I've been working on this Emergency power outage FAQ for quite a while. Every time someone writes to me and tells me that their power went out over night I start working on the FAQ again. I have finally finished it! :)
The power rarely goes out here (Toronto) and when it does it's usually no more than an hour so I *barely* have to worry... of course now that I've said that it'll probably go out for a whole day! Anyways, that's about the worst I have to worry about. Some of you, on the other hand sound like you could be faced with the possibility of a natural disaster on a yearly basis. :( Some of you may end up having your power go out because of electrical storms, snow storms (blizzards), floods, even earthquakes and hurricanes!
If you live in a house and have frequent power outages you may want to think about purchasing a back-up generator. it's expensive but if you ever have to use it for more than a day I'm sure you will feel you got your moneys worth out of it.
If you live in an apartment I would buy a propane or oil based type of heater. When facing a Hurricane you will be glad to have any of the above mentioned items on hand. :)
Other things you should have handy:
Extra pillow cases to put your herps in, so in a long emergency you can contain them, and at worst stick them under your shirt to keep them warm. Pillow cases are handy too if you have to transport them out of the area to a place that does have heat and electricity....
Store up a few plastic juice containers or milk jugs that can be filled with warm to hot water and put inside enclosures to add warmth to them.... You can also purchase some hot water bottles to use in the same manner. Of course if you have no way of heating the water this method will be useless to you except for in the first hour or two after the power goes out and while the water in the tank is still warm ... So you could either by a camping stove (propane stove), or if you have a gas barbecue you could use either of these to heat water after the power has gone out...
Remember too, you could also have a different kind of emergency in the hot weather ie your home is too warm, air-conditioning not working, you've turned off all sources of heat for your herps but the temps are still too high..... use those water bottles and fill them with ice or with cool water and put them in the enclosures to cool the air)
You could also get some of those "heat to go" heating pads that are filled with a gel. just flick the metal piece inside and the gel solidifies, reaches temps of about 110F and stays warm for about 4-5 hours.... they are reusable only problem is you have to heat them in boiling water or in the microwave to get them ready to work again.
Purchase a big box or two of those little packages that skiers etc. use to keep their hands and feet warm when out in cold weather. One brand is called "Hot Stuff" but I'm sure there are other brands out there. You should be able to find them in sports stores, ski shops, probably even hardware stores. They are small packages wrapped in cellophane. When you open the cellophane air will get at the chemical inside the package. All you have to do to get the chemical reaction going is to shake the package vigorously for about 30 seconds. They reach about 100 F and stay warm for 30 to 60 minutes or so. Downside they aren't reusable, they are small, and you will need a lot of them to really do any good 'specially if it's a long power outage.
Other than all of the above my next best idea would be to find a friend or relative that is not herpaphobic, and ask their permission to bring your gang to their home if their is ever an emergency ahead of time. Hopefully they will be living in an unaffected area. :) Or worse comes to worse- pack everyone up and sneak them into a motel or hotel in an unaffected area. :)
So I've covered generators, gas, oil and propane types of heating.... water heating and cooling.... and chemical forms of heat. I guess the generator should cover lighting but other than that my only suggestion towards lighting is to have lots of candles (another form of heat) and some flashlights around to help out. The herps will stress with improper lighting, but as you know the heat is much more important as far as a short term emergency goes.
Please don't wait for an emergency or a power outage to happen. Plan ahead now. Most herps cannot tolerate low temperatures for any length of time, even temps in the 60's F are too low for a lot of reptiles and amphibians. Have a plan, stock up on emergency supplies and protect your collection.
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April, 10, 2012
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