Tag Archives: emergency power

  • If you couldn't adjust the thermostat when temperatures dropped, how would you keep your home warm?

    We've been talking a lot lately about harsh winter weather; we expect winter weather each year, yet it’s still unpredictable. Icy roads, flights canceled, extreme cold, and disrupted water services are only a few of the possibilities when winter gets particularly vicious. Another example of winter trouble comes from North Texas, where the city of Jacksboro was almost completely without a natural gas supply to heat houses and public buildings for some 1,200 customers.

    A local CBS affiliate reports that liquid in the pipes caused pilot lights to go out and gas to build up in the lines. Whatever the cause, however, the result was a city-wide shutdown of Jacksboro’s gas supply. And just in time for below freezing temperatures.

    So if you weren't able to just adjust the thermostat when the temperature dropped to “uncomfortable,” would you know how to keep your home warm?

    Our article on emergency warmth includes some helpful tips for staying warm both at home and on the road. You can also find a great list of smart ways to keep a house warm without power at this wiki, and some safety considerations when using non-traditional heating methods from the NC State Extension.

    Your advice? What are your tips for staying warm without power?

    Here’s wishing everyone a safe and warm winter!

    --Stacey

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: emergency power, warmth, power, power outage, winter weather, emergency warmth, emergency heat

  • What It is

    A Faraday cage, also known as a Faraday shield, Radio Frequency Cage, or EMF (Electromotive Force) Cage, is simply an enclosure built to protect electronic devices from electromagnetic radiation and electrostatic discharges. It can be anything from a small box to a large room, covered with conductive metal or wire mesh, which prevents surges from damaging the equipment inside.

    The sources of these surges can be powerful lightning strikes, destructive solar flares (CMEs, or Coronal Mass Ejections) directed toward earth, or the effects of an EMP (electromagnetic pulse) from a nuclear bomb detonation high in the atmosphere.

    The device is named for Michael Faraday, who observed in 1836 that the excess charge from a conductor remained on the outside of a container and had no effect on the interior contents. He experimented by building a room coated with metal foil and allowed high-voltage discharges from a generator to strike the outside of it. He used an electroscope to show that there was no electric charge present on the inside of the room’s walls. Though the device bears Faraday’s name, Benjamin Franklin is believed to have been the first to discover the principle.

    Faraday cages, or shields, are used all throughout our society. Some are used in the scan-rooms of MRI machines, in which the “cage” effect prevents radio frequency signals from being added to the data from the patient’s image. Some electrical linemen wear “Faraday suits” when working on live, high-voltage power lines to prevent accidental electrocution. Military planners and politicians who have reason to keep their communications private often meet in Faraday-protected rooms that are impervious to electronic “eavesdropping.” In 2013, the Vatican even used the technology to shield the Sistine Chapel from curious listeners during the deliberations to select the new Pope.

    Many people buy Faraday bags to protect their cell phones and laptops both from electrical surges and from unwanted surveillance or tracking.

    According to the National Weather Service, an automobile is essentially a Faraday cage, and it’s the metal surrounding you, not the rubber tires, that protects you from lightning (as long as you’re not touching metal inside the car).[i] A smaller example is a microwave oven, which is a Faraday cage in reverse, trapping the waves inside the device instead of keeping them out. In fact, an old microwave oven makes a good Faraday cage for small electronics!

    Typical items that can be stored in a Faraday cage include

    • Laptop or notebook computers
    • Thumb drives or external hard drives
    • Cell phones
    • Ipads, iPods, and e-readers
    • Portable AM/Shortwave radios, ham radio equipment, and walkie-talkies
    • DC/AC inverters
    • Battery-powered radios

     

    Why You Might Need One

    Why, you may ask, would it do any good for you to have working electronics when everyone else’s would be down or destroyed? First of all, you might still be able to communicate with people outside the affected area (and it may be very difficult at first to determine how large that affected area is).

