Power outage

All posts tagged Power outage

By Daisy Luther – The Organic Prepper

Sometimes people think that a sumer power outage is easier to deal with than a winter one. After all, in the summer, you don’t have to worry about freezing to death, which is a very real threat during a long-lasting winter outage.

However, a summer power outage carries its own set of problems. Foremost are heat-related illnesses and the higher potential of spoilage for your food.

Even if you aren’t convinced that hardcore preparedness is for you, it would still be difficult to argue against the possibility of a disaster that takes out the power for a couple of weeks. Basic emergency preparedenss is important for everyone, not just us “crazy preppers.”

Just ask the people who lived through the Derecho of 2012 how unpleasant it was.  Severe, fast-moving thunderstorms (called derechos) swept through Indiana, Ohio, Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey, and Washington DC. Millions lost power, an estimated 4 million for an entire week. As if a week-long power outage wasn’t miserable enough, that part of the country was in the midst of a record-setting heatwave during the time period.

Also keep in mind that summer stresses our fragile power grid to the max, as everyone increases their usage of electricity to try and keep cool with air conditioners and fans. This ups the chances of an outage even when there’s not a cloud in the sky.

Back in 2003, a software bug caused an extremely widespread power outage in the middle of August. It was a very hot day, and increased energy demand overloaded the system. Because of the issue with the software, engineers were not alerted of this, and what should have been a small local outage turned into an event that took out power for over 10 million Canadians and 45 million Americans. I remember this one clearly because the little sub shop beside my workplace gave away all the perishable food that they had out at the time before it spoiled and I took home fresh sandwiches for my girls’ dinner that night. We sweated uncomfortably through the next two days until the power was restored.

Beware of dehydration and heat-related illnesses

On of the most serious concerns that sets apart a summer power outage from that of other times of the year is the heat. When you don’t have so much as a fan to move the air around, heat-related illnesses and dehydration are strong possibilities. From my book, The Prepper’s Water Survival Guide, here’s an excerpt from the chapter on dehydration:

Dehydration is the state that occurs when you use or lose more fluid than you take in, and your body doesn’t have enough water and other fluids to carry out its normal functions. Your electrolytes are out of balance., which can lead to increasingly serious problems.

Symptoms of electrolyte imbalances include dizziness, fatigue, nausea (with or without vomiting), constipation, dry mouth, dry skin, muscle weakness, stiff or aching joints, confusion, delirium, rapid heart rate, twitching, blood pressure changes, seizures, and convulsions.

Dehydration can lead to very serious side effects, including death.

Following are the most common dehydration-related ailments.

Heat cramps: Heat cramps are painful, brief muscle cramps. Muscles may spasm or jerk involuntarily. Heat cramps can occur during exercise or work in a hot environment or begin a few hours following such activities.

Heat exhaustion: Often accompanied by dehydration, heat exhaustion is a heat-related illness that can occur after you’ve been exposed to high temperatures.

There are two types of heat exhaustion:

  • Water depletion. Signs include excessive thirst, weakness, headache, and loss of consciousness.
  • Salt depletion. Signs include nausea and vomiting, muscle cramps, and dizziness.

Heat stroke: Heat stroke is the most serious form of heat injury and is considered a medical emergency. Heat stroke results from prolonged exposure to high temperatures—usually in combination with dehydration—which leads to failure of the body’s temperature control system. The medical definition of heat stroke is a core body temperature greater than 105°F, with complications involving the central nervous system that occur after exposure to high temperatures. Other common symptoms include nausea, seizures, confusion, disorientation, and, sometimes, loss of consciousness or coma.

Dehydration can lead to other potentially lethal complications. The Mayo Clinic offers the following examples:

  • Seizures: Electrolytes—such as potassium and sodium—help carry electrical signals from cell to cell. If your electrolytes are out of balance, the normal electrical messages can become mixed up, which can lead to involuntary muscle contractions, and, sometimes, loss of consciousness.
  • Low blood volume (hypovolemic shock): This is one of the most serious, and sometimes life-threatening, complications of dehydration. It occurs when low blood volume causes a drop in blood pressure and a drop in the amount of oxygen in your body.
  • Swelling of the brain (cerebral edema): Sometimes, when you’re taking in fluids again after being dehydrated, the body tries to pull too much water back into your cells. This can cause some cells to swell and rupture. The consequences are especially grave when brain cells are affected.
  • Kidney failure: This potentially life-threatening problem occurs when your kidneys are no longer able to remove excess fluids and waste from your blood.
  • Coma and death: When not treated promptly and appropriately, severe dehydration can be fatal.

How to Treat Dehydration

People who are suffering from dehydration must replace fluids and electrolytes. The most common way to do this is through oral rehydration therapy (ORT). In extreme cases, fluids must be given intravenously. In a disaster situation, hospitals may not be readily available, so every effort should be made to prevent the situation from reaching that level of severity.

Humans cannot survive without electrolytes, which are minerals in your blood and other bodily fluids that carry an electric charge. They are important because they are what your cells (especially those in your nerves, heart, and muscles) use to maintain voltages across cell membranes and to carry electrical impulses (nerve impulses and muscle contractions) across themselves and to other cells. Electrolytes, especially sodium, also help your body maintain its water balance.

Water itself does not contain electrolytes, but dehydration can cause serious electrolyte imbalances.

In most situations, avoid giving the dehydrated person salt tablets. Fresh, cool water is the best cure. In extreme temperatures or after very strenuous activities, electrolyte replacement drinks can be given. Sports drinks such as Gatorade can help replenish lost electrolytes. For children, rehydration beverages like Pedialyte can be helpful. (Source)

For electrolyte replacement, Tess Pennington offers these recipes for DIY rehydration powders that you can add to drinks.

