PSA for emergency prep items

I mentioned I would post something about a useful item that should be helpful in a sudden break in our supply chain, or, our infrastructure.
If you find yourself without electricity or unable to get propane for your stoves, consider buying one inexpensive item that, in extreme emergency, can cook you a meal.

"family Chef" 14in. charcoal grill, available at Family Dollar Store for $15.00. Likely on Amazon, and at their website.
This is by no means some endorsement, or a suggestion the product is good and long lasting.
I am merely suggesting that it will get your meat and veggies cooked whenever you have no other means, and that you will be able to cook up meat that you can't keep frozen where electricity is shut down.
If anyone has other suggestions, please post them in a comment.
We must be prepared for prolonged energy and infrastructure lapses.

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TheOtherMaven's picture

They used to be quite popular for camping and "outdoor" grilling on a small porch. You might be able to score one at a local yard sale or flea market. If not, they do still make and sell them, but you'll need to do a bit of comparison shopping.

I've hung onto one through thick and thin, and I'm glad I did.

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There is no justice. There can be no peace.

@TheOtherMaven @TheOtherMaven and it lasted 20 years, until I started going for the real grill deal, and larger cook surface.
People need to think about charcoal. If the stores are closed, or do not have charcoal bags available or affordable, maybe store a few pieces of oak, let it dry out, and use it later in a grill. Also, when lighter fluid is not available, paper is. And having a stack of envelopes around from letters received is great tender. I get letters, magazines, cards, all the time. In other words, one doesn't need commercial charcoal, or commercial lighter fluid. To prepare, check out what you already have.
I appreciate you mentioning the hibachi.

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janis b's picture

4 ways to charge

7 ways to charge

This solution covers food and battery charging. I should look into it.

For the ultimate in phone charging during a power outage, however, you can purchase a camp stove that has a USB outlet. BioLite's CampStove 2, for instance, just requires some twigs to get a fire up and running. Its fan will generate electricity and, presto, your phone gets charged. You can also cook food and boil water on the flame, which is doubly useful when there's no power. (Naturally, you'll want to use this outside, lest you accidentally start a fire inside the house.)

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@janis b Thanks so much.

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janis b's picture

@on the cusp

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mimi's picture

@janis b I live in the house my parents bought 1954. It was built 1936. I regret that the things it had were all replaced with 'modern technology devices'.

It had a huge furnace that needed to be filled with coal in the morning to heat the house. A whole room in the basement was filled with coal, which was enough to bring you through at least 8 to 9 months with temperatures below 18 degree Celsius. Trucks came with bags of coal and those were emptied out into that 'coal room' through a basement window with a device that made it possible to empty the coal bags from the outside into the 'coal room'. Not only was there a huge furnace fed with coal to heat the whole house, but there was also a herd-type cooking stove. All of it was removed and replaced with 'modern' devices. I really regret that. My aunts and the parent (wwII) generations carried coal bags from the basement into the fourth floor. It was awfully hard to do that for the elder folks, but you could survive independently in winters, as long as coal was available.

Our dependency on the networks and phone technology is a suicidal sickness, imo.
I yearn for the times I could directly talk to the people I care for and not to be dependent on phone conversations. YMMV.

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mimi

janis b's picture

@mimi

There’s a lot to feel comfortingly nostalgic about, because of the 'simplicity' of the past and the resilience it built. But as long as we are addicted or slaves to modern technology, we might as well make the ‘best' of it, whatever that really is. I would certainly miss seeing my daughter and granddaughter if we didn't have the technology available now. On the other hand back then the limitations of viruses and passports were not such an issue.

It makes sense that you feel nostalgic in your family home.

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mimi's picture

@janis b
I am just depressed about having to rely on phone conversations to work. Just forget about my comment.

Hope you enjoy your kids and grand children. You are so lucky to have them. In my case there are none, even not teenagers who 'could just explain' how my damn new phone works.

I am totally fed up with a new phone. That's all. Basically what I had as family members, are all gone, either physically passed over, or mentally gone.

Enjoy the family you have. Be well and thanks for your patience.

