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Preparing for a short-term power outage

 
pollinator
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Winter is coming (in the northern hemisphere), and with it weather risks for power outage…

Power outages not only affect us as individuals or families but they impact our community and the economy.

I’m thinking of disruptions in communication, water supply and transportation.

Without electricity - businesses, grocery stores, gas stations, ATMs, banks and other services will not be available.

Without electricity - food would spoil and water can get contaminated.

Life saving equipment like medical devices are dependent on electricity…

So I thought of creating a thread where we can collect the wisdom of this awesome community when it comes to preparing for power outage…

What are your TOP TIPS how to prepare for a short-term (up to a week) power outage?

 
N. Neta
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My top tip… (I’m sure it’s not gonna be popular 🤷🏻‍♂️)…

Find out your main (electricity) vulnerabilities and prepare for them (ignore the rest).

We actually went throughout the whole house - one electricity socket after another - and made a list of those that are crucial for our “survival”…

At the end we discovered - that we only really need to find a solution for the fridge (for food) and the freezer (for preserved food)… although my wife considers the internet router and a phone/tablet charger as crucial to her “survival”… so those are the three challenges we need to solve.

All the rest we’d live without them through a few days of power outage.

And with that little amount of electricity needed - a small generator would go a long way…
 
master steward
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We have propane for heat and cooking.

The only thing we are concerned about is our freezers and refrigerators.

Last year our electric company notified us during the spring or fall when the temperatures aren't that bad, that our electricity would be off all day for an upgrade.

I prepared by having bags of ice and bottles of frozen water in all the freezers.

Those bags of ice and bottles of frozen water are still there in case of a power loss.

We have lots of bottled water plus a water storage container.
 
pollinator
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I am building a solar generator for some of the reasons you mentioned.  I built one very small 400W generator just last week so haven't had any experience with it yet.  It has a small 18aH battery.  It should be fine for charging the phone and running a few lights, but that's about it.  The next will be much larger, at least 3500W.  A 3500W solar generator with a pretty large battery system will run a lot of our house.  

Like Anne, we have propane for heat and cooking.  Our heat will be out if the electricity is because the blowers and in-floor heat circulating pump won't work, but I'm not so worried about heat.  We have two wood stoves and even if we ran out of wood and without any heat at all, the basement won't get below 40 degrees for many days if the sliding glass door and windows are covered.  We can easily live with those temps if need be.  Warm cloths and blankets are a way of life here.  The propane stove still works without electricity, so cooking isn't an issue.  We also have a grill, and I can cook over a fire, thanks to many years of rural living and camping.

A bigger concern would be water, because the well pump takes a lot of wattage when it kicks on, and my battery bank won't be large enough for that.  I need to fill a couple of my food grade 55 gal drums again.  I kept them full at my old place but haven't refilled them at the new one.  We also have several different types of water filters, so water won't be a huge problem, but it is a concern.

Winter power outages are actually easier in one way.  Our winters are long and very cold.  Frozen food can just be moved outside in winter here much of the time.  My big shop is secure from animals but not heated, so frozen food can be moved there and stay frozen.  We have chest freezers, so they stay cold a long time when they are full if you don't open them often (or at all until the electricity comes back on).  Refrigerated food is even easier.  Out of the sun in the garage somewhere most things will be fine.
 
master pollinator
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Duct tape and candles are essential.
The duct tape is used to close the refrigerator / freezer until the power goes back on.
The candles are used to make the experience enchanting - even sacred. When the lights go out, the stars get brighter.
Campfire, stories, stars, gratitude. I love a short-term power outage. Maybe I'll have a drill this weekend.
Blessings to all of you!
 
pollinator
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Not long after moving to our current place in the boonies, a big November storm hit and we went without power for about 40 hours (Saturday evening to Monday morning). We were also snowed in (until Wednesday), because we rely on the town's very inexpensive snow removal service. They have to do the town roads first, and like I say, it was a big storm. I learned a few things!

1. Having water on hand is my most important power outage prep. If the power is out and I can't leave, I don't have water. (If I can leave, there are free-flowing springs within driving distance where I can fill jugs.) In the past, I would buy a gallon water jug every week or so and stash them up. I've moved on to having big refillable jugs. I wanted to get a hand-pump well, but found out my well is about 600 feet deep. Longer term plan is a rainwater cistern.

2. Wood for heat. My LP furnace has an electric pilot. We heat with wood, but that first winter, we were unprepared to do so. Luckily, we had enough to stay warm during that short stretch. It was outside, near our fire pit, but we were able to quickly bring it in and get it warmed up and dry. Longer term plan, when our 35-year-old furnace finally gives up the ghost, maybe we can get something that doesn't require electricity. However, it is only a back-up for wood heat. If we had to rely on a furnace that needed electricity to run, as we did in town, then I know to close off the house into a small cozy space. (In our current home, just close bedroom doors and everybody stay near the fire.) I have used a little "stove" of alcohol-soaked toilet paper in a metal can, which helps a bit. Not much. Layer up, snuggle the dogs, and get all the blankets.

3. Lighting is necessary. We have a big pack of tea light candles (just one in the bathroom is enough to see what's going on), and each member of the household has a flashlight with a battery that charges by squeezing the grip repeatedly. There are shake-charge flashlights, too. Longer term, I would like to get a couple kerosene lanterns, but I guess it hasn't been important enough for me to do so.

4. Communication with the outside world. Again for a power outage with heavy snow, we may be trapped and wanting information. We generally get no cell phone signal here, so when the internet is down, our connection to the outside world is limited to radio. We have a crank radio and we have car radios. In deep cold, we start the cars every so often anyway, so it's an okay time to sit in the car, blast the heat, listen to the radio, and charge up that phone just in case we do catch enough of a signal to text family and let them know what's up. That means when a storm is coming, fill up the gas tanks (and charge devices).

