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Getting Prepared Month 14: Emergency Water Shut Off and Practice for Grid Down

Avatar for Gaye Levy Gaye Levy  |  Updated: December 16, 2020
Getting Prepared Month 14: Emergency Water Shut Off and Practice for Grid Down

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prepping calendarBeing in the habit of preparing – or prepping – a little at a time should now be ingrained in your monthly routine.  By taking a systematic approach to your prepping, the job of setting aside the food, supplies and gear is less overwhelming and infinitely more manageable.

As I mentioned in Getting Prepared Month 13: Taking Your Preparedness Plan to the Next Level, we are now at a stage where we can move beyond the basics of 3 days of water, 3 days of food, and the essential equipment to survive a disaster or collapse of life as we know it.  Going forward, we need to add more food and more supplies.  In addition we need to practice our safety and survival skills so they become instinctive and rote.

As you will see, this month we will add additional food and supplies to your preparedness pantry.  In addition, we will be adding to your emergency cash fund.  More important, however, we are going to practice being grid down and without power so than we can experience first hand some the challenges we may face when disaster strikes.

If you are just getting started and have not yet completed year one, feel free to jump in on this accelerated plan as you continue to work your way through your year one cycle. There is no requirement or prerequisite – only the mindset to get going.

Shall we get started?

MONTH 14: Supplies and Gear

  • Dry pasta – 2 pounds per person
  • Toilet Paper – 3  (or more) rolls per person
  • Trauma supplies for your first aid kit
  • Add $100 to your emergency cash fund

There is nothing too exciting or sexy about the commodities we are adding this month.  Pasta and toilet paper – both benign and mundane and yet a valuable addition to the preparedness pantry.  We are adding two pounds of dried pasta per person.  Get whole wheat if you can, but even ordinary pasta will do.  Pasta is inexpensive, has a long shelf life and is filling.  The real value of dried pasta is that it can be dressed up with condiments and canned sauces in infinite ways  – relieving the boredom of eating plain canned goods and cereals.

You might recall that we added toilet paper to our supplies in month number two.  This month we are adding some more – three rolls per person to be exact – but if you have the space, ramp that up to six rolls per person.

Stop the Bleeding if an Accident Occurs

This month we are also adding some trauma supplies to the first aid kit, namely some Israeli battle dressing compression bandages and some Quick Clot.  These items can me used to control moderate to server bleeding and while not a substitute for medical care, these battle-ready items are a favorite of EMTS and been proven to save lives.

I would like to suggest that you add a minimum of one of each  but if you can afford it (and they are really quite inexpensive) purchase one for each member of your household.

The All-Important Emergency Fund

100 dollar bills (2)Having cash available to pay for purchases when the ATM and credit card machines don’t work just makes good sense.   You just never know when you will need a few extra dollars – whether to buy fuel, food or even to pay for car repairs or medical care. This month we are adding $100 in small bills to the $100 we added last year.

And then next month and every month thereafter, we will add an additional $25 so that at the end of the two year period we will have $450 stashed away for an emergency.

Don’t have an extra $100 to spare?  In that case, add what you can – even if it is only $10.  You will be surprised at how quickly your emergency fund will build up, even if it is only at $10 a month.

MONTH 14: Tasks

  • Practice shutting of your water supply
  • Spend 8 hours without power, water, gas, computers and cellphones

How to  Shut Off Your Water Supply

Do you know how to shut off your water supply?  Surprisingly enough, many people not only do not know how to shut off the water, they do not know where their shut-off valve is located.  And in some cases, there may not even be a shut-off valve that is accessible by the homeowner.

I know this from firsthand experience – I tried to find my own water shut off valve and learned that the only way to shut off the main into my home was from a special street valve located in a cement box at the curb.  Not only that, the valve at the curb was only accessible to the water company using a special tool.  Luckily, I learned this during a water shut off drill – just like the one we are going to do this month – and had a new shut off valve located right inside my utility closet.

So why do you need to know how to shut off the water?  Broken or cracked water lines may pollute the water supply to your house making the water unsafe to drink.  You need to shut off the water so that your can trap the existing water in your pipes and water heater.  This will prevent cross contamination with your safe, clean water.  By isolating the water in this manner, in an emergency you will have extra water for for drinking, cleaning and bathing.

But note:  this does not take the place of storing extra drinking water in bottles or jugs.  If you need a refresher on storing water, be sure to read Back to the Basics: Water for Survival.

Here are the steps you need to take this month to insure that you and everyone in your household knows how to shut off the water coming in to your home or apartment:

1.  Locate the shut-off valve for the water line that enters your house. It may look like this:

Water Meter Shutoff (Mobile)

2.  Make sure this valve can be completely shut off. Your valve may be rusted open, or it may only partially close. Replace it if necessary. (Unless you know what you are doing, this is a job for a plumber.)

