Getting Prepared Month 14: Emergency Water Shut Off and Practice for Grid Down

Getting Prepared Month 14: Emergency Water Shut Off and Practice for Grid Down | grid-down | Off-Grid & Independent Living Preparedness\Survival

Being in the habit of preparing – or prepping – a little at a time should now be ingrained in your monthly routine.  By taking a systematic approach to your prepping, the job of setting aside the food, supplies and gear is less overwhelming and infinitely more manageable.

As I mentioned in Getting Prepared Month 13: Taking Your Preparedness Plan to the Next Level, we are now at a stage where we can move beyond the basics of 3 days of water, 3 days of food, and the essential equipment to survive a disaster or collapse of life as we know it.  Going forward, we need to add more food and more supplies.  In addition we need to practice our safety and survival skills so they become instinctive and rote.

As you will see, this month we will add additional food and supplies to your preparedness pantry.  In addition, we will be adding to your emergency cash fund.  More important, however, we are going to practice being grid down and without power so than we can experience first hand some the challenges we may face when disaster strikes.

If you are just getting started and have not yet completed year one, feel free to jump in on this accelerated plan as you continue to work your way through your year one cycle. There is no requirement or prerequisite – only the mindset to get going.

Shall we get started?

MONTH 14: Supplies and Gear

  • Dry pasta – 2 pounds per person
  • Toilet Paper – 3 (or more) rolls per person
  • Trauma supplies for your first aid kit
  • Add $100 to your emergency cash fund

There is nothing too exciting or sexy about the commodities we are adding this month.  Pasta and toilet paper – both benign and mundane and yet a valuable addition to the preparedness pantry.  We are adding two pounds of dried pasta per person.  Get whole wheat if you can, but even ordinary pasta will do.  Pasta is inexpensive, has a long shelf life and is filling.  The real value of dried pasta is that it can be dressed up with condiments and canned sauces in infinite ways  – relieving the boredom of eating plain canned goods and cereals.

You might recall that we added toilet paper to our supplies in month number two.  This month we are adding some more – three rolls per person to be exact – but if you have the space, ramp that up to six rolls per person.

Stop the Bleeding if an Accident Occurs

This month we are also adding some trauma supplies to the first aid kit, namely some Israeli battle dressing compression bandages and some Quick Clot.  These items can me used to control moderate to server bleeding and while not a substitute for medical care, these battle-ready items are a favorite of EMTS and been proven to save lives.

I would like to suggest that you add a minimum of one of each  but if you can afford it (and they are really quite inexpensive) purchase one for each member of your household.

The All-Important Emergency Fund

Having cash available to pay for purchases when the ATM and credit card machines don’t work just makes good sense.   You just never know when you will need a few extra dollars – whether to buy fuel, food or even to pay for car repairs or medical care. This month we are adding $100 in small bills to the $100 we added last year.

And then next month and every month thereafter, we will add an additional $25 so that at the end of the two year period we will have $450 stashed away for an emergency.

Don’t have an extra $100 to spare?  In that case, add what you can – even if it is only $10.  You will be surprised at how quickly your emergency fund will build up, even if it is only at $10 a month.

MONTH 14: Tasks

  • Practice shutting of your water supply
  • Spend 8 hours without power, water, gas, computers and cellphones

How to  Shut Off Your Water Supply

Do you know how to shut off your water supply?  Surprisingly enough, many people not only do not know how to shut off the water, they do not know where their shut-off valve is located.  And in some cases, there may not even be a shut-off valve that is accessible by the homeowner.

I know this from firsthand experience – I tried to find my own water shut off valve and learned that the only way to shut off the main into my home was from a special street valve located in a cement box at the curb.  Not only that, the valve at the curb was only accessible to the water company using a special tool.  Luckily, I learned this during a water shut off drill – just like the one we are going to do this month – and had a new shut off valve located right inside my utility closet.

