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  • Majority of Puerto Rico Without Power Following Electrical Plant Fire

    puerto-rico-blackout-via-nbc - Puerto Rico Most of the island was without power - image via NBC

    On Wednesday, September 21, a huge fire at a southern Puerto Rico power plant caused a blackout in 1.5 million homes and businesses.

    "The entire island is without power," Angel Crespo, director of Puerto Rico's fire department, told the Associated Press.

    As of Thursday afternoon, more than a million were still without power, including my mother-in-law, Ruth Lezcano.

    She told her son Jimmy that her main concerns were lack of water and uncomfortable heat and humidity.

    The blackout knocked out pumps at water plants, leaving her and many others without water.

    Fortunately, she had water storage. She keeps five five-gallon buckets (like the “Homer” buckets from Home Depot) full of water in case of hurricanes. She’s been using a bucket for each activity that uses water, like washing dishes, bathing, and flushing the toilet.

    “She hasn’t been able to do laundry for a bit, other than light stuff she can wash in the sink,” her son said.

    The blackout left islanders uncomfortably hot. The temperature on Wednesday and Thursday in the suburb of San Juan where she lives was 87 degrees, according to Weather.com. At night, it fell to 77 degrees.

    The power loss created more problems than just temperature discomfort.

    During the blackout, Jimmy was worried because he couldn’t contact his mother via her cell phone.

    “She probably had it turned off to save power,” he said.

    We sell small generators and other emergency power equipment that are excellent during this type of emergency.

    Ready.gov recommends keeping cell phones charged and having an alternate power source. Also, have an emergency contact outside the immediate area that all family members can use to pass information about their safety.

    buying-ice-via-fox-news - Puerto Rico Locals had to buy ice to keep their food at a safe temperature - image via Fox News

    Lezcano, who is diabetic, also had to worry about her insulin. Insulin manufacturers recommend storing it in the refrigerator. Insulin supplies in use may be kept at room temperature (between 56°F and 80°F). High temperatures could cause her insulin supply to go bad.

    Ready.gov recommends that people with special medical needs make backup power plans and contact their power company before an outage so it can prioritize getting power to their home.

    Although one Twitter user jokingly compared the blackout to “The Purge,” a movie in which crime is legalized for 12 hours and emergency services are suspended, Lezcano said there didn’t seem to be any more crime than usual. She was concerned about running low on supplies: traffic was snarled, and lines were long at supermarkets and gas stations, according to USA Today.

    Police officers directed traffic at major intersections all day Thursday. Four were hit by cars.  One person was hospitalized after being trapped in an elevator overnight, according to USA Today. Another was killed by carbon monoxide poisoning from a leaking generator. Broken generators also caused 15 fires around the island. All the fires were extinguished, and no one was injured in the blazes.

    Lezcano was hoping the power would return Friday. In the meantime, she sat outside and people-watched, her son Jimmy said.

    “She was bored because she couldn’t have her Netflix,” he joked.

     

    February - Power Banner - Puerto Rico

  • How Political Rallies and Demonstrations Prompt Better Emergency Preparedness

    election Time to talk about the elephant in the room...

    Politics.

    It’s all over the news, and now you’re reading a blog about it. But this isn’t your generic “Vote for Pedro” blog. This article instead examines the rough time this country is having during the election season, and what it means for personal preparedness.

    No matter who you support in this election, chances are you see the other candidates as wacky and dangerous to the country. Chances are those supporters think the same thing about your candidate. So who is right? That’s beside the point. The point is, the majority of Americans don’t seem to be very pleased with one or more of the candidates, and that has already led to some protests and demonstrations.

    We’ve talked about protests and civil unrest on the blog before, but never (as far as I’m aware) in the vein of politics. Of course, politics can be a touchy subject, so we’ll steer clear of the candidate’s platforms and focus on the emergency preparedness side of what’s going on. Let’s look at what’s happened so far.

    Trump Rally election

    Back in March 2016, a certain candidate held a rally in the suburbs of Phoenix, Arizona. Well, some people didn’t want others to attend, so they blocked an Arizona highway that led to the location of the rally. Trucks were towed out of the way, and people were arrested. All in all, a fairly subdued display, however annoying to be blocked from getting to town if you live there.

    In New York City, however, more protesters marched in a show of solidarity and determination. In this instance, tear gas was used to disperse the crowd and keep them from moving past barriers. For civilians in the area, that’s looking a little too dangerous.

    Over and over again in the news we hear of protests turning violent, demonstrations getting heated, and tensions rising whenever politics is even mentioned. As Election Day comes steadily closer, fears of escalating violence is something on the minds of many. Even after the elections, what then?

    One thing is certain, however, and that is uncertainty.

    Uncertainty is actually quite normal these days. Natural disasters, the economy, civil unrest…there are many events that could strike without warning and change lives. So how are you supposed to deal with all this uncertainty? It’s simple, really.

    Prepare.

