Test your gear and run scenarios in advance of a real emergency

I used the recent power outages as a dress rehearsal of sorts and it was a good thing. I have not yet had the proper electrical corrections installed for a direct hookup for the generator. Cost and time just hasn’t been there until now. So….I had to run extension cords to power the basic necessities. Ran into a couple of minor issues I’ll have to sort out but we had lights & refrigeration while most of my neighbors didn’t. For the new-to-prepping, don’t just assume that the stash of stuff in your basement/garage/shelter will do the trick when the time comes. PLAY WITH IT! Do those dry runs in advance. You may be surprised what you run into that hadn’t been considered during planning.  


  • Comments (2)

    • 4

      I too have used multi-day power outages, some during freezing temps, as dress rehearsals.  I have learned & modified my preps from each event.  I’ve learned, you can’t have too many extension cords, especially if you use your generator at a house without a direct connector to the electric panel.  My house has such a connector, but I’ve also used my generator at my mother-in-law’s house, which doesn’t.  But even at my house, with the generator connection, I still need many extension cords.  This portable generator can’t power the whole house, so my generator panel has just a few electric outlets, maybe 1/3 of our lighting, all refrigerators & freezers, and our well.  I have marked the outlet covers of all outlets that are hot when on the generator.  Extension cords are run from these outlets.

      generator outside all

      I personally don’t like to run a portable generator 24 hours a day for multiple days, so I was shutting mine down overnight when sleeping.  The first thing I learned was that I needed a separate heat source that ran off of LP gas, and purchased my Mr. Heater.  What a GREAT purchase!!  Just one can keep several rooms toasty warm and only run about 25% of the time.  One of my 40 lb LP tanks can run the heater for several days.  The LP heater allowed me to stay warm with the generator off.  During the off time, I used my solar generators to provide some lighting and to power some smaller appliances, such as my CPAP and coffee makers.  This is where I found the need for additional extension cords.  Also having multiple, small LED work lights, that use very little electricity, worked great here.

      My house has natural gas heat and during all these events, I never lost natural gas.  That sure helps in the kitchen too, with a gas cooktop.  The natural gas furnaces do require a small amount of electricity to power the blowers, and those blowers are on my generator panel… which allowed the home furnaces to operate while the generator runs.  But as I stated above, I shut my generator off while we sleep, so the bedrooms would get cold.  I had no problem sleeping in the den recliner, staying warm thanks to the Mr. Heater, but my stubborn wife chose to cover up & sleep in her bed.

      This last “dress rehearsal” outage prompted me to purchase another, identical Champion dual fuel generator.  Now, when I rest one generator, I will be able to start the other.  You might think that was a steep price to appease the wife, but one thing I’ve learned all these many years of marriage is, happy wife… happy life.  But also, obviously having a “spare” generator makes great prepper sense.  You never know when one might quit working.

    • 3

      I recently had a couple short power outages – The first for about 2 hours and the second  lasting about 6 hours which luckily has been about the longest in our experience at this home.  I learned a few things:

      1. I need some type of electrical supply/generation.   I didn’t know how soon the refrigerators/freezers would need emptying or supplemental energy.  Between the two events I inserted temperature monitors.  I posted about the temp monitors in another thread. I learned that without opening them, our freezers didn’t go above 32F but one got into the 20s in 6 hrs.  This was very useful information to know.  If it lasted for longer, our food stores would have been at risk. 
        1. I’ve been paralyzed on the generator decision because we have solar panels and I’d prefer to get sufficient batteries for that instead of relying on a fossil fuel I must keep resupplying from off-property. But this means I currently have nothing.  
      2. Battery backups can fail.  During the first event I learned that he battery backup connected to our gas tankless water heater wasn’t working.  Some research showed that the batteries can be replaced for about half the cost of a new unit and they are rated to last about 5 years. I did so for all of ours.  
        1. The gas tankless water heater battery backup does indeed work again after the battery was replaced. Because there’s a fan in the unit, it doesn’t last but a few hours if left activated so we power cycle it when we want to shower in a power outage.
      3. Having a gas stove and boiling water to bathe does work – large pots help.  The first event was in the morning, my husband took a cold shower and I took a shallow warm bath (with some effort).  
      4. Battery backup/UPS  power strips are sooo helpful.
        1. Our cable modem and router lasted about 4 hours. I had no estimate for how long that would be before this event. And since it’s a new battery, that’s the max it will be.   
        2. Of course my phone didn’t charge properly the previous night, so I was glad to have an extra battery backup/UPS available to do that. Could also use the battery jumper from our truck.
      5. Cellular coverage is also susceptible.  The cellular service to our phones reduced from the typical 4 bars to one.  Our closest tower must have also been affected.  In an more widespread event, local cell coverage will likely not be available. 
      6. Cold temperatures would add to the needs.  If it were cold, we would have had to bundle up and use our gas fire place and propane Mr. Heater Buddy. I’m probably going to follow Redneck’s Mr. Buddy 30000btu example as I like that it’s portable and can be used in a smaller or different room than the fireplace (sleeping in our bed).
        1. We typically don’t have the risk of freezing, but neither did Texas. If it got that cold we would have address both inside the house and figure out how to protect the pipes outside as the main from the street comes above ground then into the house.
      7. Candles are so very useful.  We had them in several places- like the bathroom and around the room we were in.  We had headlamps to get around other locations, but the candles kept the battery use down.  It was also more comfortable to have a larger area of ambient light with focused task lights.  Had this run into a second evening, I would have tried out an Aladdin oil lamp which is brighter.  
      8. How much we rely on electric kitchen appliances.  My husband apparently has forgotten that you can cook rice in a pan vs. an instant pot.  LOL!  We have a gas cooktop and a propane burner on our grill if necessary.