|Those power lines are between me and the Mount Diablo. During|
hot days they slump to about 30 feet above the pasture, 20 feet
lower than normal, it's a worry some of the time.
There are clocks everywhere, just in the kitchen, there are three prominent ones, on the stove, coffee maker, and the microwave. I don't set them all like I've said numerous times, I have two times in my life, the time the sun is out and the time the sun isn't out. None the less electricity is still a much-needed commodity and when we have to do without even for a short few hours it is an irritant. It's pretty rare to experience an outage for longer than several hours, a few days is fairly common and one lasting for over a week is rare. The Northeastern United States is the area that comes to my mind when I think of long-term outages, most likely because I remember the huge blackout that occurred in the early 1960's. There is another one being experienced now due to the relentless barrage of blizzards they are experiencing this winter. Every area of the country has a different event that could shut down the electrical systems, the East and North have blizzards, the Midwest has Tornadoes as an example. The area I live is threatened by Wildfire and Earthquake, they are just two of the main disasters that may affect us. If an event were to take place lasting one or two days most of us would survive just fine, in fact, many of us have, besides the inconvenience, it is virtually painless.
Two days is about the limit of supplies we have in our pantries, and refrigerators, if a freezer is in use there is a much longer supply, however fragile the preservation is after a week or so. (Use this Link to learn what the Department of Power and Energy has to say about outages)
Three days is when we start running into problems, water has run out, cooking is tricky at best, and the food in the refrigerator is starting to go bad. The refrigerator food has to be monitored closely at this point, it's time to start tossing questionable food items in the trash. It would be nice to be able to construct a list of food spoiling on a time basis, but unfortunately, it's a judgment call by the people looking at it. There are some guidelines published by Government agencies but still, it remains a judgment call on our behalf. It is my conviction every food item in the refrigerator should be discarded on the fourth day, that's right just arbitrarily throw it away it's not worth the risk of getting ill. I can't think of a more miserable experience than to suffer food poisoning with no toilet facilities, and that's not the worse of it. Food poisoning can be deadly, I don't feel it's worth the risk. (Link to what the FDA has to say about food safety during a power outage or flood.)
Then there is the food in the freezer, the one that's part of your refrigerator, if it's like ours there is some stuff that should be tossed as it thaws. Don't discard it unless if it is thawed, keep it as long as it is cold to help retain the temperature in the box if it is thawed do not consume it. Water in freeze proof containers is a good idea to place in the bottom of the freezer, it will become ice blocks and help keep the foods frozen. The ice packs have a second life as well when they thaw the water in them can be consumed. Open the door of the freezer sparingly, it's a judgment call whether to use the food in the fridge first or the food in the freezer. Our plan is to use all of the "leftovers" in the fridge first, they most likely have a shorter life after being cooked. We will all eat well for the first two days or so, hopefully, the frozen food will survive that long, and I think it should. Don't go by my word though, again when it comes to the freshness of food it is each one of our responsibilities to determine its condition and if it is safe to consume. If any food is in dought it must be disposed of. A big cookout may be the answer, BBQ everything in the freezer and invite the neighbors over, they may appreciate it, more than likely they will have items that need to be cooked as well.
|I don't have that much in the freezer.|
By the fourth day, most of the refrigerated food will be gone, if not toss it and scrub out the fridge with a water and bleach solution to keep mold away, do the same in the freezer when it is emptied. It is now time to go to the canned, and dry foods in the pantry, rice, beans, oatmeal, and noodles are examples of food that has a long shelf life and will be safe for a power outage lasting for a one week period. All of the canned foods should be safe just rely on the normal day to day precautions we use all of the time. If a can is swelled with the lid bulging out, don't use it, or if the can is corrupted in any way it should not be used. Watch the bread and pastries closely, in warm temperatures with high humidity mold forms rapidly, throw any moldy food in the trash, then immediately dispose of it outdoors. A precaution worth taking at virtually no expense to us outside of our normal food budgets is to keep at least one week's supply of canned and dry foods in the pantry. This is out of the theme of this blog but it is my opinion we should have 3-6 months of canned food stocked, a maximum of 6 months. That's another blog, however.
Then there is the cooking, there are many ways to accomplish it, but there are some preparations that need to be attended to. There has to be something to create heat, a Bar-B-Que, Campstove, Propane burner, or maybe a Solar Oven, some way to generate heat. That heat source also needs to be able to boil water which I will get into the next section. The refrigerator and freezer are easy to cook, most of the food can be warmed up or cooked on an outdoor grill, creating no dishes. When the pantry foods begin to be used however dishes will be created. The reason I bring up dishes is due to the last issue I want to talk about, it's the last and the most important item to pay attention to.
Water, unknown to most of us it is the most important and least thought of commodity in our lives. Water is easily obtained when times are good, however, when an emergency like a power outage occurs it is the first to be depleted. It is the first item to be used mainly because we take it for granted many times. For instance, we have three, five-gallon jugs on hand most of the time and at least two cases of bottled water. It's not solely due to our being "prepared", it is mainly because the water piped into our home is not potable, we always have water stored because we have to. In our case 15 gallons plus a few cases of bottled water will supply us for a week, seven days maybe one or two more. In the event, the electrical service is out for longer than seven days a method to purify water must be available. (Use this Link to learn how to purify water)
A cookstove and a pot are the basic tools to satisfy that requirement, boil for 1/2 hour and add a few drops of unscented bleach, OK easy enough, let it cool and we are good to go. There are many pots available for boiling water, from percolating coffee pots to dutch ovens or many other pots and pans in the kitchen cabinets. There are pots available that are employed by building a small fire of twigs in the hollow center of the pot, the sidewall is a jacketed container of about one quart (liter). The fire burns in the center and boils the water in the outer shell, it is fast, efficient, and handy. My preferred method is to pump the water through a filter membrane, either a hand pump, gravity, or a suction straw (for one person) are good choices. The pumps range in price from $20 for a straw style to over $1500.00 for a top of the line stainless steel hand pump. Reverse Osmosis systems equipped with a hand pump are fairly simple and inexpensive to make, the expense depends on how much and what we want to filter out. The final concern about having enough water is, Water, we need a water source, a creek, river, lake, or another large body of water that is not standing still. Do not use stagnant water, flood water, or water used to extinguish a fire, there are bacteria and viruses in some of them that if unknown will remain in the water. That is the reason that no matter where the water is obtained from after filtering it should still be boiled, to kill all the nasty bugs we don't know about, add a few drops of unscented bleach and the water that has been filtered, boiled, and treated with bleach will be fine. Which is why the creation of dishes can become a huge headache, making water for 8-10 hours straight is not my idea of having fun.
|In 1906 fire was one of the major results of the Earthquake, now|
it may just be water. During the fires the city fire hydrants did run
out of water, all except for one, it's now painted gold and is by the
Dolores Park and Mission.
Thank you for reading and sharing my blog, give some thought to power outages and just how ready you are for one, pay particular attention to your water needs, it's more important than food, or heat.