Power-less in Seattle: A first-person report from a winter blizzard

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I was sent a link to this first-hand report of a Seattle resident, Dave, who lived through this week’s blizzard. 

image by bonacheladas

I lived!!!

As anybody who doesn’t live in a cave probably knows, the Seattle Pacific Northwest this week was hammered by winter storms, knocking out juice to what amounted, at the high point, to over 300,000 households, which affected around 1.2 million people!

In this case, it was actually predicted that there could be scattered power outages.  News on Wednesday evening had stories about people stocking up in stores. IN A NUMBER OF CASES, THE STORES WERE ALREADY SOLD OUT OF THE DESIRED ITEMS!!!!

Flashlights, batteries, generators, stuff like that were already either unavailable or a premium item.

The snow started falling late Tuesday evening, and continued into early Wednesday morning. Local news was predicting a wide variety of amounts.  Seattle has a lot of microweather because some areas are closer to the Sound which is warmer, and some areas are at much higher elevations, which, usually, but not this time!, are colder.

I made no advance preparations right then with the exception of digging out some small propane bottles and my little Century Primus single mantle lights. I also made sure that my flashlights were out in the open in readily available places.

Now, I say I made no advance preparations, but in a way, I lied because over the years, I have accumulated many necessities, some because of immediate need, some as a planned activity in cxse of a SHTF scenario.

image by John Mundy

I have two generators, a Champion 3500 watter (quite new) and a Coleman 1800 watter. Every summer I move them to the front of the shed they are stored in and fire them up. I also make sure the oil is clean and full and put a bit of a load on them and let them run until they are warm just to make sure they are well-lubed.  After that, I hit them with a touch of carb cleaner. Just general small engine maintenance things.

I also have LOTS of extension cords, not just household type cords, but serious shop type cords. And power strips.

I also have stocked up on plenty of food and coffee. One of the things people were stocking up on were ingredients for soup. Soup is good food. In an emergency, soup can warm you and keep you alive!

Having been up almost all Tuesday night, with it still snowing, Wednesday morning I slept.

The storm worsens

Later on Wednesday evening, it started getting worse, according to the news. I am at 600 feet, and only had about 6 inches of snowfall.  Now, every single year we have at least one storm that dumps way more than 6 inches, so I was not overly concerned.  That night I heard a few branches fall, but not many.

About 10 p.m., my lights flickered and went out. I started my propane lights and turned on my BATTERY POWERED!!!! radio.   I have about three of these, but rarely need to use them.

I didn’t start the generator right away because it didn’t seem so bad and my house was still warm.  I had had the foresight to make a pot of coffee beforehand and put it into my thermos.  Our juice goes out often enough that I’ve learned to do that, and if the juice stays on, I just pour the coffee from the thermos and it doesn’t go to waste.

A click and a ping and the power came back on about 2:00 a.m.  So I went on my porch to take a look.  Air temp was about 28 degrees. And it was raining.

That was when I got scared because I knew this meant a major ice storm was coming.   I already had 6-8 inches of snow on my roof and didn’t need what might end up being an 8 ton block of ice up there!  Plus, I have at least 5 Douglas firs over 100 feet tall within about 25 feet of my house.  With the weight of enough snow, they could easily topple

Power was on, my heat was on, so I had a drink and went to sleep for a bit.

Life without power

image by Jacked01

Awake at 6:30 a.m. on Thursday, I went on the porch and was astounded. A lilac tree near my porch was covered with ice and bent over my porch. A cherry tree that grows nearby had it’s limbs almost touching my porch. It was still pre-dawn, and I had a cup of coffee and a smoke when suddenly there was a big blue flash, and my lights flickered. They came back on, but with a second blue flash, they went out.  They came back on once more but a final blue flash killed ’em for good. It really was spectacular standing on my porch and watching the flashes in the distance. And there was almost a roar with the sounds of tree limbs and even whole trees coming down.

Now, I’m not the greatest housekeeper in the world, and I soon realized that you do not want to have a lot of clutter lying around when you are in anything like a survival mode! So keep the paths to your important items and resources clear, if possible.

My house was still warm so I didn’t worry about the generator, but I could tell then that this was going to be an extended event.

