Monday, October 31, 2011

Here we go again…

After surviving the Great Ice Storm of 2008 Mum and I were in much better shape to deal with the Halloween Nor’easter of 2011.  (And I was griping about a little dusting on my van’s windshield just the other day…)

The basics everyone needs just to survive:

Food & Water

Our pantry is not in as good a condition for this kind of situation as I would prefer.  That said, we have enough to eat.  The water supply is still working.  (Remind me to grab some in a container when I get home just incase that changes…)  And I have devised an improvised way of cooking.  So we are okay there.

Our home is undamaged and just as livable as if there wasn’t a ‘situation’ in progress – except for our electric supply being out.  That right there is the problem.  Because the electricity is out several key systems are also down.

The furnace.  (Kerosene, but requires an electric fuel pump and blowers to run.)
The hot water heater.  (Propane, but requires an electric blower and ignition to run.)
The refrigerator.  (Electric, 110/115 volts.)  We don’t have a chest freezer – yet.
The stove.  (Electric, 220 volts.)

Naturally the lights and computer are also on that list.  But those are convenience items not required for basic survival.  Other things we have come to depend on are the laundry equipment and the dishwasher.  Our voip phone system survived for several hours without power on its battery back-up, but is now dead.  There is apparently no power to the local cell tower so even while my cell phone had juice there is no service.

In the interest of full disclosure, I am writing this on my lunch break on my work computer since the building has emergency generators and the area may have power from the grid.

So our food situation is tolerable and our home is livable.  What about warmth? 

We’ve got that covered too.  Our pall R2 is back in service.  I wrote at length about the odyssey we went through finding him during the ice storm.  R2, who got his name because he resembles an “R2 unit” (though not R2-D2 so much) from Star Wars, is a portable kerosene space heater.  One of the larger upright cylindrical ones that have a cage-work surrounding the top 4/5ths of his body.  I have to siphon fuel from our primary oil tank out back of the house to fill him.  But at least we have some to siphon!  For cooking I’ve found that if I place our kettle on top of the cage-work it doesn’t boil to make the kettle whistle, but it still gets hot enough to make tea.  We could also probably cook pasta or make soup or stew that way as well.

For lights we have my collection of vintage oil lamps and lanterns.  They can burn standard lamp oil or citronella torch fuel.  In a pinch they could probably also use kerosene the same as R2, but that is a last resort.

I have also set up the prototype passive solar heaters that I built last year.  I don’t know how many BTU’s they contribute, but they do seem to help.  I would very much like to build a bigger badder better version this year – if finances will allow.

So we’ve got the basics covered.

A couple of things we don’t have covered as well as I’d like are back-up electricity storage/generation and refrigerated food storage.  I’ll go into those and other preparedness projects in more detail in future posts. 

As you can no doubt tell I’m not a big-time survivalist guru mentor.  But I am more than happy to share my journey into the land of preparedness and self sufficiency. 

One thing I will recommend is that you get your hands on my favorite magazine: The Backwoodsman.  The guys who write the articles in that publication know what they are talking about and have developed the information from personal use.  (The Eclectic Dragonfly is in no way connected to BWM, its publisher or any of its authors or contributors.  This is simply my personal endorsement.)

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