    Second, you won’t be the only “techie” who thought to protect valuable electronics in a Faraday cage. Some preppers do this as a matter of course, and eventually you would probably be able to communicate with them. (Cell towers, however, would likely be “fried” and need to be rebuilt).

    Communication at such a time would be extremely valuable. Unless there had been well-publicized warnings of impending CMEs in the days before the event, many people would have no idea what had happened to our world. Ham radio operators, who could communicate with other Hams around the globe, might become the new heroes of the day.

    Many AM/FM and shortwave radio stations believe that they’ll still be able to broadcast after an EMP or CME event, and without all the usual “noise” of our plugged-in society, their waves may be able to travel farther than they do now. Hopefully there would be Faraday-protected radios out there to receive their signals! There is, however, a likelihood that the earth’s electromagnetic field would be seriously disrupted by such an event, and it might take quite a while for things to settle down and not cause static on the airwaves.

    How to Make a Faraday Cage

    To be effective, a Faraday cage must:

    • Be covered with conductive metal or mesh. Copper is the most conductive metal, followed by aluminum. (Well--gold and silver are better, but we assume you won’t be covering your cage with those!)
    • Be properly grounded (according to some experts, to prevent shocks when touched)
    • Adequately surround whatever it’s protecting.

    In addition, whatever is inside should be adequately insulated from the cage itself, such as being placed on wood, in a cardboard box, or on a rubber mat so that it doesn’t touch any metal.

    Faraday Box # 1—The Galvanized Trash Can

    A Galvanized Trash Can can act like a Faraday Cage

    You will need

    • A galvanized metal trash can with a tight-fitting lid
    • Several boxes of heavy-duty aluminum foil
    • Enough metal screening or mesh to wrap around the top of the can and fit over the lip
    • Cardboard boxes of assorted sizes that fit inside the can
    • Plastic garbage bags or plastic wrap
    • Cloth pieces to wrap items

    Wrap the items you wish to protect first in cloth, then plastic, then 3-4 layers of heavy-duty foil, being sure that the foil is molded to the shape of the item and that each layer completely covers the previous one, with no tears or holes.

    Place your wrapped items in cardboard boxes. Tape shut, then wrap the entire box with 2 layers of foil.

    Line the trash can with cardboard, including the bottom, making sure there are no gaps. The foil-wrapped boxes must not touch the metal of the can. Set the can on wood or cardboard, not touching any other metal.

    Several experts say that simply putting the lid on the can, even if it fits tightly, is an insufficient seal. They suggest folding a sheet of metal screening around the top of the can and over the top lid and then forcing the lid over that to maintain a constant, tight-fitting metallic connection.

    Remember, this is for long-term storage of the appliances inside, not something that you can take your appliances out of to use and then return to the container without a great deal of trouble. A good idea is to look around for good deals on duplicates of things you use every day. Another important thing to remember is that you will need some type of charger—hand-cranked or solar-powered—to power up your devices once a crisis has passed. If you can wrap and store one of these in a protected Faraday container, you’ll be glad to have it. 

    Faraday Cage # 2—A Metal-Clad Box

    Any box made of non-conductive material such as plywood, and then totally covered with metal, metal mesh, or metal screening can serve as a Faraday cage. The metal must touch at all the corners and over and all around any opening for the protection to be complete, as an electrical charge will find its way through any gaps or crevices in the construction. The smaller the holes in the mesh or screen, the better the protection—but either mesh or screen is believed to work better than solid metal. The metal can be attached to the wood with staples or screws, whichever seems to work best for you. You might consider applying the metal mesh so that it folds around the corners. Then let the next piece overlap the edge of the first, securely fastened together and to the wood so that there is no break in the conductive shield.

    Updated: Living Off the Grid

    For those who don’t rely as heavily on electronic equipment for day-to-day life, the idea of Living Off the Grid is more realistic. Those who live off the grid don’t need to worry quite as much about EMP’s or CME’s causing havoc and chaos to their daily routine because they have already given up a lot of the equipment that would be affected by those electromagnetic pulses.