5. Food. We can light stove burners with matches, but no way to use the oven. This means only some of our food is really . . . cookable, during an outage. So plan to have those kinds of foods on hand, and plan to cook and eat any highly perishable ingredients. Cheese, eggs, produce and things like that are fine out in the unheated mudroom, or a cooler with a freezer pack, or left in a fridge nobody is opening for a day or two. Condiments, I don't really worry about, other than mayo. Meat that isn't frozen needs to be cooked. Leftovers should be eaten or given to the chickens. It's not ideal to be cooking things that need a lot of water (pasta, rice). To save water, cook with stock, tomato sauce, etc. During our previous outage, I was melting snow on the stove, continuously. Just always adding more snow to the pot of melt-water. I'd put some of that water in the little teapot and heat it up for coffee, tea, cocoa, etc which was nice - have a low-tech way to make coffee without an electric coffee pot.

6. We need an outhouse or a sawdust potty situation.
 
pollinator
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We're having those power failures regularly. Half of them last 15 minutes or less, no idea why. Most get resolved within a day or so, but some last way longer. The longest was 8 days when lightning hit the cables on top of our mountain. Because we're at the end of the lines only a few houses were without power and that meant we were no priority. So we ended up being the last people who got the power back. Over the past weekend we had a severe thunderstorm and we were out again from Friday evening until Monday afternoon. It's a recurring thing here.

Honestly it's mainly annoying: no light, no music, no internet, no coffee machine, etc. The only thing that really matters is if you have a freezer or a fridge with a significant amount of meat or cheese, or similar. Veggies go bad too, but slower, and they're cheaper to replace. To preserve meat for a bit longer you can cover it in salt, but that still has limits. The best way to not let meat spoil is to keep it alive, as in meat chickens in the pen and only take out what you need short term.

Cold mass as mentioned above with frozen water bags or something similar added to the freezer for sure helps a lot. I remember when we killed a pig and had a freezer full of frozen pig meat we also lost power for 2 or 3 days, and because of the sheer mass of frozen meat the temperature in the freezer never got above freezing. It was just a matter of keeping the freezer shut until the power came back and we could check how it all came through.

I think the best way to prepare for power outages is to have a garden and a bunch of living meat chickens. If you're in a cold climate in winter, probably blankets and insulating materials matter too. Remember to think of closing your waterlines and emptying them if it freezes where you are. At least in those climates you can simply put your meat in the cold outside when you loose power...
 
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Hi, Power outages are not uncommon to us, like 3 days to 3 weeks.  We can all do lots of things. Just depends on what we view is essential, important, very nice to have, and would like to have it.  

With the tire removed from a bicycle, a small generator and noise filter, A well pump and small appliances can run off of this, as well as charging batteries. The fridge and heat (if one has forced air) could require backup electricity like wind or solar. An alternative lighting source like oil lamps or candles.  we could also catch water and if necessary use a DC pump and filter system.  We all have our own unique circumstances. One thing is sure,  we all need food and water and shelter. Secure those first and the rest will follow.
 
pollinator
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I grew up with power cuts up to a week in the winter despite growing up in Southern England!

Spare duvets. These are not for you these are for the freezer. a chest freezer well wrapped up and NOT opened will keep everything frozen for over a week.
A secure waterproof  box that can live outside if needed, this is your new fridge, place it somewhere where the temperature is suitable. if you live somewhere where it's really cold leave it inside and bring ice in for it every day.
Gas cooker and spare canisters. You can use wood or a camping stove but it's much easier if your standard cooker is gas to begin with, one less thing to fight with
Candles/torches. I personally prefer candles but either will do.
Secondary heating, preferably wood or non electric dependent gas.

We never lost water or mains gas, if water loss is likely they you'll need to keep that on hand as well.
 
pioneer
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Hey,

I am not offering any suggestions just some stories,

I have been though a number of large storms,
In regards to cooking we just used the BBQ,
Hot water, I wished we had solar hot water then!
Tv, internet, etc, non, we read books, played games, used non power tools.
we ate and drank the perishables, and bought long life milk, its a 3 km run to the store.
but we would be fine without.
we had torches, camping lights, I even on one occasion managed to build a torch out of bits and bobs, just feeling around in the dark.
but now we also have solar lights outside for security or if the fuse ever gets blown, it can be walked to in light.

many builders used the work generators,
and if someone had to work from home they could use the generator and if need be hot spot to continue working normally,



 
Alex Moffitt
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Marisa Lee wrote:

5. Food. We can light stove burners with matches, but no way to use the oven. This means only some of our food is really . . . cookable, during an outage. So plan to have those kinds of foods on hand, and plan to cook and eat any highly perishable ingredients. Cheese, eggs, produce and things like that are fine out in the unheated mudroom, or a cooler with a freezer pack, or left in a fridge nobody is opening for a day or two. Condiments, I don't really worry about, other than mayo. Meat that isn't frozen needs to be cooked. Leftovers should be eaten or given to the chickens. It's not ideal to be cooking things that need a lot of water (pasta, rice). To save water, cook with stock, tomato sauce, etc. During our previous outage, I was melting snow on the stove, continuously. Just always adding more snow to the pot of melt-water. I'd put some of that water in the little teapot and heat it up for coffee, tea, cocoa, etc which was nice - have a low-tech way to make coffee without an electric coffee pot.



You need to go Aussie and boil a billy, and cook some damper with some honey, its just flour and water, you can make flour from so many plants,
and you kind of should know how to salt, smoke ferment food, you could have even used nature to make a freezer.  
 
Trace Oswald
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Alex Moffitt wrote:

You need to go Aussie and boil a billy, and cook some damper with some honey, its just flour and water, ...  



Any chance you can translate that to English?  
 
pollinator
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We rarely have power outages of more than a few hours but longer term certainly isn't out of the realm of possibility. An exception was about ten or so years ago when I believe it was hurricane Ike moved up from Texas and to the apparent surprise of the "exerts" and everyone else kind of reformed, minus the rain and took out power over a number of more states farther north. Our power was out for seven days but it wasn't cold so no big worry there.