Store lots of water

One of the best ways to avoid the heat-related problems above is to store lots of water.

You can’t always rely on the faucet in the kitchen. In the event of a disaster, the water may not run from the taps, and if it does, it might not be safe to drink, depending on the situation.  If there is a boil order in place, remember that if the power is out, boiling your water may not be as easy as turning on your stove. If you are on a well and don’t have a back-up in place, you won’t have running water.

Each family should store a two week supply of water. The rule of thumb for drinking water is 1 gallon per day, per person.  Don’t forget to stock water for your pets, also.

You can create your water supply very inexpensively.  Many people use clean 2 liter soda pop bottles to store tap water.  Others purchase the large 5 gallon jugs of filtered water from the grocery store and use them with a top-loading water dispenser.  Consider a gravity fed water filtration device and water purification tablets as well.

Because water is kind of my thing lately, you can find lots more information on this topic HERE.

Try to keep cool during the blackout

This is easier said than done when it’s 105 and you can’t even run a fan.

I’m not a big user of air-conditioning, so I recently wrote an article about staying cool without it. Be sure to check it out HERE – there are some suggestions on keeping your house cool naturally that will help in the event of a power outage.

Here’s an excerpt from the article with some tips for keeping cool when the grid is down:

  • Channel your inner Southern belle.  Slowly fan yourself with a handheld fan. Mint juleps are optional.
  • Keep hydrated.  Your body needs the extra water to help produce sweat, which cools you off.
  • Change your schedule.  There’s a reason that people who live near the equator close down their businesses and enjoy a midday siesta.  Take a tepid shower and then, without drying off, lay down and try to take a nap. At the very least, do a quiet activity.
  • Play in the water.  Either place a kiddie pool in a shaded part of the yard or use the bathtub indoors. Find a nearby creek or pond for wading or swimming. (Note: Playing in the water isn’t just for kids!)
  • Soak your feet.  A foot bath full of tepid water can help cool you down.
  • Avoid heavy meals.  Your body has to work hard to digest heavy, rich meals, and this raises your temperature.  Be gentle on your system with light, cool meals like salads, cold soups, and fruit.

Be very conscious of food safety

If a power outage lasts for more than 4 hours, you need to err on the side of caution with regard to refrigerated and frozen food.  Coolers can help – you can put your most expensive perishables in a cooler and fill it with ice from the freezer to extend its lifespan. Whatever you do, don’t open the doors to the refrigerator and freezer. This will help it to maintain a cooler temperature for a longer time.

According to the Red Cross, if your freezer is half-filled and is not opened the entire time that the power is out, the food in it will remain sufficiently frozen for up to 24 hours. If it is completely filled, your food should remain safe for up to 48 hours.  If the worst happens and your freezer full of meat does spoil, keep in mind that most homeowner’s and renter’s insurance policies will pay for their replacement, but unless you’ve lost a whole lot or your deductible is very small, it may not be worth making a claim.

I strongly recommend the purchase of a digital, instant-read thermometer. This has many kitchen uses, but in the event of a disaster is worth its weight in gold for determining food safety.  I have THIS ONE and at the time of posting, it was less than $10.  You can use your thermometer with this chart (print it out so you have it on hand in the event of a down-grid emergency) to determine the safety of your food.  (The chart is from FoodSafety.gov)

Food Categories Specific Foods Held above 40 °F for over 2 hours
MEAT, POULTRY, SEAFOOD Raw or leftover cooked meat, poultry, fish, or seafood; soy meat substitutes Discard
Thawing meat or poultry Discard
Salads: Meat, tuna, shrimp, chicken, or egg salad Discard
Gravy, stuffing, broth Discard
Lunchmeats, hot dogs, bacon, sausage, dried beef Discard
Pizza – with any topping Discard
Canned hams labeled “Keep Refrigerated” Discard
Canned meats and fish, opened Discard
Casseroles, soups, stews Discard
CHEESE Soft Cheeses: blue/bleu, Roquefort, Brie, Camembert, cottage, cream, Edam, Monterey Jack, ricotta, mozzarella, Muenster, Neufchatel, queso blanco, queso fresco Discard
Hard Cheeses: Cheddar, Colby, Swiss, Parmesan, provolone, Romano Safe
Processed Cheeses Safe
Shredded Cheeses Discard
Low-fat Cheeses Discard
Grated Parmesan, Romano, or combination (in can or jar) Safe
DAIRY Milk, cream, sour cream, buttermilk, evaporated milk, yogurt, eggnog, soy milk Discard
Butter, margarine Safe
Baby formula, opened Discard
EGGS Fresh eggs, hard-cooked in shell, egg dishes, egg products Discard
Custards and puddings, quiche Discard
FRUITS Fresh fruits, cut Discard
Fruit juices, opened Safe
Canned fruits, opened Safe
Fresh fruits, coconut, raisins, dried fruits, candied fruits, dates Safe
SAUCES, SPREADS, JAMS Opened mayonnaise, tartar sauce, horseradish Discard if above 50 °F for over 8 hrs.
Peanut butter Safe
Jelly, relish, taco sauce, mustard, catsup, olives, pickles Safe
Worcestershire, soy, barbecue, hoisin sauces Safe
Fish sauces, oyster sauce Discard
Opened vinegar-based dressings Safe
Opened creamy-based dressings Discard
Spaghetti sauce, opened jar Discard
BREAD, CAKES, COOKIES, PASTA, GRAINS Bread, rolls, cakes, muffins, quick breads, tortillas Safe
Refrigerator biscuits, rolls, cookie dough Discard
Cooked pasta, rice, potatoes Discard
Pasta salads with mayonnaise or vinaigrette Discard
Fresh pasta Discard
Cheesecake Discard
Breakfast foods –waffles, pancakes, bagels Safe
PIES, PASTRY Pastries, cream filled Discard
Pies – custard, cheese filled, or chiffon; quiche Discard
Pies, fruit Safe
VEGETABLES Fresh mushrooms, herbs, spices Safe
Greens, pre-cut, pre-washed, packaged Discard
Vegetables, raw Safe
Vegetables, cooked; tofu Discard
Vegetable juice, opened Discard
Baked potatoes Discard
Commercial garlic in oil Discard
Potato salad Discard
Casseroles, soups, stews Discard

Another way to combat the potential losses of a long-term sumer power outage is to use other methods for preserving your feed. Canning and dehydration are not grid-dependent and can save you a whole lot of money and prevent a mess of rotting meat in your freezer.

