Clarksdale, MS--the golden buckle on the cotton belt
When the lights go out
Our electricity was out from 6:30 pm yesterday to 3:30 pm today, thanks to storms yesterday. Wind took down many trees, but none of mine. On the other hand, the wind was as good as shaking for getting pecans down from the tree.
I was miserable. All I had was one small back packing butane lantern and a small Mr. Heater Buddy. My large propane lantern was missing and I had no Coleman fuel for the Coleman lantern. Lots of flashlights, of course, but flashlights are not good for much.
The top of my stove is propane and worked. But no oven and no heat.
No generator, and if I had a small one, I would have no idea how to hook it up to the house. No water because the pump runs on electricity. I did have drinking water.
Need ideas on what to have around for long term emergencies. I had forgotten just how miserable no electricity in the winter was. I'd like to be better prepared for the next one.
Edited to add: No fireplace. No gas logs.
Last edited by vineyridge; Dec. 23, 2013 at 01:40 AM.
"I'm a lumberjack, and I'm okay." Thread killer Extraordinaire
After Christmas I always go buy up candles reduced 75% or more. We used to live in the mountains at almost 10000 feet above sea level. In the winter it was so damn cold, but I figured out I could shut the door to my office and light a few candles and it actually warmed the room up considerably. Plus, obviously, it put off light. I like having a bunch of spare candles and lighters around, dripless are best for preventing huge messes.
Food that doesn't require cooking and firewood is always nice, if you have a fireplace or woodstove. Our gas furnace won't work if the electricity goes out.
We also have the basic camping equipment (several propane bottles and a lantern and a propane stove).
If no wood stove or Generator, I> am planning on getting a kerosene heater for just such an emergency. They are good for short term, as long as you are manning it. Lots of candles, maybe a lantern, and flash lights,
Bottled water. I am sort of at odds about this, as I left a situation where we had only to go flip a switch in the basement, and fire up the generator in the garage. ran the whole house furnace and all. and there was a wood stove.
"you can only ride the drama llama so hard before it decides to spit in your face." ?Caffeinated.
We have a wood fireplace, a BBQ and a camping stove.. lots of water and canned food... but we did not lose power. Friends of ours did and are still swithout.. they joined us for dinner and take a nice warm shower|!!
We lose power somewhat frequently. Most of the time it comes back on within a day, but that time where it is off really can be just miserable!
I have flashlights, candles, and lighters stashed all over the house. My ideal set up would be a generator that can power:
- Space heater
- Floor lamp
- MiFi portable WiFi
Since I am still in my 20's and happy eating crappy food, my husband and I are fine (if not more than happy!) with frozen meals and Spaghettio's when the power's out, so we just keep easy things like that stocked up. Many throw blankets, books, an emergency radio, first aid kid, firewood.. and we're pretty good to wait it out! I also have a few USB chargers that I keep charged up - those reservoir things that provide about 3 full charges to an average phone.
"I decided I am going to live, or at least try to live, the way I want,
with dignity, with courage, with humor, with composure."
Please do not bring a kerosene or propane heater, barbeque or any other heat source using combustion into your living space. You will become one of the statistics, people who die of carbon monoxide poisoning. If you use a generator, it must be either outside the house or vented outside the house. Do not put it in a garage that is attached to your house as the fumes will leak in. Do not put a generator anywhere near your furnace, as they are not air tight and can end up pumping the CO throughout your house. Doing these things are all excellent ways to die.
If you get a generator and want to put power into your house's power grid, you will need to have an electrician wire a gentrans panel in next to your circuit box. Then you will have a power cable that you run from the generator to your new panel. If you want to go with a really easy (but more costly) system, you can get a generator that can be set to go on automatically when you lose power. You can also use a small generator and plug each appliance into it as needed, but you must make sure that the generator is compatible/puts out enough power.
Nearly every year in this area, we lose about a half dozen people to carbon monoxide poisoning when the power goes out. Most are immigrants from areas where the houses are highly ventilated (often huts that cannot be sealed up) and they don't read or speak English to understand the warnings. They just drift off to sleep, never to wake again. Cherry-red lips and a pounding headache are tell-tale warnings of CO poisoning.
At one time, my job included the emergency care, feeding and housing of 200 school children and staff, so I've though a lot about what to do in different types of emergencies. Even years later, I still think about how best to keep my family safe.
For your basic week-long power outage without access to a generator:
-LED lanterns located in strategic places in the house (change the batteries when you change your smoke detector batteries). Headlamps are also great for doing tasks hands-free and are small enough to tuck into handy places.