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mimi

janis b's picture

@mimi

that only you can answer. I truly trust that you will find your way around the Geheimness.

xox

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@mimi in a dire emergency, I suggest you go to the store where you purchased it, and spend 15 minutes with a tech person. Also, the phone either came with a manual, or you can look the manual up with an online search.
My guess is that the generation of people reliant upon hauling coal in a bag would applaud new technology to heat a home, and would enjoy better health, as well.
I did not want to learn how to use my call phone. I HAD to learn.
While you are at the store, buy some matches and candles.
And introduce yourself to fellow shoppers, and make some real life friends!

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mimi's picture

@on the cusp @on the cusp
Smile
I just can't stand it, if the phone constantly edit the words I type. It is basically because I am located in Germany and them phones located in Germania don't like me talking typing English into their phone. Wink

You know 'smart phones' have their name for a reason. Like all things smart, they have their prima donna attitudes. They are smart and that is not what I like about them Wink

They make me feel dumb. So, I am not that dumb. That's all I have to say. Smile

You know I joke, right?

PS, my sister had tons of candles in her house. I am afraid she would make a fire (though I myself have proven that I am great at setting something into flames, like my mattress and stuff), and then ...

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mimi

mimi's picture

@on the cusp
We have had to watch the flooding catastrophes in Germany all the time on TV and saw the folks having no electricity, nor an anything else. But if hits that hard, no cellphone or other network will work anymore.

Basically you have to rely on your own smartness, because the smart phones just turned out to be not smart enough ... ouch.

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mimi

@mimi

NEVER AGAIN!

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I've seen lots of changes. What doesn't change is people. Same old hairless apes.

mimi's picture

@The Voice In the Wilderness
my parents took in a special person as their third daughter (from former East Germany). She is now eighty years old and has nursed and took care of all, til they died. The only person I have a deep respect and love for in my otherwise not so caring family that are still alive.

Her 'revenge' to all she did for us, what we should have done ourselves, including my mother, is that she survived all, has the best memory of us all, and handles her life independently and well. I love her. When I feel down and angry I walk over to her house and I vent out my frustrations. There are good people out there, one just has to look and listen.

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mimi

all End Times" peeps. And they stock up on food to survive, and ammo and guns to kill anyone who wants to rob them. (Good Christians who will not share.)
My idea of prepping is totally different.
I am thinking about how to get heat to raw food cheaply, and using little storage space.
Also, people in condos can at least go to their balconies and not set the building afire.
I am also hoping for suggestions on ways to keep cool. Or, warm!

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@on the cusp @on the cusp in a city high rise:

During the Hurricane Sandy outage what I found helpful was to understand where the cold creeps in from. In high rises like mine, the biggest culprit can be our fire-proof front doors. They rarely fit well enough to prevent drafts. Our windows, OTOH, are double paned and draft free.

During the 6 days without heat I rolled up a quilt and propped it across the bottom part of my entry door. After the hurricane was over I found a product in Bed Bath & Beyond that addresses this issue better. It has a fanciful name, "Door Snake" I think it is. It is a thick heavy roll more than the width of the door and in between uses it has a handy loop on each end so it can hang on a hook in the closet.

Also, I bought weather stripping and applied it on top of the door and on the open side.

On cooking---during the Hurricane we lost heat, water and electricity, but the gas stayed on. All we had to do was unplug the electric starter (for safety reasons) and I used long fireplace matches to light the burners.

A hibachi is a great idea for when G & E both fail. I'm going to look for one.

Also keep ground coffee on hand even if you generally prefer to grind your beans daily. Ground coffee and a Melitta system and no electricity will be needed.

What to do when your high rise toilet stops flushing? simple. First---keep a brick on hand that will go into the tank. Then, any fluid can help flush. Use water to wash with and then add that soapy water to your tank. Make every drop count. Of course, have plenty of stored water. Use common sense. Flush only after a major deposit. Living alone with the lid down, that is easier than I thought it would be.

The best kind of prepping is to live with eyes open and know how many things work, so you can deal with whatever comes that can be dealt with. Pampered City dwellers call their Maintenance workers for every little thing. This will not work out well as a life plan anyplace we happen to live.

