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The power goes out. What next?

 
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1) Submersible Solar Well Pumps
2)Liquid Propane/Natural Gas Automatic Standby Generator
3) candles & oil lamps
4) go to bed early & cook on wood stove, which is what we did on the farm.
 
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Daniel Richardson wrote:... How would you function if the power grid abruptly shut down. Say a week passed without power, then two and three...
How much electricity do you really NEED?
What do you need it for?
...


This looks like an interesting topic. Where I live we never (!) have power shutdown without warning. And less than once in a decade with warning and only for some hours, because there's work to do on the cable underground, or something like that. But ... times can change! This year makes it very clear how things do change!
So I am going to read this thread.
But first answer the questions it started with:
- How much electricity do I really need? - I use about half of what other people in the same living situation use (there's proof for that), and I can use even less ... But if there would be NO electricity here, that would be hard. Depending on the season, in summer there's no real problem, but in winter ... it would be cold (no heating), dark (only candle light) and no internet (so no Permies!).
- What do I need it for? - As I said: heating, light, computer.
 
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How about places that never had power? Here is an interesting read of the good and bad. Tech is neutral, what man decides to do with it determines whether its good or bad.

https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-53450688
 
john mcginnis
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Vention Bartell wrote:

Eric Hanson wrote:Vention,

You are not wrong.  There is just no way to dodge a CME, and perhaps time and effort is better spent elsewhere.

Eric





Minor suggestion. Your portable comms, etc. When you are not using your canner, put them in there, lock down the lid, clip a grounding wire to the vent pipe. Its the easiest, sturdiest Faraday cage you can have.
 
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James Landreth wrote:I think an important dimension to this discussion is duration. Is the grid down forever, or just a few days, months, weeks?  


Unless you're in a war zone, it's hard to imagine any place in the developed world that wouldn't have power restored within a couple of weeks of an outage event.

I've experienced two outages that lasted more than a week in the 23 years I've lived on my current rural property. The first was due to the January '98 ice storm that took down high voltage towers as well as many trees and poles. The second was more local, when a tornado took out a major distribution station a couple of years ago. In both cases, intensive efforts from local power workers, aided by workers from unaffected places, restored grid power fairly soon. I got a generator after the '98 event and made good use of it, especially for the pump and refrigeration, after the October tornado. Last year I had a Generlink installed, which will simplify using the generator the next time.
 
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James Landreth wrote:I think the biggest thing that people don't think about is water. Many people don't think about the fact that their water source is dependent on electricity. I see a lot of really wonderful farms that are sustainable in many ways but don't have a secure water source. Water isn't just about hydration and hygiene. Growing food requires it in many, many circumstances. I don't know of anyone whose diet is significantly made up of food that wasn't irrigated. Many people are trialing growing orchards from seed with no water, which is cool, but no one currently eats a big proportion if their diet from it, that I know of.

Even irrigating from a pond requires electricity. And if the grid is down, it's likely that maintaining or buying new solar panels will not be feasible



You are so right, James. we pull water from our well with an electric pump and don't ever think we might be deprived of this convenience. I collect rainwater, but that is for my crops, in the garden. The chickens also need water. Someone had an accident and blew a transformer. We were without for a day. Not a huge problem, but the simple act of flushing the toilet was a problem. We figured we'd go in the woods. [I since built an old fashioned one seater where I can cold stratify my seeds and to my number one and number 2 when I'm in the garden]. Doing that for weeks on end in the winter would be a hardship, though!
I would have to build a windmill on one of the pumps we have, and pray for wind. [Or MacGyver a bicycle operated pump]. I'm sure it could be done, but that would be quite a bother! We are luckier than most, though, because the water table is around 10 ft.
People can exist [I wouldn't say live it up, but exist] without food or transportation for quite a long time. Longer if they have canned goods. But a human without water fares very poorly. Transportation is one of the first things that goes out of the window because all these convenience stores rely on pumps to bring up the fuel to the pump.
Besides canned goods [which need to be heated, so propane/ natural gas where are you? And that handy pilot light ain't gonna light itself!]. We have 2 big freezers. In short order, these would have to be emptied and the goods canned, and I don't know if you noticed but this last summer/fall, canning jars were rarer than hens 'teeth!
Indeed, I do believe that the lack of clean water might be the first and most salient obstacle. Here, in the winter, the ability to heat your home would be a close second. We do not presently heat with wood, so it would be quite a change! I have an electric chain saw and hubby has a bigger model, gasoline operated. Energy is a big component of living a comfortable life!
 
