Thursday, January 28, 2010

Being Prepared

Well, I got my fill of being justified today. I have always been someone who believed that if you do something "just in case" then it usually doesn't happen. And if it does, then you are ready for it. However this does tend to make me have a bunch of stuff that usually just sits around gathering dust waiting for that "just in case" moment.

We had that moment starting at 1100 today when the Ice Storm hit Fort Sill. WE have just finally dug out from the huge snow storm and everyone was thinking we were ready for this one. But it occurred to me that this was an ICE storm, not snow, and that is a world of difference.

Good thing I was thinking ahead a bit. Part of my JIC stockpile is a propane camp heater, two lanterns (one battery and one hand crank), and a generator with all necessary items to provide heat, light, coolness (a fan really), power to charge cell phones and even allow me to watch TV should I be bored. I even have a small gas tank (15 gallons). But since we are moving I had drained it and no gas. But I had a bad feeling about the coming storm and took some lunch time to fill a 5 gallon can.

We were released from Sill at 1300 (I left at 1400 due to an emergency in the unit), and the drive home was really making me nervous. Ever tree was coated in 1/2 inch thick ice and many had snapped off or snapped in half. Power lines were also coated. Being from where I am from, I knew this storm was going to screw up the power royally. When I got home I pull out the emergency locker and got ready.

At 1500 our power went out and it stayed off till about 2100 tonight. The power company couldn't give me a definite time so I got to break out the gear. My wife, who tends to give me grief for some of this stuff, has repeatedly stated that she married correctly after I got everything going. My generator worked fine, we had lights and heat and comfort.

What I learned:

1. Know your gear. I initially tried to used a smaller electric generator (think a big car battery with a built in plug set) to power the heater and figured out that it didn't pack nearly enough juice to do anything. However it was great for cell phones and small stuff. I am still needing to figure out how much stuff I can really use on my generator, but it worked great for the basics.

2. Have your stuff set up. My gear was mostly ready to use, but I had to re-arrange my garage in order to get the generator into a workable place (can't keep it indoors due to exhaust), and get the power cords strung. Spent about 30 minutes outside in an ice storm due to this, not fun.

3. Test gear prior to use. I violated this twice, I hadn't tested my generator or my propane heater. Both worked well, but what if?

4. Back up to the back up. I had several light sources ready if the generator didn't work, and two heaters (well, one heater and the other was a small cook stove but in a pinch it could provide some heat).

5. Have the plan ready. I had already figured out how to use what I had for best effect. In this case, one floor lamp and one space heater in the master bedroom with the rest of the house closed off. Heat is trapped in one area, and the floor lamp gives tons of light. Plus I was able to counteract the loss of heat due to having to crack a door for the power cord by running under several other doors which "sealed the leak" in a manner of speaking.

6. Know you emergency. Figure out what are likely problems in your geographical area for preparing. And then figure out what MAY happen and be ready for that too (ICE in Ok? Who would have thought THAT?). This isn't so hard actually, when you boil it down, most emergencies end up needing the same stuff (food, water, medical supplies, power, commo, tools) so in preparing for one, you can in many case prepare for all.

We were able to be warm and do a lot of stuff (I read some important stuff for my next assignment and Tamara worked on some accountancy paperwork) while some other folks were having to stay in their cars for warmth. And being that my wife is pregnant, I don't like the idea of my wife and baby being in an unheated house should this storm linger. So I have some serious piece of mind.


  1. Awesome. Maybe it's about time Maddie and I finally re-do the earthquake kit. :)

  2. Were you a boy scout Mike? Either way, you are definitely good at Training and Doctrine; I read this as a thorough after-action report.
    I'm ashamed at how much my attention to home details and home preparation has sunk...I have some things I would need, but not nearly enough.