    However, living off the grid doesn't always mean going completely electronics-free.  In this case, living off the grid may not protect you from the aftermath of EMP’s or CME’s even if you produce your own electricity from an alternate source.  Faraday cages can benefit a variety of lifestyles to protect you and your electronics.

    There are many uncertainties about exactly what would happen in the case of an enormous release of electromagnetic energy in our civilized, plugged-in world. We can hope that nothing will happen to damage our electronics, but in case our hopes are vain, we’ll be happy for every measure we've taken to prepare!

    For more DIY projects, check out the articles below:

    DIY Tent Lamp

    Guest Post: Make a Paracord Bracelet

    Baby Steps: DIY Felted Wool Dryer Balls

    Emergency Essentials' DIY Laundry Detergent

     

    Sources:

    www.ehow.com/info__10047811-things-keep-faraday-box.htm

    www.ehow.com/how_8796313_make-faraday-cage-html

    www.thesurvivalistblog.net/building-a-faraday-cage

    www.wikipedia.org/wiki/Faraday_cage

    www.science.howstuffworks.com/faraday-cage.htm

    http://thesurvivalmom.com/2012/10/09/skill-of-the-month-make-a-faraday-cage/

     

     

     

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: emergency power, skills, disaster, preparedness, emergency preparedness, DIY, disaster preparedness, Faraday Cage

  • New York is faced with severe snowy and icy conditions this winter season

    Snow storms across the country are transforming daily life, but in New York, it’s not the actual storm that’s causing the problems.

    “This is not anything we didn’t expect,” Gov. Cuomo said. “We did have notice of this storm. The shortage of salt is a complicating factor.”

    So far this winter, downstate New York has been hit pretty hard with storm after storm, resulting in a severely depleted supply of road salt for New York City and Long Island.

    The Daily News reports storms surging across the eastern state, pounding upstate New York with snowfalls at a rate of one to two inches an hour, and covering downstate New York in freezing rain and ice.

    In some areas, a half-inch of ice has formed, creating slick paths and causing power outages where the ice has taken down tree limbs and power lines.

    To help with the conditions, the state is re-directing 3,500 tons of salt—130 truckloads worth—downstate to areas in need. In this state of emergency, New York has also put 1,700 plows on the roads and asked New Yorkers to stay home.

    Read the rest of the Daily News’ article “Gov. Cuomo Declares NY State of Emergency; Cites Road Salt Shortage Downstate"to learn more about the conditions in New York.

    As winter continues to bear down around us, prep yourself for the weather (and corresponding emergencies that come with it) in your area. Keeping your own supply of road salt, or even kitty litter, can help you get out of a slippery situation.

    If you haven’t already, it’s about time to winterize your grab-and-go bag and get ready for the unexpected, even if winter weather in your area doesn't seem likely. As the snow continues to fall, check out these winter driving tips that may save your life when you’re on the roads.

    Photo Courtesy of the Daily News

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: emergency power, skills, Winter, preparedness, Survival, emergency preparedness, New York

  • Roscoe Bartlett living off the grid

    If you live in the city, there are many luxuries to enjoy—power with the flick of a switch, grocery stores or shopping malls less than five minutes away, constant communication with everyone via cell phone, internet, or radio. So . . . could you ever find yourself living off the grid?

    After 20 years on Capitol Hill, Congressman Roscoe Bartlett has taken himself completely off the grid, retreating to a secluded property in West Virginia. We came across Politico Magazine’s article via Instapundit and, whether or not you agree with Bartlett’s political views, we think there are some interesting things he’s done as a prepper that make this article worth reading.

    Bartlett lives without a phone, without a link to outside power, and without municipal plumbing. He has developed quite a few skills that will help him if he gets into an emergency.

    For the past few decades, Bartlett spent his free time up at this property, prepping it for the day he’d go off the grid. He built five cabins by himself, then wired solar panels and ran pipes from freshwater springs to each cabin.

    Living completely off the grid, he rises at dawn six days a week in order to maintain his power sources, food, and way of life. He spends about 10 hours a day cutting logs, gardening, and doing other tasks around the land.

