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Organizing for Emergencies


Published: 07/13/2012

by Helen Buttigieg

Remember the blackout of Aug. 2003? It affected a large part of North America and will no doubt be remembered not only for the trials and tribulations it caused but also for the lessons it taught us.

While many commented on how nice it was to be outside talking with neighbours, spending quality time playing with the kids or simply enjoying the peace that comes from no TV, no computers and for some, no phones, others found themselves in frustrating, frightening situations.

As the warm weather approaches once again, the demands on electricity rise. Although it is impossible to be 100% prepared for every emergency we may encounter in our lives, there are a few simple things we can do now to save ourselves grief in the future.

The Ultimate Blackout Survival Checklist will help you organize yourself so you are prepared for any emergency. Building reserves will help you eliminate some fear and give you security and peace of mind, regardless of whether or not an emergency occurs.

The Ultimate Blackout Survival Checklist:

* Flashlight or solar lights
* Battery-operated radio
* Batteries for flashlight and radio
* Candles (use caution; never leave unattended)
* Lighter or matches
* Canned goods at home, high-energy snacks at work and in the car
* Manual can opener
* Bottled water
* Second gas tank for your BBQ
* Extra cash stashed in your home, your car and your wallet
* At least a quarter tank of gas in car at all times
* Windshield-washing fluid at least half full at all times
* Extra charged batteries for cell phone
* Instructions on opening your automatic garage door opener manually
* A change of clothing and some toiletries at work, in case you can't get home
* Booster cables, flares, blankets, water, candles, lighter and spare tire in the car
* Smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors and fire extinguishers
* Home evacuation plan
* Extra sets of house and car keys
* Comfortable walking shoes in the car or office
* At least two days worth of toilet paper, feminine hygiene products, deodorant and toothpaste
* Sufficient car and home insurance
* Stocked first aid kit in home and car
* Refill prescriptions for medications least three days before you run out.

Are you wondering where to store all this stuff? In a power-failure or other emergency, it is more important than ever to be able to locate and access what we need quickly and easily.

In a stressful situation, it becomes more difficult to think clearly and remember things, so it is vital that your supplies are labelled clearly and stored in a logical place.

When storing items, most people think "Where should I put it?" A more effective question to ask is "Where is the first place I would look for it?"

If space is limited, consider going through a junk drawer or some shelves and letting go of what no longer serves you. It will take some time to create space and build your reserves, but if you break it down in chunks and do a little each day, you will be amazed at how much you can accomplish. Have a look at the list and see what you already have on hand.

It feels good to check some things off right away. Each time you go to the store, buy a few items from the list and store them in the space you've made available. The time you invest will pay for itself many times over because, when seconds count, it pays to be organized.

Hellen Buttigieg is a professional organizer, coach and host of Neat on HGTV Canada. She is available for speaking engagements and can be reached by phone at 905-829-2219 or by e-mail at For more organizing tips, visit

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