David Wieland
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Cécile Stelzer Johnson wrote:
I would have to build a windmill on one of the pumps we have, and pray for wind. [Or MacGyver a bicycle operated pump]. I'm sure it could be done, but that would be quite a bother! We are luckier than most, though, because the water table is around 10 ft.


You might be interested in a frostless hand pump. Your water table is shallow enough that almost any kind of hand pump would work if kept from freezing, but there is a kind that can work outdoors for even a deep well. See https://baileylineroad.com/winter-hand-pump-see-well-pump-resists-freezing/ for Steve Maxwell's demonstration.
 
Cécile Stelzer Johnson
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David Wieland wrote:

Cécile Stelzer Johnson wrote:
I would have to build a windmill on one of the pumps we have, and pray for wind. [Or MacGyver a bicycle operated pump]. I'm sure it could be done, but that would be quite a bother! We are luckier than most, though, because the water table is around 10 ft.


You might be interested in a frostless hand pump. Your water table is shallow enough that almost any kind of hand pump would work if kept from freezing, but there is a kind that can work outdoors for even a deep well. See https://baileylineroad.com/winter-hand-pump-see-well-pump-resists-freezing/ for Steve Maxwell's demonstration.




Thanks, David. I suspected it could be done from stopping in parks where water could be pumped by hand. The water then runs back in the ground when a person stops pumping. Looks expensive, though, but what price is survival.
My hubby looked at it and yes, that will be a possibility for next spring.
 
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We just had a series of bad weather that left A LOT of people (nothing like Texas though!  My heart goes out to everyone there...) out of power for a week or longer.  This happened during and after an ice storm and it was a real wake-up call.  The household was out of power for 9 days total.  It was supposed to be out of power for another 7 days after that, but due to a fluke in the dispatch system, a crew was sent out rigged up our power "early".  In fact, they were talking about waiting until JUNE to fix us up with any power.  That would be 4 months!  Just to be clear - services here are not shut down, there are no supply chain issues, and zombies are not in the streets; yet they were still talking about keeping us shut down for so long!

I should admit here at the start: on day 4 my husband hand-dug our 1/4 mile driveway so that he could take the kids and me to stay with some family, who had their power restored.  The rest of the household did stay for the entire time and survived fine.  Before the outage, when we heard that there was an ice storm coming, they went out and stocked up on food and supplies, knowing that a power outage would surely follow.  There are frequent power outages when there are storms of any kind.

The property is somewhat rural, with a 1970s house that was clearly built around electricity. There are vaulted ceilings, giant windows, an impractical layout, and a fireplace that is more for show than for heat or cooking.  Luckily, the last owners had bought a small woodstove.  This became the center of the household universe for all 9 days.  

Living with family was extremely helpful in a lot of ways.  Duties to care for the property and the people were divvied up.  The kids were able to entertain themselves well enough without screens.  It also provided opportunities to have some nice discussions about power, resources, and how people used to live before electricity.

Firewood is not an issue in this area, but the big challenges were more about people being able to stay warm and dry.  Without any kind of oven, everything needed to be cooked on the stove (which is really not a stove so much as a heater with a flat top that can be improvised as a stove...).  After setting up a drying rack next to the stove so that the outdoor workers could have dry coats, hats, and gloves every time they went outside was necessary. Putting some of the snow in containers to keep the freezers and fridge cold worked well and helped to keep some (but not all) food from spoiling.  Chest freezers are far superior to door freezers.  Cheese keeps well as do most condiments.  Milk and meat do not!

