Sunday, January 22, 2012
A Tale of Being Prepared
Last year in September we were going through our normal late summer dry spell when a very slow moving front went just to the north of us and dumped hour after hour of torrential rain on the Wisconsin Rapid's area, flooding the Wisconsin River. To save the upriver cities the corp of engineers opened the spillways of the big dams along the Wisconsin and sent that water hurtling down river, into farmland and countryside.
I received a call at work that the flood waters were coming and more than likely the road into my valley would be closed to traffic. I had two hours to get home. It's a 45 minute drive for me and I had no need to stop at any stores because I was well stocked back on the farm. I flew home to get my cattle out of their normal late summer low pasture before the waters hit.
On my way home I took a few calls from friends. Alliant Energy was going to be shutting down the power grid and since I was off grid did I mind them coming to stay at the farm. My off grid system is set up for a family of five but it can easily take the use of a couple more people and if we conserve several more people. I told them yes, as long as they were willing to give up a few of their electrical creature comforts.
To step out of the story, I thought I would explain an off grid electrical system. Mine runs on solar, wind and in a pinch LP. They are NOT like flipping a switch in a normal home where the power plant just makes extra and sends it down the line as long as the person is willing to pay for it. You have to be aware of how much electricity is being created, used and stored. At no time should your batteries ever go below 50% power or else you have destroyed the more expensive and sensitive part of your electrical system. Many people who are so use to just hitting a switch and always having power at their fingertips (as long as the grid is up) just don't understand that concept. The simple fact is you can only use as much power as you create, there is no more after that. Back to the story.
Just as I was crossing rocky arbor creek and entering into my valley yet another friend called me and wanted to come out to stay where there would be electricity. I told her sure, as long as she didn't want to use too much electricity. She then said she didn't want to use TOO much but she had not done laundry in a bit over a week and would need to use my washer. I told her there would not be enough power for that. She came as was or she stayed home. If one person used that much power then everyone else would have to cut back too much. She decided to see if she could get a load of laundry done at her home and try and beat the flood waters back into the valley. She couldn't make it. While she was perfectly safe in her home, she was there for six days with no electricity, something she did not like. The flood waters crossed the road and no one could get into or out of the valley I live in.
This brings me to the point of this story. Being prepared is more than having plenty of food and water. It's more than having a back up heat source or even a generator. Being prepared means that you do not fall behind on your day to day chores. You know, the boring ones that you'll get to tomorrow. If my friend had kept up with her laundry she could have joined the lot of us that spent the flood in relative ease with power that the rest of the area didn't have for almost a week.
If a disaster hits or is about to hit, the last thing you need to worry about is the pile of dirty dishes in the sink or the laundry that kept being put off. Water becomes a precious resource when the taps stop working or when their use becomes limited. You certainly don't want to waste that precious resource on something that should have been done before. A dirty, unorganized house makes survival just that much harder, not to mention in day to day living it can end up costing you more than you need to spend. Often when things are left undone or unorganized they get broken, destroyed or misplaced, forcing us to buy more, waste our money on things we didn't need to.
So if being prepared is important to anyone, they should look at their daily chores as just another line of defense against any approaching disaster. The minute you have a full load of laundry, get it washed, dried and put away, ready to go at a moment's notice. After you are done with a meal, wash up all the dishes and get them put away. Keep all you supplies organized, not just stuffed where ever they will fit.
Knowing that some disasters come without warning and others come with a very short window of warning, we learn that everything we do in our lives, down to the boring laundry, is just another way of being ready for what might come.