Welp, I’m going through rolling blackouts, so I have plenty of time to think about what I’ve done, and what I’d do differently. Maybe others might appreciate hearing what I’ve learned.
And yeah, I’m too damn old to be figuring out how to adult, but here we are. Never had to worry about this kind of stuff in the marine corps, and my disaster prep when I was still in my addiction literally consisted of me stockpiling enough booze and water to drink, and that’s it. Oh, and before you call me stupid, some of these things I did, some I wish I had done.
Anyway, lets get into it.
- TURN OFF YOUR WATER IF YOU LOSE POWER! I cannot stress this enough. Dripping my faucets has been sufficient in the past, but the temps usually don’t get this low. Moreover, I think the power loss is what really did me in. The temp in my house fell to at least 50 degrees F when I lost power (lowest temp that my thermostat can show), which let my attic reach freezing temps. Regardless, turn your water off and open the faucets if you lose power. You might also want to turn off your water before you go to bed, lest you lose power in the middle of the night.
- It started with a drip. I got up to investigate and had just enough time to say, “I hope my pipes aren’t busted,” before water started gushing out of an AC vent. Anyway, if your pipes do burst, the first thing you should do should probably be to turn off the water -I mean, if you feel like it.
- You should also try to find low spots in your ceiling and drill a few holes to let the rest of the water drain. The water can compromise your ceiling, and cause mold and mildew to grow. So, drill the holes. They’re small, so they’re easy to patch. And, of course, put some buckets underneath and clean up the mess.
- It’s going to be a couple of weeks before a plumber can get out, and I want my water back on. So, I found where the burst happened (pipes leading to a back bathroom), and plan on straight up cutting the pipes and capping them so that I can turn back on my water. Unfortunately, the hardware stores were already cleared out of plumbing hardware (I wonder if all the plumbers bought up everything in preparation of the storm). So, I had to order my ■■■■ off of amazon. Regardless, make sure you get the right size if you do go this route.
- I have a gas stove and a propane grill, so I can boil water. However, if live in an apartment or something with an electric stove and no grill, you might not have the option. Thus, you might want to buy some iodine tablets and keep them on hand. Read the directions, to make sure you use enough tablets and wait long enough.
- I filled two 3 gallon containers with water before hand, but it’s really not enough. I think we have 4 gallons left, but that’s only because we’re using it only for drinking. Toilets take a lot of water to flush. And if it weren’t for rain water, we’d probably be having to cop squats in the yard. Fortunately, however, we got plenty of liquid rain today, so I was able to fill 3 big buckets full of water. Oh, and don’t skimp on filling the tank. I tried filling it half way for a flush, and got to watch my big ass turds do a couple of laps around the bowl before settling into a gentle spin. -wait, that came out wrong. I meant the turds were big, not that my ass is big. Anyway, you might want to fill your bathtubs with water before hand so that you can easily flush your toilets. Oh, and pee outside or in your battle bucket.
- On a side note, I sometimes hear people on comms mention the battle bucket when other people say they need to take a leak. I don’t know if they’re just joking, being semi-serious or not, but I actually do have and use a battle bucket… ■■■■ you. Don’t judge me. At least I’m not wearing adult diapers.
Food and Cooking
- Buy non-perishable goods (i.e. canned meats, canned veggies, canned soup, ramen noodles, rice, etcetera).
- Make sure you have a non-electric can opener, or your going to have fun.
- Make sure you have some matches (long matches best). Even if you have a gas stove, the igniters might be electric.
- I also think keeping some MRE’s on hand is also a good idea. It’s something different, they come with heaters which means you can have a hot meal no matter what, and I think it’s a fun meal for the crotch dumplings. First time I had them was in the boy scouts, and I remember thinking they were neat. Do note that they are are calorie dense because they were made for highly active adults. So, one can shared between 2 maybe 3 kids.
