Friday, July 1, 2011

Preparedness Reminder

A couple of months ago, we sold our RV. We had not taken a trip in a few years. To be exact, we had not taken a trip since the price of gasoline had shot past $2.00 per gallon. Years later, gas is between $3.00 and $4.00 per gallon and there is no reason to believe that it will ever go below $2.00 a gallon ever again. The RV got between 7 and 8 miles a gallon. That means that if we get 8 miles per gallon and gas is $4.00 per gallon that it costs us $.50 per mile to travel. That is a very expensive rate of travel. Many times it would be cheaper to drive and rent a hotel room.

There was another reason for selling the RV. The economy sucks and like a lot of people, we needed the money.

Besides recreation, there was another use of the RV, that I had appreciated, but not as much as I do today. That RV was also our preparedness kit. The entire family could live in that RV if we needed to. It had drinkable water, a shower, toilet, 2 sinks, clothes, back packs, food ...etc. The RV even had a generator. So why do I appreciate the value of the RV as a preparedness kit more today than any other day prior?

Earlier this week, it rained. Here we are in California, famous for our great weather and yet it is raining in June, almost July. I can't remember when this last happened. The good part of the rain, is that all of my rain barrels are full, and that will come in handy later as you will see. The bad part is that at work we lost power at about 3pm in the afternoon. This is not good for a technology company, that prides itself on providing the best customer service in the business. We rely on a phone system that requires power, computers that require power, servers and support databases ...etc. that all require power and we have none. Did we have battery backups? Yes, but they don't allow you to operate for very long.

I was thinking about when the power goes out at our house. We no longer have the RV and it's generator, but that is no problem. We have a standalone gasoline generator. I thought about what other ways I have to produce electricity. I have an inverter that plugs into a cigarette lighter that has two outlets. In addition, we have oil lamps, LED flashlights, radios that operate on batters, solar power and cranks. At home we are in pretty good shape when the power goes out.

That brings us to today and our subject today is water. This morning just after we had all finished our showers, some idiot ran over a fire hydrant. The water flowing out was threatening to flood some local businesses, so the cut the water off. The area affect was pretty big. So we have had no running water from 9am until about 9pm this evening.

The first thing to do in any crisis is to evaluate your situation. In our case, we started by checking what we had in the way of water. At our house we have two types of water stored. First, we have rain barrels. They are all full, but this water is not good to drink, but it can be used to flush the toilets. Toilets are important! We have two toilets and seven people live here, so we have plenty of water for our toilets, in fact we offered to provide rain water to our neighbors for their toilets as well. The second type of water we have stored is drinking water. We keep old plastic milk jugs full of water.

Recently I was reading that plastic milk jugs are not ideal for storing water. A much better option is plastic soda bottles. The second thing I read recently is that you should store one gallon for each person, per day for two weeks. We did not have that much water stored, but there is the ice in the freezer and the water in the hot water heater. This is a big advantage over the hot water on demand systems.

Next, task was to see where we could get more water. My sister-in-law lives about ½ a mile away, so we went to her house and she had water. We filled up every water container we could quickly find. Outside, we have two water containers filled with rain water. When someone wants to use the toilet, they take one of the containers of rainwater to refill the toilet tank after it is flushed. Our toilets are low flush toilets. One uses 1.7 gallons the other 1.5 gallons a flush. As a guy it is pretty easy to take a leak outside. We have lots of bushes. Enough said.

During the day, we found more water containers and set up a system of providing water where it was needed throughout the house. As we discovered more water containers, we collected them together and were prepared to make a second water run at the end of the day. The assumption was that we would not have water when we woke up in the morning.

We do have other backups, for example we have two different water filters designed to filter water when camping.

Both the power outage and the water outage, were a blessing in disguise. It made us think about our preparedness status. We thought about what changes we should make so that we are more prepared for the next time we have to deal with a crisis. In California, we all assume that some day, we will have a huge earth quake, called “The Big One”. We need to be ready for the Big One! So in the case of water, we are going to collect and fill 2 liter plastic soda bottles with drinking water until we have enough for one gallon per person for two weeks.

Water is just one of many things we must be prepared to provide in a crisis, so we won't stop there, we are analyzing our food supplies, camping supplies, clothing, transportation and alternate places we can go in a disaster, such as relatives houses. We no longer have our RV preparedness kit and we need to fill that void.

Let's be realistic, Democrat or Republican we can not afford to trust in our government in the time of crisis. Katrina taught us that lesson.