. Carbon monoxide in the generator's fumes can build up and cause carbon monoxide poisoning, which can lead to death.
  • Keep children away from generators at all times.
  • Operate the generator in a dry outdoor location, away from open windows.
  • Fuel spilled on a hot generator can cause an explosion. If your generator has a detachable fuel tank, remove it before refilling. If this is not possible, shut off the generator and let it cool before refilling.
  • Store gasoline away from the generator and not in your home. Keep gasoline in proper storage containers. Improper storage can cause explosions and/or fires.
  • Do not exceed the rated capacity of your generator. Overloading your generator can damage it and any appliances connected to it. Fire may result. Be sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions.

You may want to consider getting a generator that can provide enough power to run your furnace and, if necessary, your well pump during an extended power outage. Another reason to consider a generator is for back-up power to run essential medical equipment or just to keep your refrigerator and freezer running when the power goes out. Whatever the situation, it is important to size the unit correctly and follow the manufacturers recommendations for its safe operation.

As a portable unit, the generator can power electrical equipment and household appliances using heavy-duty, outdoor extension cords plugged directly into the generator. Check the extension cords frequently to make sure they have not become hot during operation.

Only a licensed electrician should install a generator to your household wiring system, either as a portable or permanent unit. An electrician should install a separate outdoor receptacle and double-pole, double-throw transfer switch to isolate the generator from your utility company's lines. This will prevent electrical backfeed from your generator which could harm utility workers repairing these lines. You should also notify your power company if you have installed a generator.