Monday, July 5, 2010

Power Outage Preparations

Preparations for a power outage need to cover the disruption caused by both short term and long term power outages. A power outage can be either a major inconvenience or a serious threat to you and your family. Some power outages can be expected, such as those caused by thunderstorms, blizzards, tornados or hurricanes, while other types of power outages due to a failure of infrastructure can happen suddenly and be totally unexpected. A power outage can be as little as a few minutes or as long as several weeks.

Our dependence on the current power system can actually become a life-threatening event in our modern society. The advent of all-electric homes that are totally dependent upon grid power could have devastating effects upon you or your family. If you don’t have some source of power that is independent of grid power, you may find yourself in a position where you have no light and no heat. If a blizzard or thunderstorm were to down power lines, it may take days or even weeks to make repairs. In an era of high-tech gadgets, people can actually die in their own homes due to a power outage if they are not prepared.

There are quite a few things that you will be missing during a power outage. The first one is light. If you don’t like stumbling around in the dark, you will need a good light source. The second thing you will miss is heat. If it’s cold outside or you get wet from a downpour, you will need some way to stay warm or to get dry. You will also need some way to cook meals or be prepared to eat your food cold. You will need a safe and reliable means to cook. You may even need water if the municipal water system malfunctions during the power outage.

Most of the items you will need for a short term power outage are already in your home. Things like extra clothes, blankets, food and water, a good first aid kit, a fire extinguisher and an emergency radio are all items you should already have on hand. If you have a wood-burning fireplace, you are ahead of the game but if not you will need an alternate source for heating and cooking. A propane heater or propane-powered camp stove will help to solve this problem. Just remember to always have proper ventilation when using these items. An outdoor grill can be used for cooking but remember why they call it an outdoor grill. Use it outdoors and never use it indoors!

For long term power outages, you may want to consider a small portable generator that can be used to run power to a freezer or refrigerator. Make sure you have plenty of power cords available to run from your generator that will handle the load and extra fuel for the generator. During short term power outages, just refrain from accessing items in your refrigerator or freezer until needed to help them maintain their temperatures. You can also cover them with blankets, quilts, etc. to provide a little extra insulation. You should also make sure you have some type of hand-crank or solar charger for your cell phone or access to a land-line in order to maintain communications. Be prepared to leave if a power outage looks like it is going to become a serious long term event.

Just remember to keep a clear head, remain calm and don’t take unnecessary risks when using your heating or cooking equipment during a power outage.

Staying above the water line!



Western Mass. Man said...

That reminds me...
i gotta get to looking for a steam engine or plans for one.
I'm a long term grid down situation, we may have to revert back to them.

Anonymous said...

Look into the working life of white gas vs. propane stoves, and you may conclude that white gas, though more expensive to run in short term, has a longer life than propane stoves. Propane stoves develop leaks very quickly, and the fix is often more expensive than just replacing it. I've had some white gas stoves for years, and only had to replace a pump assembly.

Just something to consider - check out and draw your own conclusions.

riverwalker said...

To: anonymous 5:51

Most of my experience is with propane but I'll do some research and see what I can come up with about white gas stoves as an alternative and then do a post for the benefit of everyone. They can then choose their best alternative.

Thanks anon.


Anonymous said...

A small scale solar (PV) system makes good sense. Something large enough to give you a light for 4-6 hours every night and to power a radio or computer for a few hours. A simple relatively inexpensive system. The larger systems are expensive $10k-$40k and in the event of an actual outage it is likely the Achilles heel of the system will be your batteries. So in a real SHTF situation were do you get replacement deep cycle batteries?

riverwalker said...

To: anonymous 3:50

A small scale solar or wind-powered set-up would be nice but the question of sustainability for anything long term could be doubtful. Things break or simply wear out and the necessary replacement parts may not be available at any price in a worst case scenario.

In a serious long term event that last for years, we may all be using candles before it's over.

Thanks anon.


Michael D'Noble said...

Given an event that render electricity, Integrated Circuits, inoperable, close to 99% of the infrastructer would collapse in western civilization. Propane and White gas would be available where you could find it, others will be looking for it too! Look at 1859, that's what life would be like. Except bullets would be in short supply. Better to have bows and arrows or cross bolts. If it is nation wide, or world wide, it'll take at least 10 years to get a new industrial age going.
What would cause this, a 1859 equivalent solar flare or greater that would bring an EMP to all electrical grids and IC's.

Something to think about, when you consider true survival....

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