3.  Label this valve with a tag for easy identification, and make sure all household members know where it is located.

The Eight Hour Off-Grid Drill

Living without the convenience of electricity is almost unimaginable.  If you have ever been in the aftermath of a windstorm, tornado, hurricane or other extreme weather disturbance, you will know what I am talking about.  This month we are going to pretend that not only is there no power, but  that cell phones don’t work and there is no gas or other heat source to our homes (except perhaps a wood burning stove or fireplace).

We are going to do this by setting aside eight hours to experience an off grid situation.  Shut off the water – now that you know how – and turn off the TV, the computer, the cell phones and, if you can, the main electricity breaker to home.  (And don’t worry, if you don’t know how we will be covering that later this year.)  If you have really good will-power and can avoid that light switch, leave the breaker on and just pretend.

What I am going to challenge you to do is keep a little notepad handy so that you can jot down all of those things that you reached for and realized they would not work without power.  Did you need to communicate with others?  How did you do it?  Did you have something to keep yourself entertained such as reading material or a board game?  And what about food?  Did you have something to eat that required no cooking and that was both nutritious and satisfying?

Until you experience a grid-down power outage, you will not know what it is like,  Trust me, you are going to catch yourself reaching for the light switch or the telephone.  You will want to check the news on the television or browse the Web for some information.  If you live alone you are going to feel isolated and and detached from the world.

As you move forward with your preparedness planning, the notes you jot down during this eight hour exercise are going to be invaluable in helping you understand why the preparedness supplies and skills you learn today will be used in the event of a future disaster, crisis or failure of the power grid.

The Final Word

While supplies and gear are important, in 12 Months of Prepping – Year 2 there is a heavy emphasis in doing things and practicing your skill set so that you can adapt in a myriad of unexpected situations.   Sure, the food, water and gear is important.  But those things alone will not see you through.

Utility management and utility safety – and this includes not only water, but gas and electricity – is a big part of prepping and yet it is not often addressed on the preparedness websites or in the preparedness forums.  But important it is, and throughout the next months, I will be sharing tips for insuring that you know both what to do to manage your utilities and how to cope without them.

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!


If you have not done so already, please be sure to like Backdoor Survival on Facebook to be updated every time there is an awesome new article, news byte, or free survival, prepping or homesteading book on Amazon.

Bargain Bin: Here are some items to consider as part of your month 14 preps. Off course the rule of thumb is always this: first purchase what you need to get by and later, as budget allows, add the extra items that will enhance and add dimension and depth to your existing survival gear.

Solo Stove_21Solo Stove: Emergency Survival Stove: The Solo Stove is perfect for cooking beans and rice using just a pot, some water and biomass as fuel. A step up is the EcoZoom Versa. Remember when I spoke of redundancy? I have both plus a Volcano II collapsible stove. I suppose you could say that going hungry is not high on my to do list.

Chemical Light Sticks: Pick your size (length) and pick your color. Just be aware that if color does not matter, some colors are cheaper than others. Be sure to read Lighting Your Way With Chemical Lighting.

Bicycle Canasta Games Playing Cards:  This timeless classic will keep the entire family occupied when the power it out.  Playing cards or board games should be in everyone’s preparedness panty.

Dorcy LED Wireless Motion Sensor Flood Lite: Don’t let the price lead you to think this wireless flood light is wimpy. I have two of these and feel that these lights are worth double the price.  Using D-cell batteries, the Dorcy floodlight will light up a dark room or a dark stairway in an instant.  I can not recommend these enough.

Quikclot Sport Brand Advanced Clotting Sponge: A must for any first aid or emergency kit, Quikclot Sport stops moderate to severe bleeding until further medical help is available.

Israeli Battle Dressing, 6-inch Compression Bandage: This is another inexpensive, yet critical item for your first aid kit. Combat medics, trauma doctors, and emergency responders all recommend this Israeli Battle Dressing (IBD) for the treatment of gunshot wounds, puncture wounds, deep cuts, and other traumatic hemorrhagic injuries.

Shop the Emergency Essentials Monthly Specials: The monthly specials at Emergency Essentials feature discounts of up to 35% off sometimes a bit more. Even if you are not ready to buy, take a look at their robust list of Food Storage Recipes – yours for the taking.

The goal with these recipes is to help you rotate and take advantage of your food storage on a daily basis – not a bad idea if I do say so myself. One other thing. The recipes can be printed or saved in a PDF so they can be saved on your hard drive.


I have compiled a list of resources for all sorts of emergency supplies.  Each company sells a wide variety of items – everything from food, to supplies, to tactical items to see to see you through a disaster, crisis of collapse of life as we currently know it.

Bug Out BagSurvival Gear and Merchandise

Amazon:  Amazon is the kingpin of online retailers.  If it is legal, you can find it on Amazon and typically at the lowest price out there.  Not only that, returns are quick and easy.


Lucky Gunner:  Need ammo?  What you see is what you get with Lucky Ammo.  Everything you see on the site is available for immediate shipment and not only that, they will ship you goods in a plain, unmarked box for no extra charge.

In addition to these resources, be sure to visit the fine companies that sponsor Backdoor Survival and insure that the content available on this website will always be 100%.  You will find them listed on the Backdoor Survival SPONSORS page.

