Monday, March 11, 2019

A Long-Term Power Outage

Venezuela is in the midst of a long-term power outage and no one seems to know how long it will last.  So while the politicians use this situation as a battering ram against each other, sick people are dying and poor people are suffering.  For preppers looking at this situation, the need to prepare ahead of time for the rare possibility that something like that could happen here, should be top of mind, whether you prepare for the one-off major disaster that takes out power for several days or even weeks or the small power outages that can happen when a transformer explodes.

Here are some power outage preparedness tips to consider:

  • Anyone who has critical medical needs should be evacuated to a place with stable electricity.  Using generators or other stop-gap measures aren't reliable for long-term medical needs.
  • Having a complete solar set up, with reliable sun, is probably the best way to go although this is both expensive and depending on where you live, can be a problem depending on the power company in your area (it's a complicated and convoluted situation if you want to completely disconnect from the power company in many areas).
  • Having a generator is a good, albeit short-term, answer to a power outage.  Generators rely on fuel which you probably won't be able to store enough of for long-term power outages and getting replacement fuel from the local gas station is nearly impossible after many days of a power outage because everyone else is there trying to get fuel and most fuel pumps will not be able to work without electricity.
  • Portable solar chargers which are used by backpackers are a good enough alternative for small power needs like charging cell phones (although cell phones tend not to work during long-term power outages as the cell towers do not have electricity) or charging your HAM radio (a better communication device during a long-term disaster than a cell phone).
  • Look for alternatives to support other power needs  If you have an electric stove, get a gas grill to use as a back-up for cooking; if you use electric heat, consider getting a wood burning stove for heat.
  • Consider other ramifications of a long-term power outage.  Food may or may not get to your area and stores may or may not be open (they probably won't be open for long if there is no power for refrigeration/freezers or to run cash registers/credit card machines) so stockpile plenty of food.  Consider how you will get water; whether your well needs electricity to function or your municipal water system needs power to function, you need to be prepared with plenty of water stored and, if you have a shallow well, an alternate method to pump up water.  Other systems, from your security system to your garage door opener to your TV to your fish tank systems will also cease to function without power so plan ahead for these things.
  • Practice living without electricity.  Whether you go on week-long backpacking trips or shut off the main breaker at your home for the weekend, by practicing what it is like to live without electricity you will be better able to plan for things that you wouldn't think about until you actually don't have any power.

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