5 Tips for Handling a Power Outage with Your Family

Health & Wellness on 10.29.12
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Photo: Hurricane Daniel by NASA Goddard Photo and Video/ Creative Commons

Last fall, just months after we moved to Connecticut, we got hit by a freak storm (this was after Hurricane Irene) and lost power for four days. The power lines in our town are above ground, so many residents lose power once or twice a year for days at a time. We built a fire and huddled together on mattresses to sleep. The first two nights felt like camping, and Chet, who is 11, said the power outage was bringing our family closer. The third day tempers flared. We sniped at each other, hungry and cold. I came home from work to see the house was dark yet again, and I fought back tears. When my husband and the kids jumped out and said, "fooled you," turning the lights back on, I almost tackled the children. 

This is our second year living in Connecticut, and I swore we'd be better prepared for storms and power outages. Here are five tips to help your family prepare to ride out the storm.   

1. Don't freak out. Make a list and get going. The more I watch cnn.com and the Weather Channel, the more I feel the end of the world is coming. Print off a list and check off tasks as you complete them. Here are the government's suggestions to prepare for a hurricane in your area.  

2. Pretend the storm is an adventure. Kids will pick up on your anxiety. Instead pose the storm as a family challenge; you will get through it together as a team. This also makes helping out the grown-ups pick up sticks in the yard and move lawn furniture seem more like fun and less like a chore.

3. Assign specific tasks to older kids. Again, your kids will be more cooperative if they feel like they are part of the storm preparations. Give them a list (and maybe even a clipboard) of things to do. This might include finding flashlights and batteries or searching online for evacuation centers. 

4. Have a family meeting. Talk about everything that is going on. Information makes kids (and grown-ups) feel more in control, and you can talk about what will happen when the storm hits.

5. Decide whether to stay or go. A pro/con list works well. Assess how far evacuation zones are from your house and figure out the best places to go if needed-- friends' guest rooms or hotels. 

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