It started here, literally out of the blue on a Sunday morning. I had to hike up our dead end gravel road with the chain saw so the woman could get home from church and the hurricane force wind continued the rest of the day. By dark our road was blocked again as were most of the roads in our neighborhood. Supper that night was grilled chicken and something just harvested but I don't remember what, next morning was sausages and scrambled eggs. I had to clean the ashes a few times but the fire in the outdoor fireplace didn't go out until the following Saturday. Being carful no to open it too much our little freezer kept food all the way through until that last day when we invited friends over and had a smorgasbord of everything that was left. By then we had cleaned out everything in the fridge and freezer but didn't have to break into the canned and dried things much at all.  Our water did not go off but if it had we have various filtration equipment and a small pond and I could if necessary, put together a makeshift still. That evening of the smorgasbord, just as we finished eating I heard all these little beeps and buzzes and took a minute to realize it was everything coming back on.  It was actually a little disappointing.

That event happened at a time when weather wasn't a factor and I actually enjoyed it. Not going to work, no tv, cooking outside, what's no to like? BUT, what if it happens when weather isn't so nice and what if it last longer? If as the title of the original post indicates it is short term and maybe even if not, I think I would prefer it in the winter. Cold enough we don't have to eat up everything in the fridge as fast as we can. I have dry firewood, enough for two to three seasons and like cooking on the wood stove and outside. Water again, while it might be a problem hauling and purifying is readily available and we just regularly have enough food for six months or more on had, plus deer, rabbits, squirrels and turkeys are commonly in easy range, although they might rethink that once the shooting started.

What worries me a lot more is what if this happened in the summer, and what if the summer was a particularly freakish one, like the folks in the PNW experienced this year? Any fresh food spoils fast, have to be even more careful purifying water, doesn't sound appealing at all to me.  No air conditioning, I don't know how to keep cool in temps much over 100 F. Our house is largely under ground so blacking out the south and west windows would help some, at least it wouldn't be as hot as outside. My only idea so far after talking to my family in Seattle this summer is to make a solar cover for my little garden pond and open it at night so it could lose a little heat through radiation. If the water stayed on I could refresh it often with cold tap water but if that went out too it wouldn't take long for the pond to get really nasty.

The only things I've thought of for dealing with no electricity in the summer is to move even farther under ground and installing solar and or wind power to run air conditioners. If the Pacific North West can hit 116 F, I hate to think what's now possible in other places.


 
pollinator
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Trace Oswald wrote:

Alex Moffitt wrote:

You need to go Aussie and boil a billy, and cook some damper with some honey, its just flour and water, ...  



Any chance you can translate that to English?  :)



Didn't you sing Waltzing Mathilda as a kid?😀

A billy is a metal container you can hang over a fire to boil water. Damper is just soda bread, traditionally cooked in the coals of a fire. You can put pretty much whatever you want in it.

We don't have a freezer or fridge, which are the only things we would need extra power for. We cheat and freeze bottles of water at work to keep the cooler cold, though. Like someone else said, in winter it's easy. No problem keeping food cold. In the summer, I could keep stuff cool in my garbage can root cellar or, less conveniently, in the creek. You have to eat stuff faster than if it was in a fridge, but it prolongs storage time somewhat. In a short term outage, you'd just eat all your perishable stuff first, then move on to shelf stable.

Soup is a good food if you have no fridge. You make a big pot and boil it every day to kill off any beasties.

We already cook with propane, sometimes wood in the winter. I've got all the materials to make one of those tandoor ovens with big terra cotta pots. Mine's going to be in a metal garbage can. Haven't got around to it yet, though. Absolutely no clay here or I'd do a rocket oven.

We haul in water from town, since at least one of us is there pretty much every day. We've got a creek, water barrels collecting roof water, and a Berkey if need be.

We have enough solar power to keep electronics charged, and we do have a generator. We only really use it for power tools, though.

A lot of our lights are rechargeable LEDs. We've got some of those under cabinet lighting strips that we mount on the ceiling and use like regular lights. We use headlamps for detail work or doing stuff outside. All can be charged off solar.

We also keep a bunch of those rechargeable battery banks around - the little ones for recharging phones or whatever. We've got a couple 8000maH and I think the smaller ones are all at least 5000maH. Having those around is handy if it's really stormy and the solar isn't doing great.
 
N. Neta
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Mark Reed wrote:Our water did not go off but if it had we have various filtration equipment and a small pond and I could if necessary


We have several ponds to collect rain that we use for irrigation…
In case of emergency what filtration equipment would be safe enough to use the ponds’ water for drinking?
 
Trace Oswald
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N. Neta wrote:

Mark Reed wrote:Our water did not go off but if it had we have various filtration equipment and a small pond and I could if necessary


We have several ponds to collect rain that we use for irrigation…
In case of emergency what filtration equipment would be safe enough to use the ponds’ water for drinking?



A Berkey filter or a lifestraw are both fine for that.  I have a distillation unit as well that would work but it needs electricity.
 
pollinator
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Whenever there is a big storm coming we prepare by filling the bath tub and a bunch of mason jars with water. The woodstove takes care of the rest. I don't worry anymore.
 
Mark Reed
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Without a good filter and if worst comes to worst about any homemade makeshift filter to screen out the big stuff, followed by a good boiling should do the trick. Might not taste the best but should be safe. If you use a quality filter such as the Berkey or Katadyn using a lesser one or a home made one first is helpful. A quality filter will clog fast on dirty water, just use it to finish up after removing the big stuff. Big stuff being some you can actually see and some you can't, algae for example or even dissolved soil in small amounts isn't visible until you have to clean it off your filter. Letting the water sit and settle and using only off the top helps as well.

I have the components to put together a still, just haven't gotten round to it yet. It's design is for use on a fire or wood stove. As long as you get a good boil, especially at first  temperature isn't as critical as when making booze.  Except, some chemicals can also boil and vaporize so let the first several minutes of the hottest steam escape, it might take some chemical contaminates with it.  Others might vaporize at lower temp than water like alcohol does. Not much I know of that could be done about that in an emergency unless you know what it is and it's boiling point.  
 