There were 2 things that made this experience go smoothly.  First, doing some preparation before the event by going shopping and getting stocked up were worth their weight in gold.  Being prepared for many of the difficulties gave the space to do the work we needed for everything not prepared for.

Second, and for me the biggest help in all this, was mindset.  There are some cool series about living in a primitive world setting (Primitive Technologies on Youtube or the anime Dr.Stone), which give some great ideas about what people can do in very dire situations.  

That being said, the biggest practical help for me with my mindset has been the SKIP program's Badge Bits. I did a whole bunch of them in September and October (haven't posted any of them to be certified yet... probably should do that at some point...), but they indicate how to do a lot of things without electricity - flush the toilets with greywater (melted snow water in this case), use little water for washing dishes (and then using that to flush toilets!), roundwood-working without power tools, cleaning a pot without soap... SO MANY good things!  It was also so much about a mindset change - especially to a kid who grew up in suburbia.  It was so empowering and really took stress out of the equation, which was a game changer.  So I wanted to express my extreme gratitude for the system

As I said, this has been a good wake-up call, and I think everyone has been having some great discussions and doing some research about what to do if another extended outage happens (hence reading this forum and trying to glean any other recommendations...).  I am so glad you guys are here and have these discussions, too.  Thank you! Hope you are all safe and warm out there <3
 
Cécile Stelzer Johnson
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Jenny Pear wrote:We just had a series of bad weather that left A LOT of people (nothing like Texas though!  My heart goes out to everyone there...) out of power for a week or longer.  This happened during and after an ice storm and it was a real wake-up call.  The household was out of power for 9 days total.  



Yikes! where are you to experience 9 days without juice? We have a couple of chest freezers and yes, putting snow or ice in them will keep everything safe. You have it right about the mindset: If you don't determine that no matter what you will trudge along, you can easily have a terrible time. I'm happy you kept your wits about you and fared OK. We are investigating a hand pump that would not freeze so we can pull water if the electricity goes out. Boiling snow so you can lush the john is tough! I have an outdoor toilet [not 100% legal] if we have to if we could not flush, but that is about it. In the winder, lack of electricity would be catastrophic as there is no way to pump gas at the gas station, so no way to go anywhere, buy any supplies [the pantry is over full, and so are the freezers, and we don't move much anyway, but still]. Good you got the electricity back.
Our plumbing system and the roof is built Wisconsin strong, so no risk for freezing pipes or collapsing roof. Even with a few days at -40F. [wind-chill] I still feel lucky.
 
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I live in an area that has experienced a lack of power for a week.   While I am still on the grid, I do have solar and a gas generator. I also have a quality hand pump on the well. I am looking into an LP generator that can be remotely started.  I have begun construction on two methane generators.  
 
Cécile Stelzer Johnson
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John F Dean wrote:I live in an area that has experienced a lack of power for a week.   While I am still on the grid, I do have solar and a gas generator. I also have a quality hand pump on the well. I am looking into an LP generator that can be remotely started.  I have begun construction on two methane generators.  



Where did you get your hand pump, John? We've already made the decision to get  something done about having a hand pump that could not freeze, but we are stuck. We'd like one we don't have to prime every time we get some water.
About LP generators with a key fob, I found this list:
https://generatorgrid.com/best-remote-start/
 
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John F Dean wrote:I live in an area that has experienced a lack of power for a week.   While I am still on the grid, I do have solar and a gas generator. I also have a quality hand pump on the well. I am looking into an LP generator that can be remotely started.  I have begun construction on two methane generators.  



For a propane generator look for any business that does RV REPAIRS. Many times such a system is just replaced with a new system or there is only minor repairs that need to be performed on a system that has been removed from an RV.

