by JD in Texas
Well, I was given a dry run on survival preparation one Saturday last fall. About 9:30 a.m. I was planning on which games to watch on DishTV. A heavy rain cloud came in and the signal blinked out for a while – no problem, I’ve got only 146 hours of movies recorded on the DVR. After about an hour the storm did get a little worse, but not horrible and sure ‘nuf, the signal went out. Well about 10 minutes after that, the power blinked once, then twice and then out – just like I’ve always heard – after three, you’re out for good.
So I picked up the cell phone to call my wife and tell her – she was in the Metroplex with the grandkids. No dial tone, no signal, no nothing – apparently the nearby cell tower had no backup. Well, no problem, pick up the land line. No signal, no dial tone, no power to the wireless handset. Hmmmm. Well, I think yeah! Go out to the pickup, Bluetooth to the pickup and viola! Nope, that signal is connected to the cell tower too. hmmm. Aha! I go to the neighbors, break in, (I know where the keys are and am welcomed at any time), look around and find an old rotary wall phone. Yea!! A dial tone, Yea!!! So I call Janice, all’s well. I call my brother in law and he’s not across the lake, he’s at his car lot in a nearby town that has not lost power. So we talk, and yes he’s aware of the ‘landline needs to be hardwired’ issue.
So I call back my wife and have her look up the electric company’s phone number. I call them. The power company knows about the power outage already and has a recording set up. They say ‘if you’d like to report your problem, please press 1’. Duh. I have nothing but a rotary dial. So I call back my wife and have her report it since she can press ‘1’. Sometime during this time, I decide to try to text my wife – yeah, that sounds crazy – but ‘Best Defense’ on Outdoor TV says that sometimes texts get through when voice does not – and it did!!! We were able to text back and forth the entire time. I also was able to surf the internet on my Droid as well for at least two, maybe three hours. Then unexpectedly, it died too.
As ‘Best Defense’ said, make a designated time to call back. We agreed on 2:00 p.m., but continued to text. So I start about seeing what I had and what I didn’t have. I became a little thirsty when I got back to the house and thought I’d better draw some water. Well, the water pressure was WAY down. It took about 5 minutes to draw three gallons of water in the sink, but I got it done. I had just spent a day this week going around to Walmart, Tractor Supply, Sams, Lowes buying ‘bug out’ supplies. I had a bunch, but not all and not enough. Here’s the list of what I needed and had and what I didn’t and did.
I had candles, but not enough to last more than a night or two. I had coal oil lanterns and kerosene and they worked. I had pistol and ammo at the ready (no threats, but I was ready). I had color weather radar on the pickup’s GPS Ford Sync to see what else was coming. Of course I also had the ability to recharge my cell phone battery there too. Even though it was daylight, I had flashlights. I had a crank radio somewhere in the house, but couldn’t find it (did later) I had food, I had a lot, but not everything.
I didn’t have a touch tone hardwire landline telephone. Getting one this week. I didn’t have enough candles. I didn’t start drawing water soon enough (will use bath tub next time with rubber stopper – need to get that too). I had 25 pounds of ice in an uninsulated icemaker (it melts just enough so ice doesn’t get stale), and I had huge 36 qt ice chests, but no small /medium ice chest to fill up for personal ice. Gonna get one and declare it ‘for emergency use only’ and hide it.
I didn’t have a generator – and I had spent one entire day looking for one last week. I now have one ordered and will be delivered this week. 3.8 KW propane. I have 200 gallons of propane under the ground by my house, and all we use it for is a cook stove in the house. I figure at the rate we’ve been using it, I have 38 years worth of propane, so why not tap into it? I did plumb the propane line for a tap, so I’ve got to get that where the generator will hook right up. I’m so embarrassed, my brother in law had gotten home and had his generator up and running, watching tv, dish and everything. I figure my generator will run about 1,000 hours on that underground tank. It’s supposed to run about 15-20 hours on a 5 gallon bottle, which I have three of. And I have extension cords all over the place.
I had a lot of esprit de corps, but I had no mate. She was supportive from afar, but that’s one of our plans – if sh*t goes down, get to our house. Kids and grandkids too. I have a new bug out bag coming and have the stuff ready to go into it. We’ll be prepared (I hope) and pray never to use it. A country boy can survive, but it was nice to have a test run. Thought you’d like to know.
Oh, yeah, at 2:00 p.m., I called my wife. She was calling me at exactly the same time, so we got each other on the second dial. All hell was breaking loose in the Metroplex. Sirens were going off, grandkids were crying, the neighbor boy wanted to go home, she didn’t know if it was tornado sirens or what with all the confusion. Our daughter-in-law had just called and found out all this and was worried (she and my son were in Vegas), I called, it was wild!! But it turned out to be flash flood warning, and my wife said it did rain cats and dogs. Just about 2:05 while I’m talking to her on the land line at the neighbors next door, my cell phone pops up a message from my sister-in-law: ‘Thank God for electricity!’, so I flicked on the neighbor’s kitchen light and all came back to normal. Walked back over to the house and found out Notre Dame had gotten beat and Texas was losing. Tech was about to win – oh well, 2 out of three ain’t bad.
I have since gotten the propane generator, more candles, the bug out bag which is fully equipped as well as one for my wife. I have the radios located and now have a iCom ham radio, and a food supply. And I have about 50 gallons of gasoline stored with fuel stabilizer in it. And I’ve bought a few more guns to be able to store and leave them at the bug-out place. And I have a nice pristine ice chest just the right size.