Lions, tigers, and bears
– or –
Harvey, Irma, and Jose’, oh my!
This blog entry is being written in a bit of a rush, without the luxury of calm contemplation, while many other things are competing for my time. I am just going to try and rip through it, hoping that the reader understands that style and editing is taking a back seat to simply getting it done.
Hurricane Harvey and Irma. Both historic, record-breaking events.
First, let me say that the entire Hardened Power team has been stepping up, and we are privileged to be in a position to help. We have been working longer hours, juggling orders, and trying to expedite gear to people impacted by the loss of power, communication, and movement. It has been a challenge, but we are mindful of the difference between just working harder to fill orders and the actual, physical loss of home, property, and security.
Some people reading this are dealing with the aftermath of these storms. I have some experience in this area, and I can appreciate what people are facing, so I offer the following to help you pick up the pieces:
One of the unique aspects of the times we live in, is the prevalence of internet shopping and home deliveries. This blog is going to take a bit of a gamble, and assume a couple things. I assume that there are armies of hard working folk clearing roads, other armies in distribution centers trying to fill orders, and still more filling and driving the UPS, FedEx, and USPS trucks. This means that you might have no electric, no water, and limited internet, but you can still hit up amazon or Ebay and receive a delivery. I hope I am right, because if so, a lot of suffering can be alleviated. Here we go:
First, the Rule of Threes:
You can survive for 3 minutes without air. You can survive for 3 hours without shelter in a harsh environment. You can survive for 3 days without water. You can survive for 3 weeks without food (if you have water and shelter).
Let’s break it down:
1. I assume you have air, since you are reading this. ;-)
2. Shelter is more dicey, but I assume you are returning to a home that has been compromised, if not structurally, then in terms of electrical, gas, water, internet, etc. At least it should represent shelter, if not the comfort you are used to.
3. Water. This is a big one. Do not underestimate the importance of potable water. You might be dealing with the lack of ‘normal’ water service for days or weeks. Most people will discover that ‘bottled’ water is not available, and therefore think they have no water. Not true, and something that makes me shake my head….
4. Food. It is always surprising to me when the milk and bread sells out, but there are full aisles of flour, peanut butter, and oatmeal. You can make flatbread with flour and water. Peanut butter is a fabulous source of protein and is good with… bread. Oatmeal is inexpensive, easy to prepare if you have fire, and is a comforting, filling, hot meal with lots of carbs. Be sure to drink lots of water to help your body accommodate foods you might not be used to.
There might not be any coming out of the tap, but there is probably a lot around, and we want you to be able to safely filter what you can find, like from a river, pond, swimming pool, rain barrel, hot water heater, and the toilet bowl tank. Yes, really.
Hands down, in my opinion, the best gravity-fed water filter system is the Berkey. Not cheap, but it is downright effective, and something that will become a fixture in your home. In our home, we have used a Berkey for many years, and simply would not be without it. See it here. It does not use electricity, it can take terrible water and make it delicious and safe, and it can easily do several gallons an hour. Please note that priming a Berkey filter, for the initial use, requires water pressure.
Another option, and very effective if you are on foot or otherwise traveling, is the Sawyer Mini. These people have done great things for small scale water purification, and it shows in the reviews. See the Sawyer Mini, here.
Water filtration systems like mentioned above mean you can literally take water from a puddle or a rain barrel, and make it drinkable. Do not think you need water in a plastic bottle from the corner store! You need drinkable water, period. If it is filtered, drink up and be glad.
Of course you can also boil water to clean it. A couple of thoughts: It works, but it is not easy. It takes a lot of fuel & time to do, and the water tastes very ‘flat’ and off. Aerating it by pouring it repeatedly between two vessels helps, though marginally. A few drops of bleach also works, but be sure to pre-filter to remove sediments and use unscented bleach.
If you are living in an austere environment, even temporarily, water jugs with spigots are incredibly useful. It means you can set a jug on the kitchen counter and kind of pretend you have a working tap. Like this or this or this.
It is comfort, it is sustaining, and it is obviously not optional. There is nothing like a hot meal or a hot drink to feed the soul, soothe the spirit, and provide fuel for stressful times. If you have a kitchen, but no gas or electric, how do you feed your family? I am an old-school prepper and camper, so I say you start with the venerable line of Coleman stoves. The best is the Coleman dual fuel series. These stoves run on white gas (also called Coleman fuel), but more importantly they also happily run on standard unleaded gas. This is a big deal, and it means that you can siphon a gallon out of the car that brought you home, and cook your family a couple dozen meals.
If you are unable to get a Coleman dual fuel (they often go out of stock after a disaster), then here is plan B, and it is still good:
The Coleman Butane stove is a single burner, but it works very well on a counter top, and you can set two up, one for food and another for hot water. More importantly, this stove uses butane, which can be shipped via any normal service.
A very high quality and fuel-flexible stove is the MSR Dragonfly. It burns white gas, kerosene, unleaded auto fuel, diesel, and jet fuel. Do not let the small size fool you. This will accommodate full size pots and pans.
Lighting is going to be important, obviously. I wrote about lighting in an earlier blog.
This is an example of some inexpensive LED lanterns that ship with batteries.
Bathing. Do not underestimate a hot shower. It is critical for health and morale, and having the only field expedient shower can make you a very popular person in the neighborhood. The ‘black bag’ showers actually work very well if you are patient. It can take a couple hours for the water to get hot. But they work, and all you need is a place to hang it.
Final thoughts… Recovering from a natural disaster is difficult, stressful, and expensive. It is even more so if you did not prepare up front. Please build a sensible foundation of preparedness while times are good, when oversights are learning opportunities, not deadly errors.
QOD, LOD, TOD:
Quote of the day:
“Prepare for the unknown by studying how others in the past have coped with the unforeseeable and the unpredictable.”
Gen. George S. Patton
Links of the day:
Here, a shameless plug. Originally this entire blog was going to introduce our new Cadet MK1 LiFePo4 Portable Power Station. Events have, clearly, changed the importance of the subject. The Cadet has taken about 8 months to develop, and it represents the best we can offer in a small scale, solar ready, armored battery system. See the product page, here.
Thought of the day:
The entire Hardened Power team is working to help people recovering from the recent weather events. After hearing what some folks are dealing with, the consensus in the shop is to panic early and avoid the rush. ;-)