About ten in the morning I got one of my shop extension cords and a power strip and headed out to start it. I looked at the road and just did a general look of the neighborhood and saw no lights, heard no generators, not even a car engine. Everything was coated in ice.

I tried to start the small generator first, even gave it a shot of starter fluid, but no dice. It was cold out. It is no secret that when you are cold to the point of being uncomfortable, you RAPIDLY lose your effectiveness. So I came back in, got gloves and a hat, and went back out. Didn’t want to waste time, so I moved the small generator towards the back and rolled the other one up (the Champion), gave it a shot of starter fluid, and yanked on it.

First pull, it started.

I plugged in the extension cord, came back inside and plugged the power stip in. From there I hooked up various items starting with my pellet stove to try to keep the place warm.

One of the lessons learned: Over the next few days I used 4 shop type extensions cords (two of them 50 footers), two power strips, and about five household type extension cords. Better to have too much than not enough.

My power finally came on 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, making for 60 hours without juice.

I lost my internet connection. The phone worked for a while, but after about 6 hours, there was no dial tone, just white noise.  The phone system totally powered down about 3 in the afternoon. I concluded that many of the small phone substations you see around are running off of UPS’s and if the local juice goes, they can only last for so long.

I was unable to get out in my vehicle because the snow was so bad I couldn’t get my chains on. Next time, if I know or hear about this in advance, my chains are going on BEFORE it happens.

Everything was OK though because I had plenty of food, coffee and propane for my lights (when the generator was off). My routine was to run the generator for about 8 hours, warm my place up good, then cycle it down and let it cool off. Wait (sleep) for 5 hours or so, gas up the generator and restart it for another 8 hours.

It was Thursday afternoon before I heard anybody else running a generator, about 4:30, right before dark. After dark fell, it was totally obvious who was prepared and who was not!

image by crabchick

Fewer than one out of six had a generator, most places were completely dark, or very dimly lit as if by candles.

Temps in my house would get up to about 63 degrees with the pellet stove, but after 5 or 6 hours when the generator was off, it would fall to about 55 degrees. I quickly learned that SOCKS ARE GOOD FRIENDS!!

I have a small propane cooking setup so was able to feast on scrambled eggs and ham. Carbs will give you short term energy, but if you are going to do heavy work while trying to stay warm, you need something more substantial.

Over the years when it gets cold, and it has gotten to zero in the Seattle area, I will fill up plastic bottles (like Gatorade bottles) with hot water from my faucet and put them at the foot of my bed. This worked very well for me this time, it’s important to be warm when you sleep and not fight the cold.  You will be much more rested and ready for the next day when you wake up.

So I used this approach. It’s kind of a toss up because by the end of the second day I really, really, really, really wanted a shower from all the messing around with gasoline, oil, my tire chains, snow shovel, etc.

I was scared I wouldn’t have enough hot water left, but turned it on and in a minute or so it was steaming. I relished what might have been the last shower I could ever take!

Some were prepared for blizzard survival, some were not

By Saturday morning it had warmed significantly, and I was finally able to get the chains on my truck. I was approached by a neighbor who asked if I could charge her cell phone.  Hey, no big deal, so I brought it inside and put it on the charger. At this time, the power was still out and there were estimates that some limited areas might not have power until mid-week.

Talking to people on Friday I heard rumors of people being around the neighborhood who basically didn’t live here or belong here. So starting on Saturday when I went outside, I carried a small .22 mag revolver I have.  I want to stress, however, that I didn’t hear of any break-ins or gunshots or anything like that, but I have ZERO doubt that if the situation had continued for another three days or so, that would have changed. Desperate people do whatever it takes.

Now at one point in time in the past I had told someone I had two generators. I bumped into him walking around, and he WANTED that generator! I’m not really sure what the solution to that problem would have been if the outage had been more long-term.

Another lesson: KEEP YOUR LIPS ZIPPED ABOUT WHAT YOU HAVE!

One thing that struck me is that if there was a general SHTF power outage type event, do you know who would be the richest man in town? The guy who owns a LAUNDROMAT!!

Gas was already becoming an issue after just three days.  A fellow I know has a 4K generator and he told me he would be out of gas today. Now does it make any sense at all to spend many hundreds or even thousands of dollars for a generator and run OUT OF GAS on Day 3?

