Firstly, we’ve been having a tremendous amount of windstorms, and less than two weeks ago, a fifty-foot pine came down and missed the house, while grazing the rain gutter and taking out one of my downspouts. Not much that can be done there. When that tree falls, there’s nothing that’s going to stop it. That being said, the time to remove trees is (of course) long past. The past two weeks we have been losing power for one to two days at a time.
The wood stove (wood burner, if you prefer) is the answer to keeping the abode heated when the temperature falls. This is crucial to keep your pipes from freezing. The problem being when you heat the place up too much (you should see mine…it’s only about 3’x2’x2’ but can heat the place up to 80-90 degrees Fahrenheit in nothing flat). Too much heat and your food in your refrigerator is going to go bad faster.
I have learned in this case to just put one or two logs in to start, and then feed it with one log at a time. This will enable you to keep the temperature about 70 degrees and not throw so much heat on the refrigerator. For lighting, the best thing you can shake a stick at is the tea light. You can pick up inexpensive tea-light lanterns, and position them throughout the house. Get the ones that have a little-hinged door, and a base that’s about 1” thick. Such will keep anything it rests on from heating up. One of these in each room, and you’ll be good to go. The good news is the tea light candle will burn for about 3-4 hours.
You can pick up 50 of them in Wal-Mart (unscented) for about $2.75 a bag. Put a fresh candle in each one of your lanterns, and preposition them in your rooms judiciously. When the lights go out, it’ll make it a lot easier for you. I also found a really nice deal on a flashlight. It’s made by Coast and has about 126 lumens (not a big light), but it has a nice wide beam and can be adjusted for a spotlight. This flashlight is very similar and comes with a two-way clip that works well on a baseball cap visor. The best part is that it runs on just one (1) AA battery. Runs you about $20 and will fit right in your pocket, as it’s about 4” in length.
Now with food: after a couple of days, you’re either going to need to hook up your fridge to a generator. The other option is to seal up your most durable food that can take a freeze in plastic bags and place them outside in plastic bins. You’ll have to gauge according to your geographic location. You can use your frozen foods in the freezer to help keep your unfrozen foods cold for about another additional 24 hours. Here in Montana, it gets cold enough that everything will freeze in general. This works well with foods that are already cooked and leftovers. As well, have these shelf-stable foods on standby to have in your survival pantry for these types of emergencies.
Remember, with a wood stove, you can heat up your stuff in foil on a baking sheet on the top of the stove. These actions can be taken after 48 hours if you keep the refrigerator door closed as much as possible. Now, keep in mind: you must wrap the food in plastic and put it in bins, especially if you have either wolves or bears in your locale. These winter scavengers (black bear…as the Grizzlies are “snoozing”) are opportunistic by nature and will come for a ready meal that is not “camouflaged” from giving off aromas.
Water is an issue that needs to be dealt with before the power cuts off. I highly recommend purchasing at least two 5-gallon water jugs for each member of the family. Yes, that’s a lot of water, but each person needs about a gallon per day. My family uses Water Bricks for emergencies just like these. Stock it up before the power cuts off. A lot of people say that you can’t use snow, but that’s malarkey: put the snow in a large pot (5 gallons) and place it on top of the wood stove. You’ll need that anyway to keep the wood stove’s heat from drying out all of the heat in the house, as the vapors from the steam act as a humidifier. Plus, you’ll always have hot water available, another bonus.
I also highly recommend a “porta-potty” type sitting toilet, a chair-type with a bucket. You can line that bucket with 5-gallon plastic bags, and with the use of baking soda on each visit, you can use a bag for 5 to 7 days per person. It’ll save you water, big time, and in a long-term outage (such as forever, with an EMP), you can burn the waste or dispose of it in a pit outside. This of course if you don’t live in Happyville, the USA with ten thousand neighbors per square mile. If you do, and it’s grid down, then the rules “change,” so to speak.
So, stay warm, and follow some of these tips to help you with your power outages. You can turn it into a training exercise and have a few laughs along the way as you refine your skills. It is good training for a disaster and for the days to come in the future, should the SHTF. Have a great day, and keep your powder dry! JJ out.