Marisa Lee
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Alex Moffitt wrote:

Marisa Lee wrote:

5. Food. We can light stove burners with matches, but no way to use the oven. This means only some of our food is really . . . cookable, during an outage. So plan to have those kinds of foods on hand, and plan to cook and eat any highly perishable ingredients. Cheese, eggs, produce and things like that are fine out in the unheated mudroom, or a cooler with a freezer pack, or left in a fridge nobody is opening for a day or two. Condiments, I don't really worry about, other than mayo. Meat that isn't frozen needs to be cooked. Leftovers should be eaten or given to the chickens. It's not ideal to be cooking things that need a lot of water (pasta, rice). To save water, cook with stock, tomato sauce, etc. During our previous outage, I was melting snow on the stove, continuously. Just always adding more snow to the pot of melt-water. I'd put some of that water in the little teapot and heat it up for coffee, tea, cocoa, etc which was nice - have a low-tech way to make coffee without an electric coffee pot.



You need to go Aussie and boil a billy, and cook some damper with some honey, its just flour and water, you can make flour from so many plants,
and you kind of should know how to salt, smoke ferment food, you could have even used nature to make a freezer.  



Thanks but as I said the stove works just fine. As far as baking in the coals, I mean . . . stew and pancakes on the stove was fine. We ate well, since there were things that had to be cooked up. But I suppose learning bake in the coals would be nice for versatility.

I do know how to ferment foods. It might be interesting to learn to salt and/or smoke meat and fish, but again, it was also fine to just cook up anything fresh (and what was frozen fared alright in the freezer). If I had hunting/trapping/snaring/fishing skills then for sure, but as it is, I admit I get my meat from the grocery store or the farm up the road, so I don't have meat processing and preserving skills.

I have lived without a refrigerator and freezer before. This time of year, it doesn't stay below freezing enough to use nature for that. In deep winter, for a couple of months, yes. I used a two-drawer metal filing cabinet on my porch as a freezer and a cooler in an unheated room in my house as the fridge. During this storm I mentioned, we got about 30 inches of snow, but daytimes were above freezing. At least all that snow worked as insulation to keep our house cozy.
 
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Amy Gardener wrote:Duct tape and candles are essential.
The duct tape is used to close the refrigerator / freezer until the power goes back on.
The candles are used to make the experience enchanting - even sacred. When the lights go out, the stars get brighter.
Campfire, stories, stars, gratitude. I love a short-term power outage. Maybe I'll have a drill this weekend.
Blessings to all of you!



Having both the off grid tiny home and the condo makes my short term prepping pretty weird. My short term works better in the winter when the tiny home is shut for the season. Communications are easy. I can power the cable modem, box and TV 24/7, I have 3 hotspots, cellular amplifier.

Gorilla tape, plastic sheeting, some el-cheapo sleeping bags for window insulation. We've got several propane heaters from 50,000 btu down to 4,000 btu. Have 1 heater that goes 7 days on a 20 lb tank up to one that runs 2 hours on same tank. Lighting is super easy with my solar lighting setup; https://permies.com/t/169620/Long-Term-Solar-Lighting-Test#1331693

Couple of years ago I bought a larger mini fridge for food and keep 1/3 of the freezer full of ice/bottles of ice. I keep 30 days of meat on hand, 30 days of dehydrated foods, plenty of oatmeal, potatoes, popcorn. I have a super cool mini fridge that will go from -20 F to 40 F that uses 50 watts @ 120 AC and 20 @ 12 DC.

We have 4 50 quart coolers if we need to offload frozen food as well as some of those really cool Omaha Steak coolers. Propane camp stove of course as well. Inverter generator (16 hours per 1.9 gallons, light load) and small battery bank (430 amp hours) and inverter for lights at night.
 
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Lots of very good answers here, but I will add my 2 cents.

We used to have a lot of outages until all the falling hazards got blown down.  The worst outages were in winter during storms.

On one occasion we had about 6” of sleet and freezing rain.  Our most important prep during that time was our ventless indoor propane fireplace.  That unit really pumps out the heat! It kept us warm during freezing temperatures when the house otherwise would have gotten very cold.

On another occasion we lost both power and water due to heavy rains.  The ground got so soft that a water main sank and broke!  It took several days to get water back.  We ended up putting 5 gallon buckets under downspouts to catch water for flushing toilets.  In my experience, a water outages is FAR worse than a mere power outage.  We now keep extra water on hand.

We have a generator and the house has been properly wired to connect generator with a dedicated break-before-make switch so I can’t accidentally feed power back down the mains and shock an unsuspecting lineman trying to fix a broken line.  Also, like Trace, I am building a solar generator.  Mine will be good for about 1-2 kw, but larger than that will be covered by the generator.

Again, some very good suggestions here, these are my preps that already dovetail with what others have already done.

Eric
 
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In the winter I keep my lawnmower battery inside on a battery tender. I have installed some 12v LED lights in key rooms with wiring down to where I store the battery. When the power goes out, I have convenient light for probably days, and the battery automatically gets recharged when the power comes back on.

I purchased an adapter so I can run my propane Coleman stove using a BBQ propane take instead of the small disposable tanks.

We have farm animals and are dependent on a well water so I do have a generator.  We run it for a bit then leave it off for a while. We fill a couple of extra buckets with water for toilet flushing while the power is out.
 
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We bought an inverter for our Prius which can actually be left running in what's called "camper mode".  Once the power goes out we run an extension cord from the inverter to the house and it can run our fridge and then we have a few outlets to run other small appliances, charge computer and phones.  So quiet no loud generator needed.  

Since our well pump needs electricity to run, when the power goes out we run out of water fast.  So I usually take a nice deep bath before any big storm.  I leave the bath water in the tub which can then be used to flush the toilet.  I fill large mason jars and all my big pots with water for cooking.

