repost from CS families: preparing for loss of power

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by januaries, Sep 15, 2004.

  1. januaries

    januaries Well-Known Member

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    I live in rural east-central Alabama. Folks around here are anticipating power-outage for at least a week, possibly two. (With Opal, it was out 8-12 days.) We've prepared for the flooding, bought kerosene, and are storing water in all possible containers including bathtub and washing machine. What I'm worried about, however, is frozen and refrigerated items.

    Please help me think through possible options.

    I have a small dorm-room-sized fridge. Would it be a good idea to put some frequently-used items in there so that I can keep the larger fridge closed as long as possible? Maybe fresh fruits and vegetables and possibly cheese, jam, ketchup, etc. Things that are better kept cold, but won't spoil in a day if they're not.

    Or would it be better to put my must-be-kept-cold items in the small fridge and just not open it at all? (Would the small fridge or the larger one stay cold longer without power?)

    My grandmother (next door) has a good fridge that she rarely uses and is virtually empty. That one could also be used, if there's some way to divide the food into use-first, use-second, and use-last categories. Because it's nearly empty, though, it might not hold the cold very long.

    I used the freezer of said grandmother's fridge it to freeze a jug and a couple bowls of water. (The freezer is full of stuff so it ought to stay frozen, but nothing too important so it doesn't matter if it melts.) I thought that, after a day or so, I might place the frozen water into my fridge to help keep things cold. Am I being too optomistic about the helpfulness of that?

    Any other ideas of how I can plan to make sensible use of my resources? I don't have canning or drying equipment available.
     
  2. Mudwoman

    Mudwoman Well-Known Member

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    Find out where you could possibly get some dry ice. That would help with your frozen stuff. Companies pack food in dry ice for shipping and it stays frozen for days.

    In the book I'm reading about having no power at all, they used glass jars with good lids to put food in and then put the jars in cold water. They kept the jars from floating to the top with a rock on them. Said that it would keep left overs for a couple of days. Makes a mini spring house. Some things like ketchup and mustard don't require refrigeration.

    Nothing is going to stay cold in a refrigerator for long even if you keep the door closed. You would need a generator to run it periodically to keep it cooled. If you don't have a generator, now is not the time to try and buy one probably.
     

  3. januaries

    januaries Well-Known Member

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    No, there are no available generators east of the Mississippi.

    A creek is a good idea; we have one or two on our property, but they're a bit difficult to access. I'll investigate that possibility. Might be worth it to get an ice chest and put items in there, then put the ice chest in the creek. Of course, with the possibility of flooding, that may change things.

    I don't think dry ice is very available, either.
     
  4. Tango

    Tango Well-Known Member

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    Everything was thawed but still cold in the freezer of our refrigerator on the third day after Frances. It is a 2001 model and well insulated. The ice began melting on that day as well. That is also the day food in the commerical freezer in our garage started to thaw. I think your items that need to stay cold should go in the newest fridge you have, and don't open that at all - or open last. On the fourth day move them into the freezer to keep cold two days more. No matter how well you organize your foods, without ice, on the fifth day stuff in the freezer will be room temperature. Dry ice is no good after 24 - 36 hours and it is expensive ($1/lb) great for overnight shipping but not great for emergency storage imo.- it disappears. I thought about the pond idea but had no plastic crates to put jars in. In our pond food would have to go all the way to a depth of 15 ft. to stay cold. Use your creeks if you can access them after the hurricane, not before. You might lose everything and cause a problem for yourself or others. Make sure your propane appliances work before Ivan. My prayers for you and everyone in Ivan's path.
     
  5. tkrabec

    tkrabec Well-Known Member

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    Put newspaper/card board in your freezer to keep all the air from leaking out when you open the door. Also freeze as much water in containers as you can fit. old milk jugs, juice jugs etc. if you can compartmentalize your freezer you should do much better. Next hurricane I am planning on putting everything in boxes with news paper and Ice bottles(above) . THen when I need something I will open the door and remove the box :)

    -- Tim
     
  6. BCR

    BCR Well-Known Member

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    Don't forget that you can insulate the fridge/freezers when not plugged in/power off. Wrap them with blamkets, etc. to help them keep cool. Be sure to unwrap when power is restored. Protect them from direct sunlight if possible to keep the heat from increasing as much as you can.

    Frozen water bottles are a great relief to drink as they thaw as well. Ice is always a big commodity. Keep a cooler for the cast easy access stuff, like some things you will eat right away. And don't forget that you can cook up some of the stuff and share with other neighbors who might have something else you can share.

    Do you have wood, charcoal, or something else to cook on should you need it?
     
  7. tkrabec

    tkrabec Well-Known Member

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    Great Idea add more insulation. Also partner with a neighbor eat their food or your's first then hit the next freezer, the more the door is closed the better off the freezer is.

    -- TIm
     
  8. januaries

    januaries Well-Known Member

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    These are good ideas!

    Tango, thanks for pointing out that it would be better to wait until after the hurricane to use the creeks. I'm so stressed and scattered at the moment that those common-sense things elude me!

    Tim, I love the idea of boxing foods to make them quickly accessible and stay cold better.

    The fridge is in the basement; no direct sunlight anywhere.

    BCR, I have a little propane burner--the kind that is often used for camping. Problem is that I only have one propane bottle and can't find any more anywhere. :( Nearest Wal-Mart is 30 minutes away, and they were cleaned out last night. I'm going to try again this evening. Aunts and cousins live nearby, and they have grills and charcoal.
     
  9. degaston

    degaston Member

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    You should stuff your freezer with as many containers full of water as possible, and then freeze them solid at the coldest setting possible. You could also stuff blankets inside the freezer to minimize leakage around the door gaskets. Some friends here were able to keep their food frozen solid for three days after Hurricane Frances with no power.