If a power-outage looks like it’s going to be lasting for quite some time, you can be proactive if you have canning supplies on hand and a propane burner, and you can pressure can your meat outdoors to preserve it. (Here’s how to pressure can roasts and chicken.)  If you decide to get one, THIS PROPANE BURNER is probably the closest one to a kitchen stove out there. It works well for keeping your product cooking at a steady temperature. Don’t cheap out on this purchase, or you will stand there in front of this burner for a long, frustrating time and still end up with food that has not been canned safely. Be very careful to supervise the canning pot: you don’t want the pressure to drop to an unsafe level and you want to keep kids and pets away from this project.  Added bonus – when you have a propane burner like this, the sky is the limit as far as cooking in a power outage.

Some stuff is the same as prepping for any other power outage

Many preparedness concerns are the same, no matter what time of the year your power outage occurs. Here are some of the basic things you need for any power outage:

Food and a way to prepare it

There are two schools of thought regarding food during a power outage.  One: you need a cooking method that does not require the grid to be functioning.  Two: you can store food that doesn’t require cooking.

If you opt for a secondary cooking method, be sure that you have enough fuel for two weeks.  Store foods that do not require long cooking times – for example, dried beans would use a great deal of fuel, but canned beans could be warmed up, or even eaten cold. In the summer you don’t want to rely on a cooking method that heats up your house, so look to things like outdoor barbecues or solar cookers.

Learn more about building your pantry HERE.

Click HERE for a short term food storage list

Click HERE to find a list of meals that require no cooking.

Sanitation needs

A common cause of illness, and even death, during a down-grid situation is lack of sanitation.

For cleaning, reduce your need to wash things. Stock up on paper plates, paper towels, and disposable cups and flatware.  Keep some disinfecting cleaning wipes and sprays (I don’t recommend using antibacterial products on a regular basis, however in the event of an emergency they can help to keep you healthy.)  Use hand sanitizer after using the bathroom and before handling food or beverages – there may be a lot more germs afoot in a disaster.

Look at your options for sanitation.  Does your toilet still flush when the electricity is out?  Many people discovered the hard way that the toilets didn’t work  when the sewage backed up in the highrises in New York City in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.  At our cabin, the toilet won’t flush without power because the pump is electric.

If you are on a septic system, with no risk of the toilet backing up into the house, simply store some water for flushing in the bathroom.  (At the first sign of a storm, we always fill the bathtub for this purpose.)  Add the water to the tank so that you can flush.

If this is not an option, check out THIS ARTICLE, which explains how to take care of potty needs if the toilet won’t flush and you live somewhere that you can’t just go out in the back 40 to do your business.

Light

Lighting is absolutely vital, especially if there are children in the house.  Nothing is more frightening than being completely in the dark during a stressful situation. Fortunately, it’s one of the easiest things to plan for, as well as one of the least expensive.

Some lighting solutions are:

Other options are long-burning candles or kerosene lamps,  but during a summer outage they would be less desirable, since they add heat to an already overly warm situation.

Tools and supplies

Some basic items will make your life much easier during an emergency. Here are some things that are essential in the event of a power outage:

  • Lighter/waterproof matches
  • Batteries in various sizes
  • Manual can opener
  • Basic tools: Pliers, screwdriver, wrench, hammer
  • Duct tape
  • Super glue
  • Sewing kit
  • Bungee cords

If you’d like to expand on the basic supplies, a more detailed list of tools and hardware can be found HERE.

First Aid kit

It’s important to have a basic first aid kit on hand at all times, but particularly in the event of an emergency.  Your kit should include basic wound care items like bandages, antibiotic ointments, and sprays.  As well, if you use them, keep on hand a supply of basic over-the-counter medications, like pain relief capsules, cold medicine, cough syrup, anti-nausea pills, and allergy medication.

If you want to put together a more advanced medical kit, you can find a list HERE.

Special needs

This is something that will be unique to every family. Consider the things that are needed on a daily basis in your household. It might be prescription medications, diapers, or special foods.  If you have pets, you’ll need supplies for them too.  The best way to figure out what you need is to jot things down as you use them over the course of a week or so.

Entertainment

Nothing grates on a parent’s nerves more than a refrain of, “I’m boooooredddd.”  Many kids are accustomed to almost-constant electronic entertainment, so the loss of that can be quite stressful.

Keep a box of off-grid entertainment supplies in an easy-to-access place. Make one up for the different members of the family and make these items things that the kids are not allowed to play with at any other time so that they are novel and interesting when the time comes to use them.  Include things like stationary supplies, notebooks, pens and pencils, sharpeners, colors or coloring pencils, markers, glue sticks, glitter, puzzles, activity books, games, stickers…make it a treasure trove! Be sure you include all of the supplies needed for each activity because it’s hard to find things when your home is only lit by candlelight.

