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When the power went out, back when I was a kid, it was a time of screaming, stumbling to get to Mom and Dad in the dark, stubbed toes and bruised shins. And once we got to Mom and Dad, there were lots of candles involved. We had enough candles to supply Christmas Mass. These days I Don’t focus so much on having so many candles on hand—fire/ burn hazard and whatnot—as I do having a stockpile of Duracell batteries to power our lanterns and flashlights. I have also added one more bag to the roster under the 72 hour kits. This is all about how to #PrepWithPower.
Meet the Emergency Happy Bag.
When you’ve got kids even just power outages can seem monumental. They get scared. They get bored. They need something to help them feel brave and happy when the circumstances are less than ideal, so I’ve put some thought into creating just such a bag. Keep in mind that this does not replace your 72 hour kit.
First order of business for the Emergency Happy Bag is to provide light. Around here we get some crazy windstorms that knock trees on top of power lines. When shingles and siding get ripped from houses and become projectile they can be lethal. Listening to that kind of chaos raging outside while sitting in pitch darkness is bound to shake even the bravest of kids.
In my kit I included a bright LED lantern, as wells as fun little flashlights for the kids (both pictured above). I found both the lantern and the Hello Kitty flashlight in the camping isle at Walmart. And to make the flashlight a little flashier, the Hello Kitty flashlight handle lights up too. And obviously, I included lots of properly sized Duracells to power them.
*By the way, Duracell batteries have at least a 10 year shelf life, so you don’t have to worry about them losing their charge for a decade. And Walmart has an entire kiosk just for Duracell. This one was up at the front near the registers.
Second item of business, make the dark feel more fun. That is the sole purpose of the glow bracelets and stars and Frisbee. My kids will scream bloody murder if they get shut in a dark closet, but if they have glow jewelry they’ll purposefully shut themselves, along with all their friends, into a closet so they can admire its luminous properties in complete darkness. Glow in the dark stuff can make all the difference. Just make sure you have a lantern or flashlight you can charge it with.
I also included a game that we could all play together as a family. Nothing, not even glow in the dark bracelets, is more exciting to the kids than Mom and Dad sitting down and playing a game with them. That will probably not be the case in another ten years, but for now, it works.
Third item of business is to stave off boredom. Most of the time the power comes back on in just a few minutes, but when the outage lasts longer you’ll need a way to keep the boredom at bay. I’m not going to lie. A large portion of our entertainment happens electronically. Originally I thought we’d just put our electronic devices in the bag and make sure we have a way to juice the batteries.
Then I realized the problem with this mode of thinking.
We use them, a lot. We can’t just leave them in the Emergency Happy Bag. And when we’re trying to get out the door sometimes the thing that delays us the longest is searching the house for our LeapPads and tablets. In an emergency, we might not have the time to do a house search for our favorite electronics, nor would we want to do so with the power out.
Instead, it would be more logical to keep older electronic devices in our Emergency Happy Bag. We get newer iterations to replace our old devices all the time, and what happens to the older device? It floats around the house and serves no real purpose besides creating clutter. The important things to remember are making sure they are functional, that you have the batteries to power them, making sure you load age appropriate games on them every year or so, and that you have a way to charge them. I used older leap pads, an older eReader, and an old cell phone. Make sure to include your USB charger cords! This brings me to the crowning jewel of my Emergency Happy Bag.
The Duracell Mobile Power Inverter is the key to keeping our devices running when the power is out and the batteries get low. You can find several different options besides the one I found to suit your family’s needs on the Duracell website. The product I chose plugs into the power adapter in your car and it has a USB outlet plus a regular AC outlet. It can charge a tablet or a phone and my laptop at the same time. Magic!
These are the things I thought would be most helpful for keeping our kids happy and calm in an emergency. Obviously, your own bag will differ depending on the ages of your children, and what devices you have lying around the house, but having batteries and a mobile power inverter is almost a universal need.
Good luck creating your own Emergency Happy Bag!
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I’m a technological enthusiast with a completely unrelated degree in English Literature. I’ve also been known to dabble in photography and DIY furniture refinishing, with occasional stints of fitness sprinkled among all of the above.