I don’t know if you’ve ever lived through a major power outage, but I have. I live in a hurricane zone, so I guess it’s no surprise that I would end up suffering through a hurricane sometime. The one I got wasn’t one of the big, sexy ones which brought in FEMA agents and lots of non-profit agencies to help us recover, but it was bad enough that it took a week for our power to get back on, so we could put our lives back together.
You don’t really realize how much you need electric power, until you are left without it. As a society, we are addicted to electricity. Pretty much everything we do uses electricity in one way or another, even activities which we think aren’t electrified.
When the power goes out, you really notice it; and the longer it is out, the more things it affects. Life gets harder rather quickly, as we wonder how we are going to do even the basic necessities for survival, let alone the day-to-day activities we are used to.
Looking at the way things are in California right now, this may be something we all need to get used to. The rolling blackouts they are having right now are due to a series of errors, some made by the power company and some by the government.
The government blames the utilities for not properly maintaining their lines, while the utility companies are blaming the government for forcing them to invest the money that should have gone into that maintenance, into expensive green energy projects.
With the push for green energy projects across the country, PG&E may not be the only company that is behind on its maintenance. Now that the dam has been opened, we could see forced blackouts anywhere in the country where there is a risk of power lines causing wildfires.
Perhaps you can learn something from my experience. It sure has helped me with my planning since I went through this experience. So, I’ll break down the week here and give you an idea of everything that went wrong.
Related: Classified FEMA Report Confirms Preppers’ Worst Fears
When the Power Went Out
I first noticed that the power went out when my computer suddenly shut off. This wasn’t the first time that had happened to me, as power outages in the middle of a storm are fairly normal. I figured that the power would come on in a while and in the mean time, I could have a snack and watch the rain.
There was just one thing… the power didn’t come back on. As I sat there for hours, I counted all the work I wasn’t getting done and all the money I wasn’t making.
Meanwhile, since I live in the south, the temperature was rising. It had been 100°F outside before the rain started and it was rapidly heading that way inside. I opened the doors and windows that I could, without rain coming in, but there wasn’t enough airflow to cool the house much.
I guess that wasn’t as bad as being up north in the wintertime. While too much heat can kill you, too much cold is more likely to. People who live in colder climates than me and who don’t have any alternative means of heating their homes, like a wood-burning stove, are really taking a chance with their lives in the case of a major power outage.
Without power, we really didn’t have much light in the house. Most homes don’t have enough windows and mine is no exception. Between the lack of windows and the heavily overcast sky, it was hard to do much of anything.
Fortunately we had a gas stove, so cooking dinner wasn’t much of a problem. We had plenty of food and for the moment, the fridge and freezer were keeping things cold. We just had to make sure we kept the doors closed to keep that cold inside.
Had a hard time sleeping that first night, due to all the heat. For that matter, we had a hard time sleeping all week long. If I had been able to string up some hammocks we could have been cooler, but the only place I could do that was in the back yard, and it was still raining.
I work at home, so I obviously couldn’t work. But neither could my wife. The school she worked at didn’t have any power either, so she was stuck at home. The kids loved it, as kids will, seeing it as a vacation from their classroom. But even if the schools had been open, they would have been stuck at home, as our street looked like a lake; some problem with the stormwater drainage.
The big thing that confronted me that morning was the home’s sump. Without electricity, the sump pump wasn’t emptying it out automatically.
I had to tell the family we were switching over to emergency procedures and they’d have to use a five-gallon bucket toilet we had set up for emergencies. Fortunately, we use greywater recycling, so the water from most of the sinks and tubs went out into the back yard, not into the sewage system.
As afternoon rolled around, the water flow from the sink started diminishing and eventually came to a complete stop. We were without water. Fortunately, I had foreseen this and had stockpiled water. My rain barrels were full as well and I had a good water purification system.
The rain has finally let up… at least for the most part. We’re still getting some sudden rainfalls, but we’re also getting dry times as well. Maybe our street will finally dry out and I’ll be able to move the cars. But man, the humidity is horrible.
Up till now the food in the refrigerator has been doing good, as the insulation was enough to keep it cold. It also helped that I had the freezer full, so there was a large mass of cold food there to keep it cold. But today’s crunch day for that food. I’m going to have to start doing something with it or it’s all going to spoil. Time to fire up the smoker and smoke what I can. Too bad it’s too cloudy to use the sun’s power to make jerky.
Bathing is a challenge now, as we don’t have running water; and with the heat, we all need to bathe. I’ve spent a lot of time in Mexico, so I knew how to handle this. All it takes is a five-gallon bucket and a smaller plastic container, something that holds about two quarts.
To take a bath, you get a couple of gallons of water in your bucket and lock yourself in the bathroom, setting the bucket in the tub. You can wet yourself down by pouring water over yourself with the small container.
Once wet, it’s time to soap and lather. Then use the same container to pour water over yourself to rinse. The water is cold, but you don’t want to use more than you have to anyway. I can actually bathe and wash my hair with less than a gallon.
Of course, there are some family members who might not be all that happy bathing with cold water. I won’t mention any female’s names, but I’m sure you know what I mean. That meant heating up the water in a metal bucket on the barbecue grille. Fortunately, I’ve got a gas grill, in addition to the wood-burning smoker. I always keep extra propane on hand, as part of my survival preparedness.
By now I’d be worried about my firewood supply if I lived up north. Most people stack their firewood in the open, which means that it would have gotten soaking wet from all that rainfall. In olden times, most people either stacked their wood in a shed or built their homes with wide eaves, so that they could stack the wood up against the house, where the eaves would protect it.
Still working on smoking the meat from the freezer and canning the veggies. That’s a bit challenging on an open fire, but not all that bad. We’re using the gas barbecue grille for that as well, when we’re not using it for cooking. I hope my supply of propane holds out.
There’s enough sunlight that I can make jerky from some of the meat, rather than smoking it. I’ve already soaked it in brine, in anticipation of smoking it, so it has salt. That’s not as good for flavor as marinating it, but it will work fine for preserving it.
To make the jerky, I sliced the meat up and hung it over the clothes line. This is somewhat analogous to what the American Indians did, except they used wood racks, instead of a clothes line. Still, it’s the same idea and the meat seems to dry well, as long as the sun stays out.
Neighbors are starting to run out of food and have come knocking. That’s tough. I know many of their kids. Fortunately, we know this isn’t a TEOTWAWKI event, where we know the power won’t be coming back on. So I shared some food with them, giving them rice and beans from my stock, as well as some of the chicken that had thawed out.
I’m concerned about what’s going to happen in a few more days. People have already broken the windows in the local supermarket and raided it for food. What’s going to happen when that food runs out. The average supermarket only has three days worth of food on hand.
I’ve decided that my plans for alternative power were totally inadequate. The few solar panels I bought have barely been able to keep up with charging phones, flashlight batteries and a few other necessities.
If I had been able to power my fridge, I wouldn’t have had the panic to save my food. If I could have air conditioned at least one room in the house, we could have slept a whole lot better.
It’s more than just keeping cool so that we can sleep better; my wife’s heat intolerant. We normally have to keep her in the air conditioning pretty much all the time, except during our brief winter. Without air running, she’s been unable to do a thing.
I’ve been using evaporative cooling as much as I can to keep her cool, but that’s not enough. There isn’t any ice, or I’d be using that. The best I can do is keep her wet and in the breeze. At least at night it’s a bit cooler and she can move around.
People are starting to talk about organizing the neighborhood so that everyone can eat. I know what that means, it means that they expect me to share what I have. As best I know, there are no other preppers in the neighborhood, so I don’t know where all this food is supposed to come from, unless they are thinking I have enough to feed everyone.
Finally got all the food salvaged. But as much as I care for my fellow man, I didn’t do it for them. Besides, by the time you split up what was in my freezer through the neighborhood, we’ve got enough for one good meal, that’s it.
Related: How to Build Your Own Solar Panels
More people are coming around, asking for food. I don’t know these people, so I’ve been turning them away. Mostly I do that by telling them to go to the FEMA distribution center.
But as far as I know, FEMA isn’t here yet. If they are, it’s probably just to bring red tape. I haven’t seen anyone who has had food that came from FEMA.
Decided to do some scouting around today, so took the car out to see what’s happening. As best as I can tell, there are a few churches and non-profits up and running, trying to help people. That’s it. But I took that information back to my neighborhood and tried to spread it around.
Almost got carjacked while I was out scouting around. There has always been a lot of gang activity in the area, so I guess the gangs are getting active. I must have looked like an inviting target, driving my car down a nearly empty street. Fortunately, I saw them in time and gunned the engine, before they could reach me. A few twists and turns and I lost them. But it was close.
The radio has gone dead; we’re not even getting information that way anymore. Radio stations are supposed to have some sort of emergency power supply and a stock of fuel to run it. So I guess they ran out. We don’t even know if anyone out there is paying attention to what’s happening here, as we aren’t getting any reports back. It sure feels lonely.
Things are starting to get ugly. People are hungry and so are their kids. I’m starting to see others walking around with guns strapped on. I carry concealed, so I’ve been doing that all along.
But I doubt all those people have a concealed carry license. They’ve just decided to take it on themselves to carry a gun. And I have to say, they don’t all look like nice people.
Several of them got together and came up my walkway, looking like they were planning on taking over. Since I have a four foot tall hedge around my front yard, they were all bunched up, right there on the walkway… right where I wanted them. I stepped out on the balcony, while the family poked their guns out the windows. As I said, they were right where I wanted them… where we had the upper hand.
That was enough to get them to turn back, after shouting a few threats at the house. I’m sure they’ll come back, just as soon as they’re ready.
Later that Day
Thank God, the lights came back on. We have power once again. Things are starting to settle down. Where it was looking like we were going to have High Noon in the streets of our neighborhood just a few hours ago, things look civilized once again. People have put their guns away again. Some food trucks have shown up and I see smiles on faces once more.
So that was my experience. I’m glad it wasn’t any worse. But what about you? Have you lived through something similar? Have you had the lights go out? How did you handle it? How did your neighbors? What did you learn that you were doing wrong?
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To the author, will you share where you were at during this time? Which hurricane did you go through? Rita came right over my house but fortunately it was only a cat 1. The Texas coast did not fare so well as it was a cat 3 when it hit there. We were without electricity for close to a week as well but did not experience anything dangerous. We had a generator and were able to keep fridge and freezers going as well as a few lights and a fan. Never lost water so we bathed behind house under a high water spicket. Was cooler than in the bathroom. We live in a rural area so inside city limits were restored first after emergency installations. So grocery stores got back up and running after a few days. No damage to our house except part of roof torn up due to fallen tree. Since then two other hurricanes have come through but with minimal damage. Trees slow down storms. Anyway, sorry for going on so long. Was not a prepper at the time and very fortunate we could save food from spoiling. If not, it would have been a different story.
I went a whole summer without power, or water, in the Mountains. None of this happened to me.
I’ve said this before. People are going to be your biggest problem. More people, more problems.
They will call a prepper crazy until they need, no, expect you to feed them. Then you better hand out all you got. NOPE!
I agree completely, Jabbba. People will be our biggest problem once we get into an extended grid down situation lasting more than a couple of weeks. Especially our so-called friends and neighbours. And this aspect of prepping has been discussed ad nauseum on these pages. But it’s only natural. What do we expect when our neighbours/friends and their children are really starving? Parents will do ANYTHING to keep their children safe. Including killing you and I if they get the idea that we may have extra food on hand and we’re not sharing it with our “buddies”. I hope Claude lets this go through because this is not going to be a popular post. All the prepping advice that we’re getting from Claude is related more to short-term crises such as hurricanes, tornadoes, floods and the like. Short term natural disasters. And that is not meant to diminish in any way the wonderful advice we’re able to glean from these pages. But there’s no bloody way in hell we can prepare for a true end of the world scenario. A true global extended grid down scenario lasting months or even years. That will be true hell on earth. What’s left of the seven billion will be busy fighting for survival and every last useful scrap left. Not something I want to contemplate. It won’t matter how many weapons or bullets you have or how well you think you’ve prepared. However it comes to pass, unless you’re already living off the grid well away from the major population centres you’re not going to have a hope in hell of surviving very long. People think that they can drive to their BOL once the crisis happens. Good luck with that unless you have at least an hour’s extra notice of the impending crisis before every one else. Once the crisis hits there will be many other people having the same idea as you. To get out of dodge as quickly as possible. The result. Total grid lock. I had first hand knowledge of what happens when EVERYONE is on the streets at the same time. It was some kind of sporting event. Once it was finished everyone hit the streets at the same time and this was only for some sporting event. Total grid lock. Can you imagine if everyone is panicking and trying to leave the city at the same time. Complete and utter chaos. If you’ve already confided in some of your friends and neighbours that you’re involved in prepping you’ve basically signed your death warrant. I confide in NO ONE! It’s tough. I want to tell my friends but I know if I do then if IT happens then they’ll come “knocking” on my door and take whatever I have for themselves. As far as they’re concerned I’m an older person that knows nothing and has nothing. They think I’m poor and harmless. That’s the way I like it. I’m resisting the urge to fix up things like the driveway. That’s a very visible indication that I may be more well off than they think. Loose lips sink ships. As difficult as it is keep your activities to yourself other than your wife/husband and of course your kids. Make sure your kids understand the importance of what you’re doing and especially the importance of NOT sharing that info with ANYONE outside the family. Your lives may depend on it. Let’s all hope and pray it never comes to pass.