We also have a small Jackery battery pack, solar lights and candles.  We download any media we want to watch on our phones.

We live in the North East in a straw bale house so we heat up our radiant concrete floors before the storm and it keeps the place toasty for days so we don't have to worry about heat.

Our utility company is great at getting the power back on, usually within 4-8 hours.  6 days was the longest we had to go without power after Irene and even that was not too bad.  
 
Marisa Lee
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Lynne Cim wrote:We bought an inverter for our Prius which can actually be left running in what's called "camper mode".  Once the power goes out we run an extension cord from the inverter to the house and it can run our fridge and then we have a few outlets to run other small appliances, charge computer and phones.  So quiet no loud generator needed.  



Oh yes - I forgot about that! I looked into those when my husband got a Prius last year, since we don't have a generator or any kind of off-grid power like solar/wind. What inverter did you end up getting, if you don't mind sharing that info? I looked at a couple options and my memory is that they were around $1200, so I'd love to hear which one you're happy with before making that investment.
 
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I'd say this depends highly on where you live. I am living in a condo, so for me the biggest preparation is avoiding the elevator.
We are expecting short power outages, ranging a few hours per day, when winter hits Europe. I don't think you are risking the same in the islands.

Given that we expect the electricity to return in a few hours, I think we may do with the smartphone lantern. Light will be back before the batteries are over. My water heater will not work, since it's a highly complex gas boiler that refuses to work without electricity, but we will not die from being dirty. My stoves go with butane, so I just need a lighter to light the flame and I'm good. I could even heat some water in pot for a shower. As for the internet, tablets, computers, TV, etc, they will not work. I won't bother installing a battery on these devices, given that the internet just won't work in the neighborhood, not even the TV signal. Again, a little bit of boredom will not kill us.
Where I live, temperatures are mild, so we won't die of cold or heat, we may pass without any heater or AC unit.
My son will hate eating some ungrinded meals, but he will not starve either.
The washing machine might need to be restarted if the outage comes just in the middle of a washing.
The only real trouble is the freezer.
If the outages become common, then we will need to find better solutions for lighting and entertaining. We can read books, but we need better lightning than the olive oil candles then. Also, we may need to use more preserved food and less fridge.

At work it might be a complete different story. The door only operates with electricity and we need two strong men to lift it by hand, everything is done with a computer or a phone and there's no manual override of these tasks. I guess I won't be able to work at the office, then. But my boss says this talk about power outages is nonsense, so he is doing absolutely nothing in preparation.

EDIT. Another question would be how the outages will affect the availability of fresh food in commerces. Will the meat and milk spoil without proper refrigeration? We may find product shortages related to that.
 
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--cached water in safe, heavy plastic containers made specifically for water storage
--year round garden

our power outages almost always revolve around heat or cold weather issues/downed trees from snow damage
life is miserable when you are freezing cold or you have major cold spots in your house, especially if you have health issues
life is bearable if you are holding in your own body heat

--I'm a huge fan of Smart Wool base woolen bottom and top layers to wear under your pants and shirt for the cold
 yes, they are eye wateringly expensive; REI has them on summer and end of ski season sales every year  
 they also sell on their own website
 I take very good care of these woolen "long johns" and air dry or dry on a very low setting; some of mine are over 6 years old and still going strong
 my body tends to run at a year-round low temp so I have various thicknesses to keep me comfortable fall through winter, even a cold summer's evening at
 outdoor parties or events
 for me, they are a health investment--both physical and mental
 it's hard to be proactive, safe, happy and productive when all you can think about is your own cold bones

--a well stocked library with favorite books and magazines to reread or  saved away unread ones to peruse once that power and internet is gone
  we've been without power for two weeks at a time
  I toss in reading material "for when I have time" into a large basket
  you are super busy during a power outage...and then you have a lot of time on your hands
  boredom without our 21st century tools is real and disheartening
  nothing like a yummy catalogue, magazine or book with stashed, equally yummy chocolate bars to make everything right in your world

--a loyal contingent of friends and neighbors you can count on in an emergency is probably the single most important tool to have under your belt
  if you don't have this, you need to start building it now for the future climate emergencies coming our way
  you give...to get:   time, resources, friendships, entertaining, support in time of need in poor health or loss

  going it alone--even alone as a group or family--in quiet, freezing cold or stunningly humid heat leads to panic, desperation and fear
  humans have best survived and thrived through the centuries in groups
  especially if you have moved to a different climate zone and aren't fully used to dramatic weather changes
  we moved from west to east coast of US  
  best decision of our lives, but a world of difference from a year-round Mediterranean climate to minus 17 winters
  it doesn't matter if you live way out in the middle of nowhere and off the grid, way up in a very rural, small populated mountainous area as we do, in a city
  or town, out in the countryside, or the wilds of Manhattan--get to know your neighbors; build your own support community

--knowing you have physical support and backup--and most of all moral support--can get you through almost anything

In rereading my own post, it occurs to me everything I'm talking about is self-care with a heavy dose of self-sufficiency. I guess it's because when we lose the trappings of the modern world we feel more vulnerable. My husband and I are not survivalists. In all honesty, we hope to never be. So, yes we have a good generator, our own chickens and garden and we are taking proactive measures as winter and power outages loom. But the soft sides of life and the self-care of life keep us comfortable, happy, healthy and moving forward in a proactive, productive way.
 
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I'm sure there are things I'm over looking, even though I try to plan for power outages.  We've had them here in the US Northeast, but I've live in enough areas and overseas to know its possible anywhere.  

Shelter/heat/cooling:  My basement is like a giant walk in cooler, no freezing, and cool year round.  need heat in the winter-check-3 wood stoves and a cook stove in the basement if needed,  insulation and thermal window curtains and doors to shut it down to a small area if need be.

