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Prepare for Electric Power Outages – Survival Common Sense

Presented by Survival Common Sense .com

Emergency preparedness means you should have backup systems or plans for heat, lighting and water. If you’re lucky, the power won’t be off long, but batteries are gone after a few days, unless you have a way to recharge them. A generator will only work until it runs out of fuel.

One of the more important aspects of urban survival during winter storms is lighting. Without a lighting plan, you could end up in the dark from when the sun sets at around 5:30 p.m. until dawn. The right lighting supplies can make this situation more bearable. (Source)

Although I don’t completely agree with this author’s reliance on candles (what could be worse when you are bunkering down in your house than a house fire!) I do agree that they are easily stockpiled. There are also good tips and links to other articles embedded in the text. (WCS)

For the Full Article follow the link below.

Prepare for Electric Power Outages – Survive the Storm | Common sense survival tips and safety guide to surviving an emergency or natural disaster; Survival Common Sense – Wilderness or Urban Emergency Preparedness and Safety Guide.

The Seven Top Survival Priorities.

In the same way that all survival ‘kits’ have the same basic components, which we add to when expecting to face specific dangers, all survival plans should have the same basic priorities that are elaborated on to face individual needs or scenarios.

These needs/scenarios take into account things like:

  • Location. Whether you are based in a city or rural environment and where you expect to be if the SHTF (work or home)
  • Personal abilities. Survival experience and personal survival development as well as injuries/illnesses that might hamper your survival plan.
  • The nature of the emergency or disaster you face. Obviously, a local riot presents significantly different dangers than a flood or fire.

There are others, but you get the idea. Any survival guide worth its salt (and I like to think we’re getting there) will recommend the same seven basics that need to be assessed before an emergency and followed during the emergency, obviously changing the order of necessity according to the nature of the moment. So, without further ado…

Seven!!

Tools. Invest in a good knife and keep it handy. This is pretty much Rule Number One of survival and if you haven’t done so already then it should be at the top of your To Do list. Of course, we’re talking here about preparing for and coping during immediate and unexpected emergencies and disasters, so an exhaustive tool list/kit is unnecessary. If you keep a tool kit in the car, that’s wise. If you have an extensive tool kit at home, great. What you need in the heat of the moment is a surprisingly small number of items. 

Your knife. A first aid kit – well stocked but not full of things you are unsure how to use. A length of rope will help you out in countless scenarios. Sanitation and personal hygiene items, even just a toothbrush and some toilet paper (shell out on the luxury stuff, you’ll be thankful of it) and a small towel or wet wipes to keep yourself clean. Lastly, a multitool is almost without exception a wise investment, the exception being when you buy a sub-standard multitool. With multitools, you generally get what you pay for, so shell out as well after doing your research. Remember, you might well be gambling your safety and the safety of your family on the effectiveness of these tools. 

Six!!

Travel. Travel only really comes into play in a Bug Out scenario, and in the middle of a large scale problem such as a terrorist attack, virus pandemic or just civil unrest it is probably wise to not travel unless absolutely necessary in any case. 

If the necessity does arise to travel however, it is essential to plan your route meticulously beforehand. If you are deserting a city, you will not be the only one and major roads will become congested within minutes if they are not nose-to-tail already (I’m looking at you London!). Pay attention to news reports closely as accidents will be on the rise and there will be less emergency services available to attend them. Also, the local traffic Police may have opened specific routes for people leaving the city and closed others. It might be worth researching your local Council’s Emergency Evacuation Plan when you have a quiet moment. Most Councils have drafted one but they are commonly quite vague as emergencies are all different.

If you are travelling through unfamiliar terrain and break down or come off the road. Stay with your car and treat it as a normal accident. Panic is your enemy, especially if you are ‘escaping’ something. Your vehicle is your best shelter, protection and HQ. You are more likely to be found by the emergency services if you are with your car, and as long as the engine is still operational, you have a radio for updates on the current emergency status.

Look into the idling time of your vehicle while stationary and with a full tank. That way, you can estimate quite accurately how long you can keep the radio/heater/light on if you are waiting by the side of the road for rescue. Keep a mobile phone charger, preferably battery operated, in the boot alongside your Travel Emergency Kit (that is totally there right?) to ensure you can contact help if you need to.

Five!!

Communication. This aspect of survival has various parts, especially in the initial stages of dealing with an emergency or disaster. First of all, if you are separate from your family when disaster strikes (at work, at the shops. An EMP strike could happen any moment) what method will you use to contact them? With the power down, mobile (cell) phone towers will not operate meaning your fully charged iPhone 4s is as much use to contact your family as a bowl of wet sand. Standing, network telephones might work as the networks to some extent power themselves, but how long will they work for, and do you know the numbers you need to call? It could be a good idea to start writing these contacts down in a ‘little black book’ instead of just relying on your smart phone. Also, look into ways of charging your phone from batteries in case the mobile network does happen to survive, but the power does not.

