Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Busy Storm Season and a Heat Wave

This is something of a serious rebuttal to a video I saw on a website for urban men. It was instructing on how to create an emergency preparedness kit. What they instructed was something between a plane crash on a remote mountain and the household plumbing going out for a few hours. I feel bad for anyone who took it seriously because the producers did...

The weather folks are claiming we could have a busier than normal hurricane season. "Could." It will be normal to busy. I realize this was mostly an attention grabbing headline. Something to whip up histrionics. We need more of that in our lives.

However, I will take it as a practical reminder to remind all of you that it is time to think about "disaster" season. Somehow we got past the usual Memorial Day flooding; due to a subtropical storm that pushed its hot and dry side to Texas. It's already in the upper 90s here. That sudden temperature spike got me motivated to figure out why our generator had stopped working. We needed it to run AC at the cabin. After one summer of use, it died on us, and I let it sit all winter. Fortunately, it was just a burned up spark plug. Easy to replace.

A Generator is Never a Bad Thing to Own

If you keep a generator at your home as a back up during power outages brought on my tropical storms and hurricanes, it's time to do the maintenance. Generator engines get so hot that I'm going to guess they eat spark plugs. Load up.  If you don't have a generator, you should consider getting one if you live in hurricane prone territory. I'm still a fan of propane because it burns clean, does not require a carburetor, and if you're conservative with what you power, it will run for a about 12 hours on one 15 pound tank of fuel. For those who are not sure why I don't like carburetors, I'll tell you. It is a device that mixes air and gasoline to power an engine. Your car has one. They get gunky. They have to be cleaned. Don't do that to yourself during a storm.

As a a reminder, I purchased the Sportsman GEN4000DF. It has 4,000 starting watts and runs at 3500 watts. That's enough to run a little AC. Or perhaps your freezer or a refrigerator. Make sure to get a pack of sparkplugs. "DF" means "dual fuel." Why would a gas hater get dual fuel? Just in case I can't find propane, I can always run on gasoline. Tammy would tell you that I annoyingly over think and prepare.

This brand has gotten popular enough that the price has basically doubled. I think I paid $250.00 for it last year. It's a pretty simple machine, so running it properly, keeping it maintained with good plugs and proper oil levels, plus keeping the air filter clean should make this a reliable product.

I'm going to tell you right now it's heavy as hell. Buy yourself a little cart to roll it around on, but don't leave it on the cart while running it. It will vibrate too much. Get a helper. Lift it onto the ground.

I provided a couple of Amazon links, and if you want to wait a month or so, Amazon Prime Day will be sometime in July. You may get a good deal on a generator, but that's no guarantee. I think other brands will be fine, too. Check your local hardware stores, farm and ranch, and big box stores. Don't go too small. I'd recommend going at least as big as mine, and if you think you need to power the Taj Mahal, definitely go bigger.

Lighting and Fans

You will not have enough power to run your whole house. Your power supply is limited by the size of the generator, the amount of fuel you have, and your power demand. Get some battery operated LED lights. Why LED? They use very little power. They won't burn out as quickly as the old camp lattern you packed in your attic ten years ago. Don't forget extra batteries!

If you need to use your generator to keep the freezer or refrigerator running, you will not have AC. Sorry. You're going to be miserable. A fan or two can help. Just remember fans will tap into your generator power supply, so don't go nuts on it. A few for sleeping. That's all. 

Food and Water

Don't wait until the day before landfall to get food and water. You can store canned goods and bottled water starting now. Think about it: 3 meals a day X number of people you need to feed. One gallon of water per person per day. I'd get at least a week's worth of supplies. If you don't have a camp stove, get one. They run on small propane canisters. Get 4 or 5 canisters. Academy and Walmart are loaded with these things. I don't see that Amazon has particularly good deals on them.

I shouldn't have to say this, but I'm not going to assume anything. BUY CANNED GOODS. No frozen or fresh food. Anything with a short expiration date is a waste of money. You need stuff you can store for a long time; just in case. You're not making gourmet meals. You're sitting out a hurricane or a bad storm. You do not need MREs. You do not need prepper buckets of freeze dried cereal. Skip that hype. Get canned goods. It won't kill you to eat them for a few days. Don't forget a can opener.

Paper Goods

Toilet paper. Go to Costco.
Paper Towels. Go to Costco.
Paper Plates. Go to Costco.
Plastic Ware. Go to Costco.

Plus hand sanitizer, band aides, Neosporin, hydrogen peroxide, bleach, bug spray.

Get a few flashlights.
And a hand crank weather radio that can also charge your phone.

Finally, keep the gas tank of your car topped off. Usually, there's plenty of fuel. It just may be slow getting to affected regions. It's panicky humans that cause the shortage at the pumps. We saw this during Harvey - in Austin - which was not affected. Panic is a powerful disaster of its own.