When it comes to family preparedness, it is easy to take stock of your food, water, gear and skills and be smug in the knowledge that you are ready for whatever Mother Nature throws your way. But, as a well-prepared Backdoor Survival reader shared in 5 Days with No Power – When the Ice Hits the Fan, thinking you are ready and being ready are two different matters.
In many respects, those of us that have been campers or boaters have had a head start in preparedness. We are accustomed to getting by without power and only limited water and marginal cooking and sanitation facilities. Of course we do this all in fun, knowing that we can pack up and go back to civilization at any time. But when the big one hits – and all of our comforts are gone – what then? Suddenly things are not so fun.
This begs the question: have you ever gone for 2 or 3 days while being solely reliant on your preps? If not, then it is time to step up. And that applies to me as well!
Today, Backdoor Survival Contributing Author Rob Hanus is back with a prepper challenge. Let’s schedule a weekend and practice our grid down skills!
Prepper Challenge! Practice with a Grid Down Weekend
In this prepper challenge, you’re going to be testing how well you can get along without any utilities. This means no electricity, no municipal water, no utility heating or air conditioning, nothing that you can’t provide for yourself. As if you suddenly lost all utilities. This is also sometimes called a Grid Down Scenario.
REMEMBER: It is far better to realize what works, what doesn’t work, and where you can improve when you’re not in a real survival situation. Also, if it’s only an exercise, you can stop at any time, if needed. When the power goes out for real is not the time to learn that your preps are inadequate.
Here’s some suggestions for your test:
1. Choose a weekend and schedule your grid down test. Let your family know when it’s going to be, like from Friday night to Sunday evening. Run this test for as long as you can, but if you find out part way through the challenge that you’re having extreme hardships, then end it.
2. Go to the store and buy some painter’s tape. Tape all of your light switches in the off position. We are so accustomed to flipping on the switch when we enter a dark room, that you’ll accidentally turn on lights, which ruins the illusion that you have no grid power. If you can safely do so, throw the circuit breakers for everything except your refrigerator and freezer. You can use any alternative power that you have.
3. Some houses have a shut-off valve that turns off the water to the entire house. Turn this off so that when the toilets don’t refill after use and no water is running in the house.
4. Turn off your cell phones and unplug all landline phones that you may have so they cannot receive phone calls (or just shut off the ringer).
5. You can use any device that has a battery (laptops, tablets, iPods, radios, etc.), but recharging it has to be from your alternative energy only.
6. Try to use as much as your preps as possible. This weekend is about testing your preparedness plan and making sure that you can continue to live as comfortably and normally as possible without basic public services and utilities. You should use this opportunity to test anything that you haven’t tested yet.
7. No cheating during this challenge. Some of the things you need to do aren’t pretty or fun, but you won’t learn how to do them better unless you actually do them. You can only take “theory” so far.
8. Have paper and pencil ready at all times to make a note every time you come across something that you could do better. Try to be as descriptive as possible, so that when you go over your notes later, you don’t have to try and figure out what you meant when you wrote, “Dog bone remover.”
9. As you are using your preps, keep asking yourself how this solution would work over the long term. What you’re looking for is to make sure that your solutions you’ve chosen will provide you with service for, at least, a year of hard use, if not longer. If any of your prep items fail during this weekend prepper challenge, that’s a good indicator that you need to find another solution.
Assessing the Risks
Getting by without utilities for a weekend is an important step toward assessing your readiness quotient. In doing so, you will learn things that will help you when and if you are faced with an actual grid-down situation.
Don’t think it will not happen. While I like to remind you of the threats from Mother Nature (storms, earthquakes, mudslides, hurricanes, tornados and such), there is another, more frightening risk we face and that is the risk of a cyber-attack on our utility grid. Anyone who has read One Second After knows what I am talking about. Believe me, the threat is real and is something I will be writing about in more detail over the coming weeks.
The Final Word
While a two day grid-down practice drill is optimal, turning off the utilities for even four to eight hours will be an eye-opener. I have done it and found that the biggest challenge was the lack of running water. Your challenges may be different; and that is the point. You will not know what those challenges are until you experience a grid-down first hand.
Whatever you decide to do – eight hours, one day, one weekend, or even an entire week – take copious notes and if you are so inclined, come back and share them. The most valuable prepping and survival tips come from real people who have walked the walk and remained standing. Hopefully, that will be you.
Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!
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Bargain Bin: Here are of some of my favorite prepping items, including two off-grid coffee preps that I ordered this week.
Meyer Classic Stainless Steel Yosemite 8-Cup Coffee Percolator: The reviews are great. About $20 with a lifetime warranty.
One Second After: For many, the novel “One Second After” was a game changer that convinced them of the need to be prepared. I did not realize until now that the price for the Kindle version was only $2.99. If you have not read this book, you really should.
Coghlans Waterproof Matches 10-pack: There are 10 boxes of 40 matches each for about $7. That is a good deal for 400 waterproof matches.
HERCules (Home Emergency Radiant Cooking) Tea Light Oven: I will have more to say about the HERC in my review on March 28th but for now, check it out. It is powered by tea lights and is safe to use indoors on any surface.
FordEx Group 300lm Mini Cree Led Flashlight Torch Adjustable Focus Zoom Light Lamp: Here we go with another flashlight. At the time of this writing, this one is only $3.55 with free shipping. It is super mini sized, bright and waterproof. Plus, it uses a single, standard AA sized battery.
Mr. Heater Portable “Big Buddy” Heater: Using propane and safe for indoor use, the Big Buddy Heater features an automatic low-oxygen shut-off system that automatically turns the unit off before carbon monoxide fumes reach dangerous levels in home.
Coleman PefectFlow 1-Burner Stove: This Coleman One-burner Propane Stove is an easy-to-use portable stove that should meet almost any camp cooking need. The PerfectFlow regulator provides consistent cooking performance by producing a steady fuel stream, even in cold weather, high altitudes, or when fuel is low. Equipped with one 10,000 BTU burner, this fully adjustable stove will last for 2.2 hours on high or up to nine hours on low.
Shop the Emergency Essentials Monthly Specials: The monthly specials at Emergency Essentials feature discounts of up to 35% off sometimes a bit more.
Every family should have at least one Tote-able Toilet. I have priced purchasing the bucket and toilet seat lid separately and found that it was more economical to pick up this kit (currently on sale for $14.95). I have filled my portable potty with sanitation supplies plus, of course, plenty of TP.
I also recommend the Mobile Washer. This is hand operated washing machine. Like a plunger, it uses a technique of pushing and pulling the water through clothes to clean them well without wearing them out. It uses a minimum of water and less soap due to the agitation motion. Use in a bucket (5-gallon suggested), sink or tub. The best part is the price – only $14.95.
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