Stock up on what you need for these fun activities before the next grid-down scenario:

  1. Shadow puppets
  2. Books
  3. Hide and Seek
  4. Telling stories – kids are especially engaged with chain stories
  5. Reading aloud
  6. Flashlight hide and seek
  7. Flashlight tag
  8. Guess the shadow
  9. Toys that do not need batteries, like dollhouses and kitchens, dinky cars, and floor
  10. Make your house an obstacle course. A way to run around, roll over beds, etc to get some energy out.
  11. Card games
  12. Coloring
  13. Board games
  14. Arts and crafts
  15. Send them out side, weather permitting. If the water is running, turn on sprinklers or fill a kiddie pool to help them stay cool.
  16. Imagination games like playing house, cops and robbers, don’t step in the lava, camping in the wilderness
  17. Put on a play
  18. Play dress-up
  19. Collect song books and have a sing-along in front of the fire
  20. Play music together (piano, makeshift drums, harmonica, spoons, castanets, etc.)
  21. Make puppets and put on a puppet show
  22. Get out those old photos and finally assemble them in scrapbooks
  23. Play word games like Hangman
  24. Playing old games like jacks, pick-up sticks, and tumbling towers
  25. Play with building toys like blocks, Lincoln Logs, or Lego

Believe it or not, sometimes power outages can be fun.

Any other suggestions for a summer power outage?

Have you been through a summer power outages that lasted longer than a couple of hours? Do you have some suggestions to add? Please share the in the comments section below.

This article first appeared at The Organic Prepper: How to Prep for a Summer Power Outage

About the author:

Daisy Luther lives in a small village in the Pacific Northwestern area of the United States.  She is the author of The Organic Canner,  The Pantry Primer: A Prepper’s Guide to Whole Food on a Half-Price Budget, and the soon-to-be-released The Prepper’s Water Survival Guide: Harvest, Treat, and Store Your Most Vital Resource. On her website, The Organic Prepper, Daisy uses her background in alternative journalism to provide a unique perspective on health and preparedness, and offers a path of rational anarchy against a system that will leave us broke, unhealthy, and enslaved if we comply.  Daisy’s articles are widely republished throughout alternative media. You can follow her on Facebook, Pinterest,  and Twitter,.

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By Daisy Luther – The Organic Prepper

Maybe you’re brand new to prepping and not sure where to start. Maybe you aren’t really interested in emergency preparedness but your well-meaning in-laws keep sending you links to websites about the topic.  Maybe you go to those websites and you see so much doom and gloom that you immediately exit. Maybe you say to yourself, “Holy cow, no!  I’m not one of those crazy Doomsday Preppers!”  (Maybe you’re the in-law sending the articles!)

If any of the above apply, then this post is for you.  It’s chock-full of links, supplies, resources, and information for those who are new to preparedness that may not be ready to dive in 100% just yet.

Prepping for Beginners (and Non-Preppers Who Like to be Sensible)

It’s all about what I like to call “prepping-lite”.  It’s for people who aren’t into apocalypse scenarios but who are sensible enough to realize that, well, stuff happens. Remember, prepping doesn’t mean you’re a doom-and-gloomer. It’s actually the ultimate act of optimism!

There are three types of emergencies that can strike nearly anyone.  These don’t require that you systematically pick apart every episode of The Walking Dead so you can figure out how to survive the impending zombie pandemic. They simply require that you flip on the news every now and then and see that these are everyday situations that can happen to us all.  And since you are wise enough to accept that these things are realistically things that could, at some point, affect you, I hope you’ll take that wisdom one step further and prepare for them.

Water Emergencies

The last year was a bad one for water emergencies. Remember the chemical spill in West Virginia that left hundreds of thousands of residents without safe water for a more than a week?  The toxin in the water was so potent that it couldn’t be used for bathing or basic cleaning, much less consumption.  Shortly after that, more than half a million people in Cleveland, Ohio were left without running water because agricultural runoff caused and algae bloom that tainted the municipal water supply.

In both of those situations, store shelves were rapidly emptied of water in every form. Families who didn’t make it to the store on time were left to drive for hours to find water, or to wait while the National Guard rationed out bottles. In either case, some water preparedness could have eased the crisis. Here’s what the average family can do to prepare for a water crisis:

Weather Emergencies

After the abundance of snow that has fallen this year, most of the United States can relate to the possibility of a storm affecting day-to-day life. People have been watching store shelves get cleared, digging their way out from under several feet of the white stuff, and getting stranded at home for days at a time.  Even worse are the hurricanes and superstorms that cripple entire regions of the country, taking out power lines, damaging roadways, and shutting down businesses.

To be prepared for a weather emergency, you should have the following:

Water and water purification supplies

See the section above.

Food and a way to cook it

There are two schools of thought regarding food during a power outage.  One: you need a cooking method that does not require the grid to be functioning.  Two: you can store food that doesn’t require cooking. If you opt for a secondary cooking method, be sure that you have enough fuel to last for a while.  Store foods that do not require long cooking times – for example, dried beans would use a great deal of fuel, but canned beans could be warmed up, or even eaten cold.  A rocket stove that can use many different types of fuel is an excellent and flexible choice. The Volcano 3 is an excellent quality choice, and Swiss Army stove is an inexpensive choice for those on a tight budget.

Heating or cooling without electricity

If your power outage takes place in the winter and you live in a colder climate, heat is another necessity.  During the first 24 hours after a power outage, you can stay fairly warm if you block off one room of the house for everyone to group together in.  Keep the door closed and keep a towel or blanket folded along the bottom of the door to conserve warmth.  You can safely burn a couple of candles also, and in the enclosed space, your body heat will keep it relatively warm.  As well, dress in layers and keep everything covered – wear a hat, gloves (fingerless ones allow you to still function), and a scarf.

However, after about 48 hours, that’s not going to be enough in very cold weather. You will require back-up heat at this point in certain climates.  If you are lucky enough to have a source of heat like a fireplace or woodstove, you’ll be just fine as long as you have a supply of wood.