Water:  Sorta check- We have a pond and a brook, need a filtering system. Water storage in 4 - 55 gal barrels of water in the basement, and 4 in the greenhouse.  Fill up tub and big pot on kitchen woodstove.  Alas, no back up for the well yet.  I'm really hoping to get a hand pump to go with the submersible pump already down the well.  And, because we just had to replace this stuff recently, I actually know where the wellhead is at and that the water level in within 10 ft of the surface.  I'd really like to invest in the Bison well pump which can be rigged to pump water out of the well by hand as long as its <25 feet down and into the pressurizing thingy in the basement.    I made sure the new pressure tank was twice as big as we needed it, less wear and tear on the pump and less often hand pumping in an emergency.  Or,  I suppose, while I'm dreaming, I could just add in a solar electric pump for the water.

Food:  check- Got canned, dried, frozen and on the hoof, so to speak, in the garden and chicken coop and forest, if I ever get good at hunting.

Light:   check- Candles, oil lamps, lanterns, solar lights

Internet and phone:  Thank goodness I'm too old to care about it compared to my gandkids.  I like being disconnected.  I have those back up storage batteries for the cell phone too so if its up we can stay in contact.  Already told everyone nearby that if SHTF they should all come here.  
 
N. Neta
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Thank you Trace and Mark for your tips on filtering pond water in case of emergency…
Gonna take care of that this week…
 
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Actually quite ready.
My wife and I live at the edge of a small city on Ontario Canada, so have cold winters.  If the power went out the first thing would be to fill the numerous 5 gallon jugs we have from the mains water as we are close to a water tower. We store 15 gallons of emergency water all the time. We also have a Katedyne and Berkey filter.

We have three gas generators and plenty of stabilized gas to last a month. We would be able to keep the freezers and fridge cold as well as run our furnace if need be.

We can cook on the natural gas cooktop in the kitchen or use one of our rocket stoves in the back porch. The electric oven wouldn't be useful, but I made a chimney oven for my hunter wood stove so could bake or make pizza. I also made a rocket fire fired bread oven in my back yard, but it is not as efficient as the chimney oven so will upgrade it to a barrel oven. I have two or three cords of seasoned wood available.

We would likely sleep in our family room that has a natural gas fireplace that runs on battery powered controls. Lighting would be with led battery lights, led crank lights, a Coleman propane lantern, or numerous candles.

We have plenty of food in our pantry and freezers so we are pretty well covered.

A porta potty is available if we were to run short of water for flushing.
 
Lynne Cim
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Marisa Lee wrote:

Lynne Cim wrote:We bought an inverter for our Prius which can actually be left running in what's called "camper mode".  Once the power goes out we run an extension cord from the inverter to the house and it can run our fridge and then we have a few outlets to run other small appliances, charge computer and phones.  So quiet no loud generator needed.  



Oh yes - I forgot about that! I looked into those when my husband got a Prius last year, since we don't have a generator or any kind of off-grid power like solar/wind. What inverter did you end up getting, if you don't mind sharing that info? I looked at a couple options and my memory is that they were around $1200, so I'd love to hear which one you're happy with before making that investment.



We bought the inverter here - https://invertersrus.com
Forget what we paid.  We installed it ourselves.
I'll attach photo.  I find it so useful to have a regular outlet in the back of my car.  I use it on regular days for power tools, vacuuming out the car too.  But I have hit the on button by accident then turned off the car which drained the battery so you have to be careful not to do that.
IMG_2343.jpg
[Thumbnail for IMG_2343.jpg]
 
John Craig
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Forgot to ad that we also have a propane Coleman camping stove and  plenty of 20 lb propane canisters to get us through that time line. In addition I have two 6v deep cycle golf cart batteries plus inverter if all other electric power sources fail. Redundancy is critical in the cold north.
We can help a good number of our neighbours if need be.
 
Alex Moffitt
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Trace Oswald wrote:

Alex Moffitt wrote:

You need to go Aussie and boil a billy, and cook some damper with some honey, its just flour and water, ...  



Any chance you can translate that to English?  




So a extremely common thing to do when camping, or having (smoko, crib, morning tea) on a cattle station, is to have a big metal tin called a billy can, this is an elongated pot of sorts,

Damper a bread made from adding water to flour mixing it into a paste, and shoving it on a stick, adding honey makes it delicious, when I was a kid it was something we learnt to do before we could read.

Boiling a billy, is a pretty iconic thing to do, from bushels tea, waltzing Mathilda,

 
Abraham Palma
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Damper a bread made from adding water to flour mixing it into a paste, and shoving it on a stick, adding honey makes it delicious, when I was a kid it was something we learnt to do before we could read.


Oh, you mean porridge.
 
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Depending on your climate and time of year there are different concerns...so I will just cover the basics.

WATER: if you rely on municipal water, and something cuts you off (power/pipe break) you are at their mercy (as we are). If you rely on an electric pump/pressure tank for water you will need a back up power source, or add a hand pump.

We went with the SAWYER brand Mini water filtration system ($20-$30). It filters up to 100,000 gallons with a 0.1 micron absolute filter that uses clusters of micro-fibrous tubes that draws the water through the side walls of the tubes trapping 99.9999% of bacteria (salmonella, cholera, E-coli) and protozoa (crypto, giardia) without using chemicals. It is also super easy to clean. There are larger versions (for processing multiple gallons) available. We keep them in our vehicles AND at home.

We also keep old plastic milk/water jugs filed with water in the freezers; emergency drinking water and cold sink for freezers if power goes out. This year we added a large, 5 gallon "blue" jug with a $20 pump/nozzle thingy that spits out water on demand - no pricey "cooler" unit required.

FILL the bathtubs! Those with flush toilets can bucket flush from the tub.

HEAT: (no wood stove/fireplace allowed/available) electric furnace so we have our trusty kerosene heater the HEATMATE HMN-110C (yes, safe and designed for indoor use) that has proved it's worth ($300 ish) many times; especially when fire killed our electric system in late November and it is al we had for 6 wks.

Electric blankets/throws covered by heavy quilts, plugged into the 5hp generator (2,000 watts) when running for the freezers/fridge.

