Have you ever looked into your state’s disaster recovery plan? Or even checked to see if they have one? I don’t know about all states, but my state does have one. And if you look into it, it has some pretty scary stuff.

I first encountered my state’s Resilience Plan about three years ago and there were some time frames in there that scared the crap out of me. I wrote an article about earthquake risk and discovered this document. I already had a lot of camping and hiking gear and felt prepared for when basic things go wrong, like losing power for a couple of days. But the time frames in this document are what prompted me to up my prepping game. Here’s what I mean:

Critical Service     –     Estimated Time to Restore Service

Electricity inland     –     1 to 3 months
Electricity in coastal areas     –     3 to 6 months
Police and fire stations inland       –      2 to 4 months
Drinking water and sewage inland     –     1 month to 1 year
Drinking water and sewage in coastal areas     –     1 year to 3 years
Top priority highways (partial restoration) inland     –     6 to 12 months
Healthcare facilities inland     –     18 months
Healthcare facilities in coastal areas     –     3 years

Personally, I think the time frames are unrealistic and shorter than what will actually happen. If the highways are’t working, that means there’s no gas. That means the electricity repair vehicles can’t get around to fix things.

I recently had a conversation with a friend who is well-armed, but not well-prepared as far as back-up food, camping gear, first-aid supplies, etc. I asked him what he would do in an emergency…would he stay in his small house in the city or get out? Would he stay as long as he could or get out early?

His response was that he planned to load up his car with his guns and stuff and drive to a family’s home in California. Well, I reminded him, if a partial restoration of major highways takes up to a year, how will you cross the rivers with your loads of guns and ammo? That made him think a little bit. Then he planned to fortify in his home until he couldn’t anymore. Then? Who knows.

What is your state telling you about its disaster recovery plan?

Power outages are normal. If you live in colder climates, you may have experienced an ice storm, or a hurricane in warmer climates, that knocked the power out. Ideally the power company can get you back up and running before you really miss any of the conveniences that we are so used to having. Often though, this is not the case. Perishable foods in the fridge can start to go bad quickly. And if you use any sort of heating or cooling systems, you will want to be prepared for outside temperatures to seep into your home.

It is important to plan for power outages. When outages happen, internet can go down, and stores get busy. You don’t want to find yourself without one or more of the following key necessities.

Clean water is essential for drinking and helpful for cooking and sanitation. The easiest way to stock up is to purchase large, sealed containers of bottled water. The 5-gallon jugs used with drinking water dispensers are good if you can stay in your home. In case of a natural disaster where you must leave your home, have smaller containers ready in a travel pack. Consider getting a water filter to add to your emergency kit. Modern technology water filters are small and powerful and can transform most any water into drinkable water.

Non-perishable foods need to be in your emergency kit. In a power outage, your refrigerator will “lose its cool.” With the doors kept shut, you have about 4 hours. To help monitor this, keep a thermometer inside your refrigerator. Food-safe temperatures for your fridge are 40 degrees Fahrenheit or cooler. Trail mixes and dried fruits and meats are good to stock up on. Canned goods, of course, will last a long time in your emergency kit. Keep a can opener handy for easy opening. Easy to prepare foods are best. You will want to limit clean up and water use. Add paper towels to your supplies. Avoid plastic disposable dishes and cutlery. There are eco-friendly options, or you can keep one multi-use dish for each person (and animal) that can be rinsed with limited water. A light alcohol solution wipe can help disinfect dishes without contaminating them. If you want to be able to cook, a fire pit, propane grill or stove top are ways to cook without electricity.

Keeping warm could be a challenge without a heater. Depending on your climate and the time of year, you will need items that keep you warm when your heating goes out with the power. Thick socks and warm hats keep your body heat in well. Check the camping section at your nearest department store for emergency thermal blankets. It’s important to read the instructions on these and know when and how to use them to stay warm and dry, but they can come in handy and even keep you alive in some cases. Keep a roll of duct tape handy because some of the cheap emergency blankets and ponchos tear easily.

Keeping cool may be important in a power outage. In extreme hot temperatures, it’s easy to overheat, get dehydrated or lose energy quickly. Keeping freezer bags of clean water as ice packs in your freezer will provide a cooling pack for a few hours, and more water as it starts to melt. Some other ideas are a battery-operated fan, light clothing and a wet fabric on your head. If you live in an especially hot climate, some planning ahead might be good. Find ways to create a shaded living space and check out how to build a solar powered air conditioning unit.

First aid kits are always good to have nearby for small injuries or emergencies. This is a good place to keep your thermal blanket(s) as well. Add additional items such as a sewing kit, utility knife, and a whistle. Other useful items to stock up on are batteries, rope, duct tape and of course flash lights.

