So, what d’you think about this thing here?
Sure looks snazzy in the picture, doesn’t it? Looks like a regular gas stovetop, in miniature. Amazon wants $53 for this thing, a bargain compared to Costco’s $200 offering, which (admittedly!) does have a stand to hold it at waist height but which has only a couple of burners that don’t look very efficient.
This morning I was reminded that I’d like to have a propane camp stove that will boil water and fry or stew foods, come the apocalypse. This one has a lot of bad reviews — 18%, unfortunately — so I’m still looking (any recommends, dear readers??). But I definitely want to get something with a stove-like burner to use outside.
And how did I happen to be reminded? Well, once again the damned Cox wireless connection went down. So as usual I shut down the computers, unplugged the router and modem, left the system off for half an hour, replugged, and rebooted. Since this happened right about the crack of dawn, the house was kind of cold, so while I was waiting for Cox to recover itself, I went to turn on the heat for a few minutes by way of warming the place up to 63 or 65 degrees.
And lo! The damned Nest thermostat was OFF-LINE.
Yeah. If your router is off, your nifty computerized thermostat is off. So…let’s think about that. Even if your electric service is intact, if your Internet connection goes down, you can’t run your heat or — far more crucially in lovely uptown Arizona — your air conditioning.
If you’ve been paying even the slightest bit of attention, you’re aware that the U.S. Internet is highly vulnerable to attack from Unfriendlies. So much so that an extended regional or nationwide outage is probably inevitable. A serious attack could disable the Internet not for days but for weeks…possibly as long as three months. The same is true of the electrical grid.
We can all imagine the chaos an extended interruption of service would cause nationally and locally. But it’s worth considering exactly what it would mean to you, personally, in your home.
If you couldn’t even turn on the heat or the air-conditioning — even if the electric grid was operating — you would be in deep trouble.
A major attack on the country’s infrastructure — even a part of it, given our present near-100% dependence on computer technology — would mean you couldn’t turn on your stove, your heater or air conditioner, or your water heater. Gas stoves today operate with an electric sparker system, and so your gas stove would not run without electric power. You might not even be able to get potable water out of the tap — or any water. You would not be able to buy gas for your car, because gas pumps run on electricity and computers. You wouldn’t be able to buy groceries and medicines, because retailers’ cash registers are computers running on electricity.
It sounds like crazy Prepper thinking…but between you’n’me, I think it’s probably wise to be prepared, at least minimally, for an extended outage of these services. That’s even if you don’t live on the San Andreas Fault or deep in Tornado Alley.
Today we all live on a fault line.
My best friend in graduate school came from the Salinas area, where her parents were still living when the last major earthquake hit central California. Her mom was here visiting at the time, but her dad had stayed home. Fortunately, Elmer was a camping and fishing enthusiast. So he had a lot of gear on hand. And he had a camper that was equipped with a propane stove and refrigerator.
All the power went down and stayed down for some time. Roads in and out of town were wrecked — no one could get in or out for several days. Elmer kept the entire neighborhood going with the supplies he had, meant to keep him in comfort for a week or two when he was out in the sticks. He was able to boil water and prepare food for the neighbors’ small kids with the propane stoves he had on hand. He became, to put it mildly, the hero of the day.
So…what would be minimal preparation for an extended Internet or electric outage?
• Water — enough to last until the government or Red Cross can truck water into the area
• Source of heat for cooking
• Source of light, battery or propane operated
• Supply of foods that do not have to be refrigerated
• Supply of pet food, as necessary
• Source of living quarters heat, if it’s very cold outside, or plenty of warm clothing and blankets
• At least one 5-gallon jerry can of gasoline
• A generous stash of propane, stored safely
• Stash of prescription meds, if you can get them, and stash of OTC nostrums
• First-aid kit
That’s really not very much — nothing unreasonable for most of us to keep on hand.
“Source of heat for cooking” means a device with at least one burner that gets hot enough to boil water. You may have access to water, but it may not be safe to drink without boiling. If your stove doesn’t work, you’ve got a problem.
I have 18,000 gallons of water in my pool, so assuming I have a camp stove and plenty of propane, I could get by for quite a long while in the event of a water shortage.
Foods that can be stored without refrigeration include dried rice and beans. These need to be soaked in water and cooked for a fair amount of time: hence, propane and water.
A generator would be good…but generators don’t run on air. Whether to drive or to run your house, you’d need gasoline. And gas is not something that can be stored and forgotten: you need to empty the jerry can into your car now and again and drive back up to the gas station to refill your supply
I’m keeping all my propane tanks full at all times, and am thinking I’ll buy another one. At this time I have three; four would last for quite a while.
While the grill works well for most kinds of dry cooking — roasting, baking, and grilling — it’s not designed for boiling water. Using it to boil water or cook rice or beans would waste a lot of fuel. That’s why I think I should have a functioning camp stove.
As for keeping warm at night? Dog. There’s a reason for the “two-dog night” saying. A dog’s normal body temperature is 102.5 degrees. Put the critter on your bed at night, and it’ll warm you up just like an electric blanket.
I personally am beginning to believe that within the next four to eight years, we will see serious civil unrest in this country. The time may come when we cannot safely leave our homes or neighborhoods for any length of time…or at all.
Which is the longer shot — cyberattack or civil war? I don’t know. They both seem like long shots. But who would have imagined Americans would elect a President who wants to shut down the free press, who imagines he can build a Berlin Wall from Sea to Shining Sea, who lies as freely as he breathes, who cultivates divisiveness, and who evinces clear signs of mental illness?
Whether you think it’s going to happen or not, it may be wise to be prepared. Helle’s Belles, none of us thinks the house is going to burn down or we’re going to croak over tomorrow. But we all carry insurance…just in case.