We’ve all been there. The lights flicker during a storm, then go out. It can be a fun time, sort of. It can also be annoying and, if it isn’t a simple fix for the power company, it can become BIG trouble for many reasons. Whether it’s a common power outage caused by weather, or an Electro-Magnetic Pulse (EMP), the result is very similar.
Water & Sanitation. If the electricity is gone, water pumps don’t work. Even if you’re on a gravity feed system in a municipality, once the tanker runs dry the pumps will not be able to re-fill the resevoir. We need water to drink, yes, but if the power is out for more than a day, sanitation quickly rivals thirst for priority billing.
You need to be able to flush the toilet. Diseases and illness spread easily under unsanitary conditions, which could quadruple the problems a lack of electricity brings with it.
Think about getting a water reservoir on your property which either fills from the gutter system, or from your garden hose to keep at least 100 gallons of water on hand for filtering emergency water and for flushing the toilets.
Cooking. Great. The stove doesn’t work. If you have gas, you’re lucky. Cold cans of beans gets old real quick and that box of macaroni and cheese starts looking like a 3 course meal — but the cardboard box laughs in your face because you have no means of boiling water.
Think about getting a propane gas grill (which you can use in everyday life, too), or at least a small gas camp stove. A 5 gallon propane tank will give you grilling and fire capability for months on end if you use it wisely.
Heat. We can pretty much do without air conditioning, but if it’s winter and we lose power… The best solution for me is a wood burning stove. A whole-house generator can be a solution, but generators come with another whole set of problems inherently: maintenance, fuel, and noise. Plan on having extra blankets, warm clothes, cold weather sleeping bags, etc.. You also need to think about preserving the integrity of your household systems. A broken water pipe, again, brings another whole set of problems. Think about your insulation.
Kerosene heaters, propane “Buddy” type heaters, and even candles can provide some warmth but whenever you burn an open flame you must plan for carbon monoxide issues. A cracked window can keep good air flow while a kerosene heater warms the room. Try placing cinder blocks or other heat-absorbing objects near the heater so you can shut it down from time to time and still get radiant heat stored in those objects.
Heat is a big problem and most solutions for your whole house are expensive and outside the scope of general survival supplies, but rather in the vein of home improvement.
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