I completely agree. The sad thing is even IF everyone did prepare for disasters or SHTF or TEOTWAWKI or WWROL, (and we know they don’t) there is still going to be people that loot and steal and kill.
Like you said if we want a fighting chance, the best place to be when it all goes down is to be already living at your BOL full time.
Jabba, I hear that ! People have been aware of the necessity to prepare for long long time. Shame on them if they didn’t take the time to be as prepared as possible…Expecting me to feed them? Oh Hell No….They will be shot. No questions asked. I live very rural and I don’t anticipate much of a problem but one never knows. In that type of situation a man will have to make very difficult decisions. Best way to go? Prep!
Does this mean those people who tell you: ”I don’t have to prepare, because I have guns and know where you live” don’t impress or scare you? LOL.
I tell them that their attitude could be dangerous to their health and they should pay particular attention to the colored rocks along the property boundary as they enter.
Some understand and some still look dumfounded.
That is funny..ROFL… I bet most don’t get it (colored rocks)…
I’ve come to realize that if you aren’t practicing, I mean everyday what you think you will be doing in a SHTF scenario, good luck doing it then. Good luck farming Bloomberg. It ain’t that easy…
To all of you commenters: WHY do you keep QUIET about prepping? So NO ONE knows that you have extra food and etc!!!! Never heard of OPSEC? Read up on it!
No one knows what I do…except my children and they live a long way away.
DON’T BRAG ABOUT WHAT YOU HAVE TO ANYONE! AND don’t talk about it with family members with anyone in hearing distance …
You are now a known target and your prepping has become a liability. Its time to move or invest in perimeter reinforcements. Those same charity people you helped will make you the first place they go next time. Good to hear you didn’t have to go the extra step.
I agree, snowmonkey. Once you’ve let it be known that you’re involved in prepping activities you may as well hang a sign outside the door and become a McDonalds franchise. 🙂
I have been involved with emergency response since 1965 when I joined Red Cross. I have worked the East Coast, Gulf and Mid-West. Hurricanes, Blizzards, Tornadoes,Floods, Fires, and More.
I also have been teaching Emergency Preparedness , Disaster Medicine and Survival courses.
You are 100% right, folks know who you are and I would say most the time make fun of you. They know you have the things they want and friends and neighbors will come take it. I have seen it. I have told folks in the past, any extra I may have, you can go to the local church and get what they will give you. NEVER GIVE ANYTHING OUT AT YOUR HOUSE.
Folks do talk and bad folks listen. If it gets down to it, if you show a weapon, you better be prepared to use it.
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I’m going to post Biohazard signs… and have those red biohazard bags laying around outside… Smart people will stay away. Dumb ones get lead poisoning.
I’m going to tape a Biohazard sign and have those red biohazard bags strewn around the doors. The Smart ones will stay away the dumb ones get lead poisoning
I guess I really should take the concealed carry class and rejoin the gun club I left many years ago. Thanks for the article it may have got me off my a**. As a therapist for years I can tell you there is a lot that folks don’t show on the outside. Not the crazy hidden murderer stuff on movies more of an entitled I am better than anyone else and I can take his/her stuff attitude. Those guys could have hurt you and walked away with your stuff feeling completely justified. Not even any remorse later. religion, manners training and respect training help to keep us all on track in tough situations but many folks do not get any of that today. So it can get real dark when the usual social rules are suspended. Thanks good article.
I don’t know of any way to have enough electricity to survive a TEOTWAWKI situation, but here is what will work for a few weeks to maybe a few months.
Depending on how many solar panels and how much propane you have.
A 5000 watt or higher DC to AC power inverter, with as many deep cycle batteries as you can afford, and have room for.
A few solar panels, and a 4000 watt dual fuel generator to recharge the batteries during the day time.
The solar panels are optional.
Use the inverter on batteries for silent running at night, so no generator noise at night makes it easier to sleep, and attracts no unwanted attention.
A 5000 watt or higher inverter is plenty to power an entire house, but not 220 volt appliances.
4 12 volt deep cycle batteries powered my entire house for well over 15 hours before needing to be recharged.
Also get one of those large 150-250 gallon propane tanks, as that will be worth every cent it costs, and I consider that to be a must have, not an option.
Unless you are lucky enough to have piped in natural gas.
That way you only need gasoline for the car.
I used this setup for a week with no problem, and could run everything in the house except the Central AC, electric clothes dryer and water heater.
My 150 gallon propane tank could probably run the generator for 6-12 day time hours for 2-3 months.
If you are lucky enough to have well water, then it can also easily run the well pump, so you would have water too.
My entire setup cost around 1200-1300, and is worth every cent of it.
Some good info Dan. I would disagree about the solar panels though. Conventional fuel will eventually run out, so use as little as possible while augmenting with solar.
Also, most well pumps run on 220 V. Anybody have a good solution for that ?
I agree that solar panels may not be optional, and they are in my setup, but depending on your budget, they could be optional. I found that the 4 150 watt solar panels, (600 watts total) I had were not enough to charge the 24VDC deep cycle battery bank every day, unless it was totally clear all day, which is not often enough to count on in most places. Solar is supplemental power, not primary power, since you would need at least 5 KW of panels to be worthwhile for primary power, which is costly, depending on your budget. Not to mention the southern exposure needed, which is problematic in some situations.
Also, 220V inverters are available, they just cost a lot more than 110V inverters, so 220VAC can be done with a larger budget, that will also require more batteries.
Plan on at least $1000 for a good hefty 220VAC inverter.
The big Trojan 6 volt deep cycle batteries are the best, but about $300 each, and you need at least 4 to make 24VDC that most 110VAC inverters need. The 220VAC inverters need 48VDC, so that means 8 of those big guys for $2400!
I took the low budget route with the Walmart 12VDC marine batteries at $80 each.
It all comes down to the amount you want to spend on it.
Still, the best approach is to run on batteries at night, and recharge them during the day, in any way possible.
I also rigged up a power transfer switch to power the main breaker panel without having to run cords all over the place. 8)
As regards your concerns about well pumps, Ic65, if I remember correctly I believe you can put in a manual pump even if you have a fairly deep well. For those of you that know more about this if I’m incorrect please let me know or if I am right please add your comments to help Ic65. Thanks.
You can get a dedicated low volume solar pump or a smaller 110v pump. Them pump into a large tank which will gravity feed your house or use another shallow well pump to boost pressure. That way it will all be 110v and give you more options. There are also high quality hand pumps that I have seen stories about people using to at least 400ft.
HELLO and I like all the great posts here.
I have followed this website for quite a while, but this is my first post, as I don’t believe in keeping something to myself that can possibly help so many people.
I have always had water wells, and I have discovered a fairly easy way to pump water from it, even with a well pump installed, and even whether the powered pump is running, or not. The answer is cutting a ‘tee’ into the suction line from the well, that brings water from the well into the pump. On the center of that ‘tee’ you will install an in-line check valve that lets water pass out THROUGH it from the center of the ‘tee’, but does not allow air to go back the other way into your pump. Then, install a 2nd check valve going the same way as the first, and finally, install a hand ‘pitcher’ pump on the end of that line, which can be run quite a distance (I have mine about 100 feet out !). I actually have TWO hand pumps installed on one line, with this setup, and it does not affect my ‘powered’ well in the least.
That’s a great idea. I already use check valves on some of our systems like the sump pump outlet, so this could be a relatively easy add, although the system using a pitcher pump would be limited to wells with a static water level of around 33 feet or less (shallower) since pitcher pumps use ambient air pressure that has that limit.
Flojak It’s a well hand pump. Says it will pull water up from 150′. I don’t have one but it’s on my list.
Our well is solar powered. We installed the panels and deep cell batteries after being without electricity for 2 weeks. Our generator powered our house but we had to bring water in from our son’s who still had electricity. Real life situations show you where you need to do better. We certainly learned from our experience. Hopefully we are bettered prepared now not only with our solar power but in other areas we found lacking.
12 Volt battery set up with solar panels or if needed a generator. The well it is on is at fellow instructor home here in North Idaho. Well is about 175 feet deep. There is also a hand pump good for 300 feet.. You need to make a longer handle to bring the water up. Factory Handle wont do it.
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Thank you especially for the bit about the longer handle. So solar panels are practical in an area like northern Idaho? What will 1 12v battery power? Also, this may sound dumb, but do 2 12v batteries generate twice as much power or do multiple batteries somehow generate more than the sum of their parts?
That depends on the battery type & rating. Many UPS units use Gel Cell”</strong batteries, designated SLA AGM (Sealed Lead Acid, Absorbed Glass Mat) available in various ratings & sizes. The most common is the NP7-12, that is rated at 12 volts DC @ 7 Amp Hours, which means theoretically they will provide 12 VDC @ 1 amp for 7 hours, 7 amps for an hour, or 500 ma (0.5 amps) for 14 hours; but, in real applications they do not behave exactly like this and most start with a voltage of 13.8, with the voltage dropping over time as they discharge.
Since power in watts is the product of the voltage (volts) and current (amperes) a simple calculation may be made as follows. A 12 volt, 25 watt incandescent light bulb that might be used in an RV application needs 25 watts to run, so @ 12 VDC, it requires 2.08 (25/12) amperes, and when connected to a fully charged NP7-12 should operate for approximately 2.9 hours (7 / 2,08). Equipment requiring more power will draw more current and operate for less time.
Batteries do not generate power, only store it; but, multiple charged batteries do provide more power to a system.
Using the NP7-12 example above, a pair connected in parallel (+) terminal connected to (+) and (-) terminal connected to (-) will now provide 12 VDC @ 14 amp hours, or twice the power.
Alternatively, a pair connected in series (+) terminal connected to (-) and the dual battery providing power from the free (+) & (-) terminals will provide 24 VDC @ 7 amp hours, still twice the power.
I have small UPS units that use a single NP7-12 and large ones that use 6 or 8 of them.
My large UPS units with 8 batteries in series providing 96 VDC are easier / more efficient to step up to 120, than from only 12 VDC.
I hope this wasn’t too confusing.
I remember learning about basic electricity in school back in the day. Bet they don’t teach that now, too busy letting kids out to protest whatever. Will hit library and freshen up then learn about the various kinds of batteries and thanks for reminder that they store and do not generate. Really appreciate your taking the time to answer my questions. Great stuff!
Thanks! (Thumb’s up didn’t work on this post for some reason.)
Etrailer.com has generators for 220v water wells. I bought one a had a pigtail installed on my water well so that the generator could be used if necessary. I hope that never happens, but I’d rather be prepared.
You can buy a 1 HP jet pump from Lowe’s that will run on either 120V or 240V AC. I’ve got one on my well now.
Here’s another tip…
As long as your foot valve is in good working order, you can disconnect your pump and simply raise and lower your well pipes by hand and this will force water up the well pipes! Make sure not to drop them down the well and have someone standing by with a bucket to catch the water.
No noisy generator to attract the attention of looters!
We cover the well pump issue with oversized pressure tank storage. Using duel tanks we store a lot of water above ground under pressure for sinks and toilets. The big generator can power the pump with no problem but uses a lot of fuel. With restricted water use (limit flushes and sponge baths) we can go three days on the dual tanks (same logic as filling a bathtub bladder but automatic). Every third day run the generator to fill the tanks, water garden, take quick showers or baths then turn the big generator off. As an alternative you can get 220VAC inverters. Wire it to your battery string along with your 120VAC inverter using a marine battery switch (1, all, 2). With the oversized tank storage leave the 220VAC “off” until a sunny mid-day then turn it “on” to fill the water tanks again. This works if you have a small limited DC generator (such as a manual unit) also. You can charge the batteries over a longer time frame and then use that stored energy at an optimal time for pumping or for some luxury items like washing machines.
