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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

SHTF: Winter survival at home

Let's take the modern American home like mine for instance. A major ice storm hits the area and is expected to last for 24 - 36 hours. At 9PM, the power suddenly shuts off leaving the whole house in the dark.

This happened last night and is not a drill. We experienced in the middle of the country, a hard ice storm which knocked out power to many homes and towns. Right when the weather was in the mid 20's and dropping fast.

I was in the laundry room searching for an air filter when it happened.
My wife had the baby and was giving her a bottle.
The older kids were in bed, but still awake.

My kids shouted first, "Daddy, the lights are out!".

My wife said nothing from the other side of the house because she knows I will do something in about 10 seconds.

I retrieved the first flashlight from the shelf above and went for one of the emergency electric lanterns by the front door. That went to the kids so they would quit hollering.

I went for another lantern in the bedroom and put that in the den with my wife an baby.

I went outside and verified the rest of the neighborhood was in the dark as well.

OK, we are on electric heating so in a few hours, no warm house. We have a gas fireplace which takes wood, but has gas to start it if needed so that went on immediately.

Extra blankets and quilts? No problem, have lots. The stove runs on gas the water was still running so we were okay there. Who cares if the phone works or not, we use our cells for most anything these days anyway.

However, this brings up a larger set of questions:
- What if the power was out for several days (happening now in other parts of the country due to the same storm)?
- What if the water failed in a day or so?
- What if the gas went out?
- What if the storm was severe and travel was hard if not impossible? How much gasoline is in the car anyway?
- What would you do to warm the home, cook food, drink and bathe with?

In the winter, no heat is bad news. Yes, a nice wood stove without a blower would be nice, but hardly anyone has one I know of and I would not know where to put it in this house.

A well? Fat chance in the city. And the need for electricity would still be a problem.

You see the problems? Most of modern America would be dead or very uncomfortable in about 24 hours or less. We all read about that poor old man in Michigan who died of hypothermia.. that only one has been reported is amazing to me. I would think in this faceless and nameless day that hundreds of shut ins, elderly and others would pass away during cold snaps.

So what is the solution for the hundreds of thousands of families living in modern homes in America during the winter?

Stock up on blankets naturally.

Have a wood fired fireplace at the very least and one cord of wood on hand (five is recommended for winter use).

[Note: Do not plan on burning furniture, lumber or fencing in doors. Most are made from treated wood which when burned, will introduce numerous dangerous chemicals into the home].

Have a water supply now. And have filters and bleach on hand to produce more drinking water from rain or snow.

Stored food goes without saying, but remember you will crave and burn more calories in the winter. I would add to that stock warm beverages like lots of coffee, tea and cocoa.

Make sure the cars are always full of gasoline.

Keep an eye of neighbors, especially the elderly.

A generator is good to have in winter emergencies, but note they burn lots of gas fast. And they may attract the wrong element.

Stay near home and avoid going out doors. Doing so only makes you colder, burns energy and brings more cold air into the home coming and going.

Keep firefighting equipment nearby (extinguishers, sand, etc.) for emergencies. Also have a carbon monoxide detector on hand.

Winter survival at home is not for the fainthearted. Fortunately, our power came on shortly after it went out, but it could have stayed off for a day or longer. When the SHTF, it will stay off permanently; this was a good exercise.

Best news of the day: My wife wondered when we were going to sell our home and move somewhere more rural and have our own land. Wonders never cease!


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