-A battery-powered radio
-Back-up power source for cell phones. (Solar chargers can be purchased at camping/hiking supply stores and don't have to be kept charged).
-A camping stove and fuel, or a barbeque and fuel. Cannot be used inside the house.
-Easy to eat prepared food: canned chili, ravioli, veggies, fruit (unless you're a great camping cook)
-Water for 2 weeks
-2 week supply of medications
I live in an earthquake-prone area (we're due for a 9.0), so some of these things aren't needed for your week-long power outage, but if a big one hits, we'll be at survival level for weeks. In addition to the list above, some of the things I have done include
-List of contact phone numbers including personal contacts, insurance agent, doctor, pharmacy, fire dept, hospital (911 could be down)
-Stocking a metal trunk with 2 weeks of food, a can opener and pots/utensils/heat source to prepare it.
-2 week supply of water
-Water filter for after our 2 week supply runs out. Plastic jugs to haul water (for us, from the lake several miles away)
-Tools to shut off the water (helps if your pipes freeze) and gas supply - know where the shut-offs are located in advance.
-At least a 2 week supply of all medications (this can take awhile to stockpile), tooth brush and paste, feminine hygiene supplies, a wash cloth and towel, first aid kit and bottle of sterile saline (make sure you have enough polysporin ointment and band aids, as getting wounds clean and keeping them covered may be your biggest need and most kits don't have enough), extra pair of glasses
-Sturdy shoes under the bed in case of broken glass (see earthquake risk above)
-Dry place to sleep outside our home (my garden shed is insulated and can serve as emergency shelter if the house isn't livable)
-Sleeping bags and pads
-Provision for toileting needs: a shovel to dig a slit trench, or a 5 gallon bucket if you can't dig. Empty the bucket into the sewer if necessary. We live where the digging is easy, so a trench and a tarp for privacy it will be.
-Assorted tools and supplies: Axe, hand saw, screwdriver, hammer, nails, shovel, rope, duct tape (of course!), tarps, paper, pencils, scissors
-Fuel for your generator if you have one. Also, a crank-type fuel siphon to take gas out of your car (or maybe your neighbors ) if you run out.
The CDC also has info (look for "Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse") as well as survival-type web sites. I do draw the line at having a trebuchet.
We had a wake-up call last time we had a big storm the power was out for a week (the substations were out, so underground power supply didn't save us) it was like a third-world country. Pharmacies had no power so couldn't run computers to fill prescriptions, gas stations couldn't pump gas, and cell towers had no power so no cell phones. It took about 3 days before big generators got to gas stations and cell towers to get those running. We were lucky to be able to drive to where there was power to get gas, medications and food, and we had a generator at home that could power our furnace, refrigerator and a few lights. If the refrigerator wasn't running, we could use the microwave. We could switch over and heat the hot water tank (only needed enough juice to run the thermostat as it was gas) and then switch back another circuit. We had all the neighbor's small pets with us to keep warm - didn't want the geckos to get cold.
Sorry about the massive post, but having been in responsible for keeping other people's children safe, warm and dry in the event of a catastrophe makes you think.
Talk to an endurance rider. They're used to camping out off the grid with their horses. They could probably offer some good suggestions. Personally, having an LQ trailer handy is the best of all options!
We have a Honda 2000i generator which sits outside, with two heavy duty extension cords coming into the house via a window to power our fridge, some lights, internet, and TV. That generator will hum quietly for hours and hours, and uses very little gas. Highly reliable, too. Best purchase ever. Kept us in power during the 8 days we were off the grid due to the derecho.
A little propane camping stove is perfect for cooking. Water has to be a pre-thought, tho, to store a bucket or two or three if you fear a power outage is imminent.
Because you don't have a fireplace or wood stove, you might want to buy a large catalytic heater that runs off propane. They are safe indoors, and better than a Mr. Buddy.
Beyond that - lots of snuggly warm blankets, a warm dog or two, a good book, and a comfy couch can go a long way in keeping you warm and entertained until The Grid finds you again.
Lived for over a year without electric power in Asia, so I now never go camping and live in a city where when the power does go out we are repaired quickly.
I have figured out how to encourage the power company to quickly reset line fuses as the last time we had a major wind storm that cause the lines to short blowing the transformer fuses I just told them that I was reporting he power outage but don't worry as I had watched the man the last time reset the fuses and I can do it... they were there in minutes
--a stash of those little hand warmers
--if you know it's coming, keep all devices charged all the time
--lots of pop tarts; at least you won't starve
--the case of bottled water in case the treatment plant loses power
And then just put all your clothes on at once.
