March 21, 2014
By Gaye Levy
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.