Thank you for that, Dan. I was wondering how many batteries it would take to keep a household running. 4 seems like a good number. And obviously you’re right. I also don’t know of any good way to provide electricity if we get into a true global extended grid down situation that might last for years. Just a few comments if we’re unlucky enough to experience TEOTW. At that point a large propane tank might become a very inviting target for someone trying to break into your house. A couple of shots into the tank and then they just throw an ignition source at the tank like a torch or burning rags. That will ignite the escaping propane and more than likely cause it to explode. If you are seriously planning to have such a large propane tank make sure it’s completely secure and easily defendable. Otherwise it’s just a big liability. Once we get into a true global crisis then even natural gas won’t help us as the compressors to move the natural gas also need electricity. No electricity. No natural gas. Same thing with a well. No electricity. No pump.
Yes, unless you live on an already fully operating farm, that is away from everyone else, no one will survive an end of the world event. It will be a matter of attrition, where everyone dies off slowly but eventually, as everything eventually runs out or wears out. Even a fully operating farm may not stay operational when all fuels run out, unless you are prepared to run it the old fashioned way, with only animal power.
I have had small backyard gardens, which are nice to have for supplemental food, but never enough to survive on completely for many years.
I have already accepted that fact, and just prepare for temporary, 2-3 month outages.
As for the large propane tanks, they are obviously not out in the open in the front of the house, and can only be seen in the back, where anyone there is considered an intruder, and a threat to be eliminated or neutralized…
That also shows where good perimeter defenses are valuable. As mentioned, all petroleum fuels will eventually run out, then attrition takes over, and everyone will be living on borrowed time…
I’m not sure how this would allow someone into your house?
Shooting a propane tank will only cause it to begin to leak, potentially causing a BLEVE (Boiling Liquid Expanding Vapor Explosion); however. The shooter can easily be trapped within the conflagration unless they do this remotely. The propane liquid will vaporize into a gas that is heavier than air, and will spread out as an explosive vapor cloud hugging the ground, in all directions, with the ignition causing a FAE (Fuel Air Explosion). The largest non-nuclear military device called MOAB (Massive Ordinance Air Burst aka Mother Of All Bombs) is a similar FAE type ignition.
Also, tanks are not generally kept close to the residence.
My 4 tanks are more than 200 feet off the road and hidden behind an out building seen here: http://www.theohioprepper.org/NewBuilding/MvbShed19.JPG
50 feet behind the building over a fence is a 30 foot drop off into the creek, meaning access to my tanks is limited; but, covered with wireless intrusion sensors and security cameras and within firing distance of the house.
Actually, many of those compressors run on natural gas, drawn from the pipelines they compress, so as long as the gas is flowing, it will continue to flow. Problems at the wellhead could of course stop this whole system.
True there and a good reason to have a generator, well bucket, hand pump, &/or alternate water source and filtration.
Underground propane tanks are common. Mine is 1000 gallons and can be filled to 800 gallons (or 900 gallons if you know the propane guy well) due to being temperature stable (no solar heating). 800 gallons last a year for a 2400 sq ft house using propane heat and cooking located in northern Arkansas.
Really found Rich M.’s article a great reminder that NOW is the time to prepare. I have looked at a variety of generators, but don’t know what I’m looking at or what each one would power. I would appreciate someone pointing me to a good reference that would give the basics. Thank you!
Unfortunately, Govtgirl, the time to start preparing was at least 20 years ago. Generators are a problem as in a true EOTW situation they will run out of fuel sooner rather than later. And the noise they make while running will only help to attract looters. And for those of you seriously considering a power source whether generator or batteries I would suggest something along the lines of blackout curtains for your windows that they used in the middle of the blitz. If you’re the only house that has lights and power in your neighbourhood you may as well paint a bulls-eye on your front door. Back to your queries, govtgirl. I don’t have a good reference about the different types of generators. But even this website should have a lot of useful info about the different types of generators and their respective pros and cons. But what I would suggest to you, govtgirl, as a more viable solution is to look into deep cycle batteries. Solar panels and the associated wiring to make it all work. And as Dan mentioned four good deep-cycle batteries are enough to keep a house going except for the 220V stuff. I would forget about generators and do some research on batteries, inverters, solar panels. Remember the curtains even if you’re only running around with lanterns or flashlights. Hope this helps to point you in the right direction. Good luck!
Thanks, Armin. Will educate myself about these. I built a crude solar oven one summer when we lived in Oregon and couldn’t even cook a tube of Ballard biscuits in it. I need to do some extensive reading as each method has its pluses and minuses. One thing for sure, ignorance won’t get me there
I agree on the timing to start being prepared; but, in any case, there is no time like the present, since it’s never too late to get started.
I agree on generators eventually running out of fuel; but, it depends on the scenario as to how long until civil order and society is back running, and history show us it always will, eventually.
As for the noise of a genset and your neighbors being attracted, it depends on the equipment, its placement, and the neighborhood.
My 16 KW Generac cannot be easily heard until you are nearly on top of it, because it’s relatively quiet and it’s placement behind the house baffles most of the sound and traps it close. Also, my neighborhood being rural has neighbors at least 50-100 yards from me, and those people know about the genset and are part of our MAG. Each person must evaluate their own situation and act accordingly.
We have blackout curtains for the front windows that are most likely to be seen from the road; but, once again our neighbors are all rural, making them preppers by definition if not by label, and we are all in the same MAG.
First of all you need to determine the electrically powered devices and appliances that are absolutely necessary.
In our case that is the well pump, the sump pump, refrigerators and freezer, and some lighting and communications equipment.
We have an electric clothes dryer and an electric heater in the bathroom; but, these would not be used during a grid down, since they require too much power.
While it’s less convenient, we can air dry clothing and have alternate heat for the bath.
An online calculator like this one:
Once you find the size of the generator you require, you need to decide how much work you are ready to take on. My first generator (an Onan W2C military surplus device used gasoline and had a crank to start it; but, was inexpensive when I purchased it.
My second generator was / is a Champion, 3500 / 4000 peak portable gasoline system, if portable means takes two men to carry it. This system can be set outside near a door or a window, runs on gasoline and has to be started manually with a pull cord, like a lawn mower. It’s kept fueled from cans of gas. Running a bank of heavy duty extension cords into the house to power the needed items can be done, and many do this (as we did); but, it’s a bit of work and a real pain.
You might also just contact Generac (http://www.generac.com) to find a local dealer that can come out and do a survey. They have a program running on a table or smart phone that allows them to enter you appliance information, provide the system requirements, and give you a quote.
Generac often runs infomercials on late night TV, often with special offers. My system, installed in 2016 came with a free 7 year extended warranty, to sweeten the deal.
There are of course other generator vendors you may check with; but, I found Generac to be the all around best value. They are also carried by some local Home Depot stores, so asking there might get you your answers.
Thank you. Will do some homework then see what is out there.
Thank you. I really appreciate your information and now understand where to start. Very helpful.
I have purchased a number of very good used gensets for the radio stations I work for. I have also learned a number of things doing this. Sizing of the genset can be done by asking your power utility for a year long monthly peak demand chart. Get one that meets the highest peak +10% to run your whole house. You can use smaller gensets by turning off high demand items. (remember motors have a high inrush current that your genset will have to meet so they can start). I have also learned that Cummins, Caterpillar, and Kohler are good brands. We have had nothing but trouble with Generac, but I have heard of good household experiences with them. They are cheap, I will give them that. As to used gensets, it is very easy to find them on the interweb. First find the size you need, the fuel you want to use, and then look for a good price for the fewest hours run. Make sure you get an outdoor enclosure if you need one. I have purchased 35KW Cummins propane gensets with only 100 Hrs for $5K. These were pulled from nursing homes in California because they did not meet the emission standards there. I have also purchased a 250 Hr. 75 KW Cummins propane for $8K , added an outdoor enclosure and converted it to natural gas PLUS a new automatic transfer switch installed for a total of $25K. One thing I did do that cost an extra $1k was I picked these up myself so I could inspect them prior to handing over the check. I live in Nebraska and drove to Medford Or. for one, and Albemarle, N.C. for the other. Saved a ton, and had a mini vacation to boot. The deals are out there if you do your homework and keep checking the interweb for used gensets.
I prefer a propane. Clean fuel all the time. I had a 1000 gallon tank on mine. Also went to my backup gas furnace.
We use propane for our gas furnace, 2 ventless heaters, domestic hot water, and cooking. We have 3 1000 gallon tanks & a single 500 gallon tank and love it.
Owning your own large tank(s) means you can purchase from any supplier in bulk and get the best prices, generally in summer.
There are 2 problems with propane.
1) It is less efficient than gas and diesel.
2) It is much more difficult to transport yourself.
Look at the rating on gasoline propane gensets and you will see the same set is rated lower on propane.
If you use gasoline or diesel you can transport the fuel yourself easy enough and that may be important in a longer outage.
You do have a small point here since the energy contained in a gallon of each fuel or equivalent is different.
1. Propane: 91,500
2. Gasoline: 115,000
3. Diesel: 139,000
4. Natural gas: 83860 (1,015 per ft3 @ 82.62 ft3 per gallon)
So Diesel & Gasoline do have slightly more energy than the propane equivalent.
That is also true, and the reason I purchase thousands of gallons at a time each year, delivered free. Last summer we purchased 1423 gallons, the amount we used the previous 12 months @ a cost of $0.959 (95.9 cents) per gallon, significantly less cost per gallon than either gasoline or diesel.
Perhaps; but, for a longer outage, gasoline and diesel will degrade, even with the addition of fuel stabilizers like Stabil, PRI-G or PRI-D.
Propane OTOH kept in a seal tank does not degrade and will store indefinitely with no additives or special treatment. Open a propane tank after a few years and it will work fine; but, open that sealed stabilized can of gasoline after a few years, and half of what you have is shellac.
I also am in a hurricane zone. I was around for Camille , Frederick Katrina, Ivan , and a dozen others small and middlin. Cat 1 is a fart in the wind Cat 2 ’bout the same Cat 3 Wakeup Call, Cat 4 Where ya goin? Cat 5 Complete SHTF
Don’t scoff at a cat three, it devastated the Texas coast when Ike rolled through. It was a one when it went over my head and fortunately it was just a few tree limbs to clean up. Houses were destroyed, boats thrown for blocks, electricity out for weeks. Food lines everywhere. It was terrible
I pretty much agree w you….I go back to Audrey…Pretty much been in most of them since…gets routine almost, after awhile…only things that change over time is the equipment selections and how mean people get🤦♂️…Regards 👍
Yes! IN 2007 here in SD 1900 elec. poles went down in a ice storm just after Thanksgiving!! It was my first 9 mos. of living here. I am alone so I went out to see if others had elec. and no ne did ,but the side of town that was hooked up to the same power line that the hospital did. It took 2 weeks before our lights came on. For the 1st 2 days we had nothing then after the that we had every 2 hours we had one hour of elec. until they got the poles back up and working! Here most people have elec. EVERYTHING!! I tried using my camp stove, but found out the fuel in it was bad! It was so cold here that the refrig lasted long enough to stay cool until we had our one hour of elec. each day. I do not remember loosing any food. I pulled out my cards and played with during the day and at night we just had candles which mine were all different fragrants and I became sort of sick from smelling them for so long! I can no longer use them just non smelly ones. LOL! iT WAS HARD BUT WE ALL MADE IT THRO. I would hate to have to go any longer I know things would get really bad like you went thro. But as things are getting so terrible out there these days I know is going to happen!!! EVERYONES NEEDS TO BE READY AND HAVE ENOUGH SUPPLIES TO KEEP THEM SELVES EQUIPED AND READY!!! DO NOT DEPEND ON OTHERS TO FEED, AND CLOTHES YOU!!!!
