Winter is upon our fair Island once again and with the season, come the inevitable power outages. Many folks have weathered the inconvenience of power outages before and have taken steps to mitigate them. There are some people who seem to have prepared for the worse and I applaud their efforts at self sufficiency. For those who may not have prepared adequately, please allow me to give some suggestions.
Your electricity suddenly goes out. So, what are your main concerns? Heat, light, keeping the frozen food from thawing, keeping the aquarium oxygenated, updating your Facebook status, not missing the final episode of Survivor? If you’re very prepared, you have a generator and all you have to do is fire it up. Problem solved.
However, if you have no backup plans then you improvise, you adapt, you overcome. Just don’t sit there and hope the power comes on soon. Take control of your situation! Candles can provide some heat, putting on extra clothing works, how about a few of those chemical heat packs that warm up when exposed to air, snuggle with your sweetie or your dog….do something! Having extra batteries for your flashlights that you should have lying around would be helpful. Same thing for the portable radio that you can stay connected to the world with.
Don’t be opening your refrigerator or freezer unless you have to. It’ll stay cool in there for quite some time, but not so much if you keep opening the door. If it looks like the power will be out for a long time and you really need to save your perishable food, just place it outside or in the garage. It’s probably cooler there than inside your house. Take precautions to keep animals out of it.
It’s a great psychological boost to be able to eat warm food when there is no power, but trying to cook is a pain when you’re used to just popping something in the microwave, or into a saucepan on the stove top. The solution is to choose very simple foods that require little or no preparation. Improvise! How about just a can of soup, chili, stew or similar placed into a saucepan and hold it over a couple of candles for awhile? It’s not going to boil, but after about 10 – 15 minutes, it will definitely be warm! Adapt! Got gas in your car, but can’t drive anywhere? How about popping your hood and placing an unopened can of chili or stew on your hot exhaust manifold for a few minutes? (I used to heat up my can of beanie-weenies when I was in the army that way) Don’t leave it too long, because it may blow up due to over pressure. Overcome! Got any denatured alcohol or Heet gas line antifreeze in your garage? Simply pour a couple of ounces of it into an empty tuna fish or cat food can, light it on fire and use something to prop up your saucepan an inch or two above the can. (3 rocks, or…?) You’ll have boiling hot food or water in less than 8 minutes!
Next, what about water? Some lucky people are on a gravity system, or supplied by a community water system that already has backup power. In a long term situation without running water we need to obtain water from creative sources. Your water heater contains about 50 gallons of water….just drain it out of the bottom and into containers. The holding tank of your toilet contains several gallons. Any creeks nearby? Don’t be drinking the water straight from the creek, but you could easily use household bleach to purify it. First, let the collected water stand until particles settle. Pour the clear water into an uncontaminated container and add regular household bleach per the ratio below. Mix well, wait 30 minutes. The water should have a slight bleach odor. The ratio is 2 drops per quart…or 8 drops per gallon… or ½ teaspoon per five gallons. Also, you can simply boil your water if you have an adequate heat source.
For some reason, most folks don’t think too much about preparedness until something happens. Then, everyone rushes to the store, emptying the shelves. C’mon…it doesn’t take much effort to pick up a few extra things now and then to keep stored in case of emergency. The time for preparation is NOT at the time of a crisis. Do it now!