Thursday, January 18, 2007

Emergency readiness

Weather-related in specific, and the review I mentioned. I wasn't going to do this until the weather problem had passed but with the Curse Of du Toit about to whack us again, I thought I'd go ahead and do it now.

Number one, I need to pay more attention to forecasts this time of year. If I had, a couple of things would have been taken care of with no problem. As it was, I found out about the "We're going to die in the dark!" change of forecast for the ice storm after, oh, just about everybody else. Which was a wakeup I didn't expect: having spent a lot of time growing up in farm/ranch country, I used to watch this very carefully; I've really slipped on this.

Number two, heat and light sources. I've got two bottles for my grill, and neither one is full. Between them, I'd guess about one-and-a-quarter; I should have had the one I'm not using full, and could have filled the other as soon as I heard about the ice predictions.
I've got a twin-mantle propane camping lantern. If you're not familiar with these, they put out a lot of light and heat: if the power had gone off for a long period I could have set this up in the utility room(in all but severe cold the one place I'd really worry about the pipes) and kept it on low. That would've kept the pipes safe and some heat going to the rest of the house. I only had two mostly-full bottles that fit it(and my torch head), which wouldn't have lasted long enough. Again, on general principles I should have had a couple more bottles minimum, and if I'd paid attention to the forecast could have bought more before they evaporated from the shelves. I do have a set of spare mantles for it.

I've got two oil lamps in the living room that put out light & heat both, a gallon of lamp oil and a gallon of kerosene in the shed. I've also got a bunch of candles and holders, including a pierced-tin lantern that works quite well, but when I looked for the bag of tealight candles I couldn't find them. I need to keep this stuff in one place so I don't lose track of it.

Number three, vehicle. Anti-freeze and so forth was ok, but I should have put the bucket of coal dust and the shovel in the back as soon as I got the word: coal dust under the tires does a very good job of giving you traction in ice and snow.
I did have the 'get home' pack in it, and did throw in the wool blanket I keep for travelling in cold weather. I'm thinking I need to put some kind of extra 'layer' clothing in, like a set of polypropylene long underwear or sweater or sweats in a bag: extra layers are always nice in really cold weather. And one other thing: a hat that'll fit over my knit cap AND have a brim to keep rain/snow/whatever off my glasses for cold weather; for warm weather just a hat to keep the sun out of my eyes or rain off the glasses.

Food at the house, I was fine: canned goods, a case of MREs and a half-dozen extras. A camping stove that runs off propane, even a little single-burner type, would be good to have, so as to avoid having to use the grill for all cooking. Which would be very nice, as standing in the teens temperatures with, as Dr. Fever put it, a gentle wind wafting out of the north at about a thousand miles an hour while trying to cook would not be fun.

Number four, house heat. I have a gas dryer hookup in the utility room, so I'm thinking get a free-standing gas heater that, in event of real need, I could hook up. It wouldn't keep the house toasty-warm, but it'd beat the hell out of nothing.

There's a number of other things, both taken care of and not. I've got a couple of battery-powered radios and enough batteries for a few days of use, I've got flashlights(and batteries), and I've got the crank-charge flashlight my folks gave me a while back: it's not real bright, but plenty to see by in a dark area. I want to get one of the good crank radios the gentleman at Random Nuclear Strikes wrote about a while back(it's late and I'm tired, I'll find the spot for a link later). I've actually wanted one of these for a long time, but it keeps being pushed back.

Home-defense arms & ammo, let's just say I'm good there. And unless I cannot legally carry somewhere I'm going, I've always got a sidearm either on me or in the vehicle for a 'get home in bad circumstances' situation.

Still thinking about this, but that's the list for now. Suggestions, ideas and constructive criticism welcomed.

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