Consider a portable indoor-safe propane heater (and propane) or an oil heater.  You have to be very careful what type of backup heat you plan on using, as many of them can cause carbon monoxide poisoning if used in a poorly ventilated area. Make sure to have CO monitors that will work without electrical power.

Emergency Lighting

Lighting is absolutely vital, especially if there are children in the house.  Nothing is more frightening than being completely in the dark during a stressful situation. Fortunately, it’s one of the easiest things to plan for, as well as one of the least expensive.

Some lighting solutions are:

Tools and supplies

Some basic items will make your life much easier during an emergency. Here are some things that are essential in the event of a power outage:

If you’d like to expand on the basic supplies, a more detailed list of tools and hardware can be found HERE.

Financial Emergencies

This is very different from the other types of emergencies.  It’s undeniable that our country has seen an economic downturn that shows little sign of improvement on the horizon. Many people have suffered their own personal economic downturns due to job loss, unemployment or a higher cost of living. As well, smaller emergencies can crop up. Maybe your refrigerator gives its last hurrah. Maybe your car’s transmission gives up the ghost. There are all sorts of issues that can cause money to be in short supply.

We had our own personal economic crisis 5 years ago when I lost my job. I was unable to find a new job right away, and had to wait more than two months for my first unemployment check to arrive.  Luckily, I had a full pantry and linen closet, as well as a small emergency fund stashed away. The full pantry meant that I didn’t need to take money from my emergency fund for things like groceries, shampoo, and school supplies. The emergency fund meant that I could still keep the utilities on and pay the mortgage even though money wasn’t coming in.

To face a possible personal economic crisis, buy extra food and supplies that you normally use when you see them on sale, and put them back for a rainy day. Consider making some adjustments to live more frugally so that you can put a rainy day fund away.  Hopefully disaster never strikes, and you simply have a savings account and some extra supplies.

Learn more about building a pantry.

Learn more about shopping frugally.

Learn more about creating a rainy day fund.

For more information…

Does this sound pretty sensible? If you can see the logic behind being ready for these scenarios, you might be interested in taking the next step. First, check out this list of 10 things the beginning prepper should do.

If so, I have a book to recommend. My very favorite preparedness book is The Prepper’s Blueprint: The Step-By-Step Guide To Help You Through Any Disaster, by my friend Tess Pennington. It is an absolute compendium of information that takes you from the very beginning steps towards preparedness to full-fledged self-reliance.

A little note from Daisy

For those of you who have been at this for a while, please use the comments section to share your suggestions for those who are dipping their feet into the pond. As well, if you have some loved ones whom you would like to see more prepared, send them a link to this article or share it on your social media!  If you are brand new at this, don’t be shy!  Ask questions in the comments section below. You’re sure to get some great answers from the preparedness community. Happy prepping!

This article first appeared at The Organic Prepper3 Types of Emergencies That Could Happen to Anyone

About the author:

Daisy Luther  lives in a small village in the Pacific Northwestern area of the United States.  She is the author of The Organic Canner,  The Pantry Primer: How to Build a One Year Food Supply in Three Months, and the soon-to-be-released The Prepper’s Water Survival Guide: Harvest, Treat, and Store Your Most Vital Resource. On her website, The Organic Prepper, Daisy uses her background in alternative journalism to provide a unique perspective on health and preparedness, and offers a path of rational anarchy against a system that will leave us broke, unhealthy, and enslaved if we comply.  Daisy’s articles are widely republished throughout alternative media. You can follow her on Facebook, Pinterest,  and Twitter,.

winter-power-outage

By Ken Jorgustin – Modern Survival Blog

A power outage (I should say power outages – plural) is one of the most common results of a severe winter storm. Heavy snow or ice accumulating on tree branches can rapidly weigh down trees until limbs begin breaking off, some of which may land on power lines and take them down too. Strong winds may accompany a winter storm and will also take down trees, wreaking havoc on the power grid.

The worse the winter storm, the more likely you will suffer a power outage.

Here is what you need for a power outage during winter:

 

You need to be prepared BEFORE the winter storm. Too many people are not prepared at all, or wait until hours before the onset of predicted weather. Don’t be one of them…

That aside, don’t panic, it’s not that difficult.

Continue reading at Modern Survival Blog: What You Need For A Power Outage During Winter

ten-items-for-your-home-with-no-power

By Ken Jorgustin – Modern Survival Blog

You have lost power.

It’s going to be a short term power outage. What are some of the things that might be nice to have during this time? Here are just a few ideas:

 

In no particular order,
Battery powered lanterns or Flashlights – LED technology flashlights (and extra batteries) will be a must during any power outage.

Water – While your faucet tap may still deliver water during a power outage, those of you with well water will be without (unless your generator supplies the power). Keep extra water stored for drinking and sanitation. You can pour water into your toilet tank to enable a flush.

Camp stove – While you should keep some stored food that does not require cooking, a camp stove will enable a variety of food choices during a power outage.

Portable, safe indoor heater – A standalone heater could become an essential asset during a short term winter power outage.

Continue reading at Modern Survival Blog: Ten Items for Your Home During A Short Term Power Outage

norcal-storm(Pictured:The aftermath of 2014 California storm)

By Mac Slavo – SHTFplan.com

As the biggest storm in five years took aim at California this week cities across the state distributed sandbags, cancelled school and warned residents to prepare for power outages. And though the storm didn’t really live up to the media hype, some people did take the warnings to heart and made last minute trips to the grocery store to stock up on foodstuffs and other supplies just so they wouldn’t have to go out in the rain.

But not everyone was prepared. One San Francisco resident in particular highlights just how susceptible America is to disasters and what to expect in the event of a widespread emergency.

“I thought we were going to watch tv all day, but now the power’s out,” Beth Ludwig said. Her mom added that the kids had never experienced a power outage before.