I agree you have to weary and ready the best you can. I live in Alabama where the April 26th tornados ran amuck. Fortunately I had a small 1.5kw generator enough to power the freezer or refrigerator one at a time and a few lights or the tv. So I just alternated plugging into the generator. Once I was stable I ran a long extension cord to the neighbors one at a time to charge their needs. I did this during the day every few hours. I also had a small battery bank 4 Marine batteries, 500w solar pannels and a 1kw inverter. I also had two coleman stoves. One for propane and one for fuel. By the way the fuel stove worked well on alcohol and using unleaded gas to cook outside. All of that worked for me at night for fan and tv and lights. My local area of about10 sq miles was affected but, you could drive into the next county for your needs. Power was out for 5 weeks.
When you say alcohol, do you mean something like ever clear?
I just wanted to jump in here w my JMO on alcohol put backs
Rubbing alcohol we store in bulk…all 3 dilutions are good to have…
Peroxide get old and has to be thrown away…
Booze I store 2 ways…I get cheap vodka in plastic 1/2 pint bottles for less than 2 bucks; great for bribes/gifts/tribute/trade after SHTF and some ( much better) other stuff for ceremonial/celebration occasions…partying is gonna be a major no-no…cant ever let your guard down…A toot is sometimes called for, even in the worst of times however, and what might be my last taste ever isnt going to be cheap vodka if it can be helped.
But that cheap stuff will be pure gold to an alcoholic that hadn’t had a drink in a week…trade for all sorts of stuff and it keeps forever..
Since you used no attribution, I assume you mean Don’s mention of his Coleman stove working not only on Coleman fuel and unleaded gasoline; but also alcohol, when he states: ”By the way the fuel stove worked well on alcohol,”
Any alcohol including Everclear would work fine; but, Everclear is a bit expensive for burning, unless it’s all you have in an emergency to save your life.
Isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol or methanol, like this Klean-Strip Denatured Alcohol, 1 Quart from Wal-Mart for less than $7.00 a quart (946 ml) is much more cost effective than Everclear @ something like $20.00 for a 5th of a gallon (760 ml).
I keep the Everclear for making tinctures, and burn the less expensive varieties in that same Colman dual fuel stove. Keeping in mind that since alcohol is more volatile than Coleman fuel, more care needs to be taken when using it in that stove.
A pool noodle on the 5-gallon bucket is not sanitary. It’s impossible to clean. Spend the $10 to get a real toilet seat for a bucket. I assume that if both you and wife work you probably have two vehicles. Why not jerk out a battery and put it to good use? Charge the necessities from that if needed. Car batteries are not deep cycle but it won’t hurt to take them way down a few times. Never, ever, ever give away food – it marks you. If you want to help a neighbor, drop it off on the front porch anonymously, ring the bell and run like hell – not to be seen. Glad you came through it OK. Time to make a few new strategies for the next time, Thanks for sharing.
Agree with you completely about the food aspect, MsKY. We can’t afford to be nice when it comes to a life or death situation. Could cost us our own lives. The veneer of civilization that we’re all covered with is very thin and in a true crisis is sloughed off quite conveniently. Dropping off food anonymously sounds like a good idea but I’m not quite convinced of the value of that. They WILL wonder where the food came from and obviously do everything they can in order to uncover the source of that food.. In a true EOTW situation if you’re looking fairly well fed and healthy while everyone around you is slowly starving to death then that’s kind of giving the game away. If we do have extra food on hand then we’ll have to severely ration ourselves so that we more or less blend in. The end of the world will be just that. Chaos and anarchy until we’re all able to collectively pull ourselves out of the mire. That is, if we’re able to successfully restart civilization.
I live in a rural area and have been without power for up to 2 weeks several times since I was a kid. It’s no big deal here. I always have 2 yrs firewood for the stove, propane for the camp stove, kerosene for the lamps, and a very small Honda generator (2K) to run lights and keep my freezer/fridge going. I have a large gas tank for my pickup and gen. The last time I kept accurate track of my fuel consumption over 10 days and figure I have enough to go for about a year without food spoilage. Toilets are no problem just use a bucket to flush by dumping right into the bowl, bypassing the tank. I have neighbors but everyone has firearms so I doubt there will be much looting here. It’s not a big deal or that complicated if you live in a rural area and think a little bit ahead.
You just hit on one of the biggest differences in prepping. Those that live in urban or suburban areas need to prep a lot differently, and if not from a rural area, gain a number of skills that those of us who live the rural life take for granted. My wife and I moved to a rural home (a story for another day) and experienced a 24″ snowfall and no electricity for 5 days. We were about as unprepared as you can get, especially with 3 little boys, one still in diapers. With some ingenuity we survived, but it also opened the door to prepping which I now do both personally and professionally. This happened about 40 years ago, and I have not regretted going down this path for one single minute.
As to broadcast stations having to have back up power, that is not so. It is up to the individual company to decide that for themselves. (remember the ones that do and thank them afterward by becoming a regular listener) Another problem they run into is getting fuel to run their equipment after a disaster. Too many things can happen afterwards to keep the fuel from getting to these emergency generators.
FEMA does equip certain radio stations throughout the United States and its territories to withstand most disasters and be able to stay on the air quite a while afterwards. Get a good AM FM crank/solar/battery operated radio so you can still receive those stations that are still on the air.
It doesn’t hurt to also be able to receive SW & NOAA EAS broadcasts.
I have numerous radios I’ve collected over the years like the BayGen; but, the best, all around and the newest, a Kaito KA500 Voyager
Powered by Solar Power, Dynamo Crank power, USB power.
AM / FM / SW / NOAA Weather Alert with Flashlight,Reading Lamp and Cell phone Charger.
This will set you back about $50.00
I bought a BayGen Hand-Crank Radio years ago when they became available in the United States. I brought my purchase home and proudly displayed its battery-less / hand-wound generator feature to my wife who said sarcastically: ” Were they all out of gas-powered televisions?”
A good sense of humor can be very valuable in a crisis, along with that hand-crank radio. Sounds like the two of you have it all!
We went through Hurricane Isaac in 2012 (Plaquemines Parish, LA). We lived on the naval reserve base there. We lost power for almost 6 days. It was excruciating for the same reasons: high temps, high humidity, no air flow in the house, heat intolerance for me as well. We had followed the lead of our neighbor to buy a generator and have plenty of fuel on hand, so that was a blessing at least. The year before (2011-Tropical Storm Lee over Labor Day weekend) they kept their fridge and our fridge both running off their generator. So, in 2012 we had the generator keeping our food cold and we could keep phones/laptop charged. After a few days of heat/humidity and virtually no air flow through the windows, my husband was able to find a store open (I think it was Lowes) to buy a small window a/c unit and a couple oscillating stand fans to cool our house down. Thank God base housing was small there, because it barely worked, but better than nothing. We didn’t end up having enough bottled water. Thankfully the military was giving out cases of bottled water at about the 3 day mark, so my husband would go get that every day. He drove off base quite a few times just to see what was going on. We finally found out that the power was off because the station powering the base was further south in Plaquemines Parish and completely under water and the new one they were building hadn’t quite been finished yet. Anyway, it was horrible. We haven’t had anything like that happen again, but I’ve been much more invested in prepping for emergencies just in case. Because I do not want to be caught off guard, even a little bit, ever again. Not a good situation to be in.
Nice practical article. Good you had enough guns to make a positive impression. Any discussion in the neighborhood to get prepared for the next one ?
How many watts worth of solar panels did you have ? If the car had gas, couldn’t you recharge mostly everything with that ?
Also, need to get a battery operated short wave radio for comms.
Yes, autos and trucks can be used to keep batteries charged BUT… their large engines [compared to the small power needs of alternators] are incredibly wasteful of fuel!!! A better system would be to get an alternator from a junkyard and ‘marry’ it to a lawnmower engine. This should be done now rather than wait until an emergency arises. Or, in a SHTF situation, there will be lots of vehicles all around from which to ‘borrow’ alternators and batteries!
Marrying an inverter to your vehicle battery with something like jumper cables, and allowing the large engine and alternator to charge the battery & run the inverter can be quite good for short term expedient use for keeping refrigeration running.
Better if you beef up the vehicle alternator first.
Placing an alternator on a lawn mower engine, typically a B&S 3.5 HP will limit your power to around 2000 watts, so keep that in mind for the inverter and devices you want to run with the setup.
If you do this the “alternator” will not work! Alternators use a field coil to make electricity so you have to have a minimum charge in the battery and a wire from the battery to the field coil input to make it work. Even then the change may not be properly regulated to control voltage. If you have to go this route due to cost constraints look for a much older (1950s or early 1960s) automotive “generator” (with actual magnets) with an external regulator.
went thru an ice storm with no power for 3 days. my mom was on oxygen with me having no way of replenishing it. thank goodness she could manage without it, it was just an occasional thing when she actually needed it. i kept the lantern we had in her room an used the tanks sporatically since they didnt need any electric. i didnt let her get up or move around. she lasted fine with no issues. it was cold here in n.c. so i put important food out in a tray on the deck so stay cold an i cooked on the gas stove. no one came around since the driveway look like godzilla had walked thru with all the trees down. we had a some bottled water that we used sparingly. we manage just fine without the power. i now keep water stashed just in case but so far we have only gone one day with no power. .
If the gas stove was working you could have snagged some of the ice and melted it on the stove to increase your water supply.
I enjoyed reading the article, but with the lack of details given, I think Rich M. is a good novice fictional writer. Not sayin it couldn’t happen though.
Just have a couple of problems with your comments, Left Coast Jim. In no way, shape or form is Rich M. a novice writer. He is a regular contributor to these pages and has been for quite some time now. His articles are always thought provoking and interesting. And what he was relating to us wasn’t a work of fiction but his actual experiences without power for a week. It happens regularly to many more of us than we might realize. And as you live in California you MUST be aware of the rolling blackouts in that state. So you should be no stranger to power outages. Even if you haven’t experienced it personally you must be aware of friends or relatives that HAVE experienced it. So for you to say it couldn’t happen is a completely bogus and negative comment. What do you want Rich to do? Draw you a picture? Use your god given imagination for goodness sakes. LOL!
Interesting,I read Jim in La. to mean “Jim in Louisiana.”
I know a couple people who live in La. (as opposed to LA), who have weathered a couple hurricanes. In one case, they were completely wiped out, but got out in time and had a safe landing place. The other has kept on as she always has.
I think a big part of it depends on your community as has been mentioned. If you live in a more rural place, people tend to be more self-sufficient because they’re too far away from many others to help. If you’re locale is more suburban or urban, you’re accustomed to having the ability to run out and get X at a moment’s notice.
I think the article has given many pause for thought, so whether it be fact or fiction, it has served a purpose.
No big problem here except tornados and unlike hurricanes or earthquakes, they are a hit or miss potential, generally without mass area disruption.
Once you realize this, it’s time to have your own source of power. Mine started more than 30 years ago with an old Vietnam / WW II era surplus 3500 watt Onan W2C and was eventually replaced with a Champion 3500 watt genset, both of which ran on gasoline. Just over 3 years ago after saving my pennies, we installed a whole house propane fueled auto-start Generac and have never looked back. Over the last 20 years we have also used some of those pennies to install enough propane tanks to keep about 3000 gallons of propane on hand, used for heating, cooking, domestic hot water, and to run the generator. We also have facilities for wood heat, and a few terra cotta flower pots, inverted over a burner on a gas range (or even a few candles) can radiate quite a lot of heat. Prepping for power outage or anything else is of course a process, and the longer you do it, the more prepared you should be.
I’m pretty sure most are made by the state government, since their forestry management practices are well known to be more PC than effective.
I think there is blame to go around; but, once again the state government mandates things from their fairy tale handbook and then blames others for the failures. Their forestry management practices also stopped PG&E from properly maintaining some of their right of ways, and when trees grow up into power lines, bad things occur, unless those lines have been turned off during windy weather.
I don’t foresee those same problems coming to other places like where I live, or places south of me run by large management agencies like the TVA, since right of way maintenance is not taboo where people cut and use trees instead of worshipping them.
When the Power Went Out
Can I ask why you don’t have an UPS system for your computer?
I have them on 5 computers, and satellite receivers and TVs as well as my communications gear in the ham shack.
Even when the power is working, we’ll often get little glitches, and the UPS units ride right through them with the equipment not even noticing.
Those UPS units would of course be a business expense as most of mine were, and keep you making money.
Those same people are stupid and may be applying for the Darwin award; but, they are actually rather rare, at least where I live.
This is where lighting is important. Living rural we know what dark looks like; but, even urban dwellers can afford the large variety of LED lanterns and flashlights, now available. Batteries, especially rechargeable with solar or mechanical charging are all you need to light the night.
