Our family has always kept things like flash lights, extra batteries, bottled water and quick damn flood prevention bags on hand because we’ve lived through many hurricanes here in Houston.
What we weren’t prepared for was a freezing weather event and losing our power for nearly three full days. The hopelessness you feel when you lose power and the inside temperature of your home plummets to levels too cold to manage is indescribable.
We did not experience the “rolling blackouts” that many other areas did, so we were never able to heat our house back up to tolerable temperatures and had to leave to stay at friend’s homes that still had power to keep our family warm. We also used our car for warming breaks prior to fleeing for friend’s homes.
I asked you all (on Instagram) to submit items you wish you would have had on hand for this cold weather event or any natural disaster. Below is a list of ideas and feedback from y’all, plus my own contributions of what I wish we’d had (and what we did thankfully have) in our home for a cold weather event like the recent one in Texas.
I plan to create a disaster preparedness container as a result of not feeling fully prepared this last go-round. It will be full of items we don’t use day-to-day, but might need during a severe weather event with power outages. I’m going to purchase a large plastic storage container and house most of the items inside of it, so that when a hurricane or other weather event comes our way, we won’t have to be searching all over for the things we need for cooking, cleaning, eating, light, warmth, etc. If you feel something is missing from this list, please comment on this post and I’ll add it.
*This post contains affiliate links. I made a donation to Kids Meals Inc., a local nonprofit that makes and delivers free, healthy meals directly to the homes of hungry children. They have given more than 8 million free meals to food insecure children in 42 Houston-area zip codes. Kids’ Meals is a first-responder to children under age 6 facing debilitating hunger due to extreme poverty. Read more about their mission, here. I encourage you to donate and I’ll be making another donation myself as a thank you for the work they do and as a thank you to all who suggested items that are on this list.
POWER & SECURITY
- Whole house generator (Generac)
- Gas powered generator
- Fire and water proof safe for important documents
- Full tank of gas in each car
- Emergency radio
FOOOD & KITCHEN
- More shelf stable food
- Shelf stable milk for kids
- More matches and long stick lighters to light gas stove
- Paper plates and plastic utensils
- Saran wrap to use over plates and bowls to keep them clean when you don’t have water
- Camping stove
- Manual can opener
- Disposable foil pans for cooking
- Instant coffee
- Bialetti stovetop coffee maker
- Large thermos for hot water
TOILETING & HYGEINE/ PERSONAL CARE
- Full body wipes (to replace shower)
- Facial cleansing wipes or micellar water
- Hand sanitizing wipes
- Trash bags and grocery store bags for bathroom use when toilets cannot be flushed (they also have these intended for use when camping)
- Vaseline and aquaphor for cracked lips
- Beverage dispenser for use in bathrooms – face washing, teeth brushing, etc. (I saw this on Facebook and thought it was brilliant!)
- WaterBOB – Bathtub Storage Emergency Drinking Water Container
- Bottled water – have 5 gallons per family member on hand
- LifeStraw –
- Berkey Water filter
- Aqua Rain water filter
- Buckets for collecting water
- Battery operated flash lights
- Extra batteries
- Oil lamps – for heat and light
- Head lamps
ELECTRONICS & CHARGING
- Emergency phone chargers (you can also charge your phone in your car via USB)
- Solar phone chargers
- HALO bolt
- Fire wood
- Extra blankets
- Down filled duvets
- Wool socks – Smartwool was recommended
- Reflective blankets/emergency body heat blankets
- Kerosene heater
- Camping tent – can keep sleep space at 65-70 degrees
- Sleeping bags
- Hats and gloves/mittens for every family member
- Hot Chilly’s brand warmth layering clothes
- Thermal underwear for each family member
- Buddy heater (propane based heater)
- Electrical blankets (can be used with generator)
- Hand warmers (disposable)
- Extra pet food
- A carrier for each pet in your home
- ice scraper for car
- Carbon monoxide detectors– portable
- Knowing how to turn off your water and heat supply
- To go bags ready for each family member
I hope you found this post to be helpful and that if you haven’t yet built a disaster or severe weather preparedness kit, you’re thinking about it now.
I also want to share a few images I took during the severe cold weather event in Houston. You’ll see a lot of smiles, but it was also a very scary and uncertain time, so I certainly don’t want my photo selections to give off the impression that it was a “fun” experience – I just didn’t take photos when I was crying in our car or when the kids lips were so chapped they were red and cracking.
Not sure on how well stocked your general first aid/medicine cabinet is, but that would be a good area to focus on as well. I would add heavy duty work gloves for each adult and things like extra scissors, utility knives, zip ties, tarps, electrolyte tablets (we like Nuun), waterproof matches, hi-vis gear for each family member (including dog), flares, and glo sticks. Finally, we have all of our important docs scanned and uploaded to our emails in cause we have to evacuate. Make sure that includes dog vaccine records!!
We have a few smaller plastic bins that are grouped together but are easier for me to move by myself if needed. We have one dedicated to “to-go bag” items that we could dump in a backpack in a hurry. Also, because it truly does help my anxiety, we have a printed list that we keep taped by our emergency supplies of what we would need to grab to evacuate in a hurry. We could be out of our house in 5-10 minutes with everything we need for safety and everything precious to us because of this.
Love that you posted this and would love to see an update!
Thanks so much for sharing!! My only recommendation would be the inclusion of items that were helpful during the Covid-19 pandemic…hopefully we never experience anything like this again, but I felt completely unprepared when we all went into lock-down last year. I wish I had more basic supplies as well as things like masks, hand-sanitizer, lysol wipes, toilet paper, etc.
Stockpile medicines. Both over the counter and as far ahead in prescriptions as you are allowed.
As someone who had to evacuate thief city, even a full tank in vehicle burns quickly when traffic backs up and everyone rushes the pumps. I keep a small face can in my shed. Every 6 months I fill my vehicle with it and refill the can to keep the gas “fresh”.
Get a large cooler you can put outside. If you lose power when it’s cold out, you can move perishables to your outdoor cooler and it will both stay good and not stink up your fridge.
Have a meet up location planned if you need to evacuate your house and some of the family leave from work or other places and you can’t get through on cell.
Have some family games / diversions that are new to kids for a special way to play when there is no power.
Have big pots for boiling large amounts of water in case your water and gas is on, but you are under boil order. It reduces need to rely on bottled.
Some tips from someone who went through a fully it’s month long evac due to wildfire, and return to a city with limited power, water and services for the next few months after returning, and that also experiences regular spring flooding. Always be ready as possible but be ready for not being ready for some, and just doing your best.