    “People ask me ‘Why?’” Bartlett said in an interview with Politico Magazine. “I ask people why you climb Mount Everest. It’s a challenge, and it’s challenging to think what life would be like if there weren’t any grid and there weren’t any grocery stores. That’s what life was like for our forefathers.”

    Read more of Roscoe Bartlett’s experience living off the grid (and why he chose to do so) in the Politico article, “The Congressman Who Went off the Grid

    What changes would you have to make to your lifestyle if you went completely off the grid? Would you do it?

    Photo Courtesy of Politico Magazine

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: emergency power, solar power, skills, Survival, emergency preparedness, off the grid

  •  

    Would you survive the American Blackout?

    Would you be prepared to survive a nation-wide blackout?

    National Geographic Channel asked this question on October 27th, 2013 in its made-for-tv movie event, American Blackout. This mini-series explores the imagined situation of a national power failure caused by a cyber attack. American Blackout is told in “real-time,” over a period of ten days and is based on fictional accounts that American citizens video recorded on cameras and cell phones.

    This series may make you think about what you would do in a similar situation and if you are prepared. National Geographic anticipates that while watching this show, “You’ll learn what it means to be absolutely powerless. Gritty, visceral and totally immersive, see what it might take to survive from day one, and who would be left standing when the lights come back on.”

    In anticipation for this new series, you can visit the American Blackout Channel, where you’ll find video clips from the show, and a list of blackout survival tips. The site also includes articles on the history of blackouts around the world and advice from preparedness experts on what items and skills you need to have to survive emergency situations.

    Check out this interactive experience that gives you facts about the real-life blackouts as you journey through a “10-day blackout period.” With each fact, the site will ask you questions to personalize your experience like, “do you keep your gas tank at least half full, or re-fuel only when the tank is empty?” They will then give you facts on why it’s important to keep your fuel tank half full at all times.

    To find out more about when American Blackout will air in your city, visit  http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/channel/american-blackout/.

    And while you’re waiting for the show to re-air, read up on how to have light during an emergency. Check out our Insight article:

    Light During an Emergency

    And check out the latest solar power products from Goal Zero to be sure you’ve got power if a blackout hits your town.

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: emergency power, emergency preparedness, power outage, preparedness news

  •  Fallen Power Line

    Last night and this morning, the Tulsa, Oklahoma area got hit with some pretty strong winds and lightning. This morning more than 100,000 customers had no electricity— and it could be several days before power is restored. Read more here.

    What have you done to prepare your home and family for a power outage? Here are some items we suggest you have on hand for those “so-rainy-and-blustery-it-knocks-out-the-power” kinds of days.

    Emergency lights and Flashlights

    Candles

    Lanterns

    Light sticks

    Solar Power

    Battery or solar-operated fans to cool down

    An indoor-safe heater that doesn't require electricity

    Hand and body warmers

    Wool blankets

    Emergency bivvy or sleeping bag

    Games or other entertainment to help pass the time and keep young children calm (make sure activities are easy to do by lantern or candlelight)

     

    When was the last power outage in your area? How long did it last? Were you prepared ahead of time?

     

    Emergency Essentials 100 hour candle

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: emergency power, solar power, warmth, power outages, emergency preparedness, Blackout, emergency light

  • field of grass and sunset

    Hey, did you know that today is Earth Day? So let’s talk about getting prepared by using one of our planet’s incredible eco-friendly (and free!) resources: the Sun.  Gathering sunlight and turning it into power is one way to be prepared for a variety of electronic needs in an emergency.

    It seems like the electricity goes out during almost every disaster situation, so it’s wise to have items on hand that will provide light and power when you need them. Solar power is a clean, quiet, and safe source of electricity. And, bonus: No gasoline or propane is required for solar power, so no flammable chemicals will be hanging out in your basement or garage.

     

    How does solar power work?

