I had a great conversation with one of our favorite fans. She messaged us, to let us know how she fared after a power outage. She and her family did great but also learned some important lessons. The kind of lessons that are hard to learn from someone else but “life” is an excellent teacher. She had a great idea: that I should share our talk with all of you! She asked that I change her name so…she’s Betty, now.
So I have been prepping for a SHTF situation for about 18 months. I thought, when this storm was predicted and forecast, that I was good to go! I was better prepared than most around me, but we still learned a few things…. . I am older and have done a LOT of camping in my youth. So I figured, I know how to use all these gadgets! I don’t need to practice. WRONG! First off, I gave my camp stove to my son and his family because they have little ones and if they have no electricity, my grandbabies will have to eat cold food! NOT MY GRANDBABIES!!! So as a backup, I had a sterno stove and sterno… Yeah, it’s ok for heating things up but it doesn’t boil water!! Note to self, get a second cook stove! Dog food! Yep, I forgot about the dogs! They were about 2 scoops away from sharing my food! Had to go out after the storm to get dog food. Another thing, since I use all of my preps, coffee grounds, camp coffee pot, flashlights, can opener, etc… I had to hunt for stuff after the lights went out. So lessons learned?
1. Try out your gadgets before you need them! (All of the Prep sites TELL you this but I didn’t listen and I am sure there are more folks like me out there!)
2. Keep all of your emergency supplies in one place, don’t use them! If you must, just buy a second one for daily use!
3. Don’t forget your pets. Buy an extra bag of food each month to stock pile for later.
4. Inventory your supplies YOURSELF. Do NOT depend on your significant other to have done this. HE THOUGHT we had more propane than we did and WE ended up having to go out to pick up some more before it was all over. Other than that, we did very well! We were powerless for a little over 12 hours and just got back cable/internet service. We COULD have made it on the propane we had for another 24 -48 hours, but I don’t like to cut it that close. One other thing, our neighbors on one side did NOT PREPARE FOR ANYTHING! When the electricity went out, they had no alternate heat source. We have 2 propane heaters (one is none two is one) so were able to share one with them. And some propane.
Our neighbor on the other side tried to start his generator but the oil was so cold it wouldn’t start. Ours was in the garage in the “camping gear” cabinet. (SHTF Cabinet!) So all it needed was a little gas and he was good to go again! So all in all, I was more prepared but could have done better. Let it happen again and I will be better off!!! Happy Sunday and thanks for the info. You are a great resource and with your shared knowledge, you have helped 3 families make it through this ice storm!
Real life has an amazing ability to smack you with a reality check. A few recommendations from, “Mr. Screwed up myself…numerous times”:
Our area gets several power outages a year. A short one is 4 hours. The worst was like 17days. The short ones are barely an inconvenience. Nowadays, we could just about do 17 days without batting an eye. We usually have enough fuel on hand to make it about 30 days. I’ve learned a lot over the more than 15 years since then. Here are some things I’ve learned:
1. Amazon sells a single burner propane stove http://amzn.to/1OTKUD9 that is less than one square foot and about 3″ tall. Also, just buy a Rocket Stove from Woodmite on Facebook. Play with it a couple times. That sucker will boil water with twigs.
2. Get a small folding table http://amzn.to/1KAPlAM or TV tray from Amazon, a yard sale, or Costco. Set it right outside a door as a mini cooking station.
3. Sterno sucks. It will boil water. One cup at a time in a very thin aluminum cup. Anything thicker wastes heat. It is a LAST ditch method. A “Jetboil” or canister stove http://amzn.to/1KAPEvs is more efficient and burns hotter as long as you are below 5000′ elevation. All liquid fuels http://amzn.to/1OTM3dY suffer at low temps and high elevation. Wood burns hot everywhere. A rocket stove rocks except for having to cook outside.
4. Buy at least 2 bags of dog food, next time. Rotate them like people food. Mark them with the date. Use one, buy one, use the oldest.
5. Using your preps is ok if it is hardware. Having a second piece of equipment is great if you have the budget. It’s just not always practical in terms of finances or space. “Two is one” is an excellent philosophy but difficult when you’re still trying to get your first kit built. Using your preps is important because then you know THAT they work AND…HOW they work! Reference your Sterno lesson for that one.