I bought such a generator from a friend in KY, mounted it on a small wagon bought from Tractor Supply, added a muffler off the back of the wagon and two taller propane tanks on the front of the wagon. I also mounted two weatherproof outlets with two sockets for cords. And I have a couple of 50ft. cords plus a good Surge-Supressor laid on the cart. This is also remote start the old way - with a long wired switch that can be run into the house under a window. And, I didn't forget to purchase Anchor Rings and Cable to make sure it stays on the property.

Propane Generator systems only have to be wound up a couple of times a year. Gas generators need to be started monthly to keep them in shape to run.
 
John F Dean
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Hi Cecile,

Lehman’s in Kidron, Ohio.
 
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Cécile Stelzer Johnson wrote:

Jenny Pear wrote:We just had a series of bad weather that left A LOT of people (nothing like Texas though!  My heart goes out to everyone there...) out of power for a week or longer.  This happened during and after an ice storm and it was a real wake-up call.  The household was out of power for 9 days total.  



Yikes! where are you to experience 9 days without juice?



I don't know where Jenny is at, by my friend lives down in Oregon, just south of Portland. When the nasty winter weather came to the Pacific Northwest, it brought massive snow to some areas, heavy winds to others, and to some down in Oregon, it brought ice storms. The ice storms wrecked destruction to the power grid, destroying more than just power lines. My friend was without power for over a week. She thankfully had gas heat and stove, but they had no refrigeration. And since they just had ice and not much snow, there wasn't snow outside to use to keep their freezer cold. It was a crazy long power outage, and they live in a subdivision--not the sort of place you'd expect to be out of power for that long!
 
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Another thing you can do in a cold weather power out is put your food outside where the cold keeps it cold. Also a Dutch oven on top of a stove or griddle can be a way to bake. On a pinch any bucket, preferably with a lid can be a temporary toilet if you can't use your usual one. Urine can go in another container. A man can use a pop bottle. If you dump it down the drain the put a chunk of ice on top of the drain the ice will melt there is not need to melt it. The same with the toilet. You can dump ice in the bowl. It will melt on It's own
 Having done some volunteer fire and rescue I learned panic kills more people than actual emergencies. Calm down and think about how. The conveniences of modern life can make it harder to deal with life's basic needs. Folks can get along fine wearing another layer of clothes, sleeping under another layer of clothe. I think those of us in cold rural places have an advantage because we expect the modern conveniences to fail at times so we plan accordingly.
 
Cécile Stelzer Johnson
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Candace Williams wrote: On a pinch any bucket, preferably with a lid can be a temporary toilet if you can't use your usual one. Urine can go in another container. A man can use a pop bottle.  



It is not that long ago that we had "chamber pots" when there was no convenient running water. The water for *every chore* was drawn from a bucket out of the outside well. In hotels, someone was charged with making the beds, and yes, emptying chamber pots. In large towns, nowadays that this custom is no longer practiced, I would do it in a bucket in a heartbeat: I live far enough out of town. The only problem would be getting rid of it in a large town when everyone is in the same situation. I suppose they could empty in in the storm sewers? It would have to be authorized, I suppose.
In a large town, people can't go anywhere on foot, [think Atlanta] there is the added problem of not being able to get gas at the local gas station that relies on electricity to pump gas out of the underground tank.
As we review and rebuild infrastructure in this country, folks will have to put on their thinking caps or be in a fine mess!
 
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 If folks can dispose of their dog droppings they can dispose of their own too. Put it in a plastic bag and then in a trash can. If they have a yard, dig a hole and empty your potty pail in the hole, add something carbon heavy, paper, sawdust, leaves on top sprinkle with dirt
Even human poo will turn into dirt. Or put in a tub or trash can, add paper, rags, leaves, sticks, sawdust wood chips, the smell disappear when you have enough on top. Again, urine can go down the drain, dump snow or ice on top to help it go.
 Yes, think about how folks did it and still do when they Don't have option of a flush toilet. On a daily basis It's not that much mass, unless you are responsible for a group of 12 or more.
 I agree the problem of transportation is likely more difficult if you can't walk there or ride a bike or horse, pony or mule. Might be worth consideration in advance since, yes no electricity means gas pumps Won't work.
Personally, I  say, get out in the country learn how to make and do.
 
