September is National Preparedness Month. Be ready! Have a plan and make an emergency kit. The Shooter’s Log has all the information you need to prepare for disasters. #NatlPrep It’s not if, it’s when. Given the current state of affairs in the northeast, we thought we would recap a few simple tips and tricks to surviving without any electrical power should the need arise. Most Americans are so dependent on their neighborhood electrical grid that the absence of power would render them virtually helpless. It is a bit hard to believe that only 100 years ago most people didn’t have electricity in their homes.
It is important to remember to have a few simple items on hand when preparing for a power outage. First and foremost, if you can’t see what you are doing in the dark, you won’t do what you are doing very well. Having a flashlight is great, but can you find it in the dark? How many sets of batteries do you have readily available in case the power is out for a longer period of time? Candles are a good cheap source of light as well. Remember you will need at least three candles if you hope to read by candle light. Candles will flicker however, making detailed jobs in the dark difficult. For a steadier source of light, try an old Kerosene lamp, these can be expensive, but they do put out a fair amount of light.
If you have a fireplace, you are in luck. This will provide heat and light during a snowstorm. You can even use it to cook with, but more on that later. The best free source of heat when there is no power is a good quality blanket. That combined with a roaring fire will make for a relaxing evening to say the least. Just remember to not let that blanket get too close to the fire or it might get a lot warmer than you bargained for. Aside from a nice source of light and heat, you can also cook with an open fire. The best tool for this job is a large cast iron Dutch oven. The Dutch oven is arguably the most versatile cooking vessel in any chef’s arsenal. The thick cast iron material allows direct heat to spread evenly across the interior surface of the oven. Cooking soups, stews and even baking bread can all be done in one of the heavy pots, all with no power outside of a burning stack of wood.
Other than a fireplace, traditional forms of outdoor cooking work just as well. Grilling and barbecuing work just as well without power. Propane and butane camp stoves are inexpensive and heat food easily. Ready-made meals work well with no power too. Military MREs are easy and contain lots of much needed calories and nutrients. You can also heat a can of chili or beans over an open flame, just open the top first or you will have food on every surface of your home.
Aside from cooking, communication is key during a power outage. In a time of distress, keeping in contact with family and knowing about local and national situations is important to maintaining both continuity and confidence. In general, landline telephone systems are on a different system than the electrical power grid, and won’t be interrupted by a power outage. In most cases, cell phone service will be down, so it is important to have a communications back up plan in place.
With some simple supplies, you can make yourself quite comfortable in a power outage situation. Remembering to keep things like matches, fresh batteries, flashlights and radios handy can mean the difference between living somewhat normally and outright panic. Remember that being prepared ahead of time is always better than reacting when it is too late.
What do stockpile in preparation for a power outage? Tell us in the comment section.
For more resources on power outages, click here.
Surviving the Next Power Outage originally posted on November 3, 2011.