Blackout/Grid Down Bucket

JimH

Regular Member
Network Support I
#1
Electrical grid down preparedness has been the focus lately. I have been hearing more about the electrical grid vulnerabilities, and only recently found the President's National Infrastructure Advisory Council's report on "Surviving a Catastrophic Power Outage" (released in December 2018). The report really didn't bring any new issues to light, but did re-emphasize out ever growing grid dependence. You can find the report here:

NIAC Report

So I wanted to put an in home kit together that had the needed resources and checklist of what to do for the first 30 minutes of a long term grid down situation. While each of us will have our own unique environments, I also wanted to put out suggestions that could apply to most situations. I already had most of the pieces and parts of the kit in various places in the house (like many of us do), as well as a sort-of "what to do" plan. Now, it is all consolidated (which I do admit can increase the diversification "don't put all your eggs in one basket" risk , but that is another post in itself). Most of the contents can be purchased at many local places, or even be bought off of Amazon....one stop shopping. Here is the most recent version of the plan. If anyone would like to take a look at it and communicate some feedback, that would be appreciated....

The Blackout Bucket


You may have heard about a Bug Out Bag, or Get Home bag, but have you heard of a Blackout Bucket? What do you do when the lights go out? Do you have a plan and supplies in place for an extended Blackout of electrical services? There are many ways to be prepared and the Blackout Bucket is just one way to do it. It is a system to gather your supplies and make a step by step plan to react to a disruption of essential services. The 5 gallon contrator bucket can be found at Lowe's, Home Depot, Walmart, etc. or can be another container entirely. Listed below is a suggested list of bucket contents and actions to take when the grid goes down, but each bucket can be tailored to fit each individual or family. It is recommended using devices powered by AA batteries, and only storing Energizer Lithium AA batteries in all devices. The suggested starting contents are:

BLACKOUT BUCKET CONTENTS:
  • Flashlight. Recommended the 1 AA battery Nicron N7 600 Lumen (Amazon).
  • WaterBOB Bathtub Emergency Water Storage Container and large zip ties (Amazon).
  • AM/FM radio. Recommended the 3 AA battery TECSUN PL-360 or CountyComm GP-5 (Amazon).
  • Ham radio HT. Recommended the Yaesu FT-60 (Amazon). This radio can also run on a 6 AA batteries with AA adapter.
  • Smart phone recharger. Recommended finding one that is powered by AA batteries (Amazon).
  • Local maps (Amazon).
  • Extra Energizer lithium AA batteries (Amazon).
  • Sharpie marker (Amazon).
  • Cash.
What to do when Blackout hits:/lights go off:
  • Get Blackout bucket.
  • Find flashlight in bucket, make sure it works.
  • Find WaterBob(s). Set up waterBob’s in bathtub. Start filling WaterBobs once it can be determined that the power outage is not a short term event. Use zip ties to secure WaterBob filling sleeve to water source(tub faucet). Take sharpie and write the fill time(s) started filing Bob’s on palm of hand or paper. It is suggested to come back and check on progress after about 10-15 minutes.
  • Find AM/FM radio and check/tune in local stations. Is it talk/music as usual?
  • Find Ham HT and contact local repeater, if licensed to do so. Is there any chatter by the local Hams?
  • Switch Smartphone/Cell phone to power save mode. Check in with loved ones. Text messages can be the most efficient way with limited bandwidth.
  • Find and check fire extinguishers.
  • Check manual disconnect for garage door (if applicable)
  • Turn off and disconnect appliances and electronics. Leave one light plugged in to monitor when electrical service has returned.
  • Power up and check smart phone re charger.
  • Pull out local maps for quick reference.
  • Evaluate options for filling up gas tanks, and making re-supply runs.

So, what do think?
Are there areas and information that are missing or need editing?
Any other suggestions?

Thanks,
Jim
 
#3
I know this is a bit tangential to the spirit of the post, but the part about filling up gas tanks reminded me of an earlier conversation that set me on slightly different course.

Having picked quite a few Jerrycans, I sought to store gas for use with a generator with battery storage for grid down usage. I quickly found out the shelf life of gasoline even with additives is not quite ideal for long term storage (greater than a year).

There are many “dual fuel” generators out there that will use both gasoline and propane gas. Interestingly propane keeps for long periods of time quite well. For someone with space, time, elbow grease and some money it is not unreasonable to collect and even bury underground a few large propane tanks and keep them full as standby for a grid down situation.

The attached photo shows propane consumption in gallons over a year for a variety of uses. A standard “residential” tank is about 1000gallons and is overall not very large. Meanwhile the spectrum of size can be as large as 30,000gallon 70ft long commercial tanks. From the average use in the photo a 1000gallon tank will go a long way while a 30,000gallon tank will last many years.
 

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Oak City Tactics

Moderator
Moderator
#4
In the first post I see AA batteries too much. I would look at the rechargeable solar panel devices. 4xOverland and Fieldcraft Mobility/ Fieldcraft Survival both have some suggestions on this but it’s a longer term solution than the batteries. You could charge the radios and phones either eliminating some need for AA batteries or prolonging the life of the ones you have. Most of these seem to fold up relatively small or roll up.

As for the propane, it’s a good option. Propane is a substitute for electricity in many 3rd world countries. I recall several folks in Nicaragua and Costa Rica powering their off grid homes to some extent with it. First time I ever saw a propane fridge. I could figure out how burning something kept food cold. If you could store in the quantities you are discussing that would be great. Gasoline/ diesel is for mobility. You will need some of that you just need to develop a system of efficient rotation of stocks. Shouldn’t be hard to do.
 

JimH

Regular Member
Network Support I
#6
Did a re-evaluation of the bucket from a earthquake perspective due to a couple of rumbles that went through town last weekend. I added a gas and water shutoff tool to the mix, but the rest of the contents stayed the same
 
#9
I try to rely on as many non battery equipment as possible because they will run out or be in short supply. GoalZero makes a solar and mechanical rechargable solar light and power source. it is capable of charging cell phones and has a red strobe and multiple white lights at only 14 ounces. I live in tornado ally and it is in our go bag and shelter in place equipment. It has been useful in situation where power is out and stays our for hours. Link below. They also make a camp lantern that is pretty solid as well.

https://www.goalzero.com/shop/flashlights/torch-250-flashlight/
 

JimH

Regular Member
Network Support I
#10
I try to rely on as many non battery equipment as possible because they will run out or be in short supply. GoalZero makes a solar and mechanical rechargable solar light and power source. it is capable of charging cell phones and has a red strobe and multiple white lights at only 14 ounces. I live in tornado ally and it is in our go bag and shelter in place equipment. It has been useful in situation where power is out and stays our for hours. Link below. They also make a camp lantern that is pretty solid as well.

https://www.goalzero.com/shop/flashlights/torch-250-flashlight/
That's good to hear. The old dynamo and back-and-forth shake powered flashlights were not that efficient. Most of the ones I knew of quickly became parts for projects.
 

Oak City Tactics

Moderator
Moderator
#11
Really wish there was an economical solar solution out there. The duty grade stuff is in the $1500-2500 range and that’s not a sell I can make around here at the moment. Wife’s a PA and only the H1N1 scare a few years back got her to spend on some food stocks and medicine. Funny that scared her but not me yet what I think about she finds highly unlikely. Men are from Mars I think it goes.
 

JimH

Regular Member
Network Support I
#12
Low probability high consequence event preparation has always been a challenge to most of us.
We do what we can with the resources we have, that's why posts about good buying opportunities and money saving ideas are important to pass along.