Unfortunately, a crisis does not come with a crystal ball and instructions as to the event, timeline or the duration of a crisis. The best any of us can do is make the decision to prepare, determine if we want our preparedness supplies to cover a 3 month, 6 month, 1 year or longer time frame, and from there, keep our eye on the goal until we’ve reached our personal safety zone.
But there is one often overlooked step to preparedness that will uncover problems that can be addressed to avoid failure in a full-blown emergency where failure is NOT an option. This approach is free, but requires determination—simply put– unplug from the grid for at least a weekend, or longer if you can. No fudging, no excuses, just tough love with your preparedness plan while it’s kicked into action and you search for weak links.
The next several Survival Diva Blogs will dive into what it takes to be set up and maintain a grid-down, self-sufficient lifestyle that incorporates alternative water collection & purification, heating, cooking, food preservation, lighting, communications, and separating ourselves from every-day dependence with everything electric.
To test your preparedness in a grid-down scenario, you will need to be ruthless; meaning switch off the main circuit breaker and spend a weekend, and preferably longer, without electricity and all the conveniences it brings…without cheating!
We’ll start small, but even then, once your electrical breaker is off after a few hours things will get interesting:
· No lights, unless you have emergency candles or oil/kerosene lamps. Even then tasks like reading and sewing or tending to animals outdoors once the sun’s gone down will be difficult.
· Small electrical appliances like a coffee maker, can opener, electric wheat grinders and a whole host of other every-day appliances we take for granted will not work.
We’ve all been stuck without electricity during a winter storm, but typically the power lines are repaired within hours and it hardly registers a blip on the radar screen. Of course, a weekend’s worth of off-grid living doesn’t offer the reality of a long term emergency, but it will shine a light on the need to thoroughly plan out preparedness that should include emergency candles and oil or kerosene lamps and replacement chimneys and wicks for oil or kerosene lamps. And don’t forget to store plenty of matches and oil or kerosene to see you through to the other side of an emergency.
Setting yourself up with manually-run appliances is another important aspect of successful preparedness. If you’re used to starting your day with a cup of coffee before your ready to face the day, better get a camp-style coffee maker or a coffee press! It doesn’t hurt to have an “ heir and a spare” for important items such as a can openers—always keep at least two top-of-the-line can openers on hand. A manual wheat grinder is a must-have if you plan to grind wheat buds to render flour for baked goods and bread. Even if you were able to purchase a best-brand model like Country Living Wheat Mill, having replacement parts on hand is important. For cheaper models of whet grinders, having an heir and spare is the best approach.
To continue with our prep 101, today we’ll touch upon alternative cooking. Natural gas stoves and electric stoves may not be able to be depended upon during an emergency. Some preppers have decided to use a generator for backup power to run appliances, but should a crisis last long enough, these steps may not be enough, for a gas or diesel run generator will only run as long as stored fuel lasts. This will not be the case, however, for those who live in a southern climate and plan to use a solar generator.
Should you live in an urban setting, cooking may not be the best choice, due to cooking orders…which will draw attention to your preparedness. Think MRE’S and canned goods in such a case. In a rural setting, a wood cook stove is a good choice, provided that you have a wood supply. Another alternative
is open fire pit cooking.
As you do a grid-down practice run, keep note of the alternative fuel and or wood you consume–then times that consumption by the length of time you plan to be prepared for. Practice cooking with cookware suitable for your alternative cooking method (most likely cast iron cookware) , and while doing so, cook with your food storage. Likewise, if MRE’S are what you plan to eat, keep notes over what worked and what didn’t and the amount consumed. It may be that you’ll decide to add canned fruit and other canned goods to your food storage.
Without water, there is no preparedness. It is the most important part of your arsenal toward survival. If you have a well, you will need a manual (hand) pump to draw water from the well if the electrical grid crashes. There are many reasons to prepare for a grid-down situation: storms, EMP, coronal mass ejection from the sun, or economic collapse, which could fold municipalities during severe economic conditions. Already, some folks have had to draw a straw as to whether to pay the electric bill or buy food. Why get caught without a way to draw water when there is a solution before a disaster? A manual hand pump comes in several styles, and their costs vary greatly. For those living in a northern climate, a frost-free model is the only way to go. For those who live in more southerly climate zones, you can take your pick. If you’re on an extreme budget (this group is growing nowadays), visit Fred Dungan’s site — He kindly offers free step-by-step instructions on making your own manual hand pump and tells you how to dig your own well on under $500.
If you live in the city, you will have to find a water source. Never make the mistake of believing that a bathtub full of water and a few dozen water jugs will get you past a crisis! In an extreme emergency, you will need to provide at least 28 gallons of water per person per month, and this does not include bathing water.
An alternative water source can be a river, a lake or a pond. But when using untreated water, water purification is a must, or you will get sick. My favorite water purifier is the Berkey (no, I don’t have stock in Burkey), or the Katadyn. Be sure to get extra filters and keep track of your water use so you will know when it’s time to change the filters out. It’s a good idea to practice running household water through your water purifier so you can get a feel for the amount of time it takes. It may surprise you–and why you will want to ask someone in your family or group to process water throughout the day so you can stay on top of your water needs.
*** Never store water in old milk cartons. This is a common mistake and it can prove disastrous. Milk cartoons break down over just a few months. Should you store water in them next to food storage, any leaks can and will destroy your food***
Think about how you will transfer water to your home. If it’s a long ways away, then you’d a better plan on getting a hand cart that can pull filled water containers. Water jugs are extremely heavy! Think about the safety or lack of safety in your location. If you are in a heavily populated area, you will want to take the path least travel to avoid drawing attention to your preparedness. Think about this carefully…in a melt-down, how many people will have thought ahead even to put aside water jugs, or to have a hand cart? These items will speak volumes as to your preparedness and they will be in great demand in a crisis. The wise thing to do is keep as low a profile as possible and not bring strangers back to your door in the hopes that you’ll have a water purifier to go along with the water jugs and the hand cart.
Under links, you will find information on how to purify water, including nuclear fallout. It is always wise to get a few books on preparedness to have on hand as a reference…Survival: Prepare Before Disaster Strikes has an entire chapter devoted to water collection, storage, and purification. But so do many others. Pick the one you feel best suits your needs—it’ll be money well spent!
If you intend to pull information from the Internet, be sure to download it! Should a grid-down arrive with a crisis (and this is likely), you would have no way to pull the information from a computer. Always print any preparedness material and keep it safely in a folder and NEVER assume the grid will be there when you most need it.