Entertainment During an Emergency
Emergency situations aren’t always stressful and dangerous situations. As I write this article, I’m snowed in at my house for the third time this season. Fortunately, we didn’t experience a disruption in electrical service. One cold January in the mid-1980s, my wife and I were stranded at her parent’s rural house for four days without electricity. That’s when we learned to play bridge. In the spirit of full disclosure, I’m not a gamer and haven’t played bridge since. It kept us entertained during the winter storm, though.
After hours of playing bridge, we dug up some vintage board games. It’s a good thing my wife’s mother didn’t sell them in a garage sale! We played Life, Monopoly, Clue, and others for hours. Four days with no electricity can make people stir crazy. Without those old games and a deck of playing cards, it would have been very miserable. Having a distraction also keeps your mind off the absence of heat.
That experience contributed to my emergency planning. I have included an entertainment category in my plan. In addition to the classic board games and playing cards, I’ve collected additional games. It is an important part of my emergency planning.
Emergency Entertainment Party
One of the most intense hurricanes to make United States landfall was Camille. Mississippi experienced the brunt of the storm. I was in Louisiana in 1969 when she hit and will never forget the (black and white) images that were broadcasted on television. The more prominent memories being alligators in the streets and the remnants of a “hurricane party”. They planned to ride out the storm in their apartment building. The image was the remaining parts of a barely recognizable record player. The storm killed all the guests.
Following an EF4 tornado in Oklahoma, neighbors assembled for a neighborhood picnic. The electrical service was unavailable. They used grills to cook food that was going to spoil in their refrigerators. It lifted the spirits of the neighborhood, avoided wasted food and was a deterrent to possible looters.
There is a time to hunker down and a time to evacuate. Sometimes, you have the option to shelter in place or evacuate. That is a serious decision. This article is to help you prepare for situations when you need to shelter in place. Some of this information is applicable to evacuation scenarios, too.
Types of games and activities for emergencies
It’s wise to have an assortment of games and activity games. In some situations, you may be alone. Some games and activities are better with multiple players. Others can be enjoyed solo.
During an emergency, you may have limited or no electrical service. Having games and activities that do not require electrical power can make those situations more pleasant.
Emergency craft projects
You can take advantage of a situation to work on craft projects. My daughter did needlepoint projects each summer. We purchased kits throughout the year, so there is always an inventory of projects. Another craft activity our kids liked was weaving potholders. This requires the purchase of a kit and the weaving materials.
Our son’s summer projects included assembling model airplanes. We picked up model kits as they went on sale and usually had one or two kits on a shelf in the basement. Most required model glue, so keep some on hand. Sometimes the models needed paint, too.
There is a growing interest in adult coloring books. They require some colored pens or crayons. Some people prefer pens, but the ink in pens can evaporate. Crayons have an indefinite shelf life. If you prefer pens, it’s a good idea to have some crayons for backup. The same goes for children coloring books and materials.
Knitting was a popular hobby. You’ll need to pattern/instructions, a variety of needles and yarn. Wool yarn can be food for insects, so acrylic may be a better choice. This craft requires some practice. Learning to knit before an emergency will reduce frustration caused by learning from printed instructions and creating a sweater with three arms.
Another popular hobby is painting. This is a good solo activity. If you already have the materials, all you need is some light and inspiration.
Activities for pets
Don’t forget to entertain your pets. Some will require more effort than others. A pet snake may not need the same level of entertaining as a dog. Some situations will require you to stay inside your home. That can provide some challenges for large animals that need physical activity. It may be good to have some toys that are new to your pet. That could be a new version of a favorite toy.
Sources for procuring games and activities
Garage sales are a good source for acquiring board games. They don’t need to be in mint condition, but it’s a good idea to ensure that the instructions and all parts are included. Sometimes, you can download and print instructions from the manufacturer’s website.
Thrift stores usually have some games. I purchased a Jenga set at a thrift store for a couple dollars. It lacked the box and I didn’t count the blocks. There were enough blocks to provide hours entertainment. If games have moving parts, like boxing robots, be sure to test them. Thrift stores can be an inexpensive source for books and DVD movies.
Movies on DVD can provide a couple hours of entertainment each. Some have four different movies in one package. At large discount stores, there are frequently displays with $4 DVD movies. You can create a library of movies over time.
In our case, my wife’s parents had her childhood games. Check with grandparents and relatives for old games. You can give friends and relatives, especially people in your home, games as gifts. Build a collection of games and activities over time.
Physical activities during an emergency
Physical exercise can be a good way to occupy your time during an emergency. If you aren’t used to physical exercises, this isn’t the time to start. If you are fit, and have a doctor’s approval, this could be a good time to exercise. Most people feel better during and following an exercise routine. Some people may have some exercise equipment, but no equipment is required.
Exercise can warm you. If the temperature is hot, you may need to modify your routine to avoid overheating. It might be good to shower or use wipes following an exercise session.
Music tames the beast
If you can sing or play an instrument, you can entertain yourself and others. It is good to have some musical instruments available, in case someone else can play. Sheet music for various instruments is also good to have. Some instruments can be learned during an emergency. There are some beginner kits for recorder, harmonica, Irish tin whistle, and others. I acquired a couple acoustic guitars and a harmonica kit. You can also use inverted trash cans for a percussion instrument.
If you have the power, play music on device. Listening to your favorite music helps make an emergency more pleasant. Don’t count on online music services being available. Have some music available on local devices. Most music playing devices are powered by batteries. If they are charged, you can enjoy music even when the electrical service is unavailable.
In addition to food, shelter, and clothing, people need a stable presence of mind. I can testify that four days without heat or electricity can easily test your mental limits. The benefit of enjoying the situation with some entertaining activities is well worth the preparation cost. Adding an entertainment component to your emergency preparations is an enjoyable and calming part of prepping.
By Roger Eaton
Over thirty years of experience in information technology and over seventeen years of experience in emergency services converged to inspire Eaton to develop Prep Smartz, emergency management software and Prep Smartz Academy.