Monday, December 29, 2008

Lessons Learned…

It took us two days to cut out to reach a town maintained road. Every wire on our road was felled by trees and/or limbs. That’s one old guy & one not-so-old-as-me-is-putting-it-nicely gal.

Eleven days without power can be mighty discomforting (landline phone is yet to be restored by the phone company). Back to back snowstorms didn’t help a lot either (I won’t get started on the blown hydraulic hose on the plow). Thankfully, here at the DT homestead we were fairly comfortable throughout, albeit busy. The preparedness here was normal due to our semi-remote location. Given my former profession in quality assurance (read “anal bastard”), I necessarily reviewed what we did right & what could have been better. The following is a list by category noting what we did & related comments. I hope this helps someone preparing for a similar event or a zombie apocalypse, whichever comes first.

Heat: two woodstoves & h/w oil furnace
Remarks: stoves were adequate for our comfort (some “rescued” guests were less than toasty); furnace was available on generator for additional heat.

Light: Aladdin lamp, oil lamps, 12v LED trouble light clamped to photo tripod, head lamps, LED flashlights, LED lantern, LED keychain lights; Coleman lantern available in garage (didn’t use).
Remarks: Aladdin lamp (“stinky”/Mrs. DT) when running @ low output, but generates much heat when running high; oil lamp is low output, but serves for area lighting. 12v LED trouble light was great- could use another; LED headlamps & flashlights a necessity. The LED headlight is the best invention since beer.

Power: 5.5kw generator, solar charger w/100 a/h & car batteries.
Remarks: Ran genny ~1 hour on & 3 hours off; stayed off through the night. Freezer & fridge were fine. We sometimes ran the gen up to 4 hours when we had guests. It would be good to get small battery charging capability directly from 12v to avoid inverter power loss. The solar panel is only 15w, but produced enough juice to keep my batteries charged running the LED trouble light ~ 6 hours a night, as well as incidental charging of cell phone/small batteries on the inverter.

Food: on hand, freezer, cellar pantry
Remarks: A stock of food at home was a comfort; it allowed us to feed “rescued” friends & relatives. The first Saturday night, Mrs. DT cooked a pot roast (all day) on the woodstove, cooked up some frozen green beans from the garden, & added some mashed potatoes. Life is good.

Water: well (on gen- pumped twice a day to fill domestic needs & to water horses), 7-gal container, 1 gal milk bottles; cold (room temp) running water from modified ½ gal Tupperware jug w/ ¼” NPT ball valve, 4” nipple, & couplers, & 1.5-gal pot on woodstove for hot water for washing.
Remarks: A better cold running water delivery system is needed; bathing accomplished by wash-up at sink or shower when pump/furnace timing is coordinated (on gen).

Food cooling: fridge, freezer, cooler
Remarks: I gotta get a bigger, better-insulated cooler for daily use (used outside temps and/or snow as cooling agent); apparently generator use was adequate to keep food from spoiling in chest freezer & fridge.

Communication: GMRS & CB radios, cell phone, TV (on gen)
Remarks: Did not use either radio system. Cell phone was best- most comm was phone to relatives & friends; probably I will plan to use CB for initial local contact as it runs directly on 12v, & use charged GMRS radios as required. A 12v low drain TV would be a good addition.

So there you have it- how to stay alive in the woods, eleven-day edition. AND, all that time without the interwebs DID sharpen my cribbage skills.

If anyone has any questions, lemmeno via comments.

Happy New Year All!


blogger said...

Good AAR. I get the feeling that doen here in Metro West, people would freeze to death. :-/

Glad you're back on Al Gore's Intarwebz.

Paul, Dammit! said...

Sounds pretty good to me. Glad you're back!

Bruce said...

Northeast Blogger Beer Bash/Cribbage Tournament 2009.

I like the sound of that.

doubletrouble said...

Unfortunately, you're probably right. Al was glad to see me again as well.

Yeah, we did OK. Stopping by for some shooting whilst ashore?

As do I.

Anonymous said...

Glad you were well prepared and relatively comfortable. We only lost power for 4 days (ran generator for only a couple of those) and were prepared for a lot longer - massively surprised that it wasn't longer.

Got tired of watching the news where people were whining about having to wait 2-3 whole days to get electric back.

Hey, continuous improvement - no reason to use it only at a job - believe me, we brought back a few lessons that will improve our self reliance for longer stretches if needed.