The U.S. recession of 2008 created insecurities and unease across the country. Suddenly people had to worry about losing jobs, not being able to make mortgage payments, the rising price of groceries, and energy concerns like natural gas prices. Many started looking at how to survive if disaster hit their town or state. Preparing to be able to take care of a family during a disaster includes concerns about generating energy.
Prepare a Power Failure Kit
Part of good disaster preparation is gathering supplies to generate energy to be safe and comfortable in case of a power failure. Find a sturdy, waterproof box that you can keep in an easily accessible location you can find in the dark.
Stock your power failure kit with the following items:
- Flashlights, spotlight lanterns, and wearable lights such as lapel lights, shirt lights, and helmets lanterns (solar light products are best)
- Light sticks
- Candles and matches sealed in plastic bags
- Stockpile of fireplace logs and kindling
- Fresh batteries in various sizes, as well as rechargeable batteries and battery charger
- Battery-powered and hand-crank radios
- First aid kit
- Blankets and clothes like sweatshirts and sweat pants
- Camp stove and fuel and/or solar cooker
- Emergency food and water
Food Without Electricity
During a disaster, frozen foods go fast and non-perishable foods lose their attraction quickly. You’ll want to cook food at least occasionally, but without power for your microwave, toaster oven, refrigerator and stove, you’ll need to store and cook without electricity.
An outdoor fireplace, campfire, or grill generates the energy you need to cook simple foods like hot dogs and canned food when the electricity is out. Use the stored firewood from your power failure kit or from an outdoor fireplace wood supply if available. You can also use cardboard, scrap lumber, or scavenged fallen tree branches and timber. Cook without burning wood by making a simple solar cooker with tin foil and an umbrella, or a cardboard box. Line the open umbrella or cover the box bottom and three sides inside with tin foil to reflect the sun and heat up anything set inside.
Storing perishable foods during a power outage is a challenge. Winter power outages allow outdoor food storage in cold temperatures. Summer is more difficult. Keep foods like dairy, fresh fruits and vegetables, meats, and cheeses cold without electricity using bags of ice. Cold running water through a stream, or a cool storage area such as a root cellar will also help. If you have the means to get bags of ice, put them in the refrigerator and freezer around food. If you live near a clean running stream or are caught out in a natural area away from home, keep perishables cool by putting food in large garbage bags into a running stream.
Consider buying and maintaining an emergency generator to be able to run electric appliances during a disaster and power outage. They come in all sizes, from small, portable generators to run one or two items to very large generators powerful enough to run a refrigerator, lights, and other large appliances for an extended period. Conventional generators run on engines that burn gas or kerosene. Solar generators run on energy from the sun and don’t require burning any fuel. They are silent and are available in portable or permanent installations.
By Cory Patton
Cory is an environmentalist who writes about the great outdoors.