For those in cold climates, that gas stove can help heat the house, or at least the kitchen. Invert a terra cotta flower pot on a burner and it will pour heat into the room. The drain hole (now on top) acts as a chimney so there is no fear of CO. The only care to take is that the pot gets really hot, like 600+°;but, will really warm up a room.
Some screw in eye hooks could make that work, unless pristine woodwork is more important than comfort.
Perhaps during the rain you should have some 5-gallon buckets set out for rain catchment since every little bit counts.
Along with food you should fill any empty space with water bags or bottles, since the ice not only provides thermal mass, once melted it can be consumed.
Also a chest freezer is more efficient than an upright, since the cold stays inside when you open the lid.
Actually, most people here cover that stack with a tarp or sheet of plastic, open on the side to dry and season; but, covered from rain or snow. We also keep some indoors completely out of the weather.
Since you survived the ordeal, you now have the knowledge to fix the deficiencies in your preparations.
In that case they may not be all that proficient with those firearms, so perhaps best to hunker down.
I get the feeling you live in an urban setting, perhaps one other thing to think about correcting.
Since it’s better to learn from others than to experience bad things when you can, Here’s a list to start with:
• UPS for the computer. Also the 800 lumen 8 watt LED bulbs will run a long time plugged into one for lighting
• Flashlights & Lanterns
• Batteries and multiple ways to charge them.
• Hammock & a way to hang it.
• Generator and fuel, great if you have natural gas or propane.
• Alternate ways to cook like a gas grill, Coleman camp stove, etc.
And remember that prepping is a process that takes time & thought.
Hi Ohio Prepper,
Thanks for your great advice. I like it, and your view on the CA situation. It’s great not to live in CA, eh?
Your automatic start Generac with 3000 gallons of propane, is a nice high end system, that most of us cannot afford, without financing, of course…8)
We would all love to have that, but the last time I checked, that would cost around $30,000. Is that pretty close?
Your suggestion for terra cotta flower pots is new to me, and that prepping is a process that takes time & thought, I really like too.
Thanks again for your enjoyable post.
It is. I have a friend who lives in the Simi Valley area who helps care for his elderly mother. He’s not hoping for her demise; but, has plans to leave when that occurs. I had job offers out there during my career; but, found the place just too crowded.
Actually I have only about $11,500.00 in the system, spread over an 18 year period.
• 1999:1st 1000 gallon tank for $1295.00 including sales tax & 150 feet of buried copper service line to the house
• 2001: 2nd 1000 gallon tank for $1280.00 including sales tax
• 2016: 1st 500 gallon tank $850.00
• 2016 16 KW propane fueled Generac with transfer switch, installed: $6695.00
• 2017: 3rd 1000 gallon tank: $1450.00
All tanks sit together and are tied to the same service line.
Also note that my house was built in the 1920s with upgrades in the 1960’s and has only a 60 amp service & meter base, so the 16KW (66.66 Amps) is more than sufficient. The house was a real fixer upper when we moved here and the upgrade & remodeling are still in process as we can afford them without additional debt. It helps a lot that my wife is a farm girl from the area, and is used to rural living and not demanding we live in a high end palace, as long as she can have her animals.
It helped that I was a well paid engineer up until my retirement in 2017 and the fact that we paid off our mortgage in 1998, freeing up a lot of cash flow.
We are in pretty good shape; but, have lived in this location since 1984, and looking at my timeline above you can see that it takes focus & patience.
When I was working, it also took driving anywhere from 25 to 40 miles one way to and from work.
Items like lamps, flashlights, Coleman stoves, and UPS units were purchased one at a time over the decades, incrementally getting more & more prepared.
Perhaps the biggest key to prepping is optimism and patience.
As for the terra cotta pots, sitting one on a burner is cheap and easy, since the pots cost about $1.00 each, and plans to do this with candles have been around forever. For instance: Step Two: Build a Single Candle Terracotta Pot Emergency Heater.
You made a lot of good comments, Ohio. I like the idea about the ceramic pots. Other than for an EOTW situation I’m glad you mentioned UPS units for your computers. Uninterruptible Power Supplies. When the power goes down and you’re working on your computer it gives you enough time to shut your computer down safely. Where I now live the electrical power is horrible and after the third or fourth surge that destroyed yet another hard drive I had enough and invested in a good UPS. Never looked back. One of the best investments I have ever made. Has saved me literally thousands not to mention all the info that WASN’T lost. Yes, prepping is definitely an evolutionary process. Thanks for sharing. 🙂
They were not an original idea and I posted an example above using candles and pots. The pots are about a buck each and you can use tea candles @ 8 or 10 for a buck, or pick up the surplus votive candles, on sale everywhere after the religious holidays.
I originally had them for the same reason you have them; but, even with the whole house generator, they are necessary, since on a power fail, the power to the house goes out, until the transfer switch detects the outage, starts the generator, and it comes up to speed, so there is still a 20-30 second outage.
I not only use them for computers, satellite receivers and the attached LED flat screens, I also plug some normal lamps in to them and fit the lamps with LED bulbs. The 800 lumen (60 watt incandescent equivalent) bulbs only draw about 8 watts, so often when the power does go out; our only warning is when the UPS units start chirping for that 30 seconds until the generator takes over.
Claude had an article on how to use flower pots to heat a home. If you go back through the archives I am sure you can find it.
Note to Claude: It might be time to run that article about using flower pots to heat again, especially as we are heading into chilly weather. It was 46 degrees outside this morning. Low enough to throw a SoCal denizen into shock.
The idea of using a terra cotta pot to generate heat is OK but it doesn’t actually generate heat it focuses it but the real issue is the idea it prevents CO and CO2 gas. The CO and CO2 don’t just disappear unless you open a window etc. to let it out. Don’t asphyxiate your self.
Actually it doesn’t focus anything; but, converts the convection of an open flame to radiant heat. Just lighting the burner, some candles, or Canned Heat produces a flame where most of the heat rises to the ceiling via convection. If you measure the temperature at the ceiling in most rooms, you can easily see a differential of 8-10 ° from the floor, so heating the pot allows radiant heat to warm up the people in the middle, just like a gas plaque heater; but, at a slightly lower operating temperature.
This has nothing to do with prevention of any combustion products and all open flames will produce CO2 and water vapor. CO is only generated in a low oxygen environment, so this technique or the use of any gas appliance needs adequate ventilation.
If you’re in a small, tightly enclosed space like a van or little cabin, you might want to crack a window; but, in a normal house, this is generally not a problem. We use gas for all heating, including gas stovetop and oven and two ventless gas plaque heaters, and have a couple of buddy heaters for supplemental / emergency heat. The gas furnace and water heater are both vented, since they have burners in an enclosed space.
When using any combustion device it’s wise to have working CO detectors, which we have; but, have never had them alarm.
Additionally, smoke detectors are necessary for buildings with any kind of heat or power, since all can cause fires.
Eye bolts into wall studs through the dry wall which is an easier repair.
I lived in a wooded area that was always losing power. My family and I have been through ice storms that provided us with multiple day outages. We had plenty of food on hand and we could still go to the store, so it was a personal inconvenience. But we still relied on the kerosene heater I had for my workshop to heat the family room/kitchen and the plenty of blankets we always have. Off the kitchen was a screened in porch that I wrapped each winter in plastic to keep the wind out, so we put our food there in coolers. I also keep old candles and have a couple oil lamps for light.
We just got back from our annual week long off grid campout in the back country of Big bend national Park. We stay at a roadside camp so we just load up the old Chevy4x4 and have a luxurious time of it. We take canned food but I also load up my 2 old steel ice chests with perishables, kept in the shade they keep ice for 3-4 days and ice water for one more. Our menu for the week, for dinner, cheeseburgers and an herb dressed green salad, grilled shrimp and steamed broccoli, chicken thighs with sauteed fresh green beans, sauteed
green cabbage w/pork and cashew, chicken quarters with canned green beans, chili from scratch in a Dutch Oven. Bacon and egg various ways for breakfast, leftovers for lunch, white Tequila and Tito’s Vodka for inspiration.
I deploy a 100W solar panel for power with 2 12 volt deep cycle batteries and a PSW Inverter, I agree with an earlier post that the Wal mart deep cycle batteries are cost effective for casual use. Solar power is sketchy but it sure is nice to have the possibility of good LED lighting at night and an electric coffee pot. But I carry several battery lanterns and flashlights and a Melitta and always end up needing them.
Cooking is over a propane campstove and a small charcoal grill, one saucepan, a fry pan, and a Dutch Oven. Cleanup of all utensils is by simmering a 1/4 inch of water in a pan and wiping everything out with hot water.
The desert nights get down in the 30sF so I carry a Big Buddy propane heater which is indoor safe and will heat all night for a week running off a 20 pound tank. I used to use a Little Buddy with a 1 lb can of propane but on cold nights they freeze solid and stop.
Water for drinking and cooking, one gallon per day per person in Jerry cans, also carry a case of bottled water.
Sanitation is a cat hole out in the creosote bushes, cleanup with toilet paper and anti-bacterial wet wipes. In fact the anti bacterial wet wipe is used for all personal cleanliness and works exceptionally, pack a lot of them.
Oddly enough, given minimal common sense, security is not a problem on The Border, it is our fellow Americans in the cities that become a real threat in hard times.
That’s my week w/o power.
I was stationed at Subic Bay in the Philippines, living in base housing, when MT Pinatubo erupted in 1991 – we were 25 miles away. This caused multiple quakes and tremors over several days, sometimes intermittently for hours at a time, and eventually the ash cloud met a monsoon rain storm over Subic Bay and dumped sopping wet pulverized granite “ashfall” over the entire region, up to 18″ thick. This combination destroyed the electric power systems, and disrupted both potable water and sewage systems because of multiple broken lines and inoperable pump stations. So what should you do if the electricity doesn’t work, nor the fresh water, nor the sewage lines, all for several weeks? (If you have gas lines like where I live now they would probably also become inoperable due to the quakes breaking the LP lines and pump stations being inoperable.) When we encounter this type SHTF, hopefully we get creative and try to show others how they can cope right from the start by first and foremost not wasting any fresh water reserves, obtaining “gray water” to “flush” your toilet and use for sponge baths & washing clothes, monitoring your refrigerator & freezer to 1.) only open to get what you already know you have and immediately closing again to retain the cold (no browsing), and 2.) use the thawed foods first no matter what it is, then if you still have frozen foods, use them last.
MT Pinatubo was a natural disaster that produced 18 inches of sopping wet pulverized granite ashfall that literally crushed and destroyed buildings due to the weight, significantly effected both ground and air transportation, and literally knocked down the surrounding jungles for miles, resulting in the wildlife becoming as desperate for water and food as were many people, which meant the monitor lizards and monkeys were not just raiding the dumpsters as usual, they were now roaming on base searching for food much more aggressively to the point they were hunting small pets, and the monkeys would even try to break into buildings & homes to raid, sometimes attacking people to get them to drop anything they might be carrying so they could steal it hoping it might be edible. After two weeks of this we still had no power, water, or sewer, and my wife was evacuated to the US. I stayed for another three months until everything was up and functioning again. When the power was restored we had to watch for arcing and shorts, and when the potable water was finally restored we had to let all the lines flow for hours to clear the old water, and then it had to be tested to ensure it was safe to drink.
1.) Plan ahead and stock up in advance as best you can manage, especially water and fuel. Be prepared to fend for yourself if any or ALL utilities are lost, including transportation and supply sources, for extended durations.
2.) Assess the situation, then honestly assess your abilities to deal with the situation appropriately – do not panic, slow down and think before you act.
3.) Be willing to learn and adapt as required, including hiding, evacuating, and/or defending as appropriate.
What will you do if every utility and supply source you now use gets shut down for an extended period like 2 weeks? 3 months? 12 months? 2 years?
Are you ready? I’m not, but I’m working on it.
I got the 2 wks and 3 months covered… Getting really close to the 1 yr mark. 2 yrs…. working on that…
depending on the situation and if my house survives relatively unscathed (not losing everything to fire), we are good for about 3 months – water being the primary issue since we live in Southern California, east of San Diego on the edge of urban sprawl. Several million people live in this county and there are not many resources for fresh water unless you live farther out and have your own well, but those properties usually come at a high price tag. Our second concern is fuel if the LP gas is disrupted. We can live without electricity, but not having fuel from either gas (or wood) will make things really difficult to boil water and cook food.
