If a Storm Knocks Out the Power, Will You Be Able to Flush?

What do you need to do to get ready for an emergency?

by Mark Hubbard

Director of the Baltimore County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management

Ready? Set? Good!
That's the theme for personal preparedness when it comes to planning and being ready in the event of a local community or countywide emergency.  Several years ago, emergency management agencies throughout the Baltimore region developed the “Ready? Set” Good!” campaign as a way to spread the word that every household is responsible for disaster preparedness.

As you may know, June 1 is the start of hurricane season. And, of course, spring and summer weather increases the risk of severe storms.  These storms often cause power loss, local flooding or other community-specific problems.  Navigating the recovery process can be much easier if you take a few steps to prepare.
Don't laugh, but in my garage you will find a 30-gallon trash can filled with water. Why? Because in the event of a water outage, I need a ready supply of non-potable water to flush toilets.

Generally, you should have the following emergency supplies available: a gallon of drinking water, per person, per day, for three days; a battery-operated flashlight (kept within reach); and a battery-operated portable radio.  This simple kit will ease the pain of the first three days in the event of a prolonged power outage.

Many people also have portable generators, but you must be extremely careful to avoid the possibility of carbon monoxide fumes entering your home. Always operate generators outdoors and at least 15 feet from the home.
So here's your homework: Try to go three days without turning on a light switch or any electrical appliance and don't use the faucet.  See my point?  It's not fun.
To learn more about preparedness tips and plans, visit the Emergency Management web page at www.baltimorecountymd.gov/emergency

Have a safe and happy summer season, and let's hope for a calm hurricane season.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Bill McAllen June 06, 2012 at 03:26 PM
Very good points. I'm luck to have a 5000 gallon pond. Not to drink but to fill five gallon buckets of water that I can use to flush with.
K Blue June 06, 2012 at 06:52 PM
Nice article. For those of us without 5,000 gallon ponds, I find that filling the bathtubs with water prior to an possible outage works well.
Mike Pierce June 09, 2012 at 03:48 PM
Several years ago, my wife found me cleaning the bathtub to get ready for a hurricane. She didn't understand until I told her about filling it. This is something I learned in Florida. But if you're going to use this to flush the toilet, just make sure you're not on a system that depends on a pump in the basement to get it uphill to your septic tank.


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