    We’ve talked about preparing for natural disasters numberless times. But when it comes to preparing for civil unrest and the uncertainty which is our future? Basically, prepare much the same way as you would for any other emergency. Emergency water, food, and gear will get you through pretty much anything. Of course, having some extra emergency cash on hand is a great idea, too, just in case ATMs don’t work and you need to buy something really important.

    The examples of rallies and other election mishaps aren’t intended to stir up fearful emotions. Rather, they are just another reminder of what could possibly go wrong, a reminder that even our own communities can be affected, and a reminder that above all, the time to prepare is now.

     

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  • Portable Water vs. Stationary Water

    When it comes to water storage, there are essentially two kinds: portable and stationary. Either you can transport it with you easily, or it’s staying put. After all, just one gallon of water weighs 8.34 pounds, which means carrying around even five gallons would weigh you down quite a bit, not to mention 15 or 55 gallons. So what’s the best method of emergency water preparation for you? Let’s take a look at the differences and let you be the judge.

     

    Portable Water

    As you might expect from the classification of portable water, this is water that is easily carried should you need to bug out. As mentioned above, however, water is pretty heavy (8.34 pounds per gallon), so you certainly wouldn’t want to be forced to carry it far. Even if you were, you would be hard pressed to carry more than five gallons.

     

    Water Output and Weight Comparison

    Katadyn Pocket Water FilterTo counter the weight issue, you may look into a water filter. Water filters weigh much less than water and can produce anywhere from 300 to 13,000 gallons of clean water (depending on the filter) before needing a new replacement cartridge. Compare this water output with its weight and any water filter is the obvious option for portable water options. For example, the Katadyn Pocket Water Filter pumps out up to 13,000 gallons of drinkable water, and the filter itself only weighs 20 ounces. That’s not bad at all, considering 13,000 gallons of water in barrels would end up weighing 116,220 pounds. That’s over 58 tons of water!

     

    Cost per Gallon

    Price point is also something to consider when investing in water storage options. These water can cost more than a water barrel, but in the long run, they do produce more clean water. For example, the Katadyn Pocket water filter ends up costing just $0.02 a gallon. It doesn’t get much cheaper than that!

     

    Pros and Cons

    Katadyn Hiker ProWater filters are small and lightweight, making them an ideal grab-and-go option in case of emergency. Because of their size, water filters are also a great portable water option for backpacking and camping. Also, water filters let you drink safely from most any water source. Lakes, rivers, and even puddles – any of which you wouldn’t drink from normally – can become your new watering hole. This is especially important if you’re in need of water but your municipal source has shut off for one of many reasons. And, as mentioned above, the cost per gallon can be very low.

    Water filters are great tools to have on hand. However, they aren’t always the most convenient. Instead of pouring your water into a bottle, filling it in mere seconds, it can take longer to produce that same amount of clean water directly from your filter. Some filters pump out up to a quart a minute. Still, considering it’s cleaning the water as it fills your containers, that’s still not too bad.

    Also, water filters don’t do much good if there’s no water to filter. So if you’re in an area where water (i.e. lakes, rivers, etc.) are sparse or drought stricken, filters may not be the most effective method of acquiring water. That being said, it’s always a good backup.

     

    Stationary Water

    There aren’t many situations where you’ll be forced from your home. However, you may very well have to hunker down inside for one reason or another. Or, your municipal water supply could become contaminated (think Flint, Michigan), a water main could break, or some other cause that would make your water undrinkable. This is where water barrels come into play.

     

    Water Capacity and Weight Comparison

    Guy_Standing_By_Water_BarrelsThere are many different sizes of water containers with which you can store water, ranging anywhere from two liter pop bottles to a 320 gallon water reserve. For those living in apartments or small homes, the smaller containers may be more ideal, since they take up less space. If you have the room, however, the water barrels and reserves make a great storage units. Holding much more water than just two liter bottles or five gallon jugs, water barrels can be your go-to source for emergency water.

    The downside to large water containers is their weight. As mentioned previously, clean water weighs 8.34 pounds per gallon. One of the more common water barrels people use is the 55-gallon barrel. With 55 gallons of water, this would weigh over 450 pounds. Definitely not toting that around! But, if it’s just sitting in a dark room in your basement, there should be nothing to worry about.

     

    Pros and Cons

    These large water containers let you have water when there is no other water to be found. You can’t always make a hike to the nearby river, lake, or stream to fill up a small container from your water filter. By having water barrels in your home, you can ensure you’ll always have water when you need it, because you never know when a water main might break, or some other inconvenience will take your tap water from you.

    The most obvious con of water barrels and reserves is their size. However, that’s one of the pros as well. They can be difficult to store with smaller living space, but if you have the room, just having a 15-gallon water barrel will give you water for at least two weeks. That right there is one of the best kinds of insurance.

     

    While it’s true that there are pros and cons for both water filters and water containers, it is still essential to have a backup water supply. For most cases, water barrels and other containers are the primary source of water should the need arise, with a water filter being used as backup. There are plenty of options for both, however, so make sure you choose the options that best suit your own needs.

     

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