Most of us have only had to speak with minor outages, two days at most, so your account is eye-opening. I found your lessons learned especially regarding an honest self-assessment and adaptability valuable.
The whole town lost electricity during an ice storm around Easter in 1978. We had an electric stove, but also had a wood stove then. We have camped our entire marriage (48 this year) so we had what we needed. The last 30 years we have been into mountain man reenactment. I have an enormous amount of pre-cookstove cookware. We are old now, but hubby can kill it and I can cook and clean it. I do have a lot of food put up, too. I have advocated buying survival gear for Birthday and Christmas presents. Hopefully, you won’t need it, but just in case.
You guys sound like the Wife and I… We tent camp when we can and cook over open flames, saves on space and propane, though the Wife prefers propane..lol..
I remember that ice storm! I was living in the South, then, and we got rain instead. We had a high water table, and I watched in disbelief as 3 feet of water lay on the front lawn. Our power stayed on, but there wasn’t anything to do other than wait out the water.
Friends of mine i grew up with in the North were filling me in on what i was missing.
Really like the presents idea, Becky. Thanks a lot. This article and everyone’s responses has given us newer peppers a lot of food for thought. I think it is because you can wrap your head around the scenario of a 7 day power outage and realize how fast things can go south.
Concerning long term survival – the AMISH are totally ready !!! The only things they may be lacking are defense and comms.
Also for long term electricity seems to me we will be going back to HYDRO. So, if you live near a HYDRO plant, they will be up and running first.
Any thoughts on converting a gas generator to HYDRO ? So, instead of a gas engine turning the generator it will be water. Probably need a gearbox to get the gen up to speed vs water flow.
Don’t worry about the Amish, they have always been preppers. They understand the times we are living in are not normal and are gearing up for home defense. I live in Amish country and attend a lot of gun shows and you would be surprised how many are there. Some have their own tables and are buying & selling. Also, a good place to pick up some prepping items.
This is more or less true. I’ve lived around Amish for 40+ years and the Amish are a mixed lot, depending on the sect. Some use cell phones and gasoline or diesel engines, most use the medical facilities and local grocery shopping, mostly for bulk milled grains, like flour and corn meal or sugar; but, all of them heat and cook with wood. From the defense perspective, they may not have a lot of tactical experience; but, most of the boys and men are hunters and they are not just limited to muzzle loading rifles. Some years ago I knew one with a plain colored (read as black) rifle, so I suspect they would be quite capable of protecting their own turf from invaders, although it might be more like the early patriots against the British red coats, sniping from behind trees in fields and forests they know like the back of their hands.
Why would Hydro be running when others are not? Other than the energy source to spin the turbines, the supporting infrastructure is virtually identical.
OTOH, If one has a stream as I do, low head hydro may be something you could use. While I’m not there yet, I’ve been toying with low head hydro utilizing the Pelton Wheel, invented here in Ohio.
You are likely to also need a lot of head to operate a system like this, since the torque required for such a generator would be enormous, especially when using a gearbox to gain rotational speed that will also lower the torque.
Looking at wood gas for fuel might be a better choice for an already functional gas generator.
Great post, Rich! The comments spurred by your article have also been extremely thoughtful and informative!
We live ‘semi’ rural, it is a farming community that is being rapidly encroached upon by a major city and its suburbs. The ‘natives’, if you will, are still rural minded and therefore ‘prepared’. Having been here 15 years, we ‘know’ who we can ‘trust’. That said, we are still looking to move further out.
We’ve dealt with our share of short and longer term outages, and keep learning all the time. The key is, we keep learning.
To @GovtGirl, it’s never too late to start learning…every step you take means you are one step ahead of the sheeple…So keep on asking questions, and don’t just read, take time to learn skills too.
Camping is a great way to start learning.
Indeed it is and we’re still waiting for you and your DH to take a night or two over here before it turns into winter camping.
Thanks for the encouragement. Your suggestion re camping is a great idea and one I will follow up on. What is the point of buying fire starters and sticking them in a BOB if you’ve never even used one? Pathetic, but curable.
I have lived over 60 yrs within a 100 miles of The Gulf….seen numerous hurricane-related outages…you learn with each new experience…its a curve…generators,propane,neighbors…it all gets routine after awhile…allowing outsiders to wander your neighborhood at will is the biggest mistake…get an [armed]neighborhood watch up and running ASAP…Politely and firmly turn them away..such a greeting deters later return by looters….Your smoking meat tells neighbors you have food…SPAM,canned hams and chicken is much better long term so cook your freezer no later than the 2nd day before people get really hungry….Organize a neighborhood cook-out and make sure people hear you say”well,thats the last of mine”😳
Its going to get bad when this years crop losses make it to the markets…already out of plain yellow corn meal[do a search on ‘Cold Flour’]
Make A Plan NOW🙆♂️
When I first got into Cold Flour I picked up a 100 lbs and vacuumed it shut….when the crop went South this year I started picking up a few bags here and there….not now… Plain Yellow Corn Meal(NOT Mix) is basically gone…you might still find some organic[expensive] stuff and the odd shipment every now and then but fir such a staple to be that short is an opener
There is a place in lower Hancock County Ms called Pearlington….Ground Zero for Katrina…New Orleans was a side hit…wouldnt even have made the news if the levees had held.
Pearlington was ERASED;basically everything on the coast-side of I-10 went under 9-11 ft of water(look on a map..Bay St Louis,Waveland,Pearlington..all of it…)
I went in there with a LEO relief contingent a few days later….from that trip came my [revamped] plans for The Event….you should be prepared to LOSE EVERYTHING and make your preps accordingly; anything less damaging that comes along is simpler to deal with.
A can of Chunky Soup and 2 cups if rice of pasta will feed two adults a meal of comfort-type food.
In an upscale bedroom community in Hancock County called Diamondhead about 10 days after Katrina Strike I saw a family of four fixing supper in the front yard of their million dollar home by heating Chunky-n-rice on a concrete block rocket stove….All these ideas on this thread are good but most start w the premise that freezers will remain and structures survive….Always plan for the worst and you wont be caught short
The Odd thing I always notice about “Preppers” is the “Surprise” that you Probably Need to Prepare yourself to Kill People – Most likely your Neighbors who Will Absolutely become your #1 Enemy when they get Hungry. Know in Advance your troublemaker neighbors & Prepare to Kill them First. Read Selco & Understand that we are Always 3 Days from No More Laws, No More Rules & No More Morals. If you aren’t Prepared to Kill – YOU ARE NOT A PREPPER – JUST A FOOL.
I was without power during hurricane Hugo in 2008. This article is complete BS. I was out 16 days and no major problems just inconvenience. My wife was pregnant!
Really they were going to storm
Your house? Bah ahaha ha!
Not Prepared: I don’t know where you live, whether in a city, suburb or country, but I would suggest that it only takes a small glance around to see that the threat of violence is not very far away. Have you seen scenes of Black Friday shopping? Have you read accounts of people committing mayhem because their burger order was wrong? Perhaps they are encouraged by certain TV programs where the participants on the shows have to be physically restrained from getting into fights. Have you read about the knock-out game where passers-by are assaulted with the aim to knock them out with one punch? Recent video from Los Angeles showed a police officer being chased by a man who had been threatening people with a machete. One could clearly see the torso hits on the machete wielding bad guy as the officer fired on him. Apparently the machete wielder was too hopped up on whatever to feel the hits. The cop tripped and the machete wielder was on him. It was only fire from other cops on the scene that brought the attack to a close. Or the episode that I am sure the cops will never forget. A man with a machete. Cops come on the scene. Try to talk him into dropping the weapon. That doesn’t work. They deploy less than lethal means — beanbags. The perp grabs a woman and uses her as a shield. The cops still have a clear shot because the perp is not fully shielded by the woman. The cops continue to talk to him as he slashes the woman’s throat in a wound that proves fatal to the woman an innocent passer-by. the cops finally shoot the perp to death. Cops got lots of criticism form basement lurkers for not shooting quicker. I am confident basement lurkers will again chastise police action in shooting to death the machete wielder about to chop up a cop laying on the ground. In his attempt to escape the attack he tripped and fell. Probably thought it was going to be his last day on earth. The cop hit the perp at least two times that I saw from debris exiting the perp’s back. I don’t know how many other times he hit him but there were multiple shots, too quick to be able to count. It wouldn’t surprise me if that officer is not able to return work even though his injuries were just scrapes and bruises from falling down.
Perhaps you live in an area much safer with more benign neighbors that others of us. Or perhaps you are living in the same dream world as an acquaintance of mine where she expressed the opinion that in an EOTW situation her neighbors would all get together for the common good. This in a HOA where the rules intended to insure that the owners in the tract would respect the rights of the others are blithely ignored by a good percentage of those homeowners. If it is every man for himself in good times, what do you suppose it will be like in bad times?
I hope for your sake, in a serious interruption of public services you and your family are able to remain unharmed. It is my personal opinion, however, that you are living in an unreal utopia.
left coast chuck,
You make some good points about the current outbreak of incivility that seems to be epidemic. Everything from rudeness or lack of general respect for others, to vandalism and hooliganism seems to be rampant. I think some of the ”reality” shows may encourage the problem; but, the main stream media also doesn’t help, since political opponents are often called racist or other labels, often used over simple policy disputes.
Social media often doesn’t help much either, since those basement lurkers all have expert opinions on subjects they often obviously know nothing about.
Even ”Not prepared” piles on here when stating: ”This article is complete BS.” because he “was out 16 days and no major problems just inconvenience”, obviously not taking into account that his location and situation may be different from many on this forum. Perhaps it’s just another case of normalcy bias with blinders, and another small piece of the overall problem.
When you further state:
I concur and my general reaction is to avoid large crowds, carry a firearm, nearly everywhere I go, and have good situational awareness to head off trouble before it comes my way.
You were just lucky.
As always I am happily impressed at all the serious replies and discussion of serious topics with little or no animosity, just so cool to have a site like this.
I enjoy these kind of posts and the comments even more. I live in the mountain west and a comment about preparing as if you could loose it all is very real to me. Here the big danger is wild fires. A wood stove takes care of heat and cooking, solar path lights provide lighting and recharging batteries for radios etc., But over the years wildfires have completely destroyed entire neighborhoods and small towns within just a few miles of me. Have plans for where to go. Keep you bug out bag ready. Keep duplicates of important papers at the homes of good friends or family members. Make loosing every thing almost impossible. As they say be prepared to stay, and be prepared to go.
He’s somewhere in the South (due to the North comment). In and around FL, after a hurricane, we’ve had 7+ days of no power. However, other parts of the city HAD power up within 24 hours. So it’s easy to go get a meal, go get gas, or even sleep at a friends or relatives house (my mom is also heat intolerant, and they went to a hotel for 2 nights).
If this guy lives in a rural area, I can see things getting a bit more hairy–if people can’t make the one hour drive to a place with power or find/afford a hotel.
I use a CPAP machine, and without it, I don’t sleep. I have a battery backup, but it only lasts about 5 hours (I need to get a power inverter for my truck so I can sleep there I guess). And it needs to be recharged.
What’s I discovered last time driving around that morning when it was still very windy was that WAFFLE HOUSE actually has an emergency plan to get them back online with a limited menu within hours after most natural disasters. The morning after the hurricane, our Waffle House had coffee and pancakes and a few other items (cash only). I was talking to a friend, and he told me that it is a deliberate thing for them to be prepared like that.
Not schilling for Costco, but they have a generator with an inverter that has a constant run of 2400 watts with a startup load of 3200. That’s enough to charge your battery backup for your C-Pap machine, and run a fridge or a microwave. It certainly won’t run your whole house or an a/c unit, but at $500, it is a good price. If I recall, it has a manual startup. You might think to yourself that you don’t want to be pulling any rope starter, but that has the added advantage that it just might survive an electrical pulse event that most of us think will put us back to the early 19th century.
The folks in Lake Arrowhead, CA are going to find out what a week without power in the winter is like as electricity has already been out for three days and with the new storm predicted to hit the area tomorrow night, power won’t be restored yet. Good thing is, they don’t have to worry about food spoiling. They can put it in the garage or shed. There are lots of bears in the area and California bears, in addition to liking to soak in hot tubs and swim in swimming pools, also don’t hibernate in the winter as it is generally too warm for such action. They are active all year round, so one can’t just stick the food in an ice chest on the back porch unless they want Mr. Bruin to munch out.