 
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Jordan Holland wrote:About a decade ago, we had a terrible ice storm in January. ... All of a sudden people realized that their half-million dollar house with fancy central air had no way of keeping them warm without electricity.


A few years back I designed and built a passive solar house for the missus and I.  While large chunks of Australia was burning — during the summer of 2019/2020 — and on the tail end of a week-long heatwave, the external temperature exceeded 46°C (115°F).  We don't have an air-conditioner (any form of active cooling at all, for that matter).  For Science we took none of the steps that one would sensibly take in such conditions — we didn't close the roller shutters during the entire period, we didn't draw blinds (don't have any), we didn't vent the house at night, we cooked hot meals...  Apart from flinging the doors and windows wide-open, we did everything wrong we could think of.  We artificially engineered a "worst case" situation.  The lounge room (warmest room in the house) topped-out at 26°C (78°F).  That's it.

During the following winter, when external temperatures were hitting -4°C (24°F) outside, the internal temperature never got below 14°C (57°F).

This house is able to deliver quite moderate internal temperatures — even while records are being broken outside — using no electricity at all.  There is a strong yet strange sense of satisfaction/relief/security/confidence knowing that it is impossible to die from either extreme heat or cold in this place.

None of the technologies used to achieve this were 'exotic'.  Earth-coupled concrete slab; double-thickness (180mm/7") stick-frame; R4 (US R23) polyester insulation; argon-filled double-glazing; white corrugated steel roof; 2.4m/8' verandah all-round.

I am appalled that current building regulations still allow homes to be built that are hostile to life when the power goes out.
 
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Likewise my earth sheltered home keeps me cool in summer and is easy to heat with wood in the winter. Even if I were to leave for weeks my pipes wouldn't freeze. Winter in northwest Montana is unpredictable but guaranteed to be really cold at some point(s). My wood stove is very efficient but I wish that I had gotten the larger model. Still, I am comfortable at about 60 to 65 degrees. Like you I wonder why people continue to build in ways that are expensive and that are frankly destructive to the environment.
 
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Nicole Alderman wrote:My friend was without power for over a week. She thankfully had gas heat and stove, but they had no refrigeration. And since they just had ice and not much snow, there wasn't snow outside to use to keep their freezer cold.



Here's a couple of suggestions from my experience growing up on a hurricane prone island where we had power outages every year.

Freezers work best and stay cold longer when they are full.  While the power is on, fill any gaps in your freezer with old plastic milk jugs/bottles full of water*.  Once they freeze, they will make your freezer much more efficient when the power is on and keep  everything colder longer if you lose power.  When the power is on, you can just add and remove these bottles as needed eg. for space for food or to refill the gaps when it is relatively empty.

Obviously, it is best, when the power is off, not to open the freezer more than once a day and to ensure the seals are tight. A newish, well sealed, full freezer should stay relatively frozen for 72 hours at least.

The same applies to refrigerators as well.  We have times when there is lots of space in ours and I do the same, filling the space with plastic jugs full of water.  This will also keep everything cool longer if the power goes out.

If the power is off for a a good few days and the freezer water warms up, you can use it to flush toilets or wash dishes if your water is off too.   Alternatively you can buy plastic jugs of drinking water and keep these in the freezer and drink them when they defrost in a grid down situation. Plastic is not ideal for drinking water but, hey, in an emergency situation, particularly if you do not have your own water supply this can be really helpful.

I've tried glass bottles too.  They work but you have to be careful not to overfill them because they can easily break when they expand as they freeze and this is a real hazard if you are fishing around in the freezer without much light to see by. The shape is also not as efficient at filling up space. They are OK as long as they are no more than 2/3 full, with a loose lid and standing upright until they freeze.  Then screw down the cap and pack as needed.