Georgia Virgili was one of the hundreds of thousands in the Bay Area who lost most of the conveniences of modern life.

“I didn’t have power,” Virgili said. “I couldn’t get my car out of the garage, I have no food, I have no cash, so I’m trying to forage for something.” (CBS)

The storm that swept California over the last 48 hours wasn’t really that severe. Moreover, the public had nearly three days of advanced warning that it was coming. Yet, even this was apparently not enough to convince people to make even the most basic of preparations.

Mr. Virgili was totally unprepared, as are about 99% of Americans based on recent preparedness surveys conducted by The Discovery Channel.

 As many as three million Americans now fall into the category dubbed ‘preppers’ – people who are making detailed plans for the end of the world as we know it.

The preppers are an ever-growing group of survivalists who take extreme measures to prepare for a major catastrophic event.

Given the various threats faced by humanity, including scenarios like an economic collapse. a rogue attack targeting our power grid or massive natural disasters, one can only imagine what it will look like should the system as a whole experience a sustained large-scale disaster.

To give you an idea, here are a couple of pictures taken in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Within 72 hours the system began to break down as transportation systems in large metro areas came to a standstill. The only supplies available were being distributed by the National Guard and availability was so thin that FEMA had to place emergency orders for more food. There was no clean water, no gas, and grocery stores had been cleaned out to the point that people resorted to digging through the trash just to find a meal:

dumpster-diving-sandy3

Luckily, the emergency was similar to what we saw in California, so it didn’t come as a surprise to government officials, who had already mobilized the National Guard with distribution areas for Meals Ready To Eat and filtered water:

72hours-2

Time and again we see the same story play out during disasters. During winter storms grocery store shelves have been cleaned out. After the Haitian earthquake tens of thousands were left without medical aid and armed gangs looted and killed anything they could. And who could forget Hurricane Katrina, where the government failed so miserably with their emergency response that it took them three days just to get clean water to those stuck in the Super Dome.

Now consider what would happen if something like this went on for days or weeks. What about months?

A recently released Congressional report suggests that a worst-case scenario grid down power outage lasting one year would leave 9 out of 10 Americans dead. This is an extreme example, of course, but certainly a plausible one and it emphasizes just how serious and horrific it will be for those who are not prepared.

That nearly 99% of Americans have made absolutely no plans to insulate themselves from disasters and emergencies is shocking, but to be expected. Most people are under the impression that all of those billions of dollars being spent by the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency are for supplies that will be distributed to the general population should disaster strike. The government will help, but their capacity in an extreme emergency will be very limited. Former Secretary of DHS Janet Napolitano has warned that their response teams will likely be overwhelmed and she has recommended that people have at least a two week supply of food and water. But that warning has fallen on deaf ears, as evidenced by the “tragic” stories we hear in the aftermath of disasters on a regular basis.

America as a whole is not prepared.

If the worst happens we can fully expect a complete breakdown of our civilized society within 72 hours. What’s astonishing is that much of what is to come could be prevented if every individual took responsibility for themselves and put together a basic preparedness plan that included some emergency provisions like a 30 day food supply, water reserves, medical supplies and a personal defense plan.

Hattip WhoWuddaThunkIt

This article first appeared at SHTFplan.com: Storm Shows Americans Are Totally Unprepared: “I have no food, I have no cash, so I’m trying to forage for something”

Staying Warm During the Polar Vortex

By Daisy Luther – The Organic Prepper

If you turn on the news or look at any type of social media today, the theme of the day is….Brrrrr….

That’s because most of the United States is getting hit with the first storm of the winter – and it’s a doozy.  Mac Slavo wrote about the impending deep freeze on SHTFplan:

Leading physics professor Michio Kaku, of the City University of New York, has signaled a warning concerning the polar vortex now bringing extreme cold weather to a majority of states in the U.S.

“Superstorm Nuri packs more energy than Hurricane Sandy. It’s headed our way, and we are in the bullseye. This weekend it’s going to plow into Alaska, creating fifty foot waves. Then, by midweek, all hell breaks loose. It’s going to combine with the jetstream, pushing arctic air perhaps as low as Florida,” Michio Kaku told CBS News.

“In the worst case scenario, it could mean a deep freeze. It means airlines canceling flights left and right. It means transportation being disrupted… we’re talking disruption that will peak between November 13 and November 15, but will ripple through the rest of November,” Kaku added, telling viewers to “get used to” polar vortexes, because “the earth is changing, and we’re going to see more violent swings.”

Northern states are expected to experience extreme lows that could reach -30 Fahrenheit and beyond, while early bouts of extreme cold will affect nearly the entire U.S., dipping between 15 and 30 degrees below normal.

It will bring snowstorms and heavy rains across the much of Northern United States and Canada, and heavy rains, particularly in the East.

The Weather Channel’s Tom Niziol cautioned, “It’s early in the season, but we are poised for a pure Arctic outbreak.”

If this storm is as bad as the experts are warning that it could be, the vulnerable power grid may go down due to high winds and heavy ice.  What’s more, in economically depressed places like Detroit, many residents have had their utilities shut off due to an inability to pay their bills. With temperatures in the negatives, people could quite literally freeze to death in their homes.  You don’t have to be a prepper to realize that secondary heating systems and a frigid weather plan could be vital to your survival.

Are you prepared for a winter power outage?

No matter how you heat your home, it’s vital to have back-up. Even if you have a non-grid reliant method as your primary heat source, things can happen. Chimney fires occur, wood gets wet, furnaces of all types malfunction…while these scenarios could be unlikely, you have to remember, “Two is one, one is none.”

Here are some options for heat that doesn’t come from a thermostat on the wall..