LIGHT: battery operated candles over live fire candles (fire hazard risk is just too high for me, personally), rechargeable flashlights that also act as power banks, and kerosene lanterns.

My first favorite "thing" are the plug in night lights we have everywhere that have built in battery, are motion activated during a power outage AND can be used as portable flashlights if needed. No need for burning candles left in bathrooms, etc., you walk in, they blink on.  My second is our battery/motion operated Mr. Beams lights - we use them outside to light the driveway/shop access, but pull them indoors when needed.

TOILET: as mentioned, if using a flush toilet, fill the bathtub and bucket flush! Collected rain, creek, pond or ditch water also works. IF you are on a powered septic system this is only viable for a few days at most; invest in a camping toilet (we got the seat that fits a 5 gallon bucket) and if sawdust is not readily available, keep wood stove pellets on hand to soak up liquids and odor.

POWER: there are inverters available for gas and diesel cars/trucks as mentioned for the Prius if you would rather skip a stand alone generator. They are not cheap ($1,000-$3,000) BUT hook on above the front bumper and use your engine/fuel tank. Not a bad option over buying and storing a seldom used generator.  

For us a little 5hp (2,000W) stand alone unit is more than sufficient for keeping the freezers and fridge (and TV/computer - yep 6 wks with no power, you might want this!) running.

Ensure you have enough SAFE, appropriately sized extension cords (ideally OUTDOOR cords for use with HIGH draw appliances) along with stabilized fuel stockpiled and accessible. I highly recommend a "dry run" making sure there is a good location for the Genny (hidden from thieves/protected from weather/easily accessible), and your cords are both long enough and properly rated. Label them and keep them either WITH the appliance or in a known central location. Pitch black night, in the middle of a storm, with a flashlight is NOT the time to find all the bits and pieces! Having a "Power Out " tote with batteries, power banks, flashlights etc.n would be ideal.

SAFETY FIRST, ALWAYS!!!  NEVER run a gas or diesel generator inside an attached garage (most are not sealed, allowing toxic, even deadly fumes to enter home) OR near an open window or door. We learned this the hard way when a strong wind funneled fumes from our covered (but open) deck in through the slight widow opening for the extension cord - fortunately we had a CO2 alarm!

Rechargeable battery banks are invaluable for charging devices, flashlights etc.

COOKING: the propane BBQ and campstove are amazingly versatile! We have a pole that attaches to the tank providing three nipples - top for lantern, bottom two for the BBQ and stove.

BATHING: yes, if the outage is prolonged, this is a major issue! We got a fabulous battery powered shower (submersible pump that goes to hand held shower "wand", $50-$60). Over six weeks of (NOT daily) showering two humans no battery charge was needed.  Heat 5 gallons water on the BBQ/wood stove, add pump and shower.

In a perfect world, and with hindsight: I would put in a separate electric panel or sub panel for just the fridge, freezers and septic system, on the could be easily disconnected from the main panel and directly connected to the generator.  If we had a well pump, it too would be on this separate panel. In a pinch these are the most critical items to keep functioning.

***don't forget to always have at least a 6 wk supply of all meds and other "life dependent" items (animal feed, meds etc.) if there is even the remotest chance of getting "cut off".
 
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I love this topic!  

I have a little half acre south of town in a little unincorporated area.  We lose power a lot.  Two weeks after closing on this place 8 years ago we had a doozie of a snow storm (September) and I learned to sort of hate old elm trees but since then I learned on this page about rocket stoves so the shedding elm branches and one good stove could be symbiosis perfecta. I made that up.  I will be building a stove soon.

I tend to watch the weather like a farmer so I hurriedly obtained some fire wood the day before the storm and charged up everything and filled every freezable container with filtered city water and put them in the freezers. I put 4, 5-gallon water jugs in the tub and filled them in case the whole city was out and sewer and water were jacked up.  I filled the bed of the truck with my gas and diesel cans and got those and both trucks topped off at the gas station, as well as the two small propane tanks.  Like you all said, winter is a little easier than summer when tending to food. I keep a stack of large coolers in the shed for my refrigerator items which just sit out on the back porch when the power goes out.  I always have had generators, fuel, camp gear, grill with side burner, cast iron cookware, 5 gallon bucket with a toilet lid, 2 more 5 gallon buckets that I made into washing machines with dedicated plungers, a Melita coffee thing, water filters, candles, 4 or 5 sleeping bags, etc.  I keep a ton of extra food, coffee, teas, etc. and a stocked bar.  It makes me feel like I'm ready for anything but it always takes me a few minutes to remember that I'm prepared and know what I am doing, when it all goes to hell.  I had not used the woodstove until that first outage since it was in the 70's the days before the storm, but figured that out right away.  It's a Lopi.  It took hours to get us warm, but once it did, we (dog and cat and me) were pretty good in that one room for the duration.

So since then:

-Companionship-I have 3 dogs, 2 cats and chickens now, so more to think about but a lot less than my last property where I had livestock too.

Power-I bought an impressive solar generator from 4Patriots, as well as some pocket sized solar chargers, rechargeable batteries, a solar thermos thing, which is amazing, and they gifted me a ton of freeze dried food. My exterior lights are solar.  The cool thing about Wyoming is that it is more often clear and sunny when it is -30 F than dark and gray, but 'dark and gray' does tend to happen when my chargers are running low.  When that happens, I pile us into my old suburban and run the heater and charge the backups with a simple inverter from Wal-Mart. The solar charger can charge in there too, since it is portable and doesn't seem to take a ton of juice so far.  I can run the A/C in the pickup if it all happens above 100 degrees I suppose.

-Light - I found these cool lightbulbs that you use in your lamps like normal ones.  When the power goes out you unscrew the bulbs, add their little hook end and push the button and they become battery operated bulbs.  Very cool. I leave these in the bathrooms when the power is out but they go back to commonly used lamps otherwise.