Power came on here at 6:30 PM Saturday. Didn’t hear any shouts or yells but I am sure everybody was relieved. I had a fairly daunting task of just cleaning things up (still need to wash the dishes I let pile up).

If somebody asked me what the most important thing was that I learned, I would say “Keep it simple”. Simple things like propane lights, canned foods that need little prep, stuff like that won’t make you feel like you’re at the Waldorf Astoria, but it might keep you from getting so frustrated that you go out and start shooting from your front porch!

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I'm the original Survival Mom, and have been helping moms worry less and enjoy their homes and families more for 9 years.

37 thoughts on “Power-less in Seattle: A first-person report from a winter blizzard”

  1. "One thing that struck me is that if there was a general SHTF power outage type event, do you know who would be the richest man in town? The guy who owns a LAUNDROMAT!!"
    As someone who owns a Laundromat I wonder what he meant by this comment? No power at a laundromat means no business but still overhead to pay.

  2. We live just east of the Cascades and have very different weather than Seattle generally. This one hit us too, only difference being we didn't get the ice storm and our area has the proper equipment to deal with the snow. As we bundled our five year old up for school Thursday morning we were chuckling at the news reports listing all the school closures in the Seatlle area. We NEVER get snow days here. Kudos to Dave for seeing to his needs in advance. Tonight there are still about 75,000 people without power in western WA, who would all be ok, if they had simply done some basic preps for a storm like this, which as Dave mentioned, happens at least once each winter.

    1. The TV news always refers to the snow as the problem but in western Washington the snow just starts the problem. If falls on warm earth and melts. As the day gets later the air gets colder and the layer of water from the melted snow starts to cool. Snow sticks and builds up and the water on the roads freezes into a black-ice-slick type of ice that just tosses cars around. It is very dangerous in traffic and even chains won't guarantee you will stay on the road. That ice starts to form betwen 3 and 4 pm so that by rush hour the roads are very dangerous. But the most danger is in the commuters who drive like there is no ice, spin out and take others with them. So when you hear about snow in western washington- think super slick, dangerous, car bucking ice and you will have the picture.

  3. I, too, was in the Seattle area during the recent winter storm (I don't think it could actually be called a blizzard). First there was the snow, then more snow, then the ice and then, this weekend, the wind. There are still some areas without power and for some, the power will not be restored for at least two more days. And now that the topsy turvy weather has passed? You got it: the rivers and streams are projected to rise from the snow melt and flood.__I am now back home on San Juan Island (about 60 miles north of Seattle) and must admit, it is good to be back with my “stuff”. Just like people get insurance so they can sleep at night, having a generator, wood burning fire pit, propane fireplace, a years’ worth of food and all kinds of other preps allows me to enjoy the storm instead of fear it. Alas, even with the store shelves empty, there will be those that go back to their old ways without extra food, flashlights and batteries. But for others, this has been a wakeup call. And that is something good coming out of this winter storm.__Gaye_

  4. Good story, and thanks for sharing it, Dave. It doesn't take long, for the thin veneer of civilization, to wear off; as the example of your "neighbor" wanting your other generator shows. In a very short time, during Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans went to total lawless, Anarchy. During power outages in our neighborhood, (a regular event, during thunderstorms and hurricanes) I continue to be surprised at the majority of folks, that don't even have basic emergency items, like flashlights, candles, bottled water and battery powered radios, much less small camping stoves and lanterns, or generators…

  5. I think you've helped people with the comment about extension cords. When the tornados hit last year, our ratio in the neighborhood was about 1 generator per 10 houses at most.

  6. Thanks for the great story. I'd like to ask one thing, though. Why do you have a pellet stove instead of a wood stove? As you pointed out, a pellet stove takes electricity to run. A woodstove would warm all day and all night, and cook food at the same time. Granted, wood is messier than pellets, and is harder to keep going when you are gone. But it's quiet, unlike the generator, so your neighbors don't know how well prepared you are.