You will also want to stay informed of what has happened, is happening and is likely to happen soon. For this it is wise to invest in a small, battery powered AM/FM radio and spare batteries, or for the more hardcore amongst you, a ham radio kit – also battery powered. There are £Pound£ Shops dotted all over the country that sell battery packs at ten for £1 so load up. In the more rural areas you could even invest in a map and compass, but in most of the UK you are never too far away from a town as to get hopelessly lost.

Four!!

Shelter. In the aftermath of a full scale natural disaster like the Haiti quake or the Fukashima disaster, it is exposure to the elements that  becomes the next major danger. This is also true of hurricanes and flooding, where people’s homes are literally blown or washed away before their eyes. People living in areas that have those elements to face however usually have a plan for finding local shelter, or plans are in place to shelter the victims in sports stadiums or schools.

In the UK, we only rarely have to deal with extremes of weather but they do happen. More common for us are unexpected snow storms and persistent heavy rain leading to localised flooding. The question of shelter comes into play when you are preparing your Bug In – Bug Out plan. It is rare that you will need a bug out plan in the UK unless facing the actual destruction of your house from fire, but it is still an essential part of Prepping and as soon as you leave your home, shelter becomes an issue. Can you go to friends or relatives? Do you need to camp and if so where can you go?

Also, consider what ‘shelter’ means. It means you’ll need clothing and equipment and you might need them in the blink of an eye, without a chance to dash ’round the house gathering them from wash baskets and attic spaces. If camping is a viable option in your bug out plan then where is your tent, can you assemble it correctly and are all the pieces in the bag? What will you wear? If you could be out for one or several nights you will need warm clothing, blankets, sturdy gloves,  maybe even a ground sheet. Can you carry them all between your family or will sacrifices have to be made (of equipment, not family members!)

Three!!

Heat.  The majority of houses these days are not built with working fireplaces and rely entirely on electricity for heating. Before you say “Mwa ha ha ha haaa you fool! This place is heated by gas!”, what sparks the little pilot light? In some climates, heat can be as little as wearing a jumper to bed. In the UK and Scotland however temperatures can plummet overnight, and are rarely tropical during the day so a plan to heat your home is relevant. If you are planning to, or have to Bug Out, you should supply yourself with a fire-kit and know how to use it properly. 

At home, learn how to start a fire and keep everything handy that you’ll need in case you have to do so. Teach your kids fire safety and keep in mind where your designated fire area will be. It is unwise to have a fire inside but if that is inescapable, keep it small and everything you need to extinguish it close to hand and keep it ventilated. Never use charcoal to heat indoors unless you have a purpose built charcoal burner, and even then do not try to cook on it. Inside, camping gas lamps (normally fuelled with paraffin) and camping gas stoves (pressurised gas or Methylated Spirits) can heat a room if all the doors and windows are closed – but again, remember ventilation and do not leave an open flame unsupervised.

Important: Methane gas is a by-product of the incomplete combustion of fuel. A build up of this, even from a small paraffin lamp can be fatal in a small, sealed environment. Even if you have to compensate a little heat, keep a flow of air through your shelter.    

Keep a supply of warm clothing, hats and gloves around, and there are products around that can keep your hands warm if things are getting a little tough.     

Two!!

Food. In the UK it is unlikely, very unlikely, that you will die of starvation in the event of a natural disaster, but if the power goes out you will not be able to feed yourself in the normal ways nor will their be any refrigeration until the power comes back. A good supply of canned foods, high energy/dense nutrition bars and ready to eat (add hot water) are available at every supermarket and easy to use cooking components can be bought from every camping store. If you want to be ready for long term self sufficiency then there are other options such as portable cooking stoves, or you could just eat barbecue every day. Yeah, that sounds like Heaven, but how will you keep the meat fresh?

The main question about food preparation, as I see it, is how reliant you wish to be on the State and Local Government to provide for you. The basis of Prepping is self reliance after all, so the goal should be for there to be no reason for you to need to go with your begging bowl to the bread line, undermining all your preparation. As a bare minimum plan to have enough meals available to fulfil your families calorific intake comfortably for at least two weeks, more if you live in a rural area with little chance of immediate help, and more depending on how long you want to stay self sufficient.

One!!

Water. In a large scale emergency such as an EMP Strike or city-wide blackout, not only the lights will go out. In all cities and towns the water is pumped to residents by electric pumps that will automatically give out – without back up – when the power goes down. In fact, to try and stall or prevent a blackout the water might be switched off prematurely.

Therefore, the reserves of water for both drinking and sanitation that you have available at ‘go time’ will be all you have until the power is restored. Fine, this might be the very next day. But it could be a week, or even two if the country is hit by an EMP. A person at rest loses between two and two and a half litres of water (or two to two and a half ‘quarts’ for our Americousins) a day. Some of this is in urination, some in sweat and some via Insensible Perspiration – keeping skin supple and eyes bright. This needs to be replaced to prevent dehydration, which leads to tiredness and sickness and prevents you being an effective team member.

