So after yet another fun- time electric outlet scare , in which sparks happened and I had to manually flip the breaker off, since despite the flamey-ness it seemed perfectly intent on not flipping off the circuit..and then I couldn’t get a hold of my husband, which is another post for another time, but in the midst of all this chaos I realized yet again how we both take electricity for granted and how we should be able to live without it if needs be. So my next post will be about either temporary or semi-permanent ways to survive without the electric company in case of a catastrophic problem with your electric…
First things first, what are your first concerns when your electric goes out ?
1)The food in my freezer spoiling
2)Animals getting too hot
4)cooking (or lack there-of)
So we’ll address these issues one at a time:
If the power outage is localized and caused by a short storm, you likely won’t be in the dark for long, so just shove all your perishables in the freezer and keep the door closed as much as possible.
If things are starting to look kinda bleak, get your hands on some ice and shove it in your freezer or a cooler for your perishables, if you have a chance to plan ahead freeze two liter soda bottles full of water, you can either use these around food the way Victorians used the giant chunks of ice off the ice wagon or you can drop repeatedly and cut away the plastic casing for smaller format ice, for wounds or household. I usually keep about four of these bad boys in the bottom of my freezer.They will stay ice in moderate temps for several hours, I used several under my laptop for giggles and to keep the broken-fanned thing from melting on a day when it was 103 outside and they stayed ice for 12 hours or better even with external heat from the laptop. If you have those prepped already you can put them in a cooler with items you are concerned about as a old fashioned icebox type of deal.
If you are fresh out of ideas and someplace hot, you can build a bush cooler, which is basically a pot inside of another bigger pot, you pour sand in between the two pots as an insulator then you pour water on the sand..the evaporation causes cooling..you can put ice or cold packs in the bottom of your second pot if you have it but if not put the item to be cooled in the inner pot and cover with a towel or blanket and put the whole affair in the shade..but as a warning this is only good for cooling, not keeping frozen or freezing items, it only gets to 60 at it’s very coolest ..so only consider it as a last resort ..
If you have time to spare and frequently worry about power outages, you can build a cellar which is a pit dug into the ground, sometimes the size of a room, to store food items..the deeper the cellar the better the cooling in theory, though it’ll never match the power of your fridge, it will at least comfortably store your soda/spam/canned goods without making them explode..this method isn’t suitable for perishable goods unless used in conjunction with a cooler/ice box method to prolong the life of your ice by keeping it in a cool dark place.
If you are lucky enough to live near a spring or river, or even a healthy creek, you can build a springhouse, which is a building that water passes through, with a trough in the middle so that the water moves over your semi perishable items and cools them as it flows through your spring house..these often have the trough-house area and a dry storage area, they can be as plain or fancy as you please, with some folks just setting their goods in a basket in the shady ,shallow part of their river or creek with the basket tied down to something “so it don’t float away”..a spring house can store eggs, milk, and cheese, but not forever, it’s not a fridge like we are used to but in plantation days it served as one. Make sure anything you put in the trough of your spring house is sealed in a jar or basket so it can’t get contaminated nor contaminate your water, which presumably you are also drinking at this point.
If you have snow/ice outside then use it in a cooler, or straight up to chill your food..duh..
For your critters you can tote e’m down to your cellar if you have one, where it should be about 10-20 degrees cooler than above ground.
If you aren’t that lucky you may have to put e’m in cages or pens and take e’m outside in the shade and try to find a cool place for e’m with plenty of clean, fresh water, because if it’s hot out then your house will turn into an oven, but until it gets that hot you can open windows and try to get a cross breeze going, if there isn’t one then you, and they will roast if you stay indoors. If someone you know does still have electric, call and beg their mercy for your pets, and if you have a barn, you can tote your inside pets to chill with your livestock ..but don’t leave your pets anywhere you wouldn’t want to be, and make sure they have water..can’t stress that enough.
If you’ve frozen those bottles as suggested you can put a towel over one and wet the towel down in your pet’s cage, it’ll help cool them off some and give them something to lay on/against that is cool if they get too hot..remember, most household pets, including cats ..don’t sweat like we do so you have to look out for their needs with caution, as they can dehydrate very quickly.
If it’s cold out you handle that situation the opposite way, try to cover your windows and doors with blankets and seal off any parts of the house you aren’t using, try to centralize everything alive into one room or area where you can provide a localized heat source. You can use towels and newspapers to stuff under doors of rooms you aren’t using..but be careful of your heat source, if it is fire or anything that uses up oxygen don’t seal things up too tight, you could poison yourselves..just try to eliminate heating parts of the house you don’t have to use, for example guest rooms are non essential during a ice storm power outage..so close the door, put a towel under the gap in the bottom of the door or hang a blanket over the door to avoid wasting the heat to that area, your furnishings aren’t going to freeze to death, but you and your pets might. , and by putting everyone in one room you have not only less to heat, but also body warmth concentrated to one area. You can also use this close space to cheer each other up by playing silly games. If things are really cold don’t be ashamed to stuff newspaper into your clothes or pet bedding, it does help insulate.
Light is actually one most people do know how to cope with, storm lanterns, camping lights, flash lights, candles etc are common..you can also make tallow torches if you must by putting a wick into saved fat or tallow (I always have some stored for soapmaking) it will smoke alot but works in a pinch
How you gonna fix food?..well it depends on your situation, if you have access to the outdoors you can use an open fire, a camp stove or a dutch oven..you can even make ash cakes if you have a little foil or such handy ..indoors if you have a wood burning stove or fire place you are set, and with adequate ventilation even a camp stove will work.. you may end up eating alot of beans and bacon, or ashcake cornbread, but you won’t starve as long as you have plenty of canned food saved up and a healthy imagination.
I hope this helps some, good luck and remember: You don’t miss that electricity until it’s gone, so if there are non electric survival items you keep putting off buying, maybe now is the time to invest in them, ya never know when they might be handy to have.