  7. Hi all!
    Thanks for the comments! I am still alive and well and FINALLY did my dishes, next I get to clear up broken branches in my yard!
    My point about the laundromat presumes that the owner would have electricity also, and he would make a fortune because people would come from far and wide to be able to have clean clothes.
    And I would like to stress the idea of simplicity. There were times I felt pretty idiotic walking around my house wearing a hat, but hey, it worked, no time for pride, eh?
    A person doesn't have to spend tons of cash on generators, etc. In fact most people I chat with who have generators will confess (and I am among them) that in case of a long-term disruption, a generator will soon be just a good boat anchor, because no one can store enough gas to run one forever.

    Take care all!
    Happy prepping!
    Dave

    1. Glad everything turned out ok for you. One thing we learned is to have a camp Dutch oven and charcoal stored. You can cook anything in it. A great book to have is "Don't be afraid of your food storage…just Dutch it" which gives detailed instructions on cooking and charcoal storage. http://www.justdutchit.com.

  8. Just a simple addition that I like and you may want to add, paper plates, cups, bowles. I've been without water for a couple of weeks due to sever weather and I know I can boil water and wash dishes, but I'd rather use paper and just wash a couple of pans.

  9. Stealth Spaniel

    What a great article! I learned about some holes in my prep work too! Have you thought of a Vermont Soapstone fireplace? The next house that I own will definitely have one. Fire one of those up, and the stone releases heat for hours afterward. Benjamin Franklin had one. Also, as a retired AT&T person, I can tell you that when the power grid goes out, the wired phones do get battery back up in the central offices. We ran generators,huge room-like ones. But eventually, they too run out of gas! Thanks for the reminder to zip the lips. So often, I find myself wanting to "educate the uninformed" and then I think-"Quiet Puppy" All of this barking can get you in trouble" 🙂

  10. Why does everyone have to have a generator? Learn to live without them. Besides, a few weeks after TEOTWAWKI, and no more fuel! Save it for your vehicles.

    Better yet, get a PowerHub 1800 (solar generator), that can be charged from the wall, wind generator, or solar panels.

  11. Just one additional comment; for doing laundry, 2 buckets work real well, to hand wash your clothes and clothes pins, for hanging them up. Use one for soapy water, one for rinse water, and hang the clothes up to dry. I lived for months in Africa, in the Army, doing this, as the only way to have clean clothes and it works very well. As you commented Dave, having clean clothes is a real morale booster, as is basic hygiene. I found that liquid detergent worked best, with the bucket system, but am sure that dry detergent will work fine too; just will require more mixing to get the soap into solution…

  12. We lose our power for extended periods on a semi-regular basis around here so we've learned quite a bit from our experiences, too. Buy kerosene lanterns and keep 5 gallons of kerosene in the shop. Buy some extra wick and a couple extra chimneys, too. Those things will run forever on very little fuel. Plus they generate a bunch of heat AND you can cook on top of them. This is the one that we use: (http://bit.ly/xjB5na). If you're on a well you'll need power to get water. Fire up the generator, flush the toilets, fill up all the water containers you have and turn it off. If it's summer then you'll have to let it run for an hour or so to keep the icebox and freezer cold. Try to get the things you need out of them during this time. If it's winter, move the food you need out of the icebox and put it in coolers on the porch. Let God do the coolin'. Buy a woodstove. You can cook on that and keep wash water hot, too. Get a ham ticket and radio so you can communicate. Buy a copy of "The Complete Hoyle" (http://amzn.to/w1ZhbZ) and a few decks of cards. You'll have time on your hands sittin' around the lantern and stove at night. Keep some spirits in the house, too. A sip or two will keep you warm and make the outing a bit more enjoyable. Make sure you have fuel for the saw and files to keep your chains sharp. And of course fuel for the generator, though if you can keep the runnin' time to a minimum it really doesn't take much to keep you in business.

    Then all you have to do is kick back and enjoy it. If you've prepared, losing power is really just camping with a comfortable bed.

