If you don't have easy access to water:
- it is impossible to flush the toilet. And it isn't much easier using buckets.
- When your face is covered with sawdust from hours of chainsaw work (even with protective gear) you want to wash it off
- Chain sawing is thirsty work you need to drink a lot to keep functioning for the long term.
- At night you are crusty, wet and tired and desperately need a hot shower.
We have had our 7.5 KW generator for over 20 years. It has paid for itself many times over both in making blackouts comfortable and also in saving the contents of refrigerators and freezers. Apart from major storm damage even short period blackouts are annoying as they seem to happen just on dusk.
Not everyone can justify owning a model this large but even a small unit can provide some essential services.
We keep 8 x 20 litre drums of fuel for our various engines. Petrol is 20 kilometres away if the road isn't blocked. Complacency lead us to only have just under three drums remaining full. Luck was with us and we were able to survive easily for 3 days without external power.
We now refill any empty containers as soon as possible. It is also a lot easier to carry two containers in the car rather than 6 or 8.
Fuel also means the accruements i.e.Chain and bar oil, 2 stroke oil and engine oil.
Most people have replaced their Telstra issued handset with a cordless multi handset model. These require electricity to function. We couldn't contact some of our neighbours because they didn't have the old handset. We keep both connected. The batteries at the exchange kept the service functioning for about 30 hours.
When Aldi had a special on LED wand torches we bought several. They are incredible. The battery life on LED is many hours and reading by them is like reading in daylight. Having them distributed in key locations for quick access. They come with a folding hook for hanging and a magnetic plate to stick on the refrigerator in the kitchen for night meal preparation. We also keep a standard lamp with two led globes for general night lighting.
When we renovated the kitchen more than 10 years ago we opted for a gas stove. But if you have a BBQ it works also. Just make sure you always keep a spare gas bottle.
Our coffee is made with a small espresso machine from freshly ground beans. Well made coffee makes a good start to the day. As a backup we keep a small amount of ground coffee frozen and also we have kept our old plunger and a stove top infuser as backup. Luckily we had plenty of milk on hand. These small things just make life a little more normal and pleasant.
A fireplace or slow combustion heater can't be beaten.
Our bitumen driveway has a badly damaged section which needs major rework. The cause was a blocked drain. The drain was blocked because we had become lazy and didn't complete our annual clean up of this vital drain.
It just so happens we are in the process of replacing our aging front boundary fence. The new addition will be another gate into the neighbours property for yet another exit.
Overall we survived very well. Ran a little low on fuel and couldn't run away for two days but we had plenty of food, water and warmth. Being able to take care of ourselves without calling on emergency services allowed others in need to be taken care of sooner.
We have learnt to be more disciplined about adhering to preparedness plans.
Most of all we found that it didn't take much to make life comfortable in that period. Because we were not in crisis we were able to check with neighbours to make sure they were unhurt and not in need. Life went on pretty much as normal but with a few changed priorities.
There is always an upside to every disaster. The local economy is thriving with the hardware stores and produce stores selling out of everything from fencing materials to chainsaws. People are restocking freezers and pantries. Tradesman are inundated with work. Best if the storm hadn't happened but always accept the positives.
All we need to do now after securing all the boundaries is to commence clearing away the 40 odd trees lying horizontally. No need to worry about firewood for some time.