Pack a bag — before you need it

We pack a suitcase when we’re headed out on vacation, of course. We pack a bag when we know ahead of time that we’ll be hospitalized for a surgical procedure. Soon-to-be empty-nesters watch anxiously as their college-age kid packs all that’s necessary to furnish a dorm room. And as that delivery date approaches, every expectant mother has a bag packed and ready for when Mother Nature says, “It’s time.”  

But there’s another kind of packed bag that can come in handy: The one you stock to be prepared in the event of a prolonged power outage. 

“We hope our members never need to rely on those kinds of supplies,” says Trent Scott, vice president of corporate strategy for the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association. “But we’d prefer that they have it and not need it instead of the other way around.” 

Depending on the time of year and your family’s needs, here’s a list of some common items that will prove very useful if electricity is unavailable for an extended period of time: 

  • Flashlights/batteries 
  • Long-burning candles and lighter or matches 
  • Water (one gallon per person per day) 
  • Nonperishable food/pantry items and a manual can opener 
  • First-aid kit 
  • Wet wipes/hand sanitizer 
  • Weather radio 
  • Portable phone charger 
  • Headlamps, deck of cards, portable battery-operated fan 

Scott stresses the need to check your power outage bag periodically, even if the need to use it hasn’t arisen: “You’ll want to be sure that expiration dates haven’t passed and that batteries are still good. And there’s one last critical piece of advice I can’t stress enough: Make sure everyone in your family knows the location of this bag, box or tote. It can’t help you if you’ve forgotten where you put it!” 

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