Monday, January 13, 2014

When the lights go out: One man's experience

Nature has unleashed a lot of super events on the world in the past few years. Many people have had experiences related to said events that they never thought they'd have. I've had experiences without power, but I've never had one in which I was using my food storage because it was the only option, so I don't have anything personal to share on the matter. However, Frantz Ostmann does. He and his family got hit by the brunt of hurricane Sandy back in 2012. On Facebook, he posted a list of things he learned from his experience.

This post is how I've chosen to share what he wrote.
  1. The excitement and coolness wears off around day three.
  2. You are never really prepared to go weeks without power, heat, water, etc. Never!
  3. Yes, it can happen to you.
  4. Just because your generator runs like a top doesn't mean it's producing electricity.
  5. If you do not have water stored up, you are in trouble.
    1. A couple of cases of bottled water is NOT water storage.
  6. You should have as much fuel as water:
    1. Propane
    2. Gas
    3. Kerosene
    4. Firewood
    5. Fire starter (kindling, paper, etc.)
  7. Even the smallest little thing that you get from the store should be stocked up:
    1. Spark plug for generator
    2. BBQ lighter
    3. Etc.
  8. If you are not working, chances are nobody else is, either.
  9. I was surprised at how quickly normal social behavior went out the window. I am not talking about someone cutting in line at the grocery store.
    1. Three people were killed as gas stations within 50 miles of my home.
      1. I did not say three fights broke out; three people were killed.
  10. Cash is king--all the money in your [bank accounts] means nothing.
  11. Stored water can taste nasty.
  12. You eat a lot more food when you are cold.
  13. You need more food than you think if your kids are out of school for two weeks.
  14. Kids do not like washing their faces in cold water.
  15. Your 1972 Honda Civic gets to the grocery store just as well as your 2012 Escalade, but the Honda allows more money left over for heat, food, water, a generator, firewood, a backup water pump...you get the idea.
  16. The electrical grid is way more fragile than I thought.
  17. Think of the things that are for your comfort, your escape, [such as] a cup of hot chocolate, a glass of milk and a ding dong before bed, tequila, etc. Stock up on those, too. You will need that comfort after day three.
  18. You either quickly become the guy who knows how to wire a generator to the electrical panel...or the guy whose master degree in accounting suddenly means nothing.
  19. [Those] who can cook a fine meal by candle light over the BBQ or open fire is worth [their] weight in gold. [Those] whose weight in gold wouldn't add up to much usually die off first.
  20. It takes a lot of firewood to keep a fire going all day and into the night for heat.
  21. All the food storage in the world means nothing if your kids won't eat it.
  22. You might be prepared to take care of your children and their needs, but what about when the neighborhood children start to show up at your door?
  23. Some people shut down in an emergency. There is nothing you can do about that.
  24. Your town, no matter how small, is entirely dependent on outside sources for everything.
    1. If supply trucks stop rolling in due to road damage, gas shortages, or anything else, you could be without for a long time.
  25. In an emergency, men stock up on food; women stock up on toilet paper.
  26. I was surprised at how many things run on electricity!
  27. You can never have enough matches.
  28. Although neighbors can be a great resource, they can also be a huge drain on your emergency storage. You need to know how you are going to handle that. It's really easy to be "Bob, the guy who shares" on day three. It's not so easy on day 11. That's just reality.
  29. "Give a man a fish and he'll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he'll eat for a lifetime."...now I get it.
  30. All of the expensive clothes in the closet mean nothing if they don't keep you warm.
    1. The same goes for shoes.
  31. [It will seem like] the utility companies are run by politicians.
  32. Anything that you depend on someone else for is not available anymore.
  33. "A man with a chainsaw that knows how to use it is a thing of beauty."
  34. Most folks don't have any emergency storage. They run to Wal-Mart and get water and batteries and then fill their tubs with water. That's it. A lucky few will [end up with] a case of ramen and a box of pop-tarts. That will be your neighbor's supply.
  35. Fathers and Mothers: all the money you've ever made and everything you've ever done means nothing and is forgotten if you can't keep your kids warm and fed.
    1. You really don't want to be the "unprepared parents." The kids turn on you pretty quick.
  36. Small solar gadgets will keep you in touch. Most work pretty well, it seems.
  37. Most things don't take much power to operate:
    1. Computers
    2. Phones
    3. Radios
    4. TVs
    5. lights
  38. Some things take a ton of power to operate:
    1. Fridge
    2. Toaster
    3. Freezer
    4. Hot plate
    5. Microwave
  39. When it gets dark at 4:30, the nights are really long without power.
  40. Getting out of the house is really important, even if it is cold. Make your home the semi-warm pace to come to, not the cold prison you're stuck in.
  41. Someone in your family must play or learn to play the guitar :)
  42. Things that disappear [from the store or your house] will not be seen again for a long time:
    1. Fuel of all kinds
    2. Matches and lighters of all kinds
    3. Toilet paper [and paper towels]
    4. Paper plates, plasticware
    5. Batteries
    6. Milk
    7. Charcoal
    8. Spark plugs (generators)
    9. 2 stroke motor oil (chainsaws)
    10. Anything that could be used to wire a generator to your house
    11. Extension cords
    12. Medicine (tylenol, advil, claritin, etc.)
  43. When you're prepared, there's a strange peace to knowing that all I had to do each day was keep my family safe, warm, and fed. But my peace was someone else's panic.

                                                  Thank you, Frantz                                                          

In addition, here are a few other things that I've thought of and picked up over time:
  1. Playing on stereotypes: Women, if said disaster happens while the men in your life are unable to get to you to help because of road damage or whatever, do you know how to wire a generator?
  2. Playing on stereotypes again: Men, if the women in your life aren't there when said disaster hits, do you know your way around the well enough without needing to call her to ask where something is? 
  3. Did you know that it takes eight(8) liters of water to flush a toilet?
  4. Remember: no power = no electronics to distract you. What do you have in your house to pass the time? 
  5. If you have young children, do you have a sufficient storage of binkies, diapers, wipes, vaseline, and formula (if you use it)? 
    1. You don't want your child to get a rash because you weren't prepared.
    2. Women who are nursing: Do you have enough food and water in store at home to keep yourself hydrated and nourished so that you can feed your child? If you're pumping, do you have a place to store that milk so it doesn't go bad?
  6. Emergency storage should also include warm blankets.
  7. In case you have to leave your home, do you have a basic travel-size 72-hour kit for every member of your family? If so, is everything in it still usable?
  8. Have you tasted the stuff you have in your food storage? Do you even like it? 
  9. Dried fruit can be the best thing ever.
  10. Many parents think "I'll go without so my kids can be taken care of." That's great, but what are your kids going to do when you get sick because you're not taking care of yourself? Make sure you have enough for everyone to get by.

Let us prepare ourselves, yes? 


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