September 22, 2008

What Generator (part 1)

Filed under: Guest Poster — admin @ 12:54 am

As promised, I am posting a series of letters from a close friend, Rick Powell, on emergency preparedness. This one deals with generators, which is a very timely topic since many households in our area and other areas such as Cincinnati have been without power for over a week now.

the decision to purchase a generator is not to be taken lightly.

because WAY before you finally obtain one, there are LOTS of questions to ask…
and answer.

the biggest one, is….

are you REALLY READY to buy a generator.

huh you say?

well, lets see, the generator should be the LAST thing you buy.
cause you gotta get all this other stuff FIRST….

and that would be:

Fire Extinguisher(s)
Gas Cans
canned goods
paper products
tire inflator
toilet paper
stored water and filter


yep. the generator should be low on the list until you get all that other stuff….


well, let’s look at the typical timeline for an ‘event’

t=0h to 1h: Recognize and Analyze

hrm… tv went off. hrm, wonder if we lost power, must switch on lights to see, nope. no lights, what about this one… damn, ok.
power is out… wonder if it’s just us, go see, yep, neighbors are looking at each other….

why? may be obvious…. may not be…. let’s check 700 (TheBigOne). hrm, reds are loosing,,, so what,,,, how bout derrick, what’s he
have to say,,, oh yeah, tv’s off. damn. oh, how bout 1360 homer.. hrm, 96 rock?, oh there, nope. they’re just bitching about the
bengals… ok, what about the weather radio? aha. there it is…. big storm…. yeah, widespread. ok. looks like this will be a
while… maybe i’ll call

comms: grab cordless phone, damn, no dialtone, phones must be out,,,, no wait, power is out, i’m on a cordless phone,,, ok, go
upstairs, grab wire’d phone… krap, still no dialtone, friggin cbell…… murmur,,, krap, cellphone, yep, it works, call chris,
yep, they’re out too… ok. oops, cell just dropped… ok, this sux..

now what,,, ok, better unplug the computers. ok, just so we don’t blow stuff up if power bounces a lot. turn off stuff that was on.
check the flashlights.
fire up the scanner, so i can see what’s going on with Fire/Ems/Police/hams, so i’ll get a feel for not only scope, but cause,
effect, and ‘threat level’.
and will SOMEONE PLEASE silence that damn alarm system,,,, yeah, the power is out, yeah, the phone line failed,,, STFU allready….
where is that damn plug, krap, no, the battry, yeah, how do i disconnect the battry from the alarm system so it doesn’t drive me

all in all, in hour one, it’s all about information….

i want to know,
1. why
2. scope (how big, how long (in gross terms, minutes, hours, days, weeks)) 3. where is ‘everyone’ (wife, kids, friends, relatives,

that is,,, if it’s not raining……

if it’s raining,,, that changes things…
cause,,,, i am NOT interested in a flooded basement.

if it’s windy,, i wanna know if i’ve taken any damage, or if i have to go chase the deck furniture down the street.

so in the first hour, i’ve got some decisions to make, obviously, at this point, it’s all kinda a ‘no brainer’…..

now, looking at hour 1,,, what do i need to have in place…

1. flashlights,,, duh. that work!
2. comms: charged cellphone, battry operated radio, battry operated weather radio, battry operated scanner, all with good battry’s.
3. basement: battry operated backup sump pump (available at home depot for $140), or ‘alternat power’ for the sump pump, that can be
immediately brought into service. (a big ups, or a good sized inverter on at least one battry) etc….
4. rope, to tie down the deck furniture.
5. sheet plastic, nails, boards, hammer, tape, ladder, duct tape, etc, just in case a window broke, roof’s peeling away, tree’s
getting ready to uproot, whatever the specific case may be…. maybe even a chain saw.

but all in all, the first hour is not real expensive. but you HAVE to be ready with items 1-5, no matter what.

if you aint ready for the first hour,,,, you don’t need a generator.

T=1h to 6h: survive the night.
one quick note about hour 1, if hour 1 happens at oh-dark-thirty, then really, you can wait till the sun comes up for this part. as
long as the basement doesn’t flood. otherwise, just sleep. doing stuff in the dark can be dangerous, and it’s not like you are in
and out of the fridge…
in fact, ignore the fridge. it’s good for 6 hours at a minimum. the freezer is good for 2 days if you don’t open it. just make sure
the basement isnt going to flood.
but now, it’s either just getting to be daytime, or it’s approaching nighttime, or approaching midnight. thing is, here you need
more ‘stuff’…
cause at the end of this ‘segment’, assuming the lights are still out, you got to do SOMETHING…..

air. water, shelter.
yep. those ones…
air. in this case, we’re talking VENTILATION/HEATING/COOLING…. is it cold? well, where’s the extra blankets, sweats, jackets,
if it’s hot… open the damn windows, and make sure you got lotsa drinkable water,,, grab some small towels or wash clothes that can
be wetted, if it’s comfortable… open some windows anyway, you really don’t want stuff to start to smell bad.
oh, by the way, take the trash out. NOW. put in a fresh bag. pick up stuff on the floor. basically ‘tidy up a bit’. and while you
are at it,,,, make sure there is a small flashlight in every bathroom, and by each bed. check the battries. set out replacements for
each battry operated thing.
make sure that there is an extra roll of TP by each toilet. get out extra towels and place them near where they may need to be used.
get out the first aid kit, and put it somewhere where it can be quickly available.
basically, rearrange the house.
there are a couple of reasons for this…
1. it’s light out, and you can still see enough to be able to find all this stuff.
2. it gives the rest of the family something to do, while you think.

