Thursday, June 21, 2018

Little Preps Mean A Lot


After last year's hurricane, and my bug-out and neighborhood's prolonged power outage (see A Post Irma Update), I made a number of small upgrades to my disaster preps. 
While I already had the basics; food, water, battery operated lanterns, NWS radio, a bug out plan and (most importantly) a Disaster buddy,  etc. - I found some minor areas I thought I could improve upon.
Last October, in Rethinking Solar Power On A Budget, I described some of those improvements, which included adding several 10,000 milliamp USB batteries with (3 fold) solar panels, a couple of USB fans, and several USB LED lights (see photo below).

Battery, Solar Panel, Fan & Light - About $50.

Once acquired, a rabid prepper would pick the hottest day of the year, pull the main breaker on their home's electrical panel, and test the system under difficult conditions.

While I take prepping seriously - living as I do in an older `manufactured home' in hot and humid Florida - the thought of `sweltering in place' just to prove a point is a pretty hard sell.
But as fate would have it, last week the power company pulled the plug for me. 
Some sort of equipment failure, around 5pm on a miserably hot June afternoon, deprived my neighborhood of lights, air conditioning, and Internet access for more than 3 hours.

Three hours without power is hardly an emergency.  Last September my neighborhood went 5 days. But it was an opportunity to try out my new USB fan, lights, batteries, and two other `creature comforts'.

The very good news is that the battery, which hadn't been charged since last fall, still had (nearly) a full charge, and it powered up the fan without a problem.

Within minutes, I was surrounded by two of these little breeze makers, and my risk for suffering heat exhaustion (or worse) went down immediately (see Excess Mortality Due To Elevated Ambient Temperatures).
The LED light was bright, and after nearly 4 hours of use, the USB battery was still showing > 75% charged .
I haven't had an opportunity to test the solar charging aspects of these batteries, but so far, I'm impressed.  They are light, compact, and relatively inexpensive.

While not necessarily lifesaving, having a way to occupy your mind during an extended grid down situation can help maintain your sanity.
Books, board games, and even having good old-fashioned conversations are undoubtedly the best, but when they run dry having a low drain battery powered MP3 player, or a battery operated DVD player, can seem like a lifesaver.
I added both to my preps last fall (less than $100 for the pair), and loaded up the MP3 player with music and scores of audio books.  I tested both out, and each worked flawlessly. 

While having food, water, and a roof over your head during a crisis are undoubtedly your first preparedness priorities, adding a few basic comforts - like fans, and some form of entertainment - is well worth the effort.
For a listing of preparedness items you might want to buy for yourself, or to give as gifts to your loved ones, you may wish to check out Preparedness: Some Holiday Gift Items Worth Considering.
During any disaster, the most likely large-scale impact with be prolonged power outages, and with that can come many challenges, not the least of which include  heat-related illnesses and deaths. 
Being prepared - in advance - to deal with these types of threats can mean the difference between days or weeks of misery and relative comfort, and sometimes the difference between life and death.
For more on general preparedness, you may wish to revisit:
When 72 Hours Isn’t Enough

In An Emergency, Who Has Your Back?

Tapping Into Your Preps

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