Most, if not all, the people I know or ask do not drink that amount of water every day. It’s seen as something only gym-goers do. But we are always conscious that we have water available if we need it, you just turn on the tap (putting aside for the moment any concerns about Sodium Fluoride). In a survival situation, when we can’t be sure when the taps will work again, we need to do everything we can to promote and sustain our good health for the duration. If you are staying put, or ‘bugging in’, you need to be sure you have at least 2 Litres of fresh water per person per day available just for drinking. If you are expecting hot weather or strenuous activity, double it. If you are leaving your location, ‘bugging out’, then plan to carry a gallon per person, and have a plan to get more as an immediate goal.

The Almighty CONCLUSION.

These basics are the first things that need to be considered when establishing a Preparedness Plan but other things need to be taken into consideration, regarding where you live and your particular circumstances. For instance, local Emergency Planning might affect your personal plan, or what changes if your lights go out in the middle of winter instead of Spring? 

For now though; go buy a knife, stock up on food and start some fires! What could be simpler?  

 

Disaster Archive: New York Blackout 1977

The New York City blackout of 1977 ran from July 13 to July 14 and plunged the entire city, except southern Queens and areas of the Rockaways, both of which were mainly powered by the Long Island Lighting Company System, into pitch darkness overnight.

It was not the first time that New York had suffered blackouts, not was it the most widely spread, but the 1977 blackout has become infamous for the epidemic of violence, looting and general chaos that came with it and that had not been seen in previous emergencies.

Brooklyn 'Civic Responsibility' 1977 (Tyrone Dukes: New York Times) 

Brooklyn 'Civic Responsibility' 1977 (Tyrone Dukes: New York Times)

The blackout was the result of a series of lightning strikes hitting various substations and a subsequent catalogue of unfortunate events that made it nearly impossible for the engineers to get the power back online. For a detailed analysis and timeline of the cause of the events, you can see one on Wikipedia, but in short:

  • A lightning strike on a substation on the Hudson River tripped two circuit breakers in Westchester County. Faulty maintenance prevented the breakers from re-closing and allowing the power to flow.
  • A subsequent lighting strike at Indian Point – the nuclear plant that fed Westchester County – caused two transmission lines to fail, of which only one returned, and the loss of power from the plant. A remote-start on the plant was attempted but failed.
  • Yet another lighting strike caused two more transmission lines to fail, with only one re-closing, and a massive overload of power into the remaining lines. As a result, the power provider Con Edison had to reduce the load on another major generator at East River.
  • The call came to “shed load” but Con Ed operators and Power Pool operators had different understandings of what that meant. Con Ed intended to gently lower load by a few hundred Mega Watts, PP to suddenly drop load by 1500MW.
  • The last major interconnection to upstate NY tripped due to overheating which in turn caused the links in Long Island to overload and the New Jersey interconnections to struggle with their loads.
  • A miscommunication caused Long Island to open connections (trying to reduce overloading on their own lines) to try and redirect almost twice the power through the available lines between themselves and the city.
  • After trying to protect the system by dropping customers, Con Ed automatically began isolating its self from the ‘outside world’.
  • By 9.27pm, Con Ed’s city generators could not produce enough power and the lines feeding into the city were on the verge of collapse. The city’s biggest generator “Big Allis” shut down and the city went black.

Background.

The 1977 blackout could not have happened at a more unfortunate time. The United States as a whole was suffering a financial crisis and inner city poverty was endemic. New York was in the middle of a heat wave while also slipping into to panic over the Son of Sam murders. In effect, the blackout was the straw that broke the camels back, very much like the shooting of an unarmed man triggered the London riots last year.

The violence and looting spread across 31 districts. Shops were looted across the city, usually by people from the very same neighbourhood. Fires were widespread. The airports closed for hours. Road tunnels were shut because they couldn’t be ventilated. The cost of the damages was estimated to have reached $300 million by the time order was restored on the 14th.

So what is to be learned from the 1977 blackout? Firstly I would suggest that in times of financial hardship, all it takes is for the power to go off for ONE NIGHT before chaos reigns. This is particularly apparent in built up, heavily populated areas, especially those areas that are in the lower economic brackets. In the UK these days, we have very few areas that are as desperate as central New York in 1977, but they are not unheard of. If we live in these areas it needs to be considered that a night without power could see mass panic in the streets outside our windows.

In nearly all the other respects our society is almost identical to the society of seventies America. Our economy is struggling. Immigration is causing people to become tense in and distanced from their own communities. The concepts of civic and personal responsibility are but memories. Joblessness is always increasing. Crime is increasing. What is going to be the match that lights the blue touchpaper? A (metaphorically inaccurate) blackout?

So. Taking all of this into account, what is to be done in the event of a blackout.

Read More…

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