    Goal Zero, a company that makes solar power products, gives three steps on how the system works:

    1. Collect Power: As sunlight hits a panel made out of silicon, electrons begin to move in the material and it creates electricity. The silicon material can vary between different panels.
    2. Store Power: Once the electricity is created the panel can charge a battery for future use. This can be done with a large battery or a smaller internal battery in a cell phone or tablet.
    3. Use Power: You can use the stored power to run a variety of needed devices.

    Remember that there are different sized solar panels for different needs.  A portable panel that fits in a backpack may only produce 7-13 watts an hour.  This can only power small electronics like radios, UV purifiers, tablets, or GPS units.  Larger panels charge batteries used for T.V.’s, CPAP machines, or even a fridge.

     

    What are some items that use solar power?

    The Nokero Light: this light has a solar panel built into the top.  You hang the light in a window or outside during the day to charge the internal battery, and a built-in sensor turns the light on when it gets dark. The battery can last 6+ hours between charges.

    Voyager Radios: a built-in solar panel is one of several ways these emergency radios can be charged. The solar panel will still charge the radio as it plays important information during an emergency.

    Goal Zero Nomad 7 and Guide 10 Plus: the Nomad 7 is a solar panel that can produce up to 7 watts per hour.  It charges AA or AAA batteries in the Guide 10 Plus.  The battery charger has a USB port that charges cell phones, tablets, or other hand held electronics (cool, huh?!).

    Goal Zero Boulder 30 and Yeti 1250: the Boulder 30 is a larger solar panel that can draw up to 30 watts per hour. Multiple panels together can charge various units, up to a Yeti 1250.  The Yeti is a large battery with enough stored power to run some fridges up to 48 hours per charge. This system can light your whole house—and it’s surprisingly compact, considering all the power it offers!

    Goal Zero Yeti

    Click here to see all our solar-powered items. Have you used solar power before? What’s your favorite thing about it?

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: emergency power, solar power, Goal Zero

  • This post is part of a series showcasing real-life survival stories. 'Lessons Learned' is a way for individuals and families to share what they learned from living through a disaster. To read all Lessons Learned stories, click here. To submit your own story, click here.

    The Northeast Blackout of 2003 affected 45 million people, including my family. The blackout started on August 14. I was 13 at the time, with a 10-year old sister, 3-year old brother, and two older brothers who were 15 and 18. My younger sister had a blast swimming in our neighbor’s pool during this time, but I didn’t dare get in because I didn’t want to be covered in chlorine for days. As a pre-teen girl, the idea of not taking a shower for four days was mortifying. There was one day when it poured rain so hard that I was actually able to get in my bathing suit and take a quick shower in the rain.

    During the day we felt like we were roasting and wished we had something like a solar generator to power a simple fan. The nights were alright because it gave us a chance to cool off, but scary because everything was pitch black. Fortunately, my mother was prepared ahead of time with emergency candles, 72 hour kits, and a supply of food storage and water. The biggest thing we should have done differently is having moist wipes like the Ready Bath Basics, and a portable toilet. Luckily, our neighbors let us use their pool water to flush our toilet. We wished we had more water because we went through it so quickly. Many food storage products require water to prepare them, which is something we did not consider fully when deciding how much water to store.

    Natalie Haight

     

    Thanks Natalie, for sharing your survival story. You did a great job of pointing out essential items to have in an emergency.

    Luckily Natalie’s family could stay in their home and were able to survive with their emergency kit that included water, food, and lighting. Fellow preppers, storing water should be a priority for you and your family.

    Here are a couple lessons we gleaned from Natalie's story:

    • Store enough to have at least 1 gallon per person per day for 14 days. Store more to make bathing and toilet flushing more than a luxury. Click here to see Emergency Essentials’ water storage options.
    • Consider how you might keep your family cool if you’re struggling to survive hot summer weather. You might open all the doors and windows to create ventilation, but do you have netting to keep out insects? Click here to explore various survival scenarios.
    • Have a swimming pool.*

    What did you learn from Natalie’s survival story?

