So the storm is raging, it’s dark outside and inside, and you think you’ve got your SHTF gear ready.
Ha, now that’s funny! Because you probably don’t. Even good ol’ Rivrdog didn’t remember to stage his stuff where he needed it and had to drag it in, by himself, during the storm.
My stuff was in the garage. However, I had recently been going through and packing my tools for winter storage and had a dozen or so boxes stacked on top of what I needed to get. Must remember for the future, SHTF gear stays in it’s own stack.
The funny anecdotes and other general descriptions of happenings during the situation are in the post below this one. I’m looking at this little situation we went through as a trial run of sorts, so in this post I’m going to cover the basic areas included in Stay At Home SHTF Gear: Food, Water, Heat, Communications, Light and Weaponry. Even though it was barely 48 hours without electricity, it took a little getting used to.
Follow me below the fold.
We had warning of the incoming storm and stocked up on things I could grill. Yes, you read that correctly; I grilled my way to a full stomach. We ate hot dogs, hamburgers, casadillas and even pizza cooked on the 12×18 el-cheapo Wal-Mart grill in the garage. I took the tank off the big grill that sits on the patio and installed it onto the smaller one. I know that a full tank on the small grill will last for a minimum of 14 days, three meals a day (when the wife went off to visit relatives, I had to cook for myself, so I took the opportunity to test it a couple years ago).
In this instance, just positioning the grill near the garage window and opening it up a bit sufficed for proper ventilation of the carbon monoxide, especially the way the wind was moving around. It did get chilly quickly though.
The freezer in the garage was never opened, but the fridge out there yielded soda and the occasional Sam Adams. The weather only got colder as the days went on, so I was still pulling ice cold Cokes out even after we got power back.
The food in the kitchen refrigerator/freezer was still 41 degrees when the juice came back on so, except for a container of sour cream and a 1/4 gallon of milk which were tossed as a precaution, everything in there made it through. It is a nearly new appliance, so I don’t know if this will be the same for everyone.
We had running water to wash with and flush the commode, and for drinking water, we had a few cases of bottled in the garage, as well as the kitchen’s water cooler with the classic 5gal jug on top. I also had ice cold pop and beer in the garage, so the H2O was going to last at least a week, even if the running water stopped.
Other than an 8in X 8in space heater, none. The gas furnace and water heater are hard-wired into the electrical box. If I wasn’t renting this house, that would be different. The house would also have had at least a pellet stove installed if I owned it. The gas was flowing but we had no electricity to run the furnace fan. It got cold, but we compensated with polypropeleyne and wool when we weren’t using the space heater. We were fine.
How I ran the space heater comes along in one of the sections below.
No land line phone service. Period. Too many trees down.
Little to no Mobile Phone service. The towers need electricity just like you do. I knew the power was close to coming back on when my phone stopped trying to go to “Roaming”. Most of the time I had Analog Roaming, though it was very spotty with me being able to hear the person calling but them not being able to hear me. The times I had Digital Roaming were few and far between.
Anyone whose phone has switched to roaming knows that it sucks the juice at around four times faster than when you’re in a service area. I found myself charging my phone up whenever I turned my power source on.
In the two times I separated from the house, we were able to use the hand-held Cobra radios. They have a 10 mile radius and I don’t think I ever got more than five miles away. Two thumbs up for those.
Also thumbs up on this cheapie wind-up/solar powered AM/FM radio w/flashlight.
Leave it on a window sill during the day, and the give it a few cranks around midnight to make it last until dawn.
Other than the fact that I nearly buried my SHTF packages with the storage stuff, going through my boxes of miscellany a couple weeks previous did yield a rather excellent find. This groovy little lantern.
I don’t remember when I bought it, though it was probably over a decade ago. I don’t remember when I installed the batteries that were in it (4 D-Cells), though I can guarantee you that it was over four years ago. I do know that it is still using it’s original bulb because I found the unopened pack of spares in the same box. I also know that Coleman doesn’t make this model any more because I’ve gone to their site and just about everything that runs on batteries is fluorescent. In spite of all that, the thing clicked on and worked like a champ, providing non-retina-tampering light for getting squared right after the power went off and then some.
Cyalume light sticks hung from the celing with fishing line and a thumbtack worked to provide ample light for moving around the house without a light source in-hand. However, you will only want to do this if you can touch your ceiling, otherwise you will need a ladder or chair to climb on. Probably not exactly fun to do in the dark.