yeah, its probably fine at this point to setup a ’emergency area’ somewhere if you have the room. like, lets’ say the ‘formal dining
room’ or just basically someplace where you a)have room to work, and b) can stage stuff.
a ‘single place to go’ in case……
yep, there is all the extra battries, (at least the ones that aren’t already in a bathroom, bedroom, etc…. the ‘general stock)
yep, there is all the first aid stuff, from EVERYWHERE in the howse,,,, yep, there is the extra flashlights, yep, duct tape,
plastic, nails, hammer, (boards can stay where they were), fire extinguisher, a case of water, towels.
yep, jumper cables
yep, tire inflator.
why? cause really, i’m not fond of trying to find something in the dark. not at all.

oh, a couple other things….
get the shotgun out, check it. get the extra shells out.
strap your pistol on, keep it there. your pistol is your friend.
grab the AK, and SKS, stage one in the living room by your chair, stage the other by the front door, so you can grab it on your way
out to start the car to keep the cooler powered up.

(here i am going to diverge a little. cause the following is ASSUMING that you don’t have a generator.) ok, where is the cooler.
yeah, the big blue one we take to when we go to aunt sally’s house for thanksgiving… get that out…
oh, and the powered cooler, yeah, the one that we can plug into the car (12v). get that one out. and it’s power supply, we’ll need
that too.
someone get the frozen bottles out of the freezer, and put them in the blue cooler. then stick the non-dairy stuff from the fridge
in there.
we’re talking, katsup, pickles, mustard, oil-based salad dressing, hot sauce, bbq sauce, the unopened tube of biscuits, torilla’s,
you know, basically the ‘stuff’ from the fridge that just basically should not be just left out, but should be kept cool.
the powered cooler? yeah, that’s for the stuff that really does need to be kept cold. milk, cheese, dairy based goo (mayo, sour
cream, butter, leftovers that are still in the fridge), lunchmeat, etc..
power up the powered cooler from the most efficient car you have. and make sure the cooler isn’t sitting in the sun. cause a hot
cooler doesn’t cool well. oh, while you were in the freezer, you DID get out a ‘ball of meat’ for the burgers tomorrow didn’t you?
it will thaw nicely in the blue cooler, as will the unopened packages of tube meat, bacon, and the flavor-ice. all those go in the
blue cooler.
now, back to the powered cooler for a sec,,,,,,,,,, you are powering from the car.
backing up the dependency tree what do we see…

1. a powered cooler
2. a 12v ‘extension cord’ so the cooler can be in a ‘cool place’ while the car can be in the ‘not cool’ place.
3. a car
4. gas. you DO have 40 gallons of gas in the garage don’t you? what do you mean you don’t…… wtf over….. what, you gonna go sit
in line to get gas?
oh wait, no cash? well, guess what, the gas station has gas, but they don’t have phones for the credit card machine…. so you might
as well just head to the nearest shelter, cause guess what, you are screwed.) that is, IF you can find a gas station that has a)
gas, b) power, c)a manageble line.

anyway, now that you have opened the freezer, so it’s timer resets to 24 hours.
you have opened and basically emptied the fridge, so it’s now on ‘coolers’..

life is good.

shopping list:
fire extinguishers
big cooler
powered cooler
12v extension cord for the powered cooler (or if you have an inverter in the car, a regular extension cord will do) a pump action
shotgun (12ga), a box of shells a pistol, holster, ammo at least one, but preferabley two semi-automatic rifles, with ammo, and
extra ammo.
5x5gal gas cans, FULL of gas.
a long skinny funnel so you can actually put that gas in a car.
bottles of frozen water in the freezer
a battry powered radio, extra battries
flashlights, extra battrys
extra toilet paper
first aid kit(s)
a case of drinking water
duct tape
2X4 boards
saw (manual)
jumper cables
12v tire inflator
a battry powered weather radio, and extra battries a battry powered scanner, and extra battries a telephone that uses a cord, i.e.
doesn’t need power to work, just a dial tone. (yep, they still sell them at wallmart. for like $5. or you can get one at a garage
sale) charcoal & lighter propane and a propane stove matches and lighters backup sump pump either a windup or battery powered alarm
a case of toilet paper.
chainsaw, bar oil, already mixed gas, ax, hatchet, hand saw, knife, scredriver, wrench, pliers, floor jack, engine stand, no,
wait…. hold on the engine stand…..
200 gallons of at least ‘filterable’ water, in the basement. yeah, rinsed out and filled up 2L soda bottles, milk jugs, whatever,,,,
a water purifier (filter), sure, a backpacking one is fine.
oh, and you DID get out the ’emergency cash’ envelope, didn’t you? you know, the one that has about $500 in it, in 10’s and 20’s?
cause it’s a sure bet, that if you did NEED something, and you found a store that was open, and had what you needed, that the credit
card processing would be impaired.

what, you don’t have all that stuff??????

uh, wtf? why do you want to buy a generator if you don’t have any guns? how the hell are you gonna KEEP the generator if you don’t
have any guns.
how the hell you gonna do ANYTHING if you don’t have gas?
how are you gonna know the extent of what is happeneing if you don’t at least have a scanner?
how are you gonna flush the toilets if the water is out? hrm?
how are you gonna buy anything if you don’t have cash when the atm network is down? hrm?

and we ain’t even thru the first 6 hours yet.

and will SOMEONE PLEASE turn off that friggin alarm or i’m going to shoot it.

before i continue,,, answer me one thing,,,,,,

is it time for you to buy a generator yet?

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