by Shane White
In you prepping plans, you need to make sure you are also ready for short term disasters. Here are a few things that you should be mindful of around your home that will make life more comfortable for you in a short term disaster (power out, no water, etc). If things turn out to be much worse, having these things ready will make starting your survival plan that much easier.
Toilet Tank - There is fresh clean water in the tank above your toilet just sitting there. In an emergency, this can serve as several gallons of emergency water. I highly recommend that you do not put any chemicals at any time into this tank, or you will not have this as a source of emergency water.
Hot Water Heater - Here is another place that you can fine an emergency source of water. There are many gallons of water in here. Remember that the contents will be hot for quite a while.
Organization - Keep your home clean and organized. Keep things where you can find them. You may have to find things in the dark if your power is out and you don't want to be tripping on things in the dark.
Entertainment - If you are going to be without power for a long time, I suggest that you collect lots of books, board games, or something fun to do. I have been in a few short term situations with the power out and find that things can be pretty boring. Give yourself something to do that isn't survival related. Also remember that at night, you will need some light to illuminate your games and books.
Light - Flashlights, lanterns, and candles are all good sources of light. If it is night when your power fails, this will be the first thing you need to find. Place these items somewhere where you know they will be. Make sure that they are easy to access as well. For lanterns and candles, don't forget keep something to light them with nearby. You will need matches for other things as well.
Stove - If you have a gas stove in your home and your power is out, you might still have gas. If this is the case, you should be able to start your gas stove with matches. If you have been in an earthquake, a tornado, or something like this, you should check for gas leaks first. If there are gas leaks, immediately turn off the gas to your house. A gas camping stove is a great option if you have an electric stove or no gas available for you gas stove. An outdoor gas or charcoal grill is also a good option. Some gas grills have a burner option on them as well.
Another great cooking option is a wood burning stove. A wood burning stove is also an excellent way to keep the house warm on cold nights as well. Insurance companies are very picky about these. If you have a wood burning stove or are planning to get one, talk to your insurance agent about it. If your house ever burns down, they may try to use your stove as an excuse not to pay you. I have a friend who went through this insurance/wood burning stove problem after his house burned down and it wasn't even the fault of the stove.
Fireplace - If you have a fireplace, make sure it is well maintained, and that you have wood for it. You might just be using it as something to put your pictures on now, but in an emergency you may need it for heat. If you are planning on using a fireplace, it is also a good idea to have something to start a fire with.
Blankets - Make sure you have plenty of blankets ready at all times. If it is cold, you may need a few extra. Your home may cool off quickly after the heater stops working.
Windows - Make sure that you can open all your windows if you have to. If it is hot out, you will need air circulating through your house. Without air conditioning, your house can heat up quickly. Another tip is to make sure that you have screens on all of your windows. This will keep bugs and things from taking advantage of your windows being opened. If you have a fan that you can use, set it facing inwards from an opened window to move air through the house.
Generator - A generator is a great idea to have around, but not necessarily the first thing I would get out. If you have one, make sure you connect essentials to it first. I recommend plugging in your refrigerator and freezer if you don't know how long the power will be out. It can make you feel almost as sick throwing out hundreds of dollars worth of food later as it would eating your spoiled food later. Plugging in a fan for air circulation is a good idea as well.
After the Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989, I was without electricity, gas, and water for about three days. Being unprepared, I was forced to live off canned food, a single flashlight, and the water from my toilet tank. Being prepared can definitely make life comfortable much more comfortable than this in any situation. Be ready.