What Will You Do When the Lights Go Out?
Some people believe that we are hurtling towards physical disaster
with our delicate electrical grid. Just how that disaster might
occur is open for debate, but we need only look at major power outages
over the last few years to see how precarious our grasp on electricity
is. It isn’t a matter of “if” the lights will go out, but a matter
Severe weather has given the grid a walloping over the past few
years. For example, three years ago, parts of Kentucky,
Arkansas, Oklahoma, Indiana, Illinois, West Virginia and Missouri
suffered through 3 weeks sans power after a record-setting ice storm.
Last summer, people in the Washington,
DC metropolitan area were without power for a week during a
heat wave as the result of a severe thunderstorm accompanied by
high winds. And most recently, of course, we have witnessed the
plight of the victims of Hurricane
Sandy as they have struggled to function in the most populated
area in the United States without electricity and running water,
all while attempting to clean up the detritus of the massive storm.
Mother Nature could have other tricks up her sleeve with the possibility
of a solar flare-related coronal
mass ejection that could cause not only outages but irreparable
damage to items powered by electricity. Many countries have developed
(electromagnetic pulse) weapons that could perpetrate the same
type of damage.
Yet another grim possibility is that as the economy continues to
degrade, more and more people simply won’t
be able to afford to keep the electricity on in their homes.
However it happens, whether it’s for 3 weeks or for the long haul,
we need to learn to function differently than we do right now. We
need to reduce our dependency on municipally delivered power and
either create our own power or simplify to the extent that we need
Many preppers spend hundreds to even thousands of dollars on generators.
Most of these are powered by gasoline, although some are fueled
by propane. These investments would certainly be handy during a
short term outage but are they really worth the money? This really
depends on two things: your ability to store fuel and your budget.
- If you live in surburbia, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to have
hundreds of gallons of gasoline stored in a shed in the back yard
– not only will regulations prohibit this, but there simply won’t
be the space on a typical in-town property.
- Will purchasing a generator mean that you have to sacrifice
other things in your prepping budget? Will you still have enough
food to get through an extended supply emergency? Will you be
able to afford a water filtration system? What about first aid
supplies, seeds, books and home defense items?
The next consideration is the probable length of the emergency.
Many people in New York and New Jersey had generators, but only
enough gasoline for 2-3 days. Who can forget the long
lines where people waited for hours to only be allowed to purchase
5 gallons of gasoline? Depending on the generator and what appliances
are being powered, 5 gallons will supply 3-8 hours of electricity.
When you do the math, in the event of a long-term emergency complete
with fuel shortages, a gasoline generator is not going to be a long-term
solution for most.
Other options (I have not researched these methods because they
are currently out of reach for me, so I can’t go into detail on
the pros and cons) are solar power, wind power and harnessing the
energy of nearby running water. Consider your environment before
investing in these systems in order to purchase the one that will
be most in line with the area in which you live.
So what can you do? If you can’t afford to have an off-grid electrical
system installed at your home, does this mean that you are destined
for an over-crowded shelter, or worse, doomed to failure in the
event of a down-grid situation?
NOT AT ALL.
This just means you have to adapt your requirements.
First, check things out at your home or retreat. Make a list of
the items that you use every day that require electrical power.
Then, look at your list and scratch off the items that are absolutely
unnecessary – the television, the video game console, the microwave
in the kitchen, etc. (If you have those things – we downsized a
great deal before relocating here.)
See what you have left. Of these items, how can you supply your
needs without electrical power? Here are some examples from my family’s
list and the solutions that we either have or have planned:
- Lights: Solar garden lights, candles, kerosene
- Heat: Wood stove, small propane heater
for the bathroom or kitchen for the coldest days, 2 large canisters
- Cooking: Wood stove, nutritious home-canned
meals that only require reheating, small and large cast-iron dutch
ovens to use on wood stove, sun oven, outdoor fireplace
- Refrigeration: Large cooler to be packed
with snow in the winter and used indoors, a plastic storage bench
that is lockable to be used outdoors in the winter (the lock is
to keep 4 legged critters out of it), root cellar for summer,
change of eating habits in summer
- Water: (our well runs on an electric pump
and we rent, so unfortunately we can’t modify this) 1 month supply
of drinking water stored, Berkey water filtration system, buckets
along with a sled or wheel barrow depending on the season, for
bringing up water from the lake for flushing, filtration and cleaning.
Anything else, we can really live without. These are the things
which are vital, and the solutions are all long-term.
Now, apply this to your own situation. Find as many solutions as
possible for the issues you would face if going for weeks (or longer)
without power. You must stay warm, eat, and drink. Everything else
is a bonus.
Some people like to give arguments as to why they can’t resolve
these issues. They live in an apartment, they rent, they have a
limited budget….the list is as long as indefinite detention. The
fact is, by realizing these things are necessary and refusing to
face them and find solutions for your particular situation, you
are setting your family up to suffer, and possibly even die, when
it could be avoided.
I like electricity. I like the convenience of turning on a light
at the switch, of putting ice cubes in my water in the summer and
watching a movie after making popcorn on the stove. But will I die
without those things? No. Anything electrical that is vital to life
has a back-up.
This article has been contributed by Daisy Luther.
You can follow her daily tips, strategies and prepping ideas at
Organic Prepper and Girls
from SHTF Plan.
© 2012 The