-Water - well, I don't trust city water.  I guess I don't trust most regulated resources.  But I am "on" city water.   I have an unused well out back and .25 gallon balers if I need water,  but still have not pulled the trigger on getting a pump. I cannot decide if I want solar or hand pump or some other genius invention.  For City water I used to use 2 Britta filter pitchers, one after the other on a daily basis with this city water.  The chlorine makes my eyes burn in the shower so I am not a fan of drinking that, but I finally saved up for a Berkey and got a set of extra filters--those were hard to find last year for a while.  The order here for filtering questionable water is a wire mesh strainer from the kitchen, then coffee filters, Britta if I have one, then Berkey.  I've seen what happens at the city water treatment plant if the power goes out and the backups are not on so I don't drink city water for 12-24 hours after long outages even if the water never stops.... our city water is from the mountains but travels a long way to the plant.  I have 3 blue 50? gallon drums and a cool filter that works with a siphon but I have not filled those.  I am not sure where those should go since I have no basement here and my crawl is only about 24 inches deep, and half above ground.  My garage freezes hard, which is why my freezers are out there.  All of my empty canning jars get filled from the Berkey and re-shelved after the food is eaten and they are washed. Same with my empty and washed screw-capped wine bottles.  

Food- I have a lot of freeze dried food, three packed freezers, etc. Once upon a time, I lived on $5 a week for a year, so I will not starve like that ever again.  I buy "Progresso" soup and have a lot on hand when water may be scarce or sketchy.  I am just now learning to can whole meals in a jar like soups and stews.  That is my idea of perfect survival food.  I also, like many here, use chest style freezers and just don't open them.  I have 3 different sizes so that as they empty I move everything to the next one and shut off the little one, etc. It helps rotate bottoms up.   It's amazing how healthy you eat when you have to empty the fridge first. Lots and lots of salads and olives and pickles and sauerkraut and fruit and fish and meats.  And leftovers.  Oh, and the ice cream!  Eat that first.  

Heat-I have a 4 man tent for the living room for me and the indoor critters to crash in- in front of the wood stove if I need more concentrated warmth. Throw a comforter over the top and it's an instant igloo.  We usually all just cuddle on the couch in front of the fire and share blankets.  I love that.  If you don't freak out, the animals tend to think you're just playing a game.  I am saving up for one of the magnetic stove fans that sits on the wood stove and doesn't use electricity.  My stove is half inside a sealed fireplace so I miss out on the full body of heat the stove puts out.  At least I can cook on it.

Entertainment-I have a lot of Sudoku and word search and fill-it-in books and pencils for entertainment. I also have crafts and coloring books and about 20 jig-saw puzzles too.  Things you can do alone joyfully but still keep your eyes and ears sharply tuned for issues.  So far I have always had too much to do and rarely get to sit and enjoy the dark much but I love a toddy in front of the fire and I usually just stay put until I'm called out to the field or we are back to normal.  I have an ipod shuffle with a little speaker for music and about 4 hand crank radios in various places and BOBs when I need to hear the news.  I even have 2 old 'discman' CD players so music is covered if I need it.  I tend to listen to the traffic and the animals and birds outside to get a line on what is up in the world.

Weak Links: Lately  I have realized that I am proud of myself for not having had a vacation in a decade and instead having put triple paned windows in the house.  I had to have a ton of insulation added to the attic when I bought the place as a condition of my loan, so that should be good.  I need to insulate the wall outlets way more and close off the air vents on the crawl space this month which make my hard wood floors like ice in the winter. I bought enormous thick rugs online rather inexpensively on Wayfair, for each room which really helps a lot too.  I also learned that I need to practice with the solar generator more so I know how to cycle the fridge in the house and then the freezers in the garage should the power go out in summer.  While I have a job, I would like to look into a Generac propane house generator for when I am older and don't want to haul fuel or generators around...assuming propane won't be cost prohibitive then.  I saw that Melissa K Norris posted a photo of their fuse box that they had an electrician rig so they can plug in a gas generator to take over the power when theirs is out...somebody also mentioned that on here, with a fail-safe so the linemen don't get zapped too.  That may be a better fit for me. I am slowly replacing house plants with food plants that I can keep going indoors, through winter.  At least herbs and lettuces and really anything that will grow. I grew potatoes in a big pot in the dining room one year.  They were not huge potatoes but they were edible. I also have windowsills full of herbs and stevia. I even have a lemon tree in bloom right now. LOL  Oh, I need a good popcorn popper for the wood stove.  Nothing better!  Keep posting everyone! This is a hoot!


 
Alex Moffitt
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Abraham Palma wrote:

Damper a bread made from adding water to flour mixing it into a paste, and shoving it on a stick, adding honey makes it delicious, when I was a kid it was something we learnt to do before we could read.


Oh, you mean porridge.

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Abraham Palma
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Ok, glorified porridge! XD
 
Molly Gordon
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Location: Mid Atlantic mountains, USA, 5a, clay, harvest plentiful outdoor veges year round with a few tricks
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Alex Moffitt wrote:

Abraham Palma wrote:

Damper a bread made from adding water to flour mixing it into a paste, and shoving it on a stick, adding honey makes it delicious, when I was a kid it was something we learnt to do before we could read.


Oh, you mean porridge.



...looks more like a good ole' American toasted marshmallow on a stick to me...!

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My tip is if you have a pretty big hot water heater it will hold heat for quite a while you can fill any bottles you have on hand or thermoses, other sealable containers and stick them under your blankets in your bed. (Make sure they wont warp or leak!!) we did this during the big power outage here in California and it kept our little babies and us warm in the winter weather. We lived in an apartment so we couldn’t really do much else and the apartment is completely electric. I was also able to use a hot water bottle under a tarp to keep my tropical plants warm. They also keep each other warm for about 48 hours.
 
N. Neta
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Cherry Blair wrote:I was also able to use a hot water bottle under a tarp to keep my tropical plants warm. They also keep each other warm for about 48 hours.


The ger thought about that, Cherry, thank you for that.
 
It's in the permaculture playing cards. Here's the link: http://richsoil.com/cards
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