Light sources are important for night time hours. Candles are useful, but can be a fire hazard. Battery operated or solar or crank lamps and flashlights are best. Keep these in easy to find places. If the power goes out in the middle of the night, you will want to be able to reach these in the dark.

Communication and sanity are important to prepare for as well. A battery powered or crank radio is good to have on hand, as is a battery powered clock. Throw in some games, puzzles, art supplies and writing equipment. A journal is a great way to pass your time, keep your mind sharp and record important notes from your experience. To keep your cell phone running, consider a solar powered charger, but remember that cell towers may be effected by extreme weather.

In December of 2016, a rash of winter weather swept across Oregon, bringing thick bouts of freezing rain and snow to Lane County. The ice piled onto roads, trees and power lines causing massive power outages and hazardous road conditions. Tens of thousands of people were without lights or heating and many didn’t have a way to leave their homes with trees and wires blocking off roads.

Search and Rescue operations center.

To help out, the Lane County Sheriff’s Office set up a special call center to service people who were going days and in some cases a week without any power or access to essentials. Search and Rescue members and reserve deputies were tasked with helping people who were low on supplies or weren’t able to safely restock. We would also clear debris from the roads we traveled on to make them passable.

Partially blocked roads following the storm















There are several things I gained from what I saw on these assignments that are pertinent for everyone.

  • Three days of supplies is a MINIMUM
    • You could be without power for days if not weeks depending on the type of area that you live in and what kind of disaster has hit. Consider your need for heating, power, food, water, electronics and medical supplies. You should have a secondary source of heat for your home in case of cold conditions outside. Otherwise, make sure you have warm clothing to help you stay comfortable. You will also need food and water for an extended period of time. You can often buy dry packaged meals and non perishable items wholesale.
  • Keep important phone numbers close.
    • Who you gonna call? Not the Ghost Busters. Have numbers for Police/Fire dispatch, utility companies and close friends and family written down and easily accessible.
  • Follow your local news sources and government social media and web pages.
    • When disaster strikes, these sources will list the locations of shelters and other hubs for people who need assistance. Knowing where these are can help when your home runs out of supplies, or if you can’t return home when a disaster cuts off means of transportation.
  • Have a means to clear your area.
    • Severe weather means falling trees and other debris. Several of the roads I traveled while making supply drops had branches or trees completely or partially blocking the way and needed a chainsaw to clear out. Of course, many people will think that public works crews will get rid of the problem. But in a disaster, emergency and utility crews will have a prioritized task list in their response, and your personal property may not be high on the list. Also, are responsible for clearing debris from your personal property. You may need to help your neighborhood by clearing out your street to help you and your neighbors travel. You never know how long it will be before crews are able to start servicing your area. A shovel should be the start of your list of tools along with a handsaw. If you live in an area with large trees, a chainsaw and extra fuel should also be a consideration.
  • Have a plan for your family.
    • Schools will often be closed or delayed after severe weather. What are your kids going to do if they don’t have class and the power is out? There’s a chance that you will still need to go to work if school is cancelled.
  • Prep your vehicle
    • Your car needs to be ready for the weather. Make sure you have the tires you need to get through the rough seasons. An ice scraper should be within reach to clear your windshield and windows. You should also have a go bag with supplies to make it home if you’re vehicle is rendered in operable. You should also keep a blanket in case you’re snowed in but don’t want to leave the protection of your car.
    • In snow, keep chains and a bag of cat litter or grave; in your car at all times even when you think you won’t need it.
The Search and Rescue truck

There are a lot of external chargers, or power banks, out there. A power bank serves as an extra battery for your phone or other electronic device in case the power goes out or you’re ever in a situation where you can’t charge your devise as your normally would. How do you know what to look for to make sure you’re getting a good one? Here are some qualities of a good external charger that you should look for.

First of all, price is difficult to pinpoint. Most of these chargers are made overseas and are not expensive. We bought one that’s simply called “Smart Power Bank” (made in China) and it was only $17. It works pretty well, but there are some things about it that would have made it even better.

1. Rubberized exterior. The power bank we bought feels flimsy. It feels like if we dropped it if would simply crack apart. There is a protective case on the outside but it’s hard plastic that is not going to protect it in a fall. It would have been a lot better had they rubberized the outside like an Otter Box or some kind of phone case protective material.

2. Manufacturer. Not sure if you’ll actually be able to find one that’s not made in China, but if you can, it will likely have better use instructions. The one I got was riddled with mistakes.

3. Charging options. It should have more than one USB port (which allows you to charge more than one smartphone or device at a time), and you should be able to charge it via the charger that came with your phone or computer USB port. Check for compatibility with other charging ports you may already have. A good one will also allow you to charge it via a solar panel.

4. Know your smartphone’s battery capacity. This might be printed on the battery itself, but was also probably in your manual.