Gravity works, and the laws of physics are a bitch.
If I know that it is a possibility we will be without power, I clean the bathtub, line the drain with a little plastic wrap to prevent the inevitable slow leak and full the tub with water. I can use this for flushing toilet, pet water, sponge bathes.
We are lucky we have a coal stove in the basement, a wood stove in the living room, a propane stove in the family room. We won't get cold. No hot water since the main house heat and hot water is oil boiler and it needs electric.
My oven is propane burners. I won't have the stove part since that is electric.
We have an inverter that can run a few things like my laptop and the TV for a couple of hours off a car battery. It has an auto shut off when the battery gets low. We then start the car and let it run for a little bit to recharge the battery.
We have a small generator that will run the fridge and the well. DH turns the main breaker to the house to take us off the grid. He then turns off most of the individual breakers except for the fridge and well then backfeeds the house with the generator. Probably not a legal set-up but it works.
Oh, well, clearly you're not thoroughly indoctrinated to COTH yet, because finger pointing and drawing conclusions are the cornerstones of this great online community. (Tidy Rabbit)
The back feeding the house with the generator is the way I used to do it in my old house. The heavy duty plug from the generator goes in the dryer outlet. It is REALLY important to turn off the main breaker!!!! This prevents the power from the generator from going out onto the main lines feeding your house.
I've lived in my current house for 7 years and my town for 30. Since living in my house I've had several situations where I've lost power for several days and 2 storms in which I was out of power for a week. Luckily, the week long outages where both during warmer weather. It's been out so many times since I moved into this house I can't remember which storm was which anymore.
I have a septic tank and leach field, and a well, so when the power goes out, no water. Luckily, I have a pond on the property and like I said, it wasn't wicked cold either time so I could go scoop up water with a bucket to flush toilets. If we are expecting a storm, I make sure I have a lot of gallon jugs of water, because I'm not drinking the pond water. I freeze a lot of them so that I can put them in the fridge to keep the fridge things cold, and it will help keep the freezer cold also. Of course, if it is really cold out you can just put your food in a container outside where animals can't get to it and that should keep your chicken frozen. I also fill a lot of buckets of water from the hose so that I have back-up water for the horses, but again if I had to I could use the pond. My stove is propane, so I can still cook.
Luckily, those week long outages weren't during really cold times, but I do have local family with generators hooked up to tractors, so we kind of cycle them around to different people on the tractor so that people can fire up their furnaces temporarily.
As for bathing, if you have a shower or tub with a door, you'd be surprised how warm it can get in there if you bring in a huge pot of hot water. Boil a big pot, and then you can mix it with the cold water to obtain the desired temp for sponge bathing.
One of the storms was Hurricane Irene, I think, or the storm that came right after it, or before it? It was at the very end of August, and I'm a teacher, so I started school with no power. Lots of fun.
If you do scoop water out of a pond, try not to use the bucket that you soak beet pulp in. Otherwise, there will be beet pulp in your toilet.
We invested in some oil lamps and emergency candles (the good kind!) after Hurricane Irene, and have only used them a few times but what a difference. It is impossible to do anything during a winter power outage after 5pm unless you have good lighting. Prior to that summer hurricane, our last power outage was in winter and we couldn't even read a book because we had no way to have the light source from above (wall lamp, candelabra, hanging oil lamp).
Buying good dripless emergency candles is also worth every penny.
We also have about 100 gallons of water stored in the house, plus fill the bathtub and put water in buckets and stock pots if we fear an outage. You can always use them as toilet flushing water after the fact too.
For heat - be very wary of indoor heaters. READ the instructions carefully. When in doubt - do not use one. Start with a hat to keep yourself warm. A down comforter or two will never be a waste of money, even if you live in a warm climate.
We use a kerosene heater and have a joke of a fireplace, we shut off one wing of the house and don't heat it. We do have a CO detector. We also have a set of propane burners for cooking and several oil lamps, candles etc. We used to get frequent outages and my pre winter routine consisted of locating and setting up my not so decorative candles with matches nearby, filling the oil lamps, dusting off the heater, trimming wicks. We do have a generator that got a lot of use but here the power goes off either for a week or a few hours, no in between.
