Don’t have renewable energy? Get this before the next disaster! (Part 1)
Hurricane Ida hit Louisiana a few weeks ago, causing power outages, shattered roofs and death in its wake. Our very own Johnna Crider lives there and went without power for days in the sweltering heat and humidity. His neighbors and friends were all in the same boat, both literally powerless and figuratively feeling helpless.
Fortunately, people and businesses have stepped up to help. Dozens of companies were in the action, but I wanted to call one in particular for trying to help Johnna. I know a lot of Tesla fans on Twitter don’t get along with Mike Levine, Ford North America’s communications manager, but he worked with us to get an F-150 Hybrid with Pro Power Onboard there. Even then, Johnna refused to accept help at her own residence, instead requesting that the truck be sent to a nearby restaurant that could serve as shelter and a source of food for her neighbors.
I hate to say it, but I’m not as community-oriented or selfless as she is. I would like to help myself and my people first.
Luckily, power in Baton Rouge returned before Ford could haul a truck into his neighborhood, and Johnna got his power, communications, and perhaps most importantly, his air conditioning back.
In the aftermath of a disaster, it’s easy to think about everything we take for granted. Electricity, natural gas, internet connection, and even basic necessities like food, water and shelter can become a problem. While these disasters seem inevitable (no, we can’t neutralize hurricanes), their effect on us can be mitigated through preparation.
The ideal answer is often out of reach and requires backup
Before anyone says it, I know the best possible answers to this. Ideally, we would all have excess solar panels on our rooftops (above a house we own), battery storage, a Starlink antenna, and then comfortably weather big storms in our super disaster-resistant homes in disaster resilient communities. For some of us, this is a reality. For the rest of us, this may be difficult to achieve or totally out of reach.
We all have very busy lives and a seemingly endless demand for the limited money we all earn. Worse yet, many Americans cannot provide $ 400 in the short term if an emergency arises, as the instability of the economy and our lives has unfortunately become the norm for many low-income people. People in this situation are probably better off spending what little they have left each month on emergency savings than spending the money on emergency supplies, as unanticipated costs occur much more often than hurricanes.
Even for readers with a high income and financial stability, you probably know that getting a solar roof and batteries is not something that everyone can do, even at theoretical financial reach. Many financially stable people prefer to rent rather than own. In high density cities, people can live on top of you, making a solar roof a physical impossibility.
We must keep in mind that solar panels and solar shingles are not disaster proof. You could very easily get stuck in a house with an intact (ish) roof with a bunch of broken panels or ripped shingles after a big storm. It could leave you without electricity like everyone else.
So we have to discuss alternatives, but that doesn’t mean we have to rely on dirty generators to keep the family comfortable and keep the food from going bad.
Before switching to electricity, let’s talk about the basics
Life without electricity, especially in hot and / or humid areas, can seem quite bleak, but we have to keep in mind that people lived in these areas for thousands of years before Bobby Boucher’s mother was born. ‘invented electricity. In the Americas, people have lived in the hottest places for at least 12,000 years, and in other parts of the world we are talking about over 100,000 years. Although it is unpleasant, most of us can survive the heat and humidity just like our ancestors.
What we can’t survive without are more basic things like food, water, and at least basic protection from the most extreme heat and cold that we get in some places. The 120 Â° (F) heat in Phoenix or 40 Â° below (C or F, it’s the same) in the Rockies or Canada can kill you just as dead as the flooding on the Gulf Coast.
In other words, before you spend any money on solar panels, portable batteries, or other gadgets, make sure you have mastered the basics. Unless you’re a droid, you can’t eat electricity.
Unfortunately, most polls show that only about 4-6% of the American population is prepared to survive for three days after a disaster. Mormons, who make up about half that percentage in the United States, are urged to prepare for disasters as part of their religion, which means only 2-3% of the rest of us are prepared, even for a minimum of three days.
I could go on at length about what you buy to prepare for disaster, but I’ll let you check out Ready.gov’s list of supplies. The basic idea is that you want to keep a backpack for each family member in your closet, and possibly have an extra one in your car and / or workplace. In this backpack you need basic supplies to survive for three days. If you do end up overcoming a disaster at home, the pack will be there. If you have to evacuate, you can grab it and take it with you.
People often call this a “kit”, a “72 hour kit” or a “bug out bag”. Whatever name you give it, make sure you make it your own and tailor it to suit the needs of your family and where you live. As well as having a kit, be sure to check out Ready.gov’s other tips on a variety of prep topics!
In Part 2, I’ll cover some of the inexpensive options available for adding clean electricity to your prep plans without breaking the bank.
Featured Image: My portable solar panel system, which will be covered in more detail in Part 2.
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