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Snowstorm lessons learned
Feb 27th, 2021 by Ken Hagler

Last week’s high­ly unusu­al (for Texas) weath­er led to me get­ting some use out of var­i­ous emer­gency pre­cau­tions. For the most part every­thing went smooth­ly, with no seri­ous prob­lems. The pow­er was out for 75 hours, but the water nev­er stopped work­ing. I did learn a few things which will help me pre­pare for the next emer­gency sit­u­a­tion, though.

1. Have at least a few days worth of food that does­n’t taste ter­ri­ble when eat­en cold. Just a few weeks before the storm I’d replaced two cas­es of Main­stay Emer­gency Food Rations with freeze dried food from Moun­tain House. The freeze dried food lasts six times as long, and tastes bet­ter as well. How­ev­er, if weath­er con­di­tions keep you from going out­side to boil water, freeze dried food rehy­drat­ed with cold water tastes ter­ri­ble. I end­ed up a order­ing a few days worth of the Main­stay food just for sit­u­a­tions where freez­ing rain pre­vents use of the grill.

2. Make sure you know where all your emer­gency equip­ment is, even if you’re sure you won’t need it. It took me a day to fig­ure out where my warm wool cap had got­ten to, and my sleep­ing bag had gone miss­ing entire­ly dur­ing a pre­vi­ous move. The lack of a sleep­ing bag was the biggest source of dis­com­fort, as even warm blan­kets just aren’t as com­fort­able for sleep­ing in the cold. Iron­i­cal­ly, some of the equip­ment that I had expect­ed to need (my Kata­dyn water fil­ter and AN/PVS-14) remained unused.

3. Make sure you have a way to pow­er all the elec­tron­ics you’ll need. I used a Volta­ic 19.2Ah bat­tery pack and 10W solar pan­el to keep my Kin­dle, iPad Mini, and a cou­ple of neigh­bors’ cell phones charged. How­ev­er, I had­n’t thought to buy adapter cables to use it with my fif­teen year old hand­held radios. I had to use them very con­ser­v­a­tive­ly so that I would­n’t be out of pow­er if I real­ly need­ed one. My HF radio was use­less as it sim­ply can’t be run from the bat­tery pack. That was some­what embar­rass­ing as I have a huge, awk­ward HF field anten­na that I keep around for just this sort of situation.

4. Be pre­pared for flood­ing from burst pipes. This was­n’t a prob­lem in my apart­ment com­plex (built in the 1970s), but the neigh­bor­ing com­plex (owned by the same com­pa­ny) is one of those mod­ern big ugly box type com­plex­es and their fire sprin­kler pipes burst and flood­ed most the build­ing. A good ground cloth and tent would prob­a­bly be suf­fi­cient for camp­ing out in a flood­ed apart­ment, or else out­side the build­ing if the water is too deep.

5. If you dri­ve, buy tire chains and learn how to put them on. There were an awful lot of aban­doned mini­vans on the sides of Austin roads due to unpre­pared dri­vers. Chains are so cheap that there’s real­ly no rea­son not to have a set in your vehicle.

You don’t see this every day
Feb 15th, 2021 by Ken Hagler

This is the view from my apart­ment this morn­ing. The pow­er has been out for almost sev­en hours, so I’m wish­ing I’d bought that heavy duty portable solar pow­er sys­tem I was read­ing about a few weeks ago. I’m about ready for some of that glob­al warm­ing they keep promis­ing us, but unfor­tu­nate­ly the com­ing ice age seems to be win­ning this week.

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