Note: This article is part of a series on personal preparation to help you answer the question, “What should I do?” Our goal is to provide a safe, rational, relatively comfortable experience for those who are just coming to the realization that it would be prudent to take precautionary steps against an uncertain future. Those who have already taken these basic steps (and more) are invited to help us improve what is offered here by contributing comments, as this content is meant to be dynamic and improve over time.
Heat, Power, and Communications
Being warm, having instant access to electricity, and being able to connect with anyone anytime, anywhere, are so integrated in present-day life that we often forget just how much value these luxuries offer us. My town has experienced four weather- and usage-related power outages in the past year (for a total of eleven power-free days), which provided a useful reminder of just how dependent we are on the miracle of steady, uninterrupted energy.
Being able to see when it is dark, cook food, and heat your space should an outage occur in the winter are first-level needs to prepare for. Remaining in touch with those you depend on (and those who depend on you) is also a primary need, especially in any prolonged outage situation.
Even more significantly than with food and water, there are major cost differences between preparing in an ideal or long-term sort of way using totally self-sufficient alternate energy systems and preparing in a good-enough stop-gap way for temporary outages. There is certainly value in planning and investing to accomplish both, but do not let concerns that you will not have the perfect long-term system impede you from preparing for some of the more likely problematic wrinkles that may come your way.
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