  13. We lose our power for extended periods on a semi-regular basis around here so we've learned quite a bit from our experiences, too. Buy kerosene lanterns and keep 5 gallons of kerosene in the shop. Buy some extra wick and a couple extra chimneys, too. Those things will run forever on very little fuel. Plus they generate a bunch of heat AND you can cook on top of them. This is the one that we use: (http://bit.ly/xjB5na). If you're on a well you'll need power to get water. Fire up the generator, flush the toilets, fill up all the water containers you have and turn it off. If it's summer then you'll have to let it run for an hour or so to keep the icebox and freezer cold. Try to get the things you need out of them during this time. If it's winter, move the food you need out of the icebox and put it in coolers on the porch. Let God do the coolin'. Buy a woodstove. You can cook on that and keep wash water hot, too. Get a ham ticket and radio so you can communicate. Buy a copy of "The Complete Hoyle" (http://amzn.to/w1ZhbZ) and a few decks of cards. You'll have time on your hands sittin' around the lantern and stove at night. Keep some spirits in the house, too. A sip or two will keep you warm and make the outing a bit more enjoyable. Make sure you have fuel for the saw and files to keep your chains sharp. And of course fuel for the generator, though if you can keep the runnin' time to a minimum it really doesn't take much to keep you in business.

  14. Winter storms are good practice for preparedness. Anyone who has done much camping and collected gear is at a great advantage in a power outage. Freezing pipes are my biggest concern for prolonged outages in extremely cold weather. Be especially careful of pipes along the outside walls. As for personal comfort, it's all about layers and having warm sleeping bags (my warmest is a zero-degree bag). Now and the next couple months is the best time of the year for looking for good sales on winter clothes. For feet, I highly recommend down booties – I have a couple pair that I got on sale from REI ($20, down from $30). I keep one pair in my car and often wear the other pair to lounge in the house (which in the winter I keep at a cool 62 degrees). And lots of fleece – neck gaiters, balaclavas, mittens, long underwear, etc. Also much prefer headlamps to flashlights for inside the house. Check out the Petzl Zipka 2-plus – for wearing on wrist and head – bright LED and extremely light (runs on AAA batteries). Am also a big fan of UCO candleliers – they run on three 9-hour candles. A stainless or titanium cup of water will boil sitting atop a candlelier – so get a nice light and hot cocoa at the same time.

  15. My big weather-related question is: how do I keep my pipes from freezing? We have a wood-burning fireplace, and I'm with "Nobody" (comment above) about generators; I may as well get used to not having electricity. However, while our wood-burning fireplace would keep our first floor warm, the remainder of the house would reach freezing quickly during winter. How do you prevent the water pipes from freezing and bursting??? K in MI

    1. Katy –

      You said have a wood stove to keep your place warm, if you can keep your house the same temperature as when the electricity is on you shouldn't have a problem with pipes freezing unless you are using a furnace too – and the duct work from the furnace keeps the pipes from freezing. But that would be an odd way to work it since you can never tell when your furnace is gonna kick on. If there is a section of plumbing that gives you trouble that you have heat tape on – simply open that area up to some of the heat in the house. In the meanwhile work on a way to insulate that section of plumbing better.

    2. To keep water pipes from freezing open up some faucets just enough to give a steady drip.Check the drains every so often to make sure they are not clogged.This is common practice in my area due to cold, wind, snow, ice, and power outages.

  16. meh, I read generator as electricity scource, … not entirely accurate but…

    Modern life more or less works via electricity, so most will not be comfortable without it, or indeed know other options
    so yeah, learn how to get buy with cold lines, but don't assume that anyone else knows as well

  17. Dave, MA experienced a widespread power outage in late October due to a freak snow storm that left people without power for about a week. Without that generator we would not have had water because we have a well. In addition to that generator we have a transfer switch to power the entire house. Yes, there's not an unlimited supply of gas but with judicious use we were able to keep our fridge and freezers powered and not have to throw food away. We also had fresh water we were able to provide to our neighbors.
    In the case of a very long outage or a grid melt down, you could store enough water to get you through a long period of time provided you had the containers in which to store it.
    Become your own power company and get that gennie, preferably the whole set up. This can be done at a reasonable cost.

  18. Dave, MA experienced a widespread power outage in late October due to a freak snow storm that left people without power for about a week. Without that generator we would not have had water because we have a well. In addition to that generator we have a transfer switch to power the entire house. Yes, there's not an unlimited supply of gas but with judicious use we were able to keep our fridge and freezers powered and not have to throw food away. We also had fresh water we were able to provide to our neighbors.