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8 Responses to “Getting Prepared Month 14: Emergency Water Shut Off and Practice for Grid Down”

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  2. A few years back I “went off the grid” but not voluntarily. Due to a severe ice storm I was without not only electricity but also water due to a frozen water pipe that burst under the house. Utilities were not fully restored for almost 3 weeks! I had started prepping for this kind of emergency a couple of years before due to another ice storm, not as severe but sure woke me up to being ready for the next one. I live alone in a 2 bedroom mobile home on the edge of town with 2 cats. It is sturdy, warm in the winter and cool in the summer and sits on 2 wooded acres, and I always have a garden.

    I kept the house warm and cozy with my Mr. Heater (see Amazon) which I have connected to a bank of ten – 20 gallon propane cylinders that are stored on my back porch, and I used only about half of the 200 gallons of propane. My house was remodeled at one time and has thick insulation in the walls. You need to buy the 12-foot connecting hose separately. This arrangement worked like a charm!

    Although I had no water from the city for the toilet, and the five – 55 gallon water barrels that collect water from the roof of my workshop were frozen almost solid, there was plenty of snow and ice outside. I carried this inside with a bucket I had at the ready and kept my bathtub full. I then used the melted water to flush. I had plenty of drinking water stored away so that was no problem.

    Neither was food a problem as I had a good variety of non-perishles on hand. The perishables I put into an ice chest and kept in the spare bedroom with the door closed. The temp in there hovered around 40-45 degrees, which was not much different than the fridge. I did without perishables after a week or so…

    What did I do about the lack of electricity? Well, I had purchased a small solar panel (Amazon) which was advertised to keep a battery “topped up” for boats (or tractors, golf carts, etc.) and works best with a “deep cycle” 12 volt battery (got mine at Bass Pro Shop). The panel will not recharge a dead battery so I always made sure it didn’t go dead… But mine always had plenty of juice. I checked it regularly with my battery tester (Harbor Freight). My mine is always connected to the panel which is designed to not overcharge your battery. And you need an Inverter (see Amazon)to convert the DC current from the battery, to normal household AC.

    And by the way, although I didn’t use it, I also have an Inverter ready to hook up to the car battery. This inverter is much larger and can handle small appliances. You need extension cords (4 in my case) to run from the inverter to the inside of your house. The inverter gives off a warning sound when the battery is getting low, so simply start the car and let it run for awhile to recharge the battery (NOT IN THE GARAGE OF COURSE!!) I test this hookup every so often just in case my deep cycle battery goes dead.

    This was a very exciting time of my life, to see that all my preparations actually worked. I learned a lot from this site, and also from George Ure’s site “UrbanSurvival”. Thank you so very much.

    So I had all I really needed with this fully charged battery; I used it to charge AA and AAA batteries, to keep my laptop charged, also my Kindle, to run a lamp beside my couch, and to run my shortwave/AM/FM radio. Almost forgot to mention it kept my cell phone charged…so I was always in touch with family, and emergency services should they be needed.

    I had access to the internet on my laptop via a USB thumbstick from ATT that connected to the net thru the cell phone towers. So as long as the cell phones worked I had access to the net. A really neat little device.

  3. For thirty years I had no need to cut off my water. The cutoff is at the road, accessible but nasty down in the hole in which it is located. I had no key to do it myself. Plumbers around here carry one, but I was having a friend help me. He had someone make one for me. It is a T that is about three feet long with a slot in the bottom of the T. The T handles are for twisting to close or open the water valve. People need to figure out how to turn off the water before they need to do so.

    • The local plumbing supply place carries those water shut off T’s. Might check yours too. Not the big box hardware stores, the places that plumbers buy bulk pipe and faucets etc. I keep 2 of them, I don’t know if they’d break, but I’d be annoyed if it did and I had no back up.

  4. About the cash on hand– We survived Hurricane Sandy, and were glad that I had read somewhere along the line to keep ONLY $5 and $10 bills on hand. I don’t mind paying $5 for a $4 gallon of gas and letting them keep the change, but when someone tells you they don’t have change of a $20, it’s not really gouging, is it? Also, flashing a roll of $5’s is a lot less risky than flashing a roll of $20’s or more.
    And can we talk about how thin the veneer of social courtesy is when there are fistfights and knives being used among the people on line for gasoline in my very rural town which had very little damage from the storm? This was a small taste and a large eye-opener for events which may be much greater in the future. PREPARE TO STAY HOME FOR A WEEK!!!

  5. Israeli Battle Dressing and Quikclot are great products, for smaller injuries I keep Wound Seal ( // ) I get it at Walgreens locally, and it’s small and cheap enough to always have it with me. Great stuff, I think it belongs on your list of clotting agents to keep on hand.

    Being very addicted to the net or TV to the point of feeling isolated without it is not the best long term habit. Taking the occasional “electronic fast” for a few hours, or a day or more, might really help your coping skills stay in practice in case you need it. Anything that you aren’t comfortable without is a problem in a bad situation. Turn it off every so often, so if it goes off, it’s not overwhelming and unfamiliar.

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