In light of the bad weather that’s been sweeping across the country in the last week, we thought we’d focus on the best ways to staying safe and well-equipped in the event of power cuts or extreme weather. We also thought it’d be interesting to take the opportunity to do a little research into the preparedness or prepper community, and maybe take a few tips from them! In the meantime, while being trapped at home feels a bit like a fun adventure at first it’ll get old quickly if you’re not prepared, so follow our top tips for making like a Boy Scout and stay ahead of the game.
While most of us probably only give these things some thought when the weather turns nasty, for the preparedness community it’s a daily concern. The aim of preparedness is to make sure that if anything were to go wrong, and dependence on the grid falls through, you’ve got enough resources to survive. Preppers will stockpile food, water and other supplies, and often make sure they’re trained in first aid and other skills that would be helpful in an emergency situation. You may have heard of bug-out vehicles and shelters, which allow preppers to escape if attacked and to hide if necessary. These can take the form of souped-up vans or underground shelters, and they’ll often be stocked with food and emergency supplies as well.
While humans have always been adaptable, and obviously we’ve survived through being prepared for disaster to a certain degree, it’s thought that the preparedness movement has its roots in the Cold War and threats of nuclear attack. Under the threat of nuclear war, people were encouraged to build survival shelters and learn important skills; all practices which are continued today by modern survivalists.
Before you set about making sure you’re comfortable, check that you’ve got these basic absolute essentials first. It’s no good having marshmallows for your hot chocolate if you haven’t got a torch to see them with!
Torch. This one is a must. Don’t rely on the light on your phone: you need a proper torch. Keep it in a kitchen drawer or other handy place, along with an extra set of batteries just in case. You can also buy wind-up torches, which save you digging around for batteries but don’t tend to be as bright, and they will need quite frequent winding which can be annoying if you’re trying to do something with the other hand.
Stove. If you’re going to be out of power for more than a day or two, being able to cook a meal or make a cup of tea will make things much easier to bear. Part of the reason our Frontier Stove is so popular among the Preppers is that it really does equip you for an emergency situation, providing both warmth and cooking facilities. A rocket stove (like our Horizon) is a great thing to have on hand for times like these, as they run on so little fuel and are ready to cook on straight away. If you want something smaller, a little gas stove will do as well, but be careful when cooking with gas around the home: a recent explosion in North Wales was caused by a gas camping stove left on an electric hob during a power cut, which heated up once the electricity came back on. If you’re using a gas stove, always do so outside and well away from any buildings or tents, and NEVER leave the stove or gas canisters near an oven.
Non-perishable food and water. Whether you’re preparing for a pandemic or just a power cut, stockpiling food is essential. Canned food will keep best, as you can set it aside for emergencies and needn’t worry about it going off - unless you’ve still got cans of Spam from 1975 in the back of your cupboard. Throw those away. Keep a couple of big bottles of water somewhere safe too – you never know when water pipes will burst, freeze (or be contaminated by zombie viruses…).
And the rest
Now that you’ve got your basic needs covered, you can think about keeping warm and comfortable while you’re stuck at home. Make sure you’ve got enough blankets and jumpers to keep everyone warm if the heating’s off, and keep a stack of Sudoku and paperbacks to keep you entertained while the internet and TV are out of action. Even better, spend some quality time chatting and playing silly games with each other; it’s rare that we get a break from the fast pace of the modern world and often it can end up being quite fun!
Here are some extra bits of preparedness kit that’ll make things easier off-grid.
Wind-up phone charger. If the power’s out, the phones will probably be down, and it’s useful to be able to ring friends or emergency services if needed.
Chocolate. This one almost made the essentials list, but we decided to be sensible. Either way, a little treat will make the long dark hours pass quicker and will help keep little ones and grumpy family members happy.
A surge protector plug. This will stop electricity surges from damaging your electrical equipment, especially computers.
Even if the power cuts out, keep the door of your freezer shut: the contents should stay frozen for up to 12 hours.
Keep the number for your power supplier somewhere handy, like on the fridge. If you have a power cut, they should be able to let you know when you’ll be connected again.
If you're heading out, make sure that anything vaguely dangerous (like an oven or a hairdryer) that was ON when the power cut is switched OFF, in case the power returns while you're out.
What's your best piece of advice for surviving emergencies? Do you believe in Always Be Prepared or do you prefer to wing it? Let us know in the comments below.