So why do you need to know how to shut off the water?  Broken or cracked water lines may pollute the water supply to your house making the water unsafe to drink.  You need to shut off the water so that your can trap the existing water in your pipes and water heater.  This will prevent cross contamination with your safe, clean water.  By isolating the water in this manner, in an emergency you will have extra water for for drinking, cleaning and bathing.

But note:  this does not take the place of storing extra drinking water in bottles or jugs.  If you need a refresher on storing water, be sure to read Back to the Basics: Water for Survival.

Here are the steps you need to take this month to insure that you and everyone in your household knows how to shut off the water coming in to your home or apartment:

1.  Locate the shut-off valve for the water line that enters your house.

2.  Make sure this valve can be completely shut off. Your valve may be rusted open, or it may only partially close. Replace it if necessary. (Unless you know what you are doing, this is a job for a plumber.)

3.  Label this valve with a tag for easy identification, and make sure all household members know where it is located.

The Eight Hour Off-Grid Drill

Living without the convenience of electricity is almost unimaginable.  If you have ever been in the aftermath of a windstorm, tornado, hurricane or other extreme weather disturbance, you will know what I am talking about.  This month we are going to pretend that not only is there no power, but  that cell phones don’t work and there is no gas or other heat source to our homes (except perhaps a wood burning stove or fireplace).

We are going to do this by setting aside eight hours to experience an off grid situation.  Shut off the water – now that you know how – and turn off the TV, the computer, the cell phones and, if you can, the main electricity breaker to home.  (And don’t worry, if you don’t know how we will be covering that later this year.)  If you have really good will-power and can avoid that light switch, leave the breaker on and just pretend.

What I am going to challenge you to do is keep a little notepad handy so that you can jot down all of those things that you reached for and realized they would not work without power.  Did you need to communicate with others?  How did you do it?  Did you have something to keep yourself entertained such as reading material or a board game?  And what about food?  Did you have something to eat that required no cooking and that was both nutritious and satisfying?

Until you experience a grid-down power outage, you will not know what it is like,  Trust me, you are going to catch yourself reaching for the light switch or the telephone.  You will want to check the news on the television or browse the Web for some information.  If you live alone you are going to feel isolated and and detached from the world.

As you move forward with your preparedness planning, the notes you jot down during this eight hour exercise are going to be invaluable in helping you understand why the preparedness supplies and skills you learn today will be used in the event of a future disaster, crisis or failure of the power grid.

The Final Word

While supplies and gear are important, in 12 Months of Prepping – Year 2 there is a heavy emphasis in doing things and practicing your skill set so that you can adapt in a myriad of unexpected situations.   Sure, the food, water and gear is important.  But those things alone will not see you through.

Utility management and utility safety – and this includes not only water, but gas and electricity – is a big part of prepping and yet it is not often addressed on the preparedness websites or in the preparedness forums.  But important it is, and throughout the next months, I will be sharing tips for insuring that you know both what to do to manage your utilities and how to cope without them.

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!

Gaye Levy, also known as the Survival Woman, grew up and attended school in the Greater Seattle area. After spending many years as an executive in the software industry, she started a specialized accounting practice offering contract CFO work to emerging high tech and service industries. She has now abandoned city life and has moved to a serenely beautiful rural area on an island in NW Washington State. She lives and teaches the principles of a sustainable and self-reliant lifestyle through her website at BackdoorSurvival.com. At Backdoor Survival, Gaye speaks her mind and delivers her message of prepping with optimism and grace, regardless of the uncertain times and mayhem swirling around us.

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About The Author

Gaye Levy, also known as the Survival Woman, grew up and attended school in the Greater Seattle area. After spending many years as an executive in the software industry, she started a specialized accounting practice offering contract CFO work to emerging high tech and service industries. She has now abandoned city life and has moved to a serenely beautiful rural area on an island in NW Washington State. She lives and teaches the principles of a sustainable and self-reliant lifestyle through her website at BackdoorSurvival.com. At Backdoor Survival, Gaye speaks her mind and delivers her message of prepping with optimism and grace, regardless of the uncertain times and mayhem swirling around us.

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