Monday, April 12, 2010

Preparing Emergency Energy, Light, and Communications

The loss of electricity and communications is something we more readily associate with a nuclear attack than a chemical or biological attack.  However, in the event of a long-term, sustained crisis, then anything can happen. If the disease was on the rampage and medical treatment wasn't available, then we could (in theory at least) find ourselves in the situation where there are simply no people available to operate essential services.

Please note, however, that this scenario is unlikely. The biological agents in existence today, would not cause enough widespread devastation to stop essential services for a long period. However, we don't know what new terror tomorrow may bring, so it's best to be fully prepared.

Generating Electricity

Portable Generators

In the event of a power failure, you will need to have a portable generator. Choose one keeping in mind what really needs to be powered (the refrigerator, a few lights, a radio). A portable generator is used where the device requiring electricity is plugged directly into the generator’s power outlets using an extension cord.

Generators are available fueled by gasoline, diesel, and propane. Keep in mind that the use of a generator is a short-term solution due to the amount of gasoline or other fuel you can safely store.  Generators emit deadly carbon monoxide and so should be placed outside the house where there is sufficient ventilation.

Alternative Power Sources

Electricity can be generated using alternative sources like wind energy or water energy. However, the most efficient source of alternative energy is generated from solar power. 

Solar electricity is generated when the sun shines on solar (Photovoltaic) panels. Solar panels range in size and power capability from a very small panel, capable of charging a couple of AA size batteries or powering a small radio -- to larger panels that could power several essential appliances. 

Another approach to using solar power is to equip yourself with a number of essential appliances (radio, lighting, etc.) with their own built-in solar panels.

Emergency Lighting

In order not to find yourself in the dark, the very minimum you need is:

A supply of candles. Ordinary candles are fine, but long-burning candles are recommended. Don’t forget to also store water-proof matches and/or a few cigarette lighters.

A few flashlights (battery operated, windup or solar powered).

Emergency Plug-in Lights...Ideally, your emergency lighting should be left plugged into strategically selected outlets in your home so that it will turn on automatically when power fails. Don’t forget to also store spare batteries and bulbs. See Additional resources for suppliers of emergency lighting.


If a crisis situation occurs, you need to know what is happening around you to help you plan. The minimum you need is a radio receiver. A radio capable of receiving short-wave bands is recommended.

Of course, a mobile phone can be indispensable in this kind of situation. A CB radio can also be useful in a long-term survival situation. A police scanner can be useful to stay abreast of the developing situation.

1 comment:

  1. Generators fueled by propane are highly valued. Gas is too volatile, it's unstable and takes too much room to store safely. Propane gas is a liquid until it goes through a pressure regulator which converts it to a vapor. Propane is very safe.economical, storeable in large quantities outside, and is will last indefinitely. Most gas generators can be easily converted to run on propand or gas. I have a HONDA generator which I converted to propane. It puts out over 5500 watts which will run just about every electrical device we have. Getting a bigger, higher capacity generator means yours will not struggle, get hot or fail when you need it most.