The past few years have been complicated for Houstonians. And that is trying to put as positive a spin on it as possible. From hurricanes and floods to freezing temperatures, it's always an adventure to live here, which is why there are some things always worth having on hand, even when the weather outside is sunny and 70 degrees.
Sure, it would be great to have a built-in generator or hydraulic stilts that automatically lift your house ten feet off of the ground in the event of a flood, but we're not all Jeff Bezos. And, honestly, simple things you can simply keep around in your home or garage all the time so you are ready when disaster strikes.
It is honestly one of the most simple and inexpensive things you can keep on hand. When the weather is nice and the store is stocked, grab a few gallons and throw them in a closet or garage. Whether you need it for drinking and cooking or to help keep your refrigerator cool (a couple frozen gallons in the fridge makes a big difference), you won't have to worry about the mad rush at the grocery store.
Candles, flashlights, any kind of illumination that doesn't require electricity is great. A lot of new flashlights come with USB rechargeable batteries, but for the one's that don't, store the batteries with them in a closet. These are also just handy to have around in the case of a normal power outage or searching for your cat, who decided to get into the crawl space in the bathroom somehow and you cannot see her when it's midnight and she's crying...but we digress.
Electrical Power and Cables
One of the great inventions is the Universal Power Supply or UPS. They used to be something reserved for big companies and server rooms, but now you can get them for less than $50 from most computer stores, Best Buy and Amazon. Not only are they great at keeping your computer (and internet) powered if power goes down suddenly, but a decent one will allow you to charge phones and other items for several hours. Add a few good extension cords to your list as well, particularly ones that are water resistant.
We aren't suggesting you rough it during the next storm. But, when you can pick up a butane- or propane-powered camping stove for about $30 online, why not get one? Even if you don't need it right away, the next time you want to cook and your electric range is just staring at you, laughing as you curse at your husband for not having gas put in the kitchen, these bad boys will do the trick. Great for boiling water as well. And, for warmth, consider some heavy blankets or a good sleeping bag. Plus, go camping somewhere and impress your friends!
For those who choose to cut their own grass (we simply refer to them as "crazy"), you probably keep a little gas on hand for the mower, etc. But, if you are fully electric or don't cut your own grass, consider grabbing a couple 10-gallon gas cans and filling them up. They can be stored safely in a garage or tool shed and provide you with extra fuel if you need to evacuate for a storm or simply sit in a heated car to charge your phone and listen to the radio for a while.
Most of us try to stay on top of our own medication and the like, but it can be easy to forget about the importance of pet care during a disaster. Obviously, up-to-date shots and vet care is important, but good leashes, pet carriers, extra food and blankets can be beneficial during the panic of a storm or evacuation. Whatever they need, they will need more once the power goes out and the rain (or ice) starts falling.
Anyone with a garden figured out this last week that a lot of Houston plants simply do not handle the cold well. What used to be a beautiful, green tropical plant is now a pile of smelly brown mush. For any potted plants, think ahead to how you can care for them. If you cannot move them indoors, do the same things you would for your in-ground plantings. Buy frost cloth. Sheets and tarps work, but frost cloth is insulated and an incredible protection. It's worth the investment. Also, buy cheap Christmas lights (the small white ones, but not LED, because they burn cool). You can run then around your plants and they will help to keep them warm during a freeze.
A Good List of Reliable Repair Companies
If you just became a homeowner, make note that your best friend is an address book filled with quality reliable plumbers, carpenters, air conditioning and heat specialists, electricians, and the like. When you find a good one, refer them to everyone and hold onto them as if your life depended on it. One day, it might.