  • Wood Heat: Everyone’s favorite off-grid heating method is a fireplace or woodstove. The fuel is renewable and you have the added bonus of an off-grid cooking method. Unfortunately, if your home doesn’t already have one, it can be a pretty expensive thing to install.  If you rent, it’s probably not going to be an option at all to add wood heat to someone else’s property. If you have wood heat, make sure you have a good supply of seasoned firewood that is well-protected from the elements.
  • Propane Heaters:  There are several propane heaters on the market that do not require electricity.  I own a Little Buddy heater.  These small portable heaters are considered safe for indoor use in 49 states.  They attach to a small propane canister and use 2 oz. of fuel per hour to make 100 square feet extremely warm and toasty.  A battery-operated carbon monoxide alarm provides an extra measure of safety when using these heaters indoors. If you have a bigger area to heat, this larger unit will warm up to 200 square feet. Be sure to stock up on propane if this is your back-up heat method.
  • Kerosene/Oil Heaters:  Kerosene heaters burn a wick for heat, fuelled by the addition of heating oil.  These heaters really throw out the warmth.  A brand new convection kerosene heater like this one can heat up to 1000 square feet efficiently.  When we lived in the city I was lucky enough to have an antique “Perfection” oil heater, which was a charming addition to our decor that was be called into service during grid-down situations.  Click here to read more information about the different types of kerosene heaters that are available.
  • Natural Gas Fireplaces:  Some gas-fueled fireplaces will work when the electrical power goes out – they just won’t blow out heat via the fan.
  • Pellet Stove:   Most pellet stoves require electricity to run, but there are a few of these high efficiency beauties that will work without being plugged in.

What if you don’t have a secondary heating method?

Sometimes things happen before we get our preps in order. If you don’t have a secondary heating method, you can still stay relatively warm for at least a couple of days if you are strategic. Even if you do have a secondary heat source,  in many cases it’s important to conserve your fuel as much as possible.

If you have no additional heat at all, you can usually keep one room tolerable for 2-3 days.  If the cold is relentless and the outage lasts longer than that, you may need to seek other shelter.  Watch your temperatures. If the daytime temperature in the house dips below 40 degrees, the night time temperature will be even colder, and it won’t be safe to stay there, especially if you have children or family members who are more susceptible to illness.

These methods can help you stay cozier during a storm.

  • Heat only one room.  One year, our furnace went out the day before Christmas. We huddled into a small room with just one window.  We closed the door to the bedroom and used a folded quilt at the bottom to better insulate the room.  If you don’t have a door to the room you’ve opted to take shelter in, you can hang heavy quilts  or blankets in the doorways to block it off from the rest of the house.
  • Cover your windows.  You can use a plastic shower curtain and duct tape, topped by a heavy quilt to keep the wind from whistling through your windows.  Take down the quilt if it’s sunny outside for some solar gain, then cover it back up as dark falls. If you have reason to be concerned about OPSEC, use heavy black garbage bags to cover the windows to keep light from escaping.
  • Light candles.  Even the small flames from candles can add warmth to a small area.  Be sure to use them safely by keeping them out of the reach of children and housing them in holders that won’t tip over easily.
  • Use kerosene lamps.  Those charming old-fashioned lamps can also add warmth to the room.
  • Use sleeping bags.  Cocooning in a sleeping bag conserves body heat better than simply getting under the covers.
  • Have a camp-out.  This works especially well when you have children because it adds an element of fun to an otherwise stressful situation.  Pitch a tent in your closed off room, get inside with a flashlight, and tell stories.  When you combine your body heat in a tiny space like that, you’ll stay much warmer.
  • Get cooking. If you have a propane or gas stove in the kitchen, your cooking method may not require electricity.  So bake a cake, roast a turkey, or simmer a soup. You can use it to warm the room while making a hot, delicious feast.
  • Heat some rocks.  Do you have a place outdoors for a campfire?  If so, put some large rocks around the edges of it.  They retain heat for hours.  When it’s bedtime, carefully place the rocks into a cast iron Dutch oven and bring this into the room you’re going to be sleeping in.  Be sure to protect your floor or surface from the heat of the Dutch oven. The stones will passively emit heat for several hours without the potential of a fire or carbon monoxide poisoning during the night.

How to stay warm with less heat

Not only do we need to be concerned about a power outage due to the weather, but we also need to realize that utility bills could be extraordinarily high this year due to rising prices and an increased need for heat as temperatures plummet. When we lived in our drafty cabin up North, we had to take extra steps to keep warm. Here are some things we learned that will help out in either circumstance.