  19. I am also on the east side of the state – since we're accustomed to bad snow storms and power outages situations like that don't throw us for quite a loop in fact the other year after receiving 22 inches of snow in 24 hours we all still had to go to work. Even during the ice storm if your place of employment had power you had to leave your powerless home and go to work if you wanted to keep your job. What I think is really important in this account is how ONE off hand comment lead to a neighbor on his doorstep wanting something he had. I want to be helpful as a prepper but I am not welfare office for the unprepared. This has made me re-examine my loose lips – so to speak. Thanks for sharing that important lesson.

  20. Our daughters went through a four day power outage during that storm, but it was an hour south of Tacoma. Their settlement has no generator yet. The relied on the propane stove to melt snow for washing and flushing (well is electric) and the propane fireplace for heat in addition to what the stove produced. The furnace is electrically forced…. The interesting thing is that the stove warmed that floor of the house to 67 degrees. I wouldn't have expected that. On the list now is a 17K propane generator and a secure source and installation to ensure its reliable operation…. and a small gas backup to power portable electric heaters if absolutely necessary.

  21. Have always had a concern about generators in an urban environment. They're like an audible signal that says "come over here! I have something you want!" My closest SHTF experience was Hurricane Hugo years ago. We were miles inland but took a direct hit. The entire city (300,000+ people) was without power for three days then it gradually began to come back on as crews rebuilt the entire grid. Some were without power for three weeks. You could hear the sounds of random generators for a few days – then silence as they ran out of gas. Since the gas pumps weren't working, there was no way to refill. Don't know how well solar generators work but would lean towards that if reliability was decent. Silence could be golden in a situation like this.

  22. Several years ago, in a very local power outage in my neighborhood, neighbors I'd never even met came to my house when they saw lights on. To the greatest point, it was a chance to meet politely and gossip, and all was well when I explained it was only oil lamps and candles.

    In 2 cases, though, people were angry at me! One of those threatened me when I wouldn't GIVE (not loan) a lamp. This person lived many blocks away and was cruising the neighborhood looking for someone who had something he didn't. Half a mile away the power was still on. He could have gone and bought his own lamp. This city is huge, and the power was out at only 1 substation, yet I got this response.

    These days I have blackout blinds for my windows. Talking about your prepps is not the only way to find trouble.

  23. First, it was not a blizzard. There was no wind when it snowed. It was however the first ice storm I had encountered.
    In my neighborhood where the houses are close together, the guy with the generator stuck out like a sore thumb with the noise. He did not have gas for it, but luckily in our area there were still sections with power thus gas stations. One would have to have quite a bit of gas stored to run a large gen like he had (5500W) for an extended period.
    My lesson learned: you should never have sold your kerosene heaters! (which I did before moving) Agh. Got another one now.

  24. My aunt and uncle lived in Kent. They too were out of power for at least 5 days. On the first day they had quite a scare. My uncle was in their fabric carport warming up the car when the weight of the snow made it collaps. He was momentarily trapped under torn fabric and twisted metal. He was not hurt thanks to the fact that his car caught most of the weight of the carport. They were totally not prepaired for this event. Although they stayed warm by sleeping in the front room where the fire place was, they lost all their frozen and fridge food. They ended up retreating to an overpriced hotel for a few days just to be able to heat a hot meal and take a shower. I am from eastern Washington. We are used to winters far more extreem than this with little or no power loss. Heck our schools don't even close unless we have at least 2 feet of snow or everything is covered in ice. The temp has to be at lest 10 below before they send the kids home from school early. I find in interesting how different parts of the state handle the weather so drastically differently. I think I may not be ready for issues just because we don't have them here.

