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If the lights went out ... and stayed out ... are you prepared?

Are You Prepared?

Your survival tools and skills could be needed at any moment - you often don't know when an "emergency" will occur! Are you ready?

The alarm on my iPad went off this morning at 6am. I was tired, and it felt far too early too get up, but I rolled out of bed and crept in the dark toward the master bathroom. Feeling for the light switch, I flipped it up ... and then stood in confusion when the room remained dark. My tired mind was uncomprehending, so I flipped the switch several more times with the same result ... darkness. I first thought that the light must have burned out, but I realized we have eight bulbs on the light bar, so it's unlikely that they all would go at the same time. So I thought, maybe the fixture has gone out on us!

I moved left toward our closet and flipped two more switches, but again, the bathroom and closet remained dark. I guessed that a breaker must have tripped, causing the bathroom to lose power. I then walked over to the nearest window and looked out through the blinds. Our entire neighborhood was completely dark. It was a power outage! 

As I looked further out, I could see lights shining brightly on other homes and businesses in the distance. The lights came as a real relief to me. This was something that was just affecting our neighborhood. I soon started to shower in the dark, hoping that our hot water would hold out until I was done. As I showered in the dark, I thought back to a book I read some time ago called One Second After by William R. Forstchen. If you haven't read it, you really should. The book talks about an EMP (electromagnetic pulse) that instantly and unexpectedly killed all things electric, leaving people to try to survive in world that was dramatically changed by that event. 

I thought about how an EMP or natural disaster could happen at any time. I could have just as easily tried to flip on the light switch that morning and found that I had no power ... and neither did any other homes within sight because an EMP had fried our electronics. 

This experience and the series of thoughts that followed was a powerful reminder that it's important to be steady and consistent in your preparations. If the lights suddenly went out on you right now, and stayed out for months or years, would you be ready? What preparations would you be missing and wishing that you had?

Few of us could honestly say that we're fully prepared for a situation like that, yet every preparation that we make, no matter how small, is meaningful and moves us forward. We need to be conscious and consistent in our efforts. Focusing on the entirety of all that you need to accumulate leads to overwhelm and discouragement. It's far more effective to set incremental goals and to work at a slow, steady, and consistent pace to acquire needed supplies and skills. 

Start by evaluating where you are right now with your preparations. Then look at where you need to be, and make a goal to focus on gathering the things you need for one manageable segment of the skills or things you still need to gather. When you're done with that segment, you'll select another. Food and water should be your primary initial focus. 

Water Storage

Do you have sufficient water storage for your family? Remember that you'll need water for more than just drinking. You'll also need water for cooking (and re-hydrating food), washing dishes, washing clothes, bathing, and other hygiene needs. Many families have big blue 55-gallon water drums in their garage ... that are completely empty. If you're in that same boat, fill up your containers and store as much clean drinking water as you reasonably can. 

Next, look into various water filters that can help you to remove harmful contaminates from other water sources.  Berkey water filters with the black purification elements are the filters that I trust most for this important job.


Food Storage

Have you inventoried the food that you've set aside for emergencies? Are you aware of the expiration date on your food? Do you have a random assortment of individual food items, or components for meals? Don't get me wrong, something is certainly better than nothing, but if you had to live off your food storage right now, you might not have a pleasant experience. You might find that you've forgotten important items like oil or spices. Without those items, it becomes fairly difficult to cook many items that you could have otherwise enjoyed. Put some thought into what meals you could put together with the items that you have. Ensure that you have EVERYTHING that would be required to make those meals (including the spices). If you still need to build up your food storage, set aside a regular amount of money each month to purchase storage items with, then shop the sales and make your available money go as far as possible.

Alternative Cooking

When utilities are out and the stove in your kitchen is nothing more than a glorified paper weight, you'll need something else to cook your food with. You could opt to cook with propane, butane, wood, or charcoal, for example. Each of those alternative fuel sources has it's own set of advantages and possible disadvantages. Another important tool cooking during difficult times is a solar oven. Solar ovens like the All-American Sun Oven allow you cook on sunny days, with the power of the sun alone. Cooking this way allows you to preserve all your other fuel sources, making them last even longer.

We could make a much more exhaustive list of important preparations, but this list focuses on three of the most important initial areas of focus. Shelter and protection from the elements is another important component that we'll tackle in another post. 

If you plan now and make steady strides to prepare, when that moment comes that you flip several light switches without having the lights come on, you'll experience peace, not panic. That's sense of peace is earned through careful preparation. Planning to prepare in the future is procrastination, that lead to pain and even personal disaster. Begin to prepare now!