     

    *Tee hee hee. Juuust kidding.

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: food storage, emergency power, solar power, Emergency plan, water, water storage, emergency preparedness, Lessons Learned, Blackout

  • New Yorkers gather around power strips to charge cell phones
    in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy.

    Superstorm Sandy left millions of northeasterners without power, some of whom may have to wait more than a week before it’s restored.1 Lack of power to charge important electronic communication devices like cell phones, smart phones, and laptops are among the many problems caused by the lack of electricity.

    Many people in affected areas are relying on generators to keep their cell phones and laptops charged, and Wi-Fi hotspots or businesses with Wi-Fi to stay connected to the internet. One major carrier has set up mobile charging stations around New York City2 and local officials in other affected cities have set up designated charging stations. Throughout these cities, people can be seen huddled around generators  Wi-Fi hotspots.
    New Yorkers gather near a building with 
    working Wi-Fi.


    It’s no surprise that communication is a high priority in the aftermath of this major disaster. For those who know where to find power and internet service, it’s possible to stay connected. But many people are still without phone or internet service. To make sure you

    always have power for your electronic devices, here are some items you may want

    to add to your emergency kit:
    The GoalZero™ Nomad 7m Solar Panel is a small, portable folding solar panel capable of charging devices through USB or 12-volt cables. This can charge a cellphone, smartphone, mp3 player, and other small devices. It also has an optional 12V car charger adapter. The 7-Watt solar panel charges a cell phone in 1-2 hours. It’s 6” x 9” x 1” folded and 19” x 9” x 1”

    unfolded and weighs 13 oz. If you had to evacuate, you could easily carry it in

    you emergency kit.




     
    The GoalZero™ Guide™ 10 Plus Power Pack allows you to charge NiMH AA batteries from a USB power source or from
    the sun in as little as 1.5 hours using the Nomad 7 solar panel. It’s about the same size as a cell phone, so it’s easy to carry. You can use this Power Pack to charge a cell phone 1-3 times if the pack itself is fully charged. You can use the included rechargeable batteries to power other battery operated items.

    It even has a built in LED flashlight that can run up to 20 hours  on a full charge.
    Goal Zero™ also makes larger solar panels and power packs, some powerful enough to run a

    refrigerator. Whether you use a smaller unit to charge your cell phone, or a larger one to power appliances or medical equipment, you’ll be better off in a major disaster if you have a way to stay powered up and  connected. 


     

    1 CNN Wire.  “'A loss for everybody': Communities start cleanup afterSandy.”  31 October 2012.   CNN.com. Web.  Accessed 1 November 2012.


    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: hurricanes, emergency power, solar power, communication

  • The Wavelength™ is a crucial emergency preparedness item. It is an AM/FM radio, a cell phone charger and a rechargeable flashlight all in one!

    A hand crank charges the built-in Nickel Metal Hydride battery. The battery will run the radio for up to 12 minutes from just 1 minute of cranking.

    CL-L530 Wavelength Flashlight with adapter

    One of the unique features of the Wavelength™ is its ability to charge a cell phone with its universal charging cable. Unlike other cell phone chargers, the Wavelength™ comes with a cable that looks just like your car's power outlet. This allows you to plug in phones, PDA's, and other electronics that have car-charging cables. Simply connect the included cable into the Wavelength™, plug in your car charging cable, then plug in the electronic device and begin cranking. It's that easy! The unit sends the electricity to your device as long as you crank at the rate of two turns per second. The Wavelength™ isn't any faster at charging your electronics than your car, so if you have a very low battery, you'll have to crank for a while to get a full charge. But in an emergency you should get about 3 minutes of talk-time for every minute of cranking.

    There is also a 3 LED flashlight that toggles between two brightness settings. The flashlight will stay on for up to 30 minutes on the low setting (only using 1 LED bulb) for every minute of cranking.

    We highly recommend that you include the Wavelength™ Emergency Radio, Charger & Flashlight in your emergency supplies.

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: emergency power, emergency preparedness, light, hand crank power