Thursday, May 12, 2011

Survival Without Electricity

When you lose electricity for whatever reason for a long period of time, the first thing you try to do is turn on the lights when it gets dark.  Click, click, no lights right?  You need some sort of light source.  Oil lamps are great and keeping extra oil is a wonderful idea.  Also you need matches or a lighter.  Matches are your best bet cause lighters run out.  Candles are another great idea.  Hopefully you have plenty of them.  Although I would suggest that you not light up a bunch of the scented ones especially if they are different scents.  Like Grandma said it will smell like a French Whorehouse.  Always wondered how she knew what one smelled like...:)  Also if you have those solar lights you use outdoors to line your walk, bring them in at night.  These would be especially good for people with allergies.  You might have to rig up something to hold them in of course.  I suggest a weighted vase with a hole that is just big enough to hold the light upright.  You (men) can always duct tape them to the wall if your wife isnt near...LOL.

Hopefully you dont have an all electric house like we do so you wont have to worry about cooking without the electric.  We were not prepared for this and had to run out and buy a little charcoal grill and charcoal.  You can find little charcoal grills for very little money.  You will need matches to start it though.  Our grill manufacturer did not recommend lighter fluid.  It can give your food a funny taste and singe off your eyebrows if you're not careful.  You can cook a lot of things on the grill so even if you are a vegetarian you can use a grill too.  We not only grilled meat but I also cut up apples put some butter on them put them in a piece of tinfoil and they came out soooo yummy.  We even did a pizza on the grill.  Just remember to leave off the top and not have flames shooting out ;)  You can even get a propane grill just remember in cases of natural disasters you might not be able to get your tank filled if the electric is out for more than a week.  I made sun tea everyday in a small glass bottle for myself. 

We still had water but of course our water heater is electric too so do everyone a favor and take a cold shower.  It's not going to kill you or you could do like one of my DH's co-workers and heat potfuls of water on the grill so his wife could take a hot bath.  Talk about henpecked!  DH asked me if I wanted him to ever do that and I said no I'll just pull up my big girl panties and deal with a cold shower.  DH did have a problem with shaving with cold water though.  We were surprised at how long the hot water stays hot in the tank.  We had warm showers for a couple of days after the electric went out.  Another thing we couldnt do was wash clothes in the washer so the kitchen sink became my washer.  I have a double bowled sink so I just filled up both sides with water, added soap to one side and had the other side for rinsing.  I have a clothesline outside so just hung up the clothes out there.  What gets your clothes clean is not the detergent itself, it is the action of the water flowing through the cloth and I usually wash our clothes in cold water anyway so this was not a big deal although my arms, wrists and hands were hurting the next day from all the wringing out of the clothes.  It is a good idea to start this early in the morning as it will take a while for the clothes to dry since manual wringing does not get as much water out as the washer can.

Washing dishes was another thing.  Just use your sink to clean them in.  If you dont have a double bowled sink find a big bowl or bucket to wash them in and another to rinse them in.  Having a couple of buckets handy is a good thing.  They are very useful and you will wonder how you ever survived without them after you have them.

With the electric off for more than a couple of days, you will have to think about your refridgerator and freezer.  Everything is going to thaw out.  If you cant eat everything, you need to throw things out.  Having a cooler with ice will save some things for you.  Make sure you get one that is high enough to store milk jugs or soda bottles upright.  Getting ice might be a problem as we found out.  There were runs on stores and gas stations.  Having some food in cans and jars is a good solution to this.  MRE's are good to have on hand if you dont have high blood pressure.  They are very high in sodium at least the ones I have seen and some people say that they arent that good compared to real food so that decision I leave up to you.  I'm going to be canning some soups and stews this fall so we can have them on hand in case of emergencies like the most recent one.  Another thing you might want to get is a manual can opener.  I know a lot of people have electric ones and that's fine but when you lose electric you will definitely need a manual one.  They come with bottle top openers and that sure is handy as well.  Spend a little money on a really good one as the poorly made ones can fall apart on you when you least expect it. 