Obviously you don't always get a warning beforehand that the power might go off, but if there is a storm coming and you know about it, you can also fill all the sinks and the bathtubs with water in case the power goes off.  You can use this for washing, dishes and toilets etc.  This is a quick step you can take if you only have a short time to prepare. When I was growing up we had our own water but the pumps were electric.  Sometimes we could not get outside to get buckets of water out of the tank so the supply inside the house was a real help.  

*We get the plastic jugs out of our neighbours' recycling as we don't tend to use them ourselves.      
 
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Sarah Elizabeth wrote:

Once they freeze, they will make your freezer much more efficient when the power is on and keep  everything colder longer if you lose power.

Hubby has explained elsewhere on permies, why physics and biology will suggest that most food freezes at a lower point than water. However, salt water freezes at a lower temp than most foods, depending on how much salt is there. The plastic bottles we have in our freezer are mostly salt water for that reason + plus a few drops of food colouring so we know which ones are salty. We do keep some drinking water frozen for outing/picnic baskets where we're looking for "cool" rather than "frozen".
 
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Lots of good ideas on this thread. As we are in a serious heat wave [The temp is 108F this afternoon!], I see that everyone is thinking about staying cool and keeping frozen food from spoiling. Filling the freezer with 1/2 Gal milk jugs full of water is one of my favorites; Jay improved on that by suggesting that to keep things really cold, add some salt and a drop of food coloring, to distinguish those from jugs with drinkable water to cook with or drink.
You know, it is not that long ago that we didn't have refrigerators. I remember mom cussing at the ice man who had delivered small ice cubes again instead of solid blocks [the solid block will stay frozen longer]. In the 1600-1700, to make sure King Louis XIV could have ice cream in July, men used to go on frozen lakes in the winter and carve large chunks of ice that they would cover with cloth and hay and store in barns. The ice could keep till late August with a little extra care.
In this country, folks would do the same: Go on the Great Lakes when they were frozen and cut ice chunks with an ice saw. It is a must for sturgeon spearing as you can get on the ice in the right season. For that, they use an ice saw. there are a number of devices. Even a chain saw will work but you will have to blow the water out of every nook and cranny to avoid rusting your chain!
The Amish in WI can still do it the old fashioned way:
https://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=https%3A%2F%2Fcdn-0.amishamerica.com%2Fimages%2Fjohn-hart-amish-ice-green-lake-county-wi.jpg%3Fezimgfmt%3Drs%3A407x284%2Frscb13%2Fng%3Awebp%2Fngcb13&imgrefurl=https%3A%2F%2Famishamerica.com%2Fwisconsin-amish-ice-harvest%2F&tbnid=QxQYHLu0NHjVxM&vet=12ahUKEwiZ7fWsmoHxAhX9gU4HHe2hA4YQMygFegQIARBF..i&docid=C6mZ1pN_qKioqM&w=407&h=283&q=olds%20saw%20to%20cut%20ice%20in%20WI&ved=2ahUKEwiZ7fWsmoHxAhX9gU4HHe2hA4YQMygFegQIARBF

 
Sarah Elizabeth
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Jay Angler wrote:The plastic bottles we have in our freezer are mostly salt water for that reason + plus a few drops of food colouring so we know which ones are salty.



Thanks Jay.  That's a really useful tip. Now that I'm in a colder climate with plenty of water, I could try that out.    
 
Jay Angler
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It's important to recognize the difference between "keeping food safe to eat" vs "keeping food frozen". Meat that's "thawed" in a powerless freezer from minus 10 C to 0/+2 C is safe to eat for several days, but is *not* safe to re-freeze for a month from now.

The Amish are cutting and storing ice for "fridge" temperatures, not "freezer" temperatures. Many people don't realize that many bacteria and similar can survive 0 C and slowly multiply, which is why freezers have to be much colder than fridges. If your goal is to simply keep food safe for 2-5 days, a properly insulated ice box can do that for you, and even if you're using powered equipment to harvest that ice, and the hay to pack it in (the hay is the insulation to keep it cold all summer) that is far, far less non-renewable energy input than the average modern refrigerator and it's such basic tech, that unlike modern fridges that seem to barely last 10 years, can easily last for 50 years - maybe longer if the design is careful enough that rust isn't an issue. But fuel/power/electricity is still cheap and wages/equipment/ice storage appears more expensive and less trouble. If you look at the damage done by broken fridges, and the cost of cleaning up old mines, I'm less convinced.

