Plant Shutdown Survival Guide - PLANNING

Part 2 of a series

As previously discussed, plant shutdown is a "vacation from your life".  You have to plan the logistics as though you were leaving town, but you're going to be living at work.  Like vacations, plant shutdowns are typically scheduled months in advance, which means you have time to prepare.  Each of the following bullet points will be discussed in more detail in subsequent blog posts, but this is the basic pre-shutdown planning checklist.  Pull out your calendar (or make a secondary Outlook/Google Calendar) and work backwards:



  • Pack breakfast/lunch components for the week for entire family
  • If not using freezer meals, have meal components prepped for week
  • Emergency contacts - at your desk and on the fridge
  • Clean out your car and have contents ready
  • Pack everything nonperishable for site in the trunk
  • Make sure family knows where all important information is (health insurance, et al)
  • Drop pets with petsitter / kennel, or ensure petsitter / dog walker has keys and necessities
  • Consider dropping stuff at your plant office
  • Attempt to relax - popcorn and Netflix
  • Set redundant alarm clocks


  • Confirm emergency child care, and backups
  • Confirm pet care
  • Finish lawn care / confirm lawn care
  • Finish laundry (including any ironing)
    • Have work clothes segregated and at the ready
  • Ensure all bills are prepped for the duration / set up to be paid
  • Final Grocery Shopping Haul
  • Ensure all prescriptions are filled
  • Set DVR
  • Check UPS on home computer


  • Clean out / prepare desk
  • Prep / repair / replace PPE
  • Clean all tools - find the lost ones
  • Clean out the fridge
  • Locate sleeping bag, air mattress
  • Gather travel toiletries
  • Start packing overnight bag
  • Make freezer meals for family


  • Meal planning
  • Complete the household inventory
  • Large grocery shopping trip
  • Start labeling your meal storage containers with initials
  • Check status of household UPS
  • Back up all work files to network AND cloud storage


  • Start arranging emergency child care for the duration
  • Also arrange for backups to emergency child care
  • Arrange for pet care
  • Arrange for lawn / home care
  • Inspect work wardrobe for shutdown-compliant dress code.  Shop to fill in gaps as needed.
  • Start the household inventory
  • Inventory work supplies - place order to fill in gaps
  • Start waking up 1 hour earlier than normal


WINTER HOLIDAY SHUTDOWN - adds an extra layer of complication. 

In the USA, the site will likely shut down completely for Christmas day, but don't plan on going very far.  You will need to be back at zero dark thirty the next morning.

In general:

  • Holiday gift shopping needs to be done by November 1.  Between Thanksgiving and the run-up to shutdown, you will not have time to shop.  No. Kidding.
  • Greeting cards need to be done by December 1. Again, you will not have time.  You'll be lucky to get them in the mail by December 20 otherwise.
  • Gifts to be shipped should also be out the door by December 1.
  • As much as it feels like sacrilege, just plan on taking a day during Thanksgiving weekend (if you're not on call) to wrap gifts, write cards, and get to the post office.
  • Family picture - may not feel festive, but it needs to be done no later than the third weekend in October. 
  • Decorating - first weekend in December or earlier.
  • Meal preparation - arrange to attend Christmas dinner or Latke night at someone else's house this year - or have your culinarily inclined spouse take over.
  • Trunk - add a snow shovel, salt, cat litter, flares, and snow emergency kit
I consider this list to be a baseline guide, and will add to it.  I absolutely want to hear readers' suggestions and survival tips, so please, drop me a line.  


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