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NYCVG

CB's picture

@NYCVG
Use it only in open air. Slow burning charcoal is notorious for creating a lot of carbon monoxide. You will have no warning. Just gently fall asleep.

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@CB on my balcony floor. That is not legal in NYC but in an emergency who will be watching or care?

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NYCVG

@NYCVG I keep coffee, but lost my old coffee pot somehow. I need to get a Merlitta post-haste!

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@on the cusp starts the day off right for me. Then I can get thru pretty much anything that follows.

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NYCVG

QMS's picture

but I have a small solar electric system on / in my shop
4 panels on the roof going thru a charge controller
to 4 deep cycle batteries with an inverter for AC power

Have many DC items such as fans, pumps and lights
which run directly off the batteries

hurricane lanterns with lamp oil
spare gas and water jugs
lots of old hand tools
stacks of seasoned firewood
canning supplies
composting toilet (solar powered)
looking for an old kerosene camp stove
for my escape pod Wink

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@QMS Especially the old tools. I have tools my Dad used after WWII.
I am going to stock up on salt and multivitamins. Wish I could get my hands on some amoxicillin.

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Lookout's picture

@QMS

https://theprovidentprepper.org/kerosene-stoves/
I do occasionally see them at trade day, but they tend to have an antique based price.

For those that have a propane camping stove, you can refill the one pound bottles from a larger tank on the cheap.
https://gomidwestfishing.com/refill/

good luck, but it sounds like you've got your bases covered.

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“Until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

enhydra lutris's picture

@Lookout

that will attach the stove to the 20 pound tanks.

be well and have a good one.

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

CB's picture

@Lookout
I prefer the freezer method. I found that pulling the relief valve sometimes damages them. I just take my time. It takes about 3 times to fill. I also weigh them at the end to ensure they don't go over the gross weight and get overfilled.

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mimi's picture

@QMS
for my little piece of garden, as this little piece is so far out from the main house, that I would always ... soil my underwear ... can't run that fast anymore ... Smile

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mimi

Lookout's picture

Living in the forest we always have limb to pick up. There are camping stoves (fairly inexpensive) which might be helpful like these two (one which also heats water)
wood stove.jpg
This one is designed to burn sticks, and the one below small piece of firewood.
bigger model.jpg

We cook with propane so we can continue cooking without power. I highly recommend these solar lights which require no battery just the sun.
https://mpowerd.com/products/luci-outdoor-2-0-f2017
Great for camping and power outages.

A standby generator is the ultimate power outage solution. I have a small inverter generator primarily for the freezer during an extended outage, and an old (loud) larger generator down by the well for water supply. With a well, no power, no water.

At the camp house we have a small solar generator and solar panel.
https://www.jackery.com/?aff=25
We picked up the smallest unit on sale and use it for remote camping and for our camp house for lights, charging guests devices, running fans and so on.

For food, the freezer is your friend. Buy in season and on sale products and stash (in and organized way so your can find it again) in your freezer. A chest freezer is more efficient, but more difficult to see what's in it.

I could go on, but will leave it there.

Prepping is a good idea. I keep hearing of supply chain and supply issues.

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“Until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

@Lookout Survival techniques have no limits!

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Lookout's picture

@on the cusp

There are 12V electric blankets that can run off a solar generator or battery system. We have both USB and cigarette lighter plug 12V fans. There are also fans that use drill batteries.

For extreme heat I like a mister in front of a fan which can be as simple as a unused clean garden sprayer or a battery powered mist fan like this:
https://www.homedepot.com/p/RYOBI-ONE-18V-Portable-Bucket-Top-Misting-Fa...

Stay cool!

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10 users have voted.

“Until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

@Lookout a hurricane blew through, and the temperatures were in the 100s. I spent hours under a wet towel, trying to sleep through the night.
We didn't have the solar gadgets then that are available now. These items can prevent heat exhaustion and stroke.

