Be Prepared

One of the changes I made to my home during the recent remodel was setting up our electrical wiring to accomodate an alternate power source. At the moment that alternate source is a generator, but over time I plan to add solar panels and a pair of small wind turbines to charge up a battery backup set. When my power drops out, I can flip a single switch at the main power panel and then press the start button on my generator and my furnace, refrigerator, microwave, and selected lights and electrical sockets will come back online. I have a 7200 watt generator that is gas powered, but I will convert it to work on both liquid propane and natural gas. This will prevent the need for filling the gas tank, instead using the house’s natural gas line to fuel the generator, and if that fails, I can use bottled LP. The point is that my home will have power,even if we’re stranded during a power interruption.

In 1996 Spokane was stricken by its worst ice storm in history. The entire area was affected and it took some homes as long as four weeks to get their power restored. Even within the urban and suburban areas, people went as long as two weeks without power. Coincidental to sub-zero temperatures, the incident was devastating. Roads were impassable both through thick, slick ice as well as blocked by felled trees, limbs and stranded vehicles of all sorts. Crews came in from surrounding states to help and worked 24/7, but it was still a long time. Many homes suffered broken pipes from freezing, broken roofs from falling trees and limbs, and the sheer tremendous weight of the thickly layered ice. But each year there has been one reason or another formy abode to lose power, and I finally decided to listen to that voice in the back of my mind that said “don’t just stand there, stupid. Do something.” That was my common sense talking, and after ignoring it for years, I finally listened and acted.

We have also stockpiled canned and dry goods that we use on a rotating basis, making sure our stores don’t get old on the shelves. As a result, my family and I can thumb our noses at the thought of a few hours of power loss and be a lot more ready for the ever possible stranding storm that may keep us without power. Not only does it provide some peace of mind to us, it also thrilled our home insurer, who leapt into action providing us a discount for our foresight.Okay, maybe he just checked a box on his computer screen, but you get the idea.

Considering that mother nature has given us a couple of very expensive warnings (Katrina and Sandy), it seems to me that everyone should invest in a generator, even if it is a light duty one that can provide lights and radio/tv/or even possibly Internet that people can stay abreast of their situation and be able to communicate, especially in case of medical emergency. There is no doubt that situations will cause us to suffer power interruptions in the future, and probably on a higher frequency what with the prediction of weather changes resulting from global warming. We were promised greater frequencies of storms as well as higher intensity storms, and between hurricanes, tornados, and snow and ice storms we have seen the reality of the predictions. Whether or not one subscribes to human actions or planetary cycles, there is no question about whether we are seeing more damaging weather.

I figure that people should have a number of items that can make a worlod of difference in the case of isolatingincidents. The first is, of course, a generator. One that can provide for lights and the use of a microwave and a radio or television can be had in the $100 range, and so it can be afforded by most households. Flashlights and lanterns is next onthe list, even a selection of long duration candles is a wise addition. Next is a supply of water. Whether a few cases of bottled water or merely some glass jugs filled with it, water is important. Food,canned or dry can be stockpiled to give a hunger buffer. Last, a television, a radio and even a citizens band two way radio can offer a means of gaining information or summoning emergency responders. Telephones and cell phones may experience service interruption just as power might. Each of these things can make all the difference in the world, and permit one to survive more comfortably during infrastructure breakdown.

They Boy Scout motto of Be Prepared rings as one of those common sense adages with which it’s difficult to argue.