We have an upright freezer and didnt open it for four days.  Things were cold but thawed so most everything we had to throw out.  You will need a place to store the garbage can cause it will stink.  Make sure if you have it outside to have something heavy on it so no critters can get inside.  One thing you dont want to have to do is pick all that up...ewww.  It might be a while before the garbage is picked up so make sure you bag everything, dont just throw it in the can.  It's messy for you but think of the garbagemen if nothing else.  You wouldnt want to pick it up if it fell out of your garbagecan unbagged, well they dont either and probably wont so you end up having to pick it up anyway. 

If you dont have water, that can be a major problem.  Some communities will get water buffalos in.  These are just big plastic tanks filled with water.  You take your own containers and fill from the tanks.  Usually there is a limit to how much you can get and they advise boiling the water before you drink it.  It is a very good idea to have some water stored for emergencies.  Be sure though to rotate it out and use up the old as it can taste bad after storing it for a while.  I suggest using glass jugs as plastic can leach chemicals into the water at high temps.  This is also true for any kind of sodas, the plastic leaches chemicals into the soda at high temps.  It wont taste the same and it is really bad for you. 

Getting groceries will be a problem if there is a natural disaster as well.  They wont have anything frozen, most of the produce will go bad and meat will be nonexistant.  And you really dont want to have to fight someone else for food do you?  When the tornados hit down here, people kind of went nuts especially about food and gas.  They were lining up for miles to get gas.  There were gas limits.  Some stations wouldnt allow you to fill gas cans.  They ran out of gas.  Gas prices went up.  Make sure if you know there is a storm coming to have enough gas in your vehicle BEFORE the storm.  And if there is a storm what in the world are you doing driving around anyway?  Stay home.  There is nothing open.  Dont be stupid and cause accidents...jeez.  Some people have no common sense.  Another investment would be a weather radio.  If you dont have one get one, have batteries for it.  Have a battery operated radio.  There will be no TV unless you have a generator and likely you will have that hooked up to more important things like your hot water heater, fridge and freezer and maybe a few lights.  If you think you will need a generator, buy one beforehand.  Again you will need gas or deisel to run it.  That might be a problem to get.  Another thing is have some flashlights.  Nothing worse than getting up in the morning and running into something that obviously moved during the night...yes things move I swear ;)  Dont use the generator INSIDE YOUR HOUSE.  They create carbon monoxide and will kill you or at least send you to the hospital if you are lucky.  You cant smell carbon monoxide.  The generator has to be outside or under cover away from your house.  They are noisy.  I still dont know how those people who ended up in the hospital down here could stand the noise and fuel smell but they did and put them in their house and ended up in the hospital lucky to be alive.  If it would have been winter, they would have died. 

If you live where there is snow and you lose electric, you're doomed, DOOMED!  Sorry couldnt resist that one.  Actually if it's winter and you lose your electric, make sure you have a heat source.  If the only thing you can do is build a fire outside do that.  Dont try to stay in your house without heat.  You can get hypothermia and die or at the very least lose your fingers and toes.  This is nothing to mess with believe me.  If you live in an all electric house and that's where you get your heat from get some other source of heat like a wood heater/stove.  You can cook on them and heat water on them as well.  Kerosene heaters are also good but and here's a bit BUT do make sure you have adequate ventilation.  Have multiple layers of clothes on, have lots of quilts and blankets.  If it gets way too cold, head your butt over to a shelter quick.  If you have animals, make sure they have lots of blankets.  If they are outside make sure they have a shelter with plenty of hay or straw to burrow in to.  Make sure you have plenty of food and water for them.  Having extra cat and dog food stored is good.  Just rotate it out and keep it stored in a container out of the bags.  Canned pet food, just rotate out.  If you have houseplants, kiss them goodbye.  Too cold and nothing will save them unless you wrap them up in blankets too.  That might help.  It's worth a try.  Freezing pipes are another problem, make sure to turn off the water.  That will help when the electric gets turned back on and at least will stop you from having a flood in your kitchen, bathroom or laundry room.  Another thing you have to think about if you dont have water is how to flush the toilets.  If you know beforehand, fill up your bathtub and have a bucket to fill to flush with.  If you dont know beforehand, you might have to go old school and use a bucket and take out back when full. 

Aint nothing like ending a post with poop LOL.  If I think of anything else, there will be another post on this.  If you think of anything that I missed or have a question, please leave a comment. 

Talk to ya later!


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