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Pricknick's picture


You can run them on white gas (expensive), unleaded gas and with a little trickery kerosene. The manufacturer says they will only run on white gas which is bunk. You just just have to clean the innards more frequently. I've had a gallon last more than a month using it four times a day while camping.
You can easily find used ones for cheap.

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Regardless of the path in life I chose, I realize it's always forward, never straight.

@Pricknick and I appreciate your tip on fuel.

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enhydra lutris's picture

@Pricknick
that style stove, though they are allegedly only for white gas and unleaded gasoline and not kerosene. I've had one for well over a decade.

be well and have a good one

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

https://www.generac.com/all-products/generators/home-backup-generators#?...
I've got the 22KW model, no Wifi. You don't need wifi unless you are too lazy to go into the yard and read the display. Save $200 and ditch the wifi. Don't run it all the time, it's much more expensive to run than your utility charges. I got the optional battery heater. I don't need it to fail to start when it's twenty below.

old people die in heat waves and during freezes. Luckily when we had the 23 hour power outage it was around 70 degrees, but constantly raining. I kept on thinking "What if it was 90+? What if it was below zero?
When the power came back on I called the Generac salesman.

In Texas you could also have both.

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I've seen lots of changes. What doesn't change is people. Same old hairless apes.

usefewersyllables's picture

@The Voice In the Wilderness

I installed a 30KW diesel backup generator, and an automatic transfer switch so that power outages were seamlessly swallowed by the genny: the lights would blink and come right back up in a few seconds as the genny spun up. We needed that to make sure the well pump would run to keep the critters watered, as well as for domestic use. This was fine, because I'm an engineer and a decent diesel mechanic, so maintaining it was straightforward. It had a 50-gallon day tank, so we could run for a long time without refueling- and the 300-gallon bulk gravity tank for the tractor was within the fueling hoses' length of the genny's day tank filler. And the transfer switch controller would autostart it and run it for 5min a week. So we were in good shape.

But with any generator, the thing is only worth what you put in as preventive maintenance. Old diesel gels in the winter cold (without treatment), gasoline goes bad, nobody ever checks the propane tank until they need it, oil leaks out. The maintenance has to become religion. It is nontrivial work.

BTW, I set up an electric transfer pump so that I could empty the day tank back into the bulk tractor tank, and then refresh it with fresh fuel. You don't want diesel to lay around for years. I always laugh when I see commercial places with the spiffy prepackaged diesel gennies that have clearly never been refreshed- good luck if the power *does* fail.

With all the consolidation in the cellular industry, you can often find used diesel backup gennies from decommissioned cell phone sites for a song. It's worth keeping an eye out for. Just avoid, at all costs, the no-name Chinese gennies: they are not a bargain. Generac, Kohler, Cummins- real companies make gennies. The Chinese make oily paperweights.

Now that we had to sell the property, are broke, and renting a place in town, I have a 1.75L bottle of Johnny Walker Red for power outages. It's less work...

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Twice bitten, permanently shy.

@usefewersyllables to stock up on your fuel of choice!
I had planned on buying a generator this year. Thank you so much for your expert engineering opinions and suggestions.

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@usefewersyllables
if/when I move to Alabama I will get a generator also. my daughter is trying to go off the grid. Power was lost in the last Hurricane and was not restored for 6 days. Hurricane wasn't near them but messed up the AL power grid. She was particularly browned-off because she could see downtown Anniston all lit up the second day, within walking distance. But her area is low income and no one gave a big rat's ass.

She says natural gas lines are not reliable so I might have to get a diesel generator.

A service tech comes out every September, changes the oil, checks the battery and runs a test. It runs every Saturday at 11:00AM for five minutes like yours. The annual service keeps up the warranty. Some of my neighbors have gasoline generators that you pull the cord. I imagine pulling that cord at ten below. No. I have enough trouble with the lawn mower.

EDIT:
BTW daughter doesn't want a generator. she's going for solar/wind/conservation.

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I've seen lots of changes. What doesn't change is people. Same old hairless apes.

Band aids
ointments for ant bites, wasp stings, or minor cuts and scratches
aspirin
alcohol
soap
antacids
These common medicine cabinet items may one day be very scarce.