I grew up in Western New York, outside Buffalo. When I was quite young, we had an ice storm that took out the power for a week or so. Our house had 3 fireplaces but only one was actually used and that one was equipped with a natural gas jet. This was long before anyone thought to invent “gas logs” or ceramic logs so we burned wood in it. The jet made it easier to get started in the morning and was kept on at a low setting all day and evening during cold weather. For that entire power outage, we slept in the family room with only the fireplace for heat. We kids were in sleeping bags on the floor while my parents were on the couch. Mom was able to cook and we could heat water because we had a gas stove/oven. However, because we were outside the village limits, our water was supplied by our well which, of course, required electricity to run the pump. Our grandparents, however, lived about 2 miles away, inside the village limits, so they had municipal water which worked, so Mom would drive over there each day, with a large ice cooler and some pots with lids, fill them all with water and bring them back home so we had water for drinking, cooking and to flush the toilets. By the end of the day, she was melting snow for the toilets, though. My grandparents’ house was all electric so they had no heat and no way to cook. They spent most of the week at our house, except for going to theirs for the water runs. After that storm, they bought a little gas stove and installed it in the basement, as well as getting gas service run to the house. I don’t recall them ever needing to use it after that but they were prepared. They learned their lessons quickly. Having been born at the turn of the century, they still remembered how to get things done without electricity.
I spent 20+ years “dry camping” in historical re-enactment groups, both medieval and rendezvous periods, most of those camping in a canvas tent without electricity and most times without running water, quite often on my own as a single woman. Fortunately, most times I was in encampments with friends. Over the course of those years, I learned lots of skills that are good things for preppers to know, such as how to start a fire with flint and steel, how to dig a fire pit and cook in a Dutch oven with coals and how to cook over an open fire, how to split wood safely using a froe (one of my favorite old fashioned tools – you can get them through Lehman’s Hardware in Kidron, Ohio), how to throw a knife and a tomahawk, shoot archery with traditional equipment, how to fletch arrows, how to make mead, how to shoot black powder muzzleloaders. And, of course, we are well supplied with camping equipment that doesn’t use electricity or batteries as well as lots of equipment that does. We have given up the tents and go camping in a modern travel trailer these days, but we have kept all the old supplies and equipment and I don’t foresee getting rid of any of it because, well… you just never know…. Besides, oil lamps don’t take up that much space.
My DH was up north at our old house while I was out of town. I got a phone call, asking me where all the lamps and candles were. Well, of course, they were all stored away in with the old camping equipment. After all, when we had the house remodeled, we had a Generac generator installed, hooked up to the natural gas line with an automatic transfer switch. We should be set, right?… Problem was, the power went out, as it so often does in the mountains of Colorado, and the generator came on but the lights didn’t. Hmmm…. he called up Generac to find out the name and number of the authorized service company and the customer service technician told him how to check the generator and fix the problem. They left out one very Important step, though, so he still didn’t have power until it came back on a few hours later. He was bored, to say the least. The next day, the serviceman came out, installed a new fuse and turned the transfer switch setting back to “auto.” Magic!
So, what have we learned? Even the best laid plans oft times go astray. And even though you are prepared with a generator, you should still have candles and lanterns handy. At the very least, keep the bare minimum available. He had a few flashlights but an oil lamp is much easier to work, read and eat by. BTW, it is a 17kw unit, runs almost everything in the house and I think it cost us about $8,000 installed. It might have been less. But, since we are often not there when the power goes out, it is worth every penny just for the peace of mind. After all, as long as the power is on, so are the alarm system, the fridge and the freezer.
One thing I have figured out is that I was a preppier for years, I just didn’t realize it. You see, I have always saved things for a “rainy day.” No, I’m not a hoarder. But I am a bit of a pack rat. If something looks like it will come in handy in the future, I save it. I hate having to buy things twice, and I really hate it when I save something, eventually decide to clean things up, toss it away, then find that I need it a week or a month later. Then, along with needing to run out and find one, I end up wasting the time it takes to go find it and my project gets delayed while I do that.
So, at this point, I need to build a bigger house with a basement, something I haven’t had since I was living with my parents, and that was a LONG time ago.
It seems we have similar backgrounds and stories and may well be kindred spirits.
I grew up in a valley surrounded by the mountains id the Allegheny range of the Appalachians in western Pennsylvania. It was a perfect place for a kid who walked to school from grades K-12, anywhere from 1 to 4 blocks, could be in the downtown in 6-7 blocks and in the wooded hillsides in just 2 blocks.
We had a few similar power outages; but, since we used batiral gas for everything, there were always work around’s. The old huge gas furnace in the basement, had only a burner with no blower, with the heat rising up the large round vents in to the house, and when power was out, my dad showed me how to manually open the gas valve with a car battery to fire up the burner. We would close off some of the vents to the upstairs, to force the heat into the living room and also move the family to that one room to camp out.
With the gas range & oven, we could still cook, and that’s where I learned to place inverted Terra Cotta pots on a burner to heat a room,
I spent a lot of time in boy scouts as both a camper and a counselor also sleeping in tents, so I suspect we both know how lucky people camping today have it, with lightweight gear, since back then Pup tents & wall tents were made of heavy canvas, and mineral oil soaked canvas called oilcloth was used as ground cloths, and all of this canvas and wood was heavy and bulky. My new gear made from nylon with breakdown aluminum tubes are a far cry and big improvement from the gear of those days.
After school & college, armed with my new Toyota Land Cruiser I would often head into the hinter lands to camp, rock climb or take groups spelunking into southern Ohio or Northern Kentucky, once again like you, carrying everything with me and cooking on an open fire, often with a Dutch Oven, one of my favorite tools.
No disrespect to your single woman comment; but, I’ve never discounted women in the field, since I’ve known a few that could keep up with or surpass me. My youngest sister, now retired army, lied about her age and attended a 10 day outward bound experience @ age 14 or 15, and as part of her army career, was airborne qualified.
Starting a fire with flint, steel, & charcloth, as well as fire pistons, and friction (hand drill & bow drill) are all good field expedient things to know; but, today most use a ferrocerium rod to more easily do the same, as another great upgrade in technology; but, like you, all of these skills are or will be useful, if for nothing more than your confidence in your ability.
I have used a froe, and adze, and a draw knife and have a few of those tools tucked away in one of the barns. As for Lehman’s in Kidron, it’s actually in Dalton and a destination we travel to at least once per year, just to walk around and see the neat old technology.
I have several Aladdin mantle lamps and Lehman’s is the best place to get the Lox-On Mantles for those lamps., and since it’s only a 110 mile and 2 hour drive, the savings on shipping almost makes up for the trip. LOL
Since I’ve been collecting this stuff for most of 50 years, we have a variety of lighting from common oil (Railroad / hurricane) lamps, to Coleman and Aladdin mantle lamps, carbide lanterns and numerous LED type with a good supply of rechargeable batteries to run them. Other than a yearly check on each to make sure it is serviceable, they rarely get used for emergencies; but, like any insurance is there for protection and you hope you never need to use it. Also, living rural you get to understand the true meaning of dark, and having lighting around is very useful.
The little camping I do, generally without the wife, is still done with a ice tent; but, often also a folding cot, since these old bones don’t work on uneven ground like they once did. We still sometimes just camp on the property, as we used to do with the kids before they were grown and gone.
My point like yours is that those skills once mastered are always lurking there should you need them; but, sometimes need practice to keep them honed.
We have a similar Generac system using propane; but, haven’t had any real problems, in part because as a retired engineer, I was really a nosey PITA when they were installing the system. I watched and asked questions, read the manual, and watched other videos, so I would know that system cold. This brings me to a question about your system since it’s remote. Do you have remote monitoring for the system so you know when it’s running or if it has a fault?
The reaons is that after running for 24 yours, it’s recommended to shut the generator off and check the oil, since often it need topped off just a bit. Also running hours are important, since full maintenance is required every 2 years or 200 running hours. The maintenance is easy with their kit or individual components, and simply means draining the oil, replacing the oil & air filters and the spark plug, putting in new ”synthetic” oil, starting it up and checking for leaks.
I was prepping seriously for almost 40 years when we could finally afford the generator, so I have a ton of stuff. Some have told me I should sell the excess; but, since it doesn’t take up that much space, we’ll leave that task to our heirs. LOL
Our 16KW unit that will run everything was $6695.00 installed counting tax; but, that was an advertised special from Generac that also included a free 7 year extended warranty. While it will run everything, we don’t run the electric clothes dryer and the electric bathroom wall heater when on generator power, simply because of the inefficiencies.
Once again with a remote unit, your peace of mind could be interrupted, so remote monitoring for your genset might be worth looking into, since that 200 hour maintenance interval is a rather quick 8 days & 8 hours of operation.
Amen!! Although I was always of the prepper mindset, first called a survivalist, and other disturbing names prior to the prepper moniker, since people like us scare the normal people by reminding them that things can and do go wrong.
We’re living in a big (3000+ ft2 house; but, have been and will be upgrading and remodeling it mostly forever. Our basement is small; but, is a good place for the well, hot water heater, water softener & salt storage, as well as a root cellar and an upcoming indoor garden using LED grow lights. I find this lifestyle & journey fun and that’s good, since it never ends.
Really interesting comment, Sabel. Inspiring, actually. It moved me from gotta get some skills to make 2020 the year I watch YouTube videos then actually practice the skills they show. After all, it works for car and computer repair. Thanks a lot!
Ohio Prepper, really like your idea of the indoor garden in basement with grow lights. Would like to hear other ideas about garden concealment as what is there to stop folks from stealing your crops?
That’s just now currently in process; but, not quite ready yet. On other forums I see people from the southern climes mention starting their second planting or fall garden, and our weather just doesn’t permit that. We have a small green house 6x8x6’ 4” that works OK for starting plants and cold hardening them; but, not large enough to do any real production.
Our basement is a bit dampish and is used mostly for housing the well pump, sump pump, water softener, water heater, and salt storage’ but, is dry enough to use as a root cellar. When I notice potatoes & sweet potatoes sprouting down there it dawned on me that with a little effort the mostly empty 15×30 space could potentially grow a year round supply of some vegetables and herbs.
I had already constructed heavy benches from treated lumber to keep the salt and water heater up from the concrete floor, so I’ll be building lighter tables from the same treated lumber to hold the various starter packs and suspect LED grow lights above them. A timer or timer program can simulate the outside ligt and dark intervals, and going into the cool basement and not having to deal with weeds or inclement weather, means these old bones are more likely to pay the attention they require. Pollination will be the only challenge; but, a combination of fans or hand pollinating can probably take care of that. I used to keep bees so bringing a few captive ones into the space might do the trick, if the wife will let me. LOL
I’m not doing this for concealment and so far we’ve had no problems with theft; but, post SHTF that could well change. In our case the garden space is 150 feet off the road and is shielded in part by trees and other vegetation.
We also have enough property, some of it with woods, that small plots, hidden in the pasture and the edge of the woods might go undetected by others. You also need to keep a sharp eye out for intruders.
We are planning to put some grow lights and, possibly, a small hydroponic set-up in the basement, but primarily, most of the house is going to have a flat roof over the 1st floor and 2 rooms on the second floor will open onto those roofs. Then, we can put some raised beds on top of the lower roofs and grow veggies safely up there. Not easily seen from the ground and no worries about rabbits and other small critters eating the veggies. And, the flat roof with a parapet gives us cover and a good vantage point if we need to defend the house. Not to mention a couple if spots on the 2nd floor roofs for snipers. The sloped roofs will be metal and we are planning to harvest rain water from them. Just have to figure out how to get that water back upstairs or possibly divert it to storage on the lower roofs before it gets below that level.
One system to look at, Govtgirl, is a “food forest.” The idea is to plant fruit trees, then surround them with berry bushes and your other veggie plants so that the garden just looks like a wild area. Only you will know that there is food growing there. That means that nothing is planted in rows, no tilling is done and ideally, you use a lot of “companion planting.” Of course, you need to have some land where you can plant all that and get to it for harvesting on an ”as needed” basis. Apparently, it has been done in England and has the appearance of any other hedgerow in the rural areas. If you are in a suburban area, it could be done in the back yard without attracting too much attention. In a city, you are probably going to have to go with container gardening, but you can grow quite a few veggies in containers on a porch or balcony and it makes it easier to bring them inside for the winter and keep them growing. Herbs, tomatoes, green onions and peppers all lend themselves to containers quite well. Root vegetables might be a little more of a challenge unless you have space for larger pots or grow bags for potatoes.
