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December 31, 2017

A Kinda Sorta Prepper Thread [Hosted by Jake Holenhead]

I want to thank Ace, Misanthropic Humanitarian, and the other Cobs for giving me this opportunity.

All Hail Eris deserves the credit for giving me the idea to ask AceCorp for this thread when a while ago in a comment she asked for a prepper thread, specifically for urban apartment dwellers.

This isn't going to be a prepper thread for coping with events that might take down the power grid for months or years, such as Coronal Mass Ejections (CME) or an Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP),although both events have happened.

Having read many stand alone books and series about these and other events, I have no idea how I would really perform if they occurred. I don't have access to a mountain top bunker and am not part of a network of like minded people who discuss these things, or will gather at a predetermined and well stocked location.

But, having lived in an apartment on a barrier island in Florida for 36 years I do have experience preparing for and dealing with power and water outages, once lasting a week. Usually they are the result of hurricanes, but not always. Besides, how can you expect to cope with a really long power outage if you aren't prepared for a short one?

I will also go through my evacuation procedure and the items I carry in my car for normal and emergency situations.


So, what is a prepper?

Depending on the source a prepper is either someone with common sense, or dangerous and un-American. When I was in the Navy a bunch of us learned to scuba dive from a retired Chief Petty Officer Master Diver. He would always tell us to "plan the dive, dive the plan." So to me a prepper is anyone who plans and prepares for any activity or event, whether it's a life threatening sport, painting the inside of your home, or a hurricane. You plan, you prepare, you prep.

Stay, or Go?
Depending on the event, such as a hurricane, you can have days to decide, or as for some impacted by the California wildfires they apparently only had minutes. For hurricanes I have done both. If I go I have to decide where and for how long. I also have to have a return plan. One thing I always do is combine my evacuation with a road trip. Visit friends, go someplace I have been and enjoyed, or someplace I haven't been and then sightsee. Over the years I have equipped my car with a number of items I have found useful. Almost every item listed has been used at least once, if not by me then by someone in need.

Inside:
Multi tool for breaking the car windows and cutting a seat belt.
Leatherman tool.
Cell phone charging cord with car plug adapter.
Dash Cam.
Collapsible umbrella.
Small flashlight.
Small Folding knife.
Kabar 1210 Jim Bowie knife.
Emergency pee cup (soda cup w/plastic lid from a fast food joint).
Plastic funnel (the type used on oil cans). So a gal can use my pee cup.
Spare fuses.
Misc items: water bottle, map, small plastic cups, a big wad of napkins.

In the trunk:
Knapsack with clothes and a sturdy pair of shoes.
Full body rain gear.
Small folding shovel.
Tow rope (about 15 ft).
Jumper cables.
A device to charge from battery to battery using the car's accessories socket (when not in a hurry to charge a battery).
Small tarp.
Small air compressor (plugs into car's accessories socket).
Small dry chemical fire extinqisher.
Can of fix-a-flat.
Some towells and a roll of paper towells.
Gallon of water.
Several tools.

Staying for Hurricane Wilma
October 2005 Hurricane Wilma's forecasted track took it over South Florida. There were several reasons I chose to stay in my apartment instead of leaving. The main reason was it's track was SW to NE, so I knew the storm surge would be minimal. 9 am on Monday, October 24 power and water were lost. I won't bore y'all with the details, but for about 5 hours it was a bit exciting, and at times danged scary. At about 3 pm the winds had died down and I went outside to survey the damage and to check on several neighbors that also stayed. Power was off for a week and water almost as long. It was time to find out how well I had prepared.

Water
I was without running water for 2 days. The 3rd day the county connected generators to the sewage grinding and lift stations and restored water. Water was shut off daily from about 7 pm to 7 am. When available there was a boil water notice in place. But at least I had running water to flush the toilet (I did not and do not have a chemical toilet), take a cold shower, and replenish the water I had used for non drinking/cooking purposes.
Most have probably heard the "minimum of one gallon per day per person for drinking" recommendation. I think most people don't hear the "minimum" and "drinking" part, and it depends on the weather and what you are doing. A person might need more, or less. Fortunatly a cold front was behind Wilma so the temps and humidity was very comfortable.

Instead of buying cases of bottled water I used several 5-7 gallon water containers you see at job sites or outdoor gatherings. I filled them several days before the storm hit. When not being used they can be used to store various items and kept in a closet. Usually at the beginning of hurricane season I start to keep empty gallon jugs of milk or juice for extra storage. These I filled several days before the storm and kept them in the standup shower in one of the bathrooms in case they leaked. I think I had about 30 gallons when Wilma hit, so lack of water was never a problem.

Cooking and Eating
During hurricane season I keep very little in my refrig/freezer. This is a lesson I learned in 2004 when Hurricane Frances hit where I live. Power was out for about a week and everything in the freezer thawed. I had evacuated and returned a couple of days after power was restored. Even though everything had re-frozen the stink was enough to gag a maggot. Fortunatly I had put everything in freezer bags so no juices had gotten into the refrig/freezer. Using baking soda it took about 2 weeks for the stink to go away. One item that was sold out everywhere I went after I got back was baking soda. So now I keep a large box.

For cooking I used a 2 burner Coleman camp stove and an Optimus 8R backpacking stove out on my balcony. Both burn Coleman's White Gas. The few perishables I had were cooked up that first night. Several neighbors came by with their's and we had a cookout in my apartment. For the next week I ate canned soups, stews, rice and beans, pasta, veggies, plus a few MREs, and cereal with water. I tried some experiments. Because most soups and stews to me were too soupy, I would add rice or pasta, as well as crackers. To minimize the time using a campstove I would soak the rice or pasta in water to soften them. I think it took about 3 hours. I also took a can of soup and punched a small hole in the top and set it outside in the sun. After about an hour it was warm enough.

Lighting
At night I used several oil lamps that burn Lamp Oil as well as several different types of flashlights. One type of flashlight I didn't have then but do now is a headlamp. It has an elastic strap with 3 LED lights. A red light and a high and low beam white light. It's great for hands free activities. Plus, the front flips down. Very convenient for reading.

Neighbors
I think maybe a dozen people/couples stayed for Wilma. I never told anyone how I was prepared for Wilma, just that I was staying. Except for one couple most were fairly well prepared and never posed a problem of needing something. The one exception was a couple that were just parasites. It will probably come as a surprise, but both are hard core lefties.

Conclusions
I made out pretty well and had no serious issues. The cool weather and running water for part of the time certainly made it easier to cope without power, and I'm glad I stayed. I experienced a strong Cat 2 hurricane with all the bells and whistles, including the eye as it passed over me. But, once was enough.

After Hurricane Wilma cleared the coast about 98% of South Florida had lost power. Some didn't get it back for several weeks. There was a lot of stoopid behavior. Because few gas stations had power people were driving a 100 or more miles to get gas (after Wilma state law required backup generators). At intersections where lights weren't working you are supposed to treat it as a 4 way stop. But, from what I saw it was a free-for-all, or a demolition derby event.

I know everyone's situation is different, but hopefully some of what I've written can be helpful.

So, how prepared are you? Do you have a plan, and if you do, have you had to implement it? I consider myself "always a student" and would like to learn what others have done and do. Here's a few links.

Backdoors Survival
Urban Survival Site
City Prepping
The Prepared
101 Survival Guide
How To Prepare Your Household For a Power Outage
Step by Step Plan For How to Get Started Prepping
The Best Prepper Movie List

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posted by Misanthropic Humanitarian at 12:10 PM

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