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ggersh's picture

@on the cusp https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000GGJDD8/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=mo...

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The correct response to someone who supports going to war if China attacks Taiwan is “Are you enlisted?”

The correct response when they inevitably answer “no” is “Then shut the fuck up.”

Caitlin

enhydra lutris's picture

One can find and buy Rocket Stoves, or one can use that term to use ones favorite search engine to locate a large number of designs, plans, instructables and you Tubes on Do It Yourself rocket stoves. They get plenty hot for cooking, heating water and all that and are generally fueled with twigs and small stuff that is often much easier to find that larger cordwood size wood.

Caveat, in any wood burning device try to avoid wood from conifers, the resins will eventually cause you grief in one form or another (and that includes fireplaces).

be well and have a good one

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

enhydra lutris's picture

portable solar panels and solar power kits of varying sizes. I have a very old one that still works fine which consisted of a relatively small panel and a separate unit containing a sealed deep cycle battery, an inverter, and a USB port, a cigarette lighter port (for 9 to 12 Volt Devices) and an AC outlet. The panel charges the battery so you can use it at night and on cloudy days. We've used it for odds and ends for ages the AC will run small AC devices (I can't recall the wattage). You can find them on line and/or look before buying at some REI stores if you are near one.

be well and have a good one.

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

mimi's picture

@enhydra lutris
went to Hawaii. They worked very well. I wonder if he still has them. I think he used them when in the beginning he had to sleep in his car. ... Oh well, at least he improved that kind of lifestyle a little bit. Smile

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mimi

enhydra lutris's picture

If you have a large camping supply store or a fishing/hunting type place like Cabelas, go stick your head inside for a few hours. There are all kinds of space heaters, infra red heaters, catalytic heaters, etc. powered by your choice of propane or alcohol or white gas, etc, as well as stoves, etc. A good sleeping bag can eliminate the need for nighttime heating both at home and away and is a sound investment. (My wife and I are still using the ones we got in the early eighties and have used the hell out of). A plethora of types of lanterens, flashlights, luci lights, etc.

If you stop to think about it, the type of prepping under discussion, temporary supply chain disruption generates needs and requirements similar to a week camping out.

I saw something on generators above. I lot of trailer folk use the small portable Hondas, they'll easily run your fridge or freezer and will run for a long time on very little gas. If you keep the doors closed, you only need to run the fridge and freezer about 2 hours per day each. Two trailer types in our court and we became the immediate envy of everybody else when PG&E started cuting everybody's power in previous years. Shortly thereafter generators became much more common here, including one neighbor with a permanent installation hardwired into the house.

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

enhydra lutris's picture

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

studentofearth's picture

a little forethought helps. Spent time this morning creating a list as a beginning place for making plans. Start filling in the gaps after identifying your unique needs and listing resources in your home for the various time period goals that are in place now. The ideas presented in this diary are a great possibilities to start assembling additional solutions.

Needs Assessment
Number of people, animals and plants to be considered
Time Period Considered
3 hours or less, 24 hours, 72 hours, 1 week, 1 month, up to 1 year

Special limitations to keep in mind such as arthritic hands not able to use mechanical can opener.
Limited Storage

Shelter & Environmental Control
Heat
Cool
Air Supply
Repair, cleaning and maintenance supplies.

Food

ready to eat
need heat source
need preparation time and space
equipment and utensils to cook

Water
potable sources
non potable sources
methods to create potable water

Medical Needs
injuries and short term illness
chronic conditions
acute flair-ups of chronic conditions
include medical, medications, supplements, topical treatments and hygiene.
Knowledge to perform care.

Fuel
Electricity
Heat
Cool
Alternatives

Money
daily life purchases
emergency and repair purchases
regular payments

Travel
employment
reach community centers & markets
assistance to others

I keep this information in my head, really should write down assessment and plans just in case someone else needs to step in and do the tasks for a while.

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Still yourself, deep water can absorb many disturbances with minimal reaction.
--When the opening appears release yourself.

@studentofearth
I have a lot of Sam's Club canned flaked chicken. it's not great but it's food. When cans get close to date, I open them and use them for soup thickener. I keep a supply of boxed cereal too.
And, of course, canned tomato sauce, canned fruit, and canned vegetables.