There is nothing worse than stumbling around through the house in the dark trying to find a flashlight or matches so we have those big battery flashlights sitting on the kitchen counter. They sit on their backsides nicely and if you take them into a room and shine the light on a white wall or ceiling it will disperse the light and let you have your hands free to do other stuff. It's still going to be darker than usual. For a long time I had one of those little lite up key fobs and it came in handy in an outage on vacation, but I carried my keys in a pocket all the time, won't do you much good in a purse.
We usually still have city water but the hot water heater cools within a day. We use paper plates and make a lot of sandwiches. Canned tuna is useful, cheese keeps at room temperature, peanut butter and jelly, the one thing that used to make us crazy was not having snack foods like beer or soda or chips or candy. Can't tell you why when there was plenty of canned goods, plenty of fruit, but think about having crackers to make cheese and crackers or pnut butter and crackers.
If it's pretty cold the fridge contents go out on the north porch. Otherwise use them up or they get nasty.
Ditto the filled tub. And a bucket to dunk into it to then flush the john.
I moved back to the states after 9/11, and we (DS, 3 dogs, and myself) had to live in our unheated, uninsulated summer camp waiting for some remodeling on the just acquired house. We were in the camp until mid November. Was fortunate enough to have an old fashioned cook stove converted to gas, so did a LOT of baking from the moment we got up. Also lucky to have a fireplace and plenty of newspapers and seasoned wood.
We had dozens of literally "3 dog nights" where they took turns and hopped on to either the pullout couch with me, or with my son in his sleeping bag, since we all slept in the living room in front of the fireplace. A few of the nights did get below freezing.
Which brings to mind one more suggestion - a good sleeping bag. And for me, I happened upon a down comforter at Marshall's once that only cost me $25. To this day it remains on my bed. Is even cool in summer?!? And these days I'm leaving my thermostat at 59 at night, and that comforter, combined with another quilt is all I need to stay snug and warm in bed, until I can muster the courage to wake up and step out from underneath my nest into the chill.
Oh, and don't forget a nice soft, warm hat on your head. I hate them frankly, but keeping the head covered does really seem to help.
Unfortunately, my contractor kept procrastinating while looking for inspiration. Had him remove his table saw from my living room, kicked him out, and moved into the unfinished house - but at least it had heat and running water!
Last edited by CVPeg; Dec. 23, 2013 at 10:45 AM.
Being right half the time beats being half-right all the time. Malcolm Forbes
Good suggestions so far - I will add that a good map of the surrounding area with hospitals, red cross centers, food shelters, family, etc. marked can be very important! When Hurricane Sandy was coming last year, that was emphasized for a few days beforehand. So many people these days are dependent on plugging a destination into their GPS and wouldn't know the route without it!
OP, really consider finding a way to put even a small stove in your house so you can burn wood or something during a situation like that. We have lived without electricity but not without heat b/c we always have a wood stove. even if it's a small thing in a spare room that you never use unless you have to at least you HAVE it.
There ARE indoor safe heaters-seek one out and when you have to use it, use it just enough to keep the room from being too cold, always supervise it, and shut it off when you aren't there with it. Don't let your room be airtight-insulated, but not air tight.
When you're in that situation, wall off extra rooms with blankets and shut the doors so you aren't trying to keep heat in the whole house, make one small room to heat. Cover windows and doors if they aren't ultra-energy efficient. Mine all have wool blankets over them right now. All we use to heat is wood and this house is very old/leaky.
Oil lamps and candles will give off heat but obviously are a fire hazard. We use them but I keep them on an old cookie tray for the candles and if I didn't have a safe place for the oil lamps I would put them in a metal pan too, in case they get knocked over. hurricane lamps. Keep the room small and snug (but not air tight!) and they will eventually start to heat it.
This is a handy little idea-haven't done it but I can see how it works. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nzKbFzUEWkA We've put foil behind a fire to direct heat too. Remember the family in the rolled over Jeep in Nevada? He was heating rocks outside and then bringing them inside to warm the car. You could figure out something like that SAFELY.
Wear as many clothes as you can; when we're low on firewood or the fire hasn't taken off yet, like right now this morning, I have wool socks, boots, warm leggings, two heavy shirts, a carhartt sweatshirt and my winter hat on. It's pretty much my uniform these days.
We hauled water for the livestock when we didn't have electricity, and then for a while we ran the water pump on a generator which we obviously kept outside.
Last edited by cowboymom; Dec. 23, 2013 at 11:11 AM.
Reason: more ideas
“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” Stephen R. Covey