Self-sufficiency is a big part of living in the country. Small rural areas don’t get the same level of government services as urban areas. This means that you will often be among the last to get your power turned back on or your road plowed. In my area it’s not uncommon to have to go without power for several days during the winter. Below is a list of 10 items you might not have thought about for a grid down situation.
1. Gas Siphon
You may find yourself in a situation where you need to siphon gas or diesel from an automobile or piece of farm machinery to be used in your generator or other piece of machinery. You may also find yourself in a situation where you either need to siphon gas from someone else, or for someone else. You may not need a gas siphon often, but you will be happy that you have one when the need arises. And it certainly beats the hell out of trying to suck gas through a hose.
2. Rocket Stove
A rocket stove is a small portable wood stove. I personally have a small gas stove that weighs less than a pound that I carry on backpacking trips and forays into the woods. However, one big drawback is that you need to carry one or several small gas canisters. The advantage to a rocket stove is that it runs off of wood: a fuel source that is widely available and easy to come by.
3. Space Blanket
A space blanket is a small, lightweight, metal coated sheet that is specially designed to retain heat. It’s also water resistant which is especially important for circumstances were you are wet and don’t have access to a heat source to dry off.
4. Water Filter
You can go a month without food, but you can only last about 3 days without water. Being able to filter water is important in the event that you don’t have access to clean drinking water. Hurricane Katrina is a great example of a time when although people were literally waist deep in water, they didn’t have access to clean drinking water.
Obviously it’s important to have access to food. There are many different options when it comes to preserved food. As someone who does a lot of camping and backpacking I have tried many (if not most) of the freeze dried meals that are available. The advantage to freeze dried food is that it’s lightweight. This makes it optimal for long trips where every ounce of weight maters. However, for short tips I much prefer to canned food (canned salmon chowder is my favorite). For the home canned food is preferred to freeze dried dinners. I have only had MRE’s once. It was from a military surplus store and is apparently the same thing our troops eat… It was god awful.
6. Rain Jacket
Without power you may find yourself in a situation where you have trouble drying off. As a ranch hand I still have to work outside in the elements even when there isn’t any power. As an outdoorsman I can speak from experience that you can get hypothermia even in a warm rain when it’s 70 degrees out. I have tried a lot of name brand gear and even those cheap yellow rain suits you can pick up for a few dollars.
My best experiences with rainproof jackets come from both ends of the financial spectrum. On the ranch I wear a waterproof jacket made by a company called “trespass.” It has big pockets to carry wrenches, screws and whatever else I need. It’s not made from breathable material, but it does have vents that allows moisture to escape from your body. Their waterproof jackets sell for around $100-$150.
On the other end of the financial spectrum you have those cheap rain ponchos that you can pick up from the dollar store for 90 cents. They don’t last long, and they wear out easily. However, they will work for a day or so and they will keep the water off you. They are incredibly small when packed up and are lightweight. I keep a couple in my truck in case I am hit by an unexpected rainstorm.
7. Waterproof Lighter
Obviously, being able to create fire is important. Especially if you don’t have power and need to cook and stay warm. I used to carry waterproof matches but learned the error of my ways on a rain soaked backpacking trip. Although you can submerge a waterproof match in water and still keep it burning, there is one major drawback. That is that you need something dry to strike it on and in a heavy rainstorm everything gets wet really fast. I have converted to using a waterproof lighter instead. I also highly recommend investing in fire starter: A highly flammable goop that you squeeze out of a toothpaste like receptacle.
8. Hand Crank Flashlight
It’s always nice to have a reliable flashlight for obvious reasons. This last winter I found myself in a situation where I had to do a lot of work in the dark (we have long winter nights). Unfortunately, I never seem to have enough batteries. Because of this I had to keep commandeering them from tv remotes and other household items. Lesson learned. I not only bought enough batteries to last a lifetime, but I also invested in a hand cranked flashlight. It’s a flashlight that doesn’t need to constantly have its batteries replaced, rather it is charged by simply winding a crank as needed.
9. Duct Tape
You can never have enough duct tape. It has a wide variety of uses. I won’t go through a list of said uses for duct tape (I already did an article on it), but I’ll just say that NSA sends up duct tape with astronauts. If it’s important enough to send to the International Space Station, then it’s something worth keeping around the house/in your car.
10. Positive Attitude
The most important thing you can have in a bad situation is a positive attitude. Some people have thrived in a disaster with little more than a Swiss army knife (should have included that, way better than duct tape) and a q-tip. Whereas others have perished with every amenity known to man. The only difference between the two being a positive attitude and an iron will.