- Do be aware that extremely cold temps will dramatically reduce your grill temperature. I decided to do some grilling, kept turning up my heat, and kept getting nowhere. At one point I put my hand on the hood of the grill, and found I could just leave it there. Anyway, it can be done, just be aware that you’ll have to adjust your heat and/or cooking times.
- I also think I’m going to get a dutch oven (which you could use to cook in your fireplace if you have one). It’s something different, plus I need a better way to cook various frozen meats that are in danger of defrosting. I’m sure there are youtube channels dedicated to dutch oven cooking, but I know Paul Harrell has a couple of videos on the subject.
- The fridge will reach room temp within 8 hours of power loss (maybe even less depending on how often people go into it and how hot it is in the house). Freezers will fare better (especially if they haven’t been defrosted in 5 years), but they won’t last forever either.
- What I should have done was freeze a bunch of old milk jugs and whatnot before hand, and then distributed them between my freezers and fridge once I lost power.
- Fortunately, however, it’s below freezing outside. So, I moved the food from my fridge to coolers outside (left them open a little while to let it get cold, then closed them to keep the critters out). I then filled a bunch of tupperware containers half full with water (so as not to bust them), and then set them outside to freeze. I then put these containers in my freezers. Fortunately, I did this before my freezers defrosted.
- Stay positive for the people around you. If needed, try to find things to keep people occupied. Sometimes that means entertainment, sometimes that means making people feel useful (I have an ederly aunt that lives within walking distance that likes to feel useful). So, bust out with the board games and whatnot. If you can spare the juice, find some good games or some books to put on people’s phones.
- Keep your phone plugged in when not in use, even when the power is off. I’ve had power come on for as little as 10 minutes at a time.
- If you have no idea when power will be restored, you should turn battery saver on on your phone, turn off anything you’re not using (like bluetooth), and use it as little as possible. I am personally now going through rolling blackouts, so I feel comfortable using my phone for entertainment. However, I will not use my phone past 50% battery (which can last me at least 2 days if I’m careful). Things are better, but we’re not out of this yet.
- Light, heat, and being dry are actually very important for morale (I’ve never been in serious life threatening survival situations, but I’ve had survival training during the RIP [Recon Indoctrination Program] and SERE [Survival Evasion Resistance Escape] school [in Maine in February]). And if you disagree, please reevaluate your position while you spend a cold night out in the rain. Anyway, I’ve never owned candles before, but I will from now on. I’m also going to keep some firewood from now on, even though I don’t have a fireplace. I mean, I was seriously debating going to collect firewood from a nearby a nearby wooded area in the middle of the night in order to start a fire in my backyard. And if the city tried to give me a ticket, they could kiss my pasty white ass. It was starting to get stupid cold in my house by the time we finally got some juice.
Okay, this has unfortunately become political. However, I’m not bringing it up to discuss politics, but to make sure people can better evaluate potential dangers.
So, there are politicians saying that the power problems are being caused by the green new deal. This is a bold faced lie. The green new deal is proposed only, and certainly not implemented. I assert that the real reason why things are so bad is because our local infrastructure isn’t hardened against extreme cold weather, and because there is a shortage of institutional knowledge in preparing for and dealing with the problems associated with extreme cold whether. Case in point, I have lived in an area where winters regularly got worse than this, and we never had any problems. Of course, I have seen on the news of particularly bad winter storms causing problems in various places over the years, but I am absolutely positive that many other areas have experienced equivalent or worse weather this winter without having to deal with extended power outages and boil water advisories. Not only that, but I have had less problems with hurricanes, which are a common threat where I live. Of course, I have gotten lucky that I haven’t been in the worst affected areas of any hurricanes since I moved back home, but it’s kind of weird right. Like, in my mind, hurricanes pose a much bigger threat than some cold ass air. Yet, this cold ass air has ■■■■■■ things up around hyar more than any storms have done going back a decade.
Long story short, if the danger is of a type that your local institutions are not used to dealing with, you should take that danger very seriously.
Oh, and to the guys who have been working through the nights and the bitter cold to get power restored back to people…