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Storms | Hurricane | Tornado | Disaster-Preparedness
Being better prepared to live off-grid for an extended period of time during a disaster may just turn out to be a good move in more ways than you might imagine.
Are you prepared to live off the grid for more than just a few days? How about going for weeks and maybe even longer before the grid service can be restored to your area after a major disaster?
If recent storms are any indication of what the future may hold, the possibility of a major wide spread storm could leave your area without electricity for a very long time.
It is now very clear the mid sections of the United States are also just a vulnerable as the coastal areas to these wide spread disasters.
Hurricanes and tornado’s are just two reasons to prepare for long term power outages. Add to the list a potential for a major earthquake, or a terrorist attack on our electrical grid infrastructure, the concept of being better prepared for the longer term becomes something that possibly needs closer review.
Preparing for a possible disaster is not easy when it involves buying stuff to just sit on a shelf and become outdated to just later be discarded.
Some common sense, becoming a bit “Green” and working toward a more self- sufficient lifestyle now will help reduce your dependency on the grid and in the long run help you to be better prepared if the lights do go out. You can even find tax credits to help you move in this direction.
Take inventory of everything you depend on to survive that requires electricity. Now remove the A/C and refrigerator and freezer, unless you have a generator and a supply of fuel to last for weeks.
Most portable generators will burn up 5 gals of gas every 12 hours, and most are only large enough to alternate between a small window A/C, a refrigerator, or freezer, but not at all at the same time. It is also not safe and practical to store large amounts of gasoline.
Gasoline also quickly becomes stale and creates all types of issues in small gasoline engines if stored much over six months.
Focus on the most basic necessities, food, water, shelter, medicine, emergency medical supplies and protection from desperate people who have not prepared.
Become “Green”, start thinking off-grid now and try to reduce your dependency on electricity. Converting over to a solar or wind power system won’t power the entire house, but it could power enough lights and small appliances to make living a bit more livable when grid power is not an option.
Going with wind and solar will also save on energy cost over the long haul. You may even find all types of tax credits and incentives from local, state and federal sources to help offset some of the cost of an alternate power supply.
If you don’t feel you can invest in a solar system, or if you rent your home, you can still have some simple emergency lighting. The Amish are using 12 volt LED table lamps ran by a small sealed 12 volt motorcycle or ATV battery.
They use a small solar panel to recharge the batteries during the day for a renewable long term lighting source.
Best of all these table lamps can actually take the place or an ordinary table lamp now to reduce your dependency on the grid. It keeps the battery exercised and ready to use when the regular lights go out.
Most batteries will fail in a very short period if they are just stored on a shelf and not routinely used and recharged.
Dried and canned foods with long expiration dates can still be stocked for long term use, but also used routinely in meals. It makes no sense to purchase a bunch of tasteless disaster food to throw out in a few years, if you never have to use.
It makes far more sense to establish par levels of canned and dried foods that your family already enjoys and to rotate those foods to keep from reaching the expiration dates.
Cooking from scratch and using a homemade flour mixes to make pancakes will go much further than frozen pancakes. Invest in a book such as Homemade Mixes an Amish cookbook loaded with recipes to make all types of dry storable cooking mixes to use on a routine basis instead of buying frozen or readymade.
Such food staples as homemade noodles are already family favorites but they also have a very long shelf life.
You will also find that food cooked this way brings many other side benefits such as healthier eating with less sodium, less calories, chemical additives and preservatives.
You will need a portable cooking device, propane stove or camping stove. A stove top oven will come in handy for baking. This might be a good time to invest in a good outdoor grill with a stove burner attached, or upgrade the camping equipment to also include things you will need to cook when the electric stove and oven doesn’t work.
Got a gas cook top? Great you will still need a lighter to use it as the electronic igniter will not work without electricity.
Think hand crank for your food processing. Your Kitchen Aide mixer won’t be worth much without the power to turn it on. Believe it or not the Amish have now converted a Kitchen Aide Mixer to operate off a hand crank; they also have a hand crank mixer called The Little Dutch Maid that uses the Bosh mixer and food processing attachments.