6. Our camping kit is a part of our Bug Out Kit. We use a series of labeled bins http://amzn.to/1OTPu4i . We have one for our camp kitchen. Another for plates and peripheral kitchen stuff. In a power outage, I can just grab the Kitchen Bin. If you have to spread your preps out because of space, try to keep similar items near each other. It’ll help with the hunt.
7. A basic inventory should become a part of your daily life. If you use something that is a part of your preps, it goes on your shopping list NOW. Replace it ASAP. I do it two ways:
-My Amazon Cart gets used for stuff like this. I use something and drop its replacement in my cart. I check out my Amazon cart about once a week or whenever I get to the “free shipping” threshold. Paying for Amazon Prime is totally worth it if you shop like this. -
-My shopping list is in the notes on my phone. I don’t walk into a store without checking that list. Ever.
8. Propane doesn’t really have a shelf life. If you go to Walmart or similar. Grab a can. It’s less than $4. It’s cheap insurance. If you shop weekly, that’s 50+ bottles in your storage in just one year. Once you get to that point, you can decide if you have “enough”. Buy a couple 20# cylinders (BBQ Size). Keep them handy. They make an adapter http://amzn.to/1KATeWC you can refill the 1 pound canisters with. Pretty cool… You could even get an adapter to fill them off the house propane tank (probably not a recommended practice according to your propane company but priceless skill if you really need it).
9. “Mr. Heater” http://amzn.to/1KATiFH makes some excellent portable propane space heaters in several sizes. Just get one. It may be a life or death situation that it gets used in. Heat isn’t always about comfort…especially with grand babies.
10. Without power and heat, condense your family and your life down to one smaller room. It’ll be easier to heat, light, etc… If you can, pick a room that has some ventilation. If you can, cook in that room too. It’ll save you from wasting that heat.
11. Don’t keep ALLLL Your preps in one place…even a small fire http://amzn.to/1KATswT could be devastating. So could thieves.
Hope this helps! You made it through. You learned some valuable lessons. Keep expanding your skills and knowledge…12 hours will be a walk in the park.
I bought a single burner propane stove yesterday, so we are good to go on that. With it being as cold as it was and it was still either freezing rain or snowing, cooking outside was NOT my first choice so the Sterno worked ok. I like the idea of a TV tray outside the back door for a cooking station! But we would have to figure out some king of cover. The porch is not covered. Rocket stove seems like a viable option if the weather has cleared up and we are still power challenged! LOL! Definitely changing how we buy dog food. As far as the 2 is one philosophy, it only pertains to the heaters, can openers, coffee pots, ground coffee.. and that kind of “gear” We have the 2 Mr. Heater Big Buddys http://amzn.to/1S7mVGI. And were able to share with the neighbor. We already have the propane refill adapter but have had problems refilling them to capacity with the instructions with them. I do want to buy at least one full 20# propane tank. Won’t be caught with our pants down next time!!! The propane was a real issue for me. We can get 2 x 1# bottles at Walmart for $5.77. They are 4 for $12.89 at Sam’s! MUCH better deal at Walmart! I get paid again on the 1st and will be getting 10 packs. We have 6 packs now so that will be 16 packs leaving us with 9 packs to get. IF we have another ice storm, we will be good to go with 32 cans. I like the idea of a “Kitchen” bin! I have a first aid kit bin you would think I would have thought of a kitchen one! As far as the heat, we had one of those Big Buddy’s on high and the house was 75! I thought I was going to die! I had to go to the blocked off bedrooms to cool off! LOL! I do have a problem with all my preps in one area. We have some in the garage, some in the basement (they are separated by a thin wall!) Then other stuff upstairs in a spare bedroom. We don’t have any outside storage. The city I live in requires a building permit to put one up! Even store bought! So we are just going to have to do it the way we are now. Thanks for all the pointers! and if you want to use me for a lesson for others, feel free… Just change the name! Have a great rest of your weekend!
So, I hope we can all learn some lessons WITH Betty! Power failures can happen for a multitude of reasons. Sometimes it’s weather. Sometimes it’s fire. Sometimes it’s a drunken moron taking out a power pole. You never know when power will be out and you may not know how long it will be out. Prepare now and your temporary journey to the “Dark Ages” will be a lot more pleasant. Heck, you might even enjoy the quiet…