Monday, July 9, 2012

Being Prepared in the Event

The recent storm flipped a switch of sorts in our household, one that we'd been slowly throwing for the last five years or so.   For the last five years, the run of major weather events has been increasing.  We had a "hundred year deluge," which caused flooding unlike anything long-term residents of this area had ever seen.  And then we had a "five-hundred year deluge," which was...well...bigger than that.  We had Snowmageddon, which buried DC once, and then again for good measure.   And then came this most recent event, which involved a violent weather phenomenon so rare that most non-meteorologists had never even heard of it.

Living in DC, we've made a point of having a week of emergency supplies on hand, particularly post-9-11/Sniper/Anthrax scare.  A several-week larder of canned food and water is supplemented by candles, crank-powered radios and lanterns, and a big ol' emergency battery brick for keeping lamps and fans running and charging devices.  But as the days dragged on without power, there was the inescapable sense that this is something we'll be seeing more of in the years to come.  Our family bit the bullet and took the next step in preparing for a more volatile climate.

We're going hybrid for our emergency power.  A small deployable solar array has arrived and is now stored in the basement, ready to keep flashlights, phones, and other household miscellany charged up.  It's also prepped to recharge our reserve 12 volt battery for lighting at night, providing a pretty much infinite source of power and insuring we're not reduced to driving around in our car to charge our phones.  Well, not technically infinite, but if the sun prematurely flames out, I think keeping our iPhones charged won't be quite the priority it is now.

A portable generator is also arriving, but not the cheap loud Pep Boys Chinese racket-box kind.  We dug a little bit into savings for an ultra-reliable, super-quiet one, something that can power our fridge, our net-based phone system, and a few odds and ends.  Like, say, a coffee maker.  Not that propane-grill made French press coffee is so bad, but there are some things worth keeping in play when the world falls apart.

It's also hyper-efficient, the inability to easily find fuel this last week reminded us...gets to be kind of important when things really go south.  When every gas station around is shut down due to lack of power, it's sorta kinda good not to run out of fuel after the first seven  hours of a crisis.

Though I've considered this as an option for a while, it feels a bit odd to be doing it.  Sure, we're not going hard-core survivalist.  We're not buying biohazard suits and tactical shotguns for the whole family, much to my boys' great disappointment.

Maybe next year.