  • Keep your wrists and ankles covered.  Wear shirts with sleeves long enough to keep your wrists covered and long socks that keep your ankles covered.  You lose a great deal of heat from those two areas.
  • Get some long-johns.  Wearing long underwear beneath your jeans or PJ’s will work like insulation to keep your body heat in.  I like the silky kind like this for indoor use, rather than the chunkier chunkier waffle-knit outdoor type.
  • Wear slippers.  You want to select house shoes with a solid bottom rather than the slipper sock type.  This forms a barrier between your feet and the cold floor.  We keep a basket of inexpensive slippers in varying sizes by the door for visitors because it makes such a big difference.  Going around in your stocking feet on a cold floor is a certain way to be chilled right through.
  • Get up and get moving.  It goes without saying that physical activity will increase your body temperature.  If you’re cold, get up and clean something, dance with your kids, play tug-of-war with the dog, or do a chore.
  • Pile on the blankets. If you’re going to be sitting down, have some blankets available for layering.  Our reading area has some plush blankets which we top with fluffy comforters for a cozy place to relax.
  • Use a hot water bottle.  If you’re just sitting around try placing a hot water bottle (carefully wrapped to avoid burns) under the blankets with you.
  • Use rice bags.  If you don’t have the cute ready-made rice bags, you can simply place dry rice in a clean sock.  Heat this in the microwave, if you use one, for about a minute, or place in a 100 degree oven, watching carefully, for about 10 minutes.  I keep some rice bags in a large ceramic crock beside the wood stove so they are constantly warm.  You can put your feet on them or tuck them under the blankets on your lap. (The insert from a defunct crockpot will work for this as well.)
  • Insulate using items you have.  A friend recommended lining the interior walls with bookcases or hanging decorative quilts and blankets on the walls to add an extra layer of insulation. It definitely makes a difference because it keeps heat in and cold air out. If you look at pictures of old castles you will see lovely tapestry wall-hangings – this was to help insulate the stone walls, which absorbed the cold and released it into the space.
  • Layer your windows.  Our cabin had large lovely picture windows for enjoying the view.  However, they were single pane and it’s hard to enjoy the view if your teeth are chattering.  We took the rather drastic step of basically closing off all the windows but one in each room for the winter.  First, we used the shrink film insulator on every window. Then, we insulated further by placing draft blockers at the bottom in the window sill (I just used rolled up polar fleece – I’m not much of a sew-er.)  This was topped by a heavy blanket, taking care to overlap the wall and window edges with it.  Over that, we hung thermal curtains that remained closed.
  • Get a rug.  If you have hardwood, tile or laminate flooring, an area rug is a must.  Like the blankets on the walls, this is another layer of insulation between you and the great outdoors.  We have no basement so our floor is very chilly.  A rug in the living room protects our feet from the chill.
  • Wear a scarf.  No, not like a big heavy wool scarf that you’d wear outdoors – just a small, lightweight one that won’t get in your way and annoy you.  This serves two purposes.  First, it covers a bit more exposed skin. Secondly, it keeps body heat from escaping out the neck of your shirt.
  • Burn candles.  Especially in a smaller space, a burning candle can raise the temperature a couple of degrees.
  • Wear fingerless gloves. Gloves like these allow you to still function by keeping the tips of your fingers uncovered, while still keeping chilly hands bundled up.
  • Drink hot beverages. There’s a reason Grandma always gave you a mug of cocoa after you finished building that snowman. Warm up from the inside out with a cup of coffee, tea, cider, or hot chocolate. Bonus: Holding the mug makes your hands toasty warm.
  • Cuddle.  Share your body heat under the blankets when you’re watching movies or reading a book.

What if you’re stranded due to icy roads?

What if you’re not at home when a winter storm strikes?  In a previous article about preparing your vehicle for winter, I brought up a couple of situations that occurred last year.

During one scenario, a freak snowstorm struck the Atlanta, Georgia area.  Because weather like this is such a rarity, the area was completely unprepared, officials didn’t have the experience or equipment needed to deal with it, and traffic gridlocked almost immediately. Hundreds of people were stranded as the freeway turned into a scene reminiscent of The Walking Dead, with bumper-to-bumper vehicles at a standstill.  Those without food and water in their vehicles went hungry, and many people ran out of gas as they tried to keep warm. No matter how comfortable you are with winter driving, in a situation like this, you are at the mercy of others who may not be so experienced.

The next situation had a lot more potential for a tragic ending, had it not been for the survival skills of a father of 4 small children.  A family of six had taken off for a day of snowy adventure, when their Jeep flipped over in a remote part of the Seven Troughs mountain range in Northwestern Nevada. James Glanton, a miner and experienced hunter, kept his family alive and unscathed for two days in the frigid wilderness using only the items from his vehicle and the environment. Due to his survival skills and the things he had on hand, none of the family members so much as suffered frostbite while awaiting rescue. You can learn more about the hero dad’s resourcefulness HERE.

Regardless of why you’re stranded somewhere besides your cozy home, you should have supplies in your vehicle to fend off frostbite (or even death) due to frigid conditions.

Include things like:

Even if you aren’t a prepper, it only makes sense to get ready for a storm.

Unless you think the entire process of weather forecasting is some sort of insane voodoo, then it’s pretty undeniable that a big storm is coming. Winters in America have been setting records for bone-numbing, snot-freezing cold for the last couple of years, and it appears that this winter will be no different.

While some folks aren’t quite ready to plunge whole-heartedly into prepping, it’s hard to deny the common sense factor of preparing for a likely scenario.  You should have at the minimum, a two week supply of food and other necessities.  Before the power goes out, develop a plan to keep your family warm, even while the mercury outside reaches near-Arctic depths.

Resources

The Prepper’s Blueprint: The Step-By-Step Guide To Help You Through Any Disaster

Keeping Warm in Winter

Surviving a blizzard or winter storm without power

About the author:

Daisy Luther is a freelance writer and editor.  Her website, The Organic Prepper, offers information on healthy prepping, including premium nutritional choices, general wellness and non-tech solutions. You can follow Daisy on Facebook and Twitter, and you can email her at daisy@theorganicprepper.ca

This article first appeared at The Organic Prepper: “Pure Arctic Outbreak”: Staying Warm During the Polar Vortex

Image source: Campinglife.com

Image source: Campinglife.com

By  Nicholas O. – Off The Grid News

When there’s a disaster or a long-term power outage, you need backup communication.

During Hurricane Katrina, more than 70 percent of cell towers went down — and stayed down for weeks. The truth is that cell phone communication is very vulnerable, and if you’re currently relying on cell phones as your primary communication device in the event of that kind of a situation, you need to reconsider.

Cell towers need AC power to operate, and most don’t have an automatic backup system. Even those that have emergency generators are only on during short-term emergencies. Many cell towers are also easily susceptible to physical attack beyond storms.

So, what are your options for backup emergency communication devices? Here are four, all of which are available in battery powered handheld devices:

Continue reading at Off The Grid News: 4 Life-Saving Ways To Communicate When The Power Is Out