The Amish use all types of hand crank kitchen gadgets, just like people did before electricity began reaching rural farm homes. Some of the older hand crank cooking gadgets are quicker to use and easier to keep clean. Have you looked under the blade of your electric can opener lately?
Consider routine prescriptions, over the counter medicines, and vitamins. In an overwhelming disaster you and your family may not have access to emergency medical treatment so a good disaster checklist should include a first aid kit with supplies to treat large wounds, cuts and control bleeding. It just might save a life disaster or not.
Internet and cell access may not be available so the quick Google search for immediate answers might not be at your finger tips. Some good reference books on first aide, as well as other resource books on survival might come in handy.
Did you know there are many common weeds and flowers that are nutritious and edible? These can be safely identified, cooked and prepared with the knowledge found in a good reference book. Who knows, you just might find a new free delicacy growing in your back yard.
If you don’t already have them, consider purchasing a tent and a screened in shelter, keeping them on hand should the house become unlivable, might keep you from being eaten alive by mosquitoes. Besides a family camping trip can be fun and bring a family back together.
If nothing else a backyard sleep out for the kids will provide practice on how to set the tent up and give the kids something to do over the summer. A screened in shelter can be used routinely during the summer for family back yard events.
Don’t forget the basic necessities, such as a prota potty and a solar heated camping shower.
Water for drinking, cooking and hygiene is a must. Consider at minimum 1 gallon of water for each person per day. At least half of that gallon should be pure water for drinking and cooking.
Believe it or not water also does not store well and becomes stale and will absorb the taste and possible toxins from plastic containers.
Those with water wells can use generators to pump water, but keep in mind well pumps are 220 Volt so a large enough generator with 220 volt capability will need to be used and hooked in by a qualified electrician. It is illegal to back feed power from a generator into the power lines.
Heller-Aller a supplier of hand well pumps since the 1800s does offer an offset well cap to allow you to add an old fashion hand pump to a well with an existing electrical submersible pump. Grundfos also offers a 12 volt submersible pump that can tie into a 12 volt solar or wind charge battery pack.
A large kettle to boil water is sure to come in handy, like a large stock pot. This may also require you to rethink your cook stove and fuel supply setup. Counter top water purification systems such as the Berkey Water Purifiers might be a good investment especially if you already have concerns with your water quality.
If practical a large above ground tank to catch rain water from a gutter down spout can be routinely used for watering plants. It makes good water conservation and “Green” sense. You can find them from 55 Gals in garden catalogs, but large plastic tanks are also available from farm and ranch supply stores. They can gravity drain or be equipped with 12 volt water pump used in campers and farm sprayers. Just protect them from freezing.
Those with swimming pools and hot tubs have a good supply of water, but remember flood water containing raw sewage could contaminate the pool water.
Keep cleaning supplies on hand including several gallons of household bleach in your par level rotation. Copy off the various dilution ratios to use bleach as a disinfectant and keep it with your emergency supplies as this is another reference that you may not be able to quickly Google.
Expect the unexpected during disasters that could make living conditions unhealthy, such as backed up toilets, flood waters with raw sewage, and even blood spills from complete strangers. Bleach solution can also be used to clean and disinfect cooking areas and dish water.
Whether you believe in guns or not, you need to realize there is a group of law abiding citizens who openly admit if times become desperate enough, they will use their guns and force to take whatever they need. This does not even include the criminals who are already making home invasions routine events to rob people of their possessions.
Hunting is a fantastic sport that will help put food on the table during difficult times but also helps people to enjoy the outdoors and find new adventures that they may otherwise miss during a lifetime.
Having a fishing pole and some artificial baits is not a bad thing to have either as a routine sport but also to put some fresh protein on the table after ever thing else is cooked from a thawing freezer.
A good back-to-basics supply store such as Cottage Craft Works.com who sells Amish non-electric equipment and supplies is a good place to prepare for becoming less dependent on the grid.
Cottage Craft Works carries many of the solar and battery powered items mentioned above as well as the 12 volt Grundfos well pump and Heller-Aller water well pumps.
Cottage Craft Works Back-to-Basics General Store also carries the hand crank mixers and kitchen wares, outdoor cooking gear, Amish noodles, organic grains and flours, the Homemade Mixes and other cooking books, and a complete line of hunting gear.