  25. acasualobserver

    I live in Florida and have been through many hurricanes. We have been subject to power failures many times. After the 2004 canes, we lost an entire refrigerator full of food when the power was off 8 days. My experience is that you can never have too many spare batteries (D,AA, 9-volt alkaline only), battery-powered lanterns and flashlights. We have flashlights in every room where we can find them easily. We have battery and hand generator powered radios. My hints: during hurricane season, put water-filled screw-lidded soda bottles in your freezer and pack it as full as possible. Plan to never open the freezer unless you are starving. Put daily use food (milk,juice,in a large insulated cooler an fill it with ice (bagged is easier to handle). Bagged ice for sale will run out quickly. Using a cooler keeps the refrigerator cool longer. Have small coolers to carry in your auto. With power loss, everything goes dead from TVs to computers. UPSs don’t last long. Have your cell phone charged with both wall and auto chargers ready and in place. We have several long extension cords but they usually don’t have the current capacity to handle temporary connections. In FL, houses warm up quickly without A/C and it takes a big generator and a transfer switch to cool the house. Recommend a smaller compressor and a simple room window unit to use when sleeping. Fuel and carbon monoxide (CO) are worries. Have smoke and CO detectors working. If it is raining and blowing, you have to keep the generator outside to avoid CO poisoning and it is accessible to thieves. Keeping gasoline around in the garage is a fire and explosion hazard. We avoid the use of fuel of any sort when possible. We have a Coleman pump-up camp stove which works like a champ if you have to cook something and a couple of gallons of canned stove fuel. We cook in the garage to avoid CO and to keep the house cooler. Also have a Coleman lantern that runs on fuel or propane bottles. We use the bottles and have extra mantles. Much prefer the battery lanterns.
    A plastic bucket is good to collect water to flush toilets. We usually do not lose water pressure so we have a supply of bottled drinking water.
    A small tarp and some soft nylon rope can come in handy. Have a good tool set in the car, also at least two flashlights, road flares, and the rope. Keep the gas tank in the car and all the liquids topped off, a couple of emergency rain ponchos, windbreaker, a couple of towels, In colder climates, some blankets or throws would be good but I am not an expert. Paper maps are helpful if evacuating. A GPS will not show alternate routes. I also have a small tire inflater which plugs into a power point to help with slow leaks or donut spare tires. Put all of your home insurance policies, passports, etc. in a hand-carried safe to take if you evacuate. Also, have a small bag to carry some clean clothes, toiletries, ready to toss in the car. Also have a water filter to strain out assorted bad stuff from what looks like clean water plus water purification chemicals which kill them. Have a good first aid kit in the car. A sharp knife is valuable. Firearms I am not going to discuss. I leave that up to you to decide. I have a permit and have carried one at times but not usually. I don’t want to be easy pickings.

    Food: we have a about three days of freeze-dried meals purchased from a camping organization and they work and taste pretty good. Have lots of snacks for home or car, cheese crackers. peanut butter and jam, bread, bottled spreads for saltine crackers or bread. Canned soup can be heated on the camp stove and eggs soft or hard boiled. We have a drip coffeemaker which requires only a filter, coffee, and boiled water (we can’t afford to get too gourmet here). Snack candy is nice. Shelf-stable milk you can keep in the pantry and not worry about it spoiling. If has to be refrigerated once opened. After hurricane season, we use it for cereal and coffee.

  26. still need to wash the dishes I let pile up

    PAPER PLATES, PAPER BOWLS, PLASTIC KNIVES AND SPOONS.
    Every serious prepper has shelves of these.
    Ziplok bags for cooking some things saves boiling water for different foods.
    Boil water and keep it in the thermos. Saves energy.

  27. I’d like to add one more thing..IF there is sun, a solar battery charger is well worth the money. I have been using an electric battery charger and since I am prepared a long time for no power, etc. it was a no-brainer to get a solar charger since I liked my other so well.
    Money saved is tremendous and I have a shoe box of batteries bought on sale.
    Those little batteries come in handy for LED flashlights like the $3 ones from Tractor Supply.

  28. Many folks have had their water in the pipes freeze using the drip method.
    At my house it’s like this. Do I want a $100 water bill, or no water for days, and the bill and drudgery that comes with repairing busted pipes.
    A large stream comes from my faucet at the most farther point from the water entrance point.
    High was 5 ° yesterday and 0° last night and no frozen water here.

  29. Oh geekasaurus–my neighbor has one of those huge generators(ours is a little $300 one) and not only does he not have gas stored—***he had his propane tank removed from his yard!!!!!***.
    All houses in this Ky. area have those mantle on the wall with propane heater inserts.
    What was he thinking!!!

    I noticed many here don’t store water. We have 700 gallons in the garage.

  30. Plastic cutlery that is just thrown away is very unfriendly to the environment. Perhaps wooden cutlery could be looked at as an alternative.

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