I’ve recently been reading up on survival preparedness in case of a loss of power for lengthy periods of time.
Residents of developed nations are dismally dependent on electricity to make it through their days. Without power, nothing works – for most of us – no lights, no heat, no air conditioning, no entertainment, possibly no communication, maybe even no running water.
Some are a little prepared for a short outage, but none, except perhaps the Mormons, the preppers and those that live a simpler life than most, would be comfortable (or perhaps even survive) with longer outages.
The US power grids are not up to the challenge, and according to the Toronto Sun article in April of 2016, neither are Canada’s.
Threats include not only computer hackers, getting in to the systems and shutting down power flow over the transmission lines, but also physical attacks to critical infrastructure and worst of all (in my mind) a massive electromagnetic pulse (EMP) causing most all of the entire North American Grid (Canada and the US) to go down.
Anything with electronic components will instantly stop working in the case of an EMP event. Cars made after the 1980’s, cell phones, TVS, radios (even battery operated ones), water lines (no pumping of the water to your home), stoves, refrigerators, furnaces, air conditioning and more.
The book “One Second After” by William R. Forstchen is a fictionalized account of what might happen in the US if all 3 electrical grids went down. It isn’t a pretty picture.
Another book, “Lights Out: A Cyberattack, A Nation Unprepared, Surviving the Aftermath by Ted Koeppel, is a NON fiction book which explains what an EMP is, how it could be inflicted, even by a single terrorist group, what the results might be and why the US is totally unprepared to defend against one.
I recently read both books and as a result have become very interested in survival preparation.
When I was a child, my paternal grandparents lived on a farm. They did have electricity, but only used it for lights and radio. They had a well, with a hand pump. They raised chickens (for eggs and meat) and cows (for milk and butter). They had ponds stocked with fish. They had a huge garden and preserved their own food. They heated only two rooms of their old drafty farm house with wood and later with propane. They did not have indoor plumbing – using a bucket with water drawn from the well with a dipper for drinking water, and an outhouse by the shed when nature called (kids got a chamber pot at night, thank heavens).
Grandpa hunted on his farm, and Grandma prepped the catch and cooked it for dinner. Grandpa milked the cows and Grandma made the butter.
A power outage would have inconvenienced them to the extent that they would have needed to get out the kerosene lamps and borrowed the neighbor’s horse to hook up to the wagon to go anywhere, but their daily lives would not have changed that much.
Most North Americans have never experienced major power outages, nor lived in an environment where a flick of a switch would NOT light their world, warm their home and cook their dinner.
Because of my experience on my Grandparent’s farm (and my own early childhood in a home without indoor plumbing or central heat), I know first hand what it is like to live a simpler life.
I also know first hand what it was like to live in the 1980’s with power for a week after an ice storm took down the lines. But that was a localized event. Phones still worked. Water still flowed. Stores were still open and society didn’t break down.
An EMP event prior to the 1990’s would not have been as devastating as it would be today. Our reliance on the electronics that would fail has increased a thousand fold.
Preparing to survive an extended power outage (and I’m talking more than the 72 hours officials urge us to prepare for) involves a step back to basics – which in turn could be a huge step towards a greener life.
Survival prep has a bad rep. Nay sayers and dooms dayers are looked down upon. No one wants to spend time and money preparing for something that has never happened and may (God willing) never occur. So what good could come of being prepared (other than possibly your own survival)?
Here are the ways I think preparing for an extended emergency can be Green or good.
- Stocking up on food supplies means fewer trips in the car to the stores – reducing petroleum usage and carbon emissions.
- Maintaining a long term supply of food requires you to use the oldest items from your supply so you can refresh with newer items. This probably means you will be preparing more meals at home, eating healthier and once again, avoiding the use of the car to go to a restaurant.
- Arranging for your continuing ability to gather or produce food localizes your food supply, subtracting from the need for around the world food transport.
- Arranging for your own continuing source of water (and using it) greatly encourages wise usage.
- Learn and develop new skills as a life practice. Learning skills our grandparents mastered will be of great value.
- Finding a renewable source of energy to power your home could lesson carbon emissions and reduce the use of natural reserves (unless of course you choose wood).
- Preparing to survive without all our comfort aides suggests that you should be in good shape – able to withstand the heat, the cold, the potential for walking long distances and withstanding onslaughts of disease. Losing weight, eating right and building muscle tone keeps us healthier and reduces our reliance on the health care systems.
Have you made any preparations to care for you and yours should basic services fail?