Ohio, my comment about being a single woman was just a memory about looking at my 13’ x 19’ cotton canvas tent with a 10’ high ridge beam and wondering how on earth I was going to get it erected, by myself, at my first rendezvous where I didn’t know anybody and had only recently become “single” again. Fortunately, the gentleman and his two sons in the next camp over was kind enough to help me get the central structure and roof up. After that, it was just a matter of putting up 21 poles and stringing up lots of canvas wall and tightening ropes. It took hours but I finally got it done. By the end of the weekend, I had made several friends and had help breaking camp and packing up. Out of the entire rendezvous group I was in, there were only about 4 women who camped alone. The guys were incredibly helpful, offering to dig my fire pit, split my firewood, haul water for me. They even cleaned the outhouse closest to our camp, with bleach, before I arrived for a rendezvous at a Boy Scout camp. And they killed all the spiders, too! But they didn’t do all that because of my stunning good looks and charm. You see, I enjoyed cooking and did you ever notice that you can’t buy just one pork chop? They are always packaged with 2 or more in a pack, so you are pretty much obligated to invite someone over to your camp to share, aren’t you? And if you’re going to fix pork chops, well, you just have to fix baked apples to go with them and you might as well fill that Dutch oven, which means 4 or 5 apples, and you can’t eat them all alone, either, so pretty soon, you have a dinner party going on. So… when it was time to set up and break down camp, I always had lots of willing hands to help me. 🤗 A great bunch of guys. I still miss them, 20 years later. But since I live over 2000 miles away, I have lost touch with them all.
Ah!!! the best laid plans, how I remember them. We’re working on the basement garden; and had similar plans to yours; but, life and finances got in the way
We have several expanses of our roof that are flat or very close to flat with one that had a metal (Standing Seam) roof; but, back in 2012 when we had the roof replaced, they wanted an extra $2500.00 over the basic replacement cost to put the metal back on, so we skipped it. We also lost the lightning arresters during that replacement.
Be sure to reinforce your roof since a foot of water soaked dirt is really heavy.
In our case we’ve had no problems with animals eating anything, since the deer stay clear and the small critters are hunted by the cats.
That’s good to plan; but, make sure you have clear fields of fire without any cover or the bad guys can hide & shoot back, or use fire on you. This old house has asbestos siding, so it will at least resist fire from the outside.
Same notes about fields of fire and secure ways for people to get on and off the roof safely.
They don’t need to be metal to collect rain, since you need a 1st flush diverter system to divert the first water for either type of roof, and assuming you get good rainfall amounts, a hydraulic ram could lift some of the water to a holding tank. My first house had a cistern, and located below it in the basement was a commercial Hydraulic Ram pump called a ”Buckeye Water Lift” that lifted water (through lead pipes) to a tank on the third floor of the house. This device uses the energy (inertia) of moving water to pump a portion of it up to a holding tank.
My commercial version is made of metal; but, looks amazingly like thie DOY version: ” Hydraulic Ram Pump” @ https://www.instructables.com/id/Hydraulic-Ram-Pump/
If you’ve ever been in an old building and ran water; but, when you shut off the water the pipe banged and moved around, you’ve experienced a phenomenon known as water hammer. Water is not compressible and once it’s moving, suddenly shutting it off stops the water flow; but, all the energy of motion has to go somewhere, and that’s what makes the pipes rattle. Better systems will have a ”T” with a piece of capped pipe just sticking up. That capped pipe is full of air that is compressible, and the moving water can temporarily flow up that pipe instead of rattling the plumbing.
If you replace the capped pipe with a pipe and check valve and construct a spring system to turn the water on and off, that inertia will send some water up to the tank; but, some will still spill down the drain. Some water is wasted; but, the result is a pump that runs on its own with no outside power.
I mentioned a 1st flush diverter system that diverts the first rain on the roof to the drain, since it contains dirt, scat, and other nasty things.
A simple one uses a 5-gallon bucket hanging on a piece of spouting with the spouting draining water into the bucket. Once the bucket has filled to some level controlled by a spring, it pull on the spouting and moves it, to allow water to pass into another container. The bucket now contain the first rain one the roof that rinsed off the dort and need to be emptied to reset it for the next cycle. You can also constrict one using PVC pip as shown here: Making My Tiny Home Rain Water Collector First Flush Diverter” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J1vRcEreOhs
You can also modogy any of these design to git your need.
The 4 acres on the north of the property is something like this. I planted a row of evergreens on the east along the road, 22 years ago as well as some sugar maples. The maples are ready to tap, and the evergreens are 25+ feet tall and hide that field quite well. Planting edibles can be done all over the acreage; but, make sure you mark or map them, since that Food Forest can become quite a food jungle, making harvesting a scavenger hunt.
We have just under 8 acres and have been doing this to some extent for years
This is what we’re trying in our basement, and root vegetables, at least potatoes grow quite well layered in a 5 gallon bucket, or so I’ve been told, and it’s something we’re going to try.
I used to go to rendezvous back in the 70’s and early 80’s @ Friendship, Indiana, along with some friends, and I was just commenting that I’ve seen many females who are buck skinners and comfortable in the woods, contrary to what may be popular opinion. I prefer those ladies to ones who are too domesticated and prissy.
Most of the time, rendezvous and deer camp are like that, all in it for the enjoyment of the experience. Shooting black powder, starting fires, throwing tomahawks, and swapping lies around a bonfire @ night. I’ve lost a ton of weight and with some of the medications I’m on I don’t really like camping in the cold all that much anymore, so my last campout like this was back in 2013 or 2014; but, we still do it here in the yard on occasion since it’s still fun.
All of that sounds pretty much normal, except the spiders LOL
My wife does not mind spiders, or snakes, or almost any critter; but, show her a tiny little mouse, and …..
I suspect most would have done it without the food; but, that always helps.
I love Dutch oven cooking but, those apples would have been better with a little dough to make dumplings or cobbler.
Had never heard of a food forest before. That, plus the small plots Ohio Prepper mentioned, both good ideas. I am a linear thinker so these out-of-the-box ideas are very helpful.
Those small plots mixed with other plants in our sparse woodlot are a food forest; but, when I made that post @ 3:30 AM I was having trouble remembering the term.
Our property has buildings and lawn on the southern third, the small sparse wood lot that includes the maple trees for tapping on the middle half, and a small dense woodlot on the northern 1/6th. The food forest is amongst the maples and a few volunteers and in places along our western boundary on the edge of the creek.
As an engineer I also think linearly for solving a task once it’s started; but, can do out of the box at other times.
One thing that may help here is to pay close attention, be a bit more curious and ask more questions, often only of yourself. When you see that odd plant growing in a remote corner of the lawn and you don’t know what it is, instead of just whacking it like a weed, take a moment to look it up. It could be anything from Queen Ann’s Lace (an edible wild carrot), to the look alike Hemlock (a deadly poison), or just some benign weed.
For instance, ground ivy is a perennial, creeper of the mint family that often takes over sections of lawn and routinely gets mowed or chopped. The lawn on my first house was thick with the stuff; but, an old neighbor told me it was edible, and a little research (pre internet) confirmed his assertions. It turned out that It is used as a salad green in many countries. European settlers carried it with them around the world and it has become a well-established introduced and naturalized plant in a wide area of locations.
Like dandelion or clover, it’s not the tastiest stuff; but, in a pinch these plants can provide sustenance and nutrition.
Would like your opinion on gathering. I have a book on edible plants. Two thing give me pause, however, there is a nature walk near me with information about the variouslants and these sure look alike rsp the berry plants, but I saw someone confidently gathering some in a nearby park. There are mushroom experts who get very sick, die each year. Unless one is sure and / or starving, isn’t it best to avoid gathering wild plants to eat? If the SHTF, you can’t just run over to urgent care. I thought it might be best to experiment with dandelion greens and learn maybe half a dozen you can be sure of. Any thoughts?
Mushrooms are a fungus and have no food value do harvesting them SHTF is a waste of energy and not worth the risk for flavor alone.
Greens are pretty much always a plus in a diet.
While mushrooms are low in calories & fat and cholesterol-free, mushrooms contain a modest amount of fiber and over a dozen minerals and vitamins, including copper, potassium, magnesium, zinc and a number of B vitamins such as folate, so they can be worthwhile as a nutritional supplement.
True and there are many you can eat, although some may be a little tasteless or bitter.
First of all, don’t get esoteric and just limit your selections to the obvious ones, like Dandelion greens and flowers, clover and some wild berries like strawberries, and raspberries, blueberries / huckleberries. The tubers and pollen of the cattail, are also edible; but, with all of these like dandelion & cattail, be sure they are harvested from a chemically free area. Weed & Feed for the dandelion & clover or spraying on ditches with cattails, can taint the plant.
I know the obvious mushrooms like morels and puffballs and avoid all others, unless I’ve grown them.
I beg to differ that mushroom experts are affected; but, certainly mushroom amateurs who pretend to be experts can cause harm.
True about urgen care; but, being obvious and triple checking things. We have wild carrot (Queen Anne’s Lace) here; but, no Hemlock as far as I know; but, knowing the simple check for the related species is easy, and although they both have hollow stems, poison hemlock’s stem is hairless and has purple blotches. Even a very young poison hemlock will display the purple blotching. On the other hand, the stem of Queen Anne’s lace doesn’t have purple blotches and is hairy.
Keeping seeds to broadcast and create that food forest ahead of time however, might be the better option, even in remote parts of that park with the nature walk, as long as you keep track of what you planted where and will not be distressed if others find your bounty first.
Thanks, Ohio Prepper. Will give it a shot in the Spring.
Don’t know where you live, but I have been through 13 hurricanes including Camille, Katrina, Irma and Ivan which were bad. Never experienced the headaches your describing. But, from an early age it was instilled in me to always be prepared. During Erin our neighborhood would switch meals (breakfast, lunch, supper) to use meat in our freezers. No power for 19 days, Ivan was 17 days. Never had people ask for anything. I guess it depends on the location and mindset.
Not sure what issues you say you bever ran into.
Most everything in that article Ive seen or experienced.
I was a contract police officer paid by FEMA to go into Hancock County Ns(Katrina Ground Zero)and I literally could have photographed a doz examples of everything this article spoke of.
My hurricanes in the Gulf experience gies back to Audrey….one thing for sure,people are getting meaner.
Nine days ago (Damn, was it that long ago?), Texas was hit with the worst ice and snow storm in over 120 years. Every county was affected (254 of them). Temperatures were below freezing for days in some places.
I live in a cul de sac. We bought a whole home generator after Hurricane Harvey (we had to rebuild most of the house) so we had power the entire time. Some neighbors stayed with us (nights, mostly), as did my eighty-something parents.
I got to talking to one of my neighbors. We talked about staying “prepared” for emergencies just like this one. We just smiled at using this code word as opposed to just coming out and saying we both did some degree of prepping.
After last week’s weather “disaster” (power was out in our subdivision for almost three days, little water, pipes burst in many homes) he and I talked to our other neighbors about “getting involved together” in “getting ready” for other emergencies like this, or other events.
I’d rather have a small group of supporting friends and neighbors than individuals going into panic mode.
Thank goodness my family was so poor growing up that we lived half of our life without electricity and learned how to live off the land like the old days. It can be done without the supplies of everyday life. People will be our only problems. They will come looking. Learn what’s edible in the wild, how to prepare it, and how to get clean water. Put plants in your flowerbeds or around your acreage that most people don’t realize are edible.
No way will I ever live in a city. Ever!!! Very thankful and blessed to have been brought up the way we were.
Since becoming an adult and up in age, I have done lots of research to add to my knowledge of what my parents already taught us.
As far as the end of the world. God’s got me and I plan on not being here through the suffering.
I live in a small town and we never suffered any of this. We went 15 days in the winter ice storm without electric and 12 days in the middle of summer without electric.
What happened here; people looked out for their neighbors. Two houses down that house had an old fashion outside hand water pump. They made sure everyone around knew it was free to use. EVERYONE kept an eye on all their neighbors and especially the senior citizen in town who might need extra help with chores.
I kind of found the whole thing enjoyable and used it as a test to see where my supplies were lacking.