One of my sisters lives in an area that has had several occasions when hurricanes made life difficult for a few days. She recounts a story of a couple who went nine days without utilities, and how her husband (an engineer by trade) took a home generator to the couple’s home and restored basic power. They are still fast friends, and that began with coping with a small scale disaster. My sister has put in a good bit of planning for such times into her current home. For instance, she has a gas cooktop, a propane grill, and she heats with fuel oil that lives in an absolutely huge tank. And, her pantry stays full. I have a full pantry and a swimming pool that I could tap for wash water and that’s about it. So, I wanted to know more about how to be prepared.
Now, I am not advocating being a “prepper” with $4K of freeze dried food stored in the basement. But, sometimes disasters happen, and the government’s recommendation of 72 hours worth of supplies might not be enough. To learn more about practical ways to be prepared, I recently read Tony Nestor’s book on the topic. He is a survival training expert, who makes a living teaching others how to survive in the wilderness or in more urban settings. His short book on this topic is impressive. I read When The Grid Goes Down: Disaster Preparations and Survival Gear For Making Your Home Self-Reliant in a couple of evenings. Nestor does not burden his book with lots of anecdotal tales; instead he gets right to the point and stays there. He discusses the differences between surviving in the city and in the country (not much different, actually) and then takes people’s needs, such as water, food, and shelter, topic by topic, and addresses how to prepare and cope with a disaster, should one occur. There is a bounty of useful information in this book, but I found the lists especially helpful. He also mentions other resources that I intend to purchase, such as a book for times when there is no doctor. Also helpful is the resources section in the back, which lists other books and DVDs, but it also has links to websites to purchase some of the items he recommends. And, no, he does not recommend tubs of food that lasts 25 years in storage. Nestor says he doesn’t eat that way now, and would not be happy eating that way in a disaster. Instead he recommends cans and packages of dry beans and rice that can be rotated for freshness. Oh, and he does recommend a firearm and lots of ammo. But he says that trapping and fishing are more efficient ways of securing animal protein. Again, this is practical advice!
The topics addressed here would be useful for a disaster that lasts from days to weeks. If you want to learn to live off the grid permanently, go read another book.