In other words, if you live in a place where water will reliably freeze in the winter, and develop the infrastructure to harvest and store it, you won't have to rely on electricity to keep your food refrigerated ever again! And we've known how to do this for hundreds of years (if not longer?)
 
Cécile Stelzer Johnson
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Continuing with the assumption that the electricity goes out in the heatwave, What did we do before air conditioning?
going to the swimming hole nearby was a favorite, or the public swimming pool. dunking your body is cool water is very effective to keep cool as it will drop your body temperature.
In the South of France, which can get horribly hot, we had a house made of stone, which keeps the inside much cooler. We also had some *real* shutters. Not the narrow, plasticky decorative nonsense that just looks pretty on the sides of a window. No. The thick, all wood window covers that swing in and out on hinges, and on the inside, we  had mosquito screens. At night, the window/doors could be open wide to take in the cooler air and as soon as the sun would come up, the covers would latch and totally obscure the rooms on the South side. Those wooden 'doors' covering the windows also added a lot to safety: They were beefy.
https://www.leroymerlin.fr/v3/p/volet-battant-sur-mesure-l1500532645
Tile floors also were cooler underfoot.
To keep food cool, we had an enormous ice box with several compartments [about half of our freezer now], but it was imposing, sitting in the huge kitchen! This Wiki article, which also has a photo of ice harvesting on the lakes tells you a lot more about the practice:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Icebox
Another way to keep food safe is, of course, canning it, pickling it, dehydrating it. All those are actually a lot more environment friendly as they don't use constant electricity to keep the food safe.
Pumping/ saving water is a great idea as well: I have a barrel under every downspout. Right now, because the barrel is not covered, I couldn't use it as safe water without boiling it, but the amount of rain your roof can collect even in a small shower is impressive! Here is the calculation:
https://www.surfrider.org/coastal-blog/entry/calculate-rainwater-harvesting-potential-area-needed-to-absorb-it
Here, we get about 32-35"of rain in a year, If we needed to, we could bury a cistern and have fresh water all the time, on tap, so to speak.
Mount a tap halfway up the top of the barrel. You can then tap the overflow with a faucet/valve. Assuming you put it halfway and it fills up [It will more than fill up!] you will have 25 gallons of water to use whenever the barrel is full.
If you are hard up for water, you could place several barrels in series and connect them with hoses/pipes. One good shower and you are in business! Almost no reason to have a well ;-)
 
Cécile Stelzer Johnson
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Jay Angler wrote:It's important to recognize the difference between "keeping food safe to eat" vs "keeping food frozen". Meat that's "thawed" in a powerless freezer from minus 10 C to 0/+2 C is safe to eat for several days, but is *not* safe to re-freeze for a month from now.
The Amish are cutting and storing ice for "fridge" temperatures, not "freezer" temperatures.
In other words, if you live in a place where water will reliably freeze in the winter, and develop the infrastructure to harvest and store it, you won't have to rely on electricity to keep your food refrigerated ever again! And we've known how to do this for hundreds of years (if not longer?)



Good point, Jay. Although you can keep meat frozen if you could keep a constant supply of ice on hand, indeed, refreezing meat that thawed in an ice box is not safe!  In France, folks do their shopping every couple of days, if not daily, so the need for a freezer is a lot less important. Here, I've only had the freezer die once: All the venison had to be canned immediately! not fun!
 
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As I have said we have a very secure power supply, all the cables are buried. Or rather, it's very secure until the people harvesting the fodder maize don't look where they are going and do this...  It only took the electric company 3 hrs to come out and fix it which is impressive since there's only a couple of houses on that box.




power.jpg
[Thumbnail for power.jpg]
 
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