Remember last winter, when I was whining non-stop about the extreme cold, record-setting power outages, heating bills, etc? Yeah, me too. I vowed then and there, no matter how hot it got this summer, no matter how much my hair frizzed and I looked like an sweaty extra in a prison-chain-gang movie, I wouldnâ€™t complain about summertime heat. Letâ€™s face it, no matter how hot it gets, you can still drive (no ice on the roads), and in the 90+ degree heat, chances are excellent that power lines wonâ€™t cake over with ice and snap like thread.
So for a refreshing change of pace, Iâ€™m going to instead kvetch about other summertime weather phenomena (severe storms, tornadoes), and how you can prep your household â€“ frugally! â€“ for maximum peace of mind at minimal cost.
First thing to get: a backup generator. If you donâ€™t already have one, think about getting one. Hardware stores everywhere have them in stock, and my favorite online secondhand store (Craigslist) has dozens for sale near you. Best part about buying from Craigslist â€“ those generators are practically new, and usually at least 50% off!
Often, the current owner will detail how itâ€™s only been used for 12 hours total during the last power outage, and now theyâ€™re upgrading to the newer, bigger model (which will be outdated & ready for Craigslist this time next yearâ€¦but I digress). One of these discount beauties will save you big stress, multiple costly trips to a nearby hotel, everything in your refrigerator/freezerâ€¦ you get the point.
Biggest money-saving tip â€“ donâ€™t get sucked into buying a generator that will power everything (including the central air conditioning system) in your house â€“ itâ€™s unnecessary overkill. Make sure it can handle your kitchen appliances (except your clothes dryer, you can hang everything outside for free!), and go old school with a window air conditioner and box fans until the power is back up. Head to a hardware store online calculator to determine what size generator you need.
Next: a Weather Alert Radio. Itâ€™s uncanny how a good percentage of scary â€œget to the basement prontoâ€ weather happens in the nighttime hours while youâ€™re sleeping. Get yourself a weather radio thatâ€™ll go off every time severe weather is in your area. Theyâ€™re available everywhere, and usually cost less than $20. Itâ€™s great peace of mind. Side note: if youâ€™re in possession of a cell phone thatâ€™s more sophisticated than mine (99.9% of you fall into this category), then simply download severe weather alert apps directly to your SmartPhone â€“ just donâ€™t forget to bring the phone to bed with you at night!
Lastly: Batteries, in all sizes, and lots of them. Itâ€™s funny how many of us have all of the sophisticated software necessary to know what the weather patterns are anywhere on the planet, only to have us slapping every flashlight in the house against our palm in the pitch dark of a nighttime blackout, because the batteries have gone dead. Check your flashlights now to make sure theyâ€™re up to snuff, and have lots of extra batteries at the ready for when they inevitably die out.
Hereâ€™s to being fabulously frugally outfitted with all the equipment we need for another fickle summer weather season. Please Mother Nature, donâ€™t make us have to reach for it.
Kristen Hagopian is a Syndicated Radio Talk Show Host, Columnist & Author of Brilliant Frugal Living. She co-hosts WCHE 1520â€™s Morning Show, and â€œThe Kristen Hagopian Showâ€ airs Tuesdays at 4P. She resides in Chester County with her family. You can find her online at www.BrilliantFrugalLiving.com
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Generator photo: preparednesspro.com
Raio photo: amazon.com