We also used tealights for small area light, like the bathroom (the powers out, the house is cold and the wife isn’t happy. The last thing you want to do is miss the bowl). IKEA sells tealights in bags of 100 for around $3. The wife is a candle addict and has 4-6 bags at all times.
The wife and I each had a 3-D-Cell MagLight and a shake light available, and the lantern was handed off for things like grilling. I always buy battery powered items in D-Cells for the same reason I buy pistols in .45ACP: Commonality.
But the absolute star of the show was this item I call “The Jump Box”.
It is made by Husky and weighs around 15lbs. It has 3ft jumper cables and and an air compressor hose on the back. On the front, it has the air compressor controls, a light and, magically, a three-prong 110v plug with onboard inverter. This thing has, in the past, jump-started both Grimm and my 1998 F150 with nary a gripe. You just need to plug an extension cord into the back of it to charge up its super deep-cell battery. Takes about six to eight hours for a full charge.
I plugged a surge protector into the socket and charged my cell phone, ran two lamps, a portable CD Player, and a small space heater for 20 hours on a 4/5 charge (I had forgotten to fully charge it before the storm) and it still had over half a charge on it when the power came back on.
It fell into my hands after a co-worker forgot to secure it when camping and it fell off of his truck’s rear bumper doing about 25-30 mph. He bought himself a new one and asked if I wanted it. Duh! Score one for me! The compressor doesn’t work anymore, but I’ve got one of those in the truck anyway.
If the power would have stayed off for another 24 hours, I would have finally fired up the generator for four hours at a time to keep the inside refridgerator cold and recharge the Jump Box. Until I get a furnace that I can plug into, I just don’t see a need for kicking it on within the first 48. But then again, when I do get my own house that I can modify anyway I want, I’ll have installed a pellet stove and hopefully a low-RPM diesel generator that would be wired into the electrical box.
As I predicted when I posted on Saturday from The Mom’s place, things got ugly at gas stations and food stores. I have little doubt that if there were still no power today, there’d be people hospitalized and/or dead in this area of the state. The ATMs in the neighboring town were out of cash by Friday evening and some gas stations were out of gas by early Saturday AM.
If you have warning of a probable coming disaster, doing all of that, plus shopping for food before hand, in a civilized manner, is advisable. I do have to admit that my opinion of my fellow Northwesterners has fallen even lower than it was before all of this. They had at least three days warning of it and they ignored and/or laughed it off. I don’t trust strangers as it is in normal life. During hard times, I see them all as very likely wanting my stuff (aka: Potential Predators).
Which is why, within 15 minutes of the power going out, I had opened the gun safe and had armed myself and the wife with a pistol and long gun each. After creating sufficent light, I then positioned an SKS every room of the house, in discreet locations, and their ammunition was kept with in a separate location in the room in those handy-dandy 200rnd bandoliers.
I had my 870 with 18 1/2in bbl and the 7+1 extension, and my 1911. The wife had the S&W Model 14-4 and the newly red-dotted 10/22 w/30rnd mag (the only rifle she is comfortable with and she really likes the red-dot optic).
The truck rifle was brought into the house along with its ammo, the chainsaw, the double-bit axe, and the 8lb sledgehammer (you don’t to arm want to arm the incoming hordes, do you?). The rifle, ammo and chainsaw were taken back out to the truck before going anywhere.
Of course, I didn’t have to use any of them, but safer is better than sorrier.
As it is in most states, it is illegal to use booby-traps in Washington, so I forgot if I did or not. But they were pretty neat and home made.
One thing I forgot about toting a long gun around the house while trying to do “Household” things is that you must have a sling. I had a sling on the 870 a while ago, but it sucked for practical use, so I removed it and never replaced it. I ended up having to break into my box of “Spares” and fetch one of my extra SKS slings and install it. It doesn’t hold ammo, but it works very well and I’m keeping it until I find something better. I then found a spare set of sling swivels and put one on the 10/22. The wife was mucho-smiley for that.
I also learned that I need to buy a new pistol. This one must have a rail to mount a flashlight. The Novak nuclear dots on my 1911 are just too damn small for me to see in pitch darkness, especially the front one. I’m looking at a later model Glock 21. There is a long story involving me absolutely hating the professionally worked on DAO trigger on the Glock 30 I used to own, but it is too long to tell here; and that is why I don’t own Glocks (or any other DAO guns). But now I think I’ll have to get one.
I hope that some of this information helps folks out in the future. Like I said at the beginning, I saw this as sort of an abbreviated test run. 48 hours without electicity or hot H2O is a good and relatively safe testing platform for the Stay At Home SHTF preparations. I learned something, I hope you all did too.