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I've seen lots of changes. What doesn't change is people. Same old hairless apes.

@The Voice In the Wilderness preserves nuts raisins

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NYCVG

@NYCVG

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I've seen lots of changes. What doesn't change is people. Same old hairless apes.

mimi's picture

Would be good for me to think more. Wink

So basically I have to get solar panels to power the well. We should get solar panels on the roof of the main house. The only power source I can produce myself is growing more trees and using all the wood from the garden in one form or the other. We have too much wood, but too little man power to use it and not enough money to pay for cutting down trees in our garden by professional garden service companies. I will definitely convert our fireplace into a wood burning stove.

Need to think that through.

Sigh. Thanks for the essay, on the cusp. I think we would need a follow-up for this.

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mimi

@mimi @mimi I might be triggered to post if I run across some new product or new method for prepping. This comment thread was a great beginning.

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usefewersyllables's picture

@mimi

pressure-bladder tank on most domestic wells only holds 5-10 gallons: they rely upon the pump to refill and repressurize the reservoir quite often when in use. When we expected short term (weather related) outages, we always filled the bathtub just in case, even with the genny.

The other thing to watch out for is if you have an engineered septic system: one with a lift pump to lift the sewage out to a more or less surface based (evaporative) leach field. Those are very common in CO where there's only a thin layer of soil over bedrock, and the first reservoir generally only holds a couple hundred gallons. It can get dramatic when the lift pump packs it in, and the first reservoir backs up...

And the circulating fan or pump on the central heating system needs to be fed a steady diet of 220V in most US applications. The electrics are not just for the lights and charging things- there are a lot of low-level infrastructure uses that a lot of folks don't think about. I remember trudging through hip-deep snow to go down and refill the genny's day tank during some severe winter weather a few years ago, and I was very, very glad that it was there.

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4 users have voted.

Twice bitten, permanently shy.

That's what this NY to Texas refugee had on hand and that was seven years ago.

Might not work in a small apartment but this guy picked up 80 acres for what a couple
months' rent on a NYC apartment would probably run...

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3 users have voted.

@Blue Republic I will find the time to view this, but I know you can pick up acreages in numerous states that are unimproved, then you figure out how to provide yourself with water, electricity, septic, and internet.
I just made such a purchase in Colorado, and over the next few years, plan to get it upgraded and off the grid.
Thanks for sharing this.

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@on the cusp
Near Colorado Springs.
And an ex-boss in the Southern part near the Grand Canyon. They all like it fine.

WARNING: Altitude not good if you have bad lungs like me. And my uncle could never get fruit trees to grow in Florence. Too high.

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6 users have voted.

I've seen lots of changes. What doesn't change is people. Same old hairless apes.

@The Voice In the Wilderness not even grass, so the only plants I would anticipate growing would be done indoors.
As for altitude: I have traveled to over 16,000 ft. with no effects. I think 10 times. I did hear from my Texas neighbor, who is also my Colo. neighbor, they he and his wife drink lots of Gatorade, otherwise, they do not feel 100%.
Since the trips will be driving, I figure we will acclimate as we drive along, always spending a night while in transit.

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usefewersyllables's picture

@on the cusp

for living here, especially above 7,000 feet, is "drink 'til you piss clear". It is almost impossible to stay properly hydrated at altitude, especially in winter, as hundreds of flatlanders discover to their woe every ski season. Once you get dehydrated, it is almost impossible to catch up, so drink early and often. This is key.

You never really acclimate to this: you just cope. When we had the ranch and would put hay up in the heat of summer (small squares, 50-60lb each), I often drank the better part of two gallons a day without even thinking about it. It just flashes off into vapor without ever making you feel sweaty... It gets worse as you get older, as well. Your neighbor is telling you the truth!

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5 users have voted.

Twice bitten, permanently shy.

@usefewersyllables I drink very little water. I will have to develop a taste for it.
We have done a cursory bit of research, and the well water is good, and most of the people in that vicinity have wells.

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