5. Amperage and Real Capacity. The higher the amperage the better, but make sure it really has the amperage that is advertised, as sometimes these items are mislabeled. The capacity of the power bank is measure with mAh, which means milli Ampere Hour. The larger the real capacity, the longer the charging time that may be required. A 2800 mAh power bank can charge a smartphone with a 1,400 mAh battery one time. The only way to test some of these outputs and inputs is with electronic equipment. Without that, a good rule of thumb is to divide the mAh of the power bank by the mAh of your device battery, realizing that a device is not going to be 100% as efficient as it is advertised, for a variety of reasons, such as loss of energy inside the circuit.

6. Lights to indicate remaining power. The power bank should show you visually how much power is left in the device, so you know if the charger itself needs to be charged. Many power banks achieve this by using a series of LEDs that light up or turn off as the power in the device changes.

7. Charging time. Charge speed is determined by the output current, not the capacity. A high capacity power bank will be able to provide more charge than a low capacity power bank over time. A wall charger will charge a device at a faster rate because computers have a smaller charging output. Most computer USB ports provide 500 mA (less than 1 amp). Charging time depends on the battery capacity of the power bank as well as the battery capacity of the device you are charging.

Hopefully this info is helpful to you as you seek out a power bank!

What makes the most sense? Buying a generator that requires gasoline or electricity, or buying a generator that provides electricity by harnessing the free energy from the sun? Well…it’s not that simple is it?

Solar has advantages, for sure, but the gear is expensive, fragile and not very portable. It doesn’t work if it’s not sunny. Gas generators work. They are also noisy and in a real SHTF situation you may not have access to gas or electricity when you need it.

What’s a person to do?

Here are some key things to consider when you’re choosing your generator, along with some generators, both solar and gas powered, that we like.

Determine your power needs.

Are you trying to power your fridges and freezers or just run a light in the evenings? Lightbulbs are typically 60 watts, while a fridge needs 700 watts to run. Running all of the items in a typical American home, from lights to microwave ovens, is around 6,000 watts. Select a generator that meets your minimum requirements.

Running watts versus starting watts.

Following the law of inertia, if an electrical appliance is already running it takes less energy to keep it running that it does to start it once it’s stopped running. Running watts are what is needed to continually run your appliances while starting watts are needed to start motor-driven appliances. If you want to keep your freezer running, figure out its starting wattage and use that number to determine a generator that can meet it.

Look at rated power rather than maximum power.

Maximum power is the maximum output a generator can produce but it can’t keep this up for very long. Rated power is the power a generator can make over a longer time period, and is the number you should be looking at. It’s never as high as the max output.

Do you need a stationary or portable generator?

Stationary generators cost more but start automatically when the power goes out, so starting watts may be less of a concern. They are also more expensive, but they put out a greater wattage. Portable generators can be moved around or transported in a car. They are typically less expensive as well as less powerful. Maybe the right combination is one of each!

Solar generators we like:

We’ve used other Goal Zero products before and have to trust their Yeti solar generators. The Goal Zero Yeti 1250 Solar Generator produces up to 1250 watts per hour before needing to be recharged. It can recharge from solar panels, wall outlets, or car batteries, at different rates. This wattage is enough to power most appliances as well as small devices such as phone.

Be Prepared Solar offers a solar generator that harnesses the sun’s power for up to 5,000 watts (remember that max power output we talked about earlier?) and 2,500 running watts. No noise or fumes, so it can be used even in enclosed spaces, which is why we love solar for city dwellers.

Gas generators we like:

The Briggs and Stratton P2000 is portable and weighs only 50 pounds. It produces 1600 running watts and runs at only 59 decibels, which is less than a typical vacuum cleaner.

The Yamaha EF2000iS is under $1,000 dollars and weighs 44.1 pounds. It is said to run up to 10.5 hours on a tank of gas and can power anything up to 2,000 watts. IT’s quieter than the Briggs and Stratton at 51.5 decibels and can be hooked up to another EF2000iS for 3,600 watts of power.

We bet you love your generator. Or maybe you don’t. Maybe you wish you had thought it through more before buying the one you did. Tell us what you love or don’t love about your generator.

When the SHTF, ways to communicate in an emergency with your family and your close friends will be a high priority. Communication infrastructure is also the one aspect of the grid that’s all but sure to fail, thanks to the general public’s reliance on digital electronic devices such as phones and computers for our connection.

The first step to planning is to develop an emergency communication plan and tell your family what it is. Even people who feel they are prepared with gear at home and in their car will admit that their kids or their spouse aren’t as clear on the emergency plan as they should be. Tell everyone what the plan is and practice if necessary.

If you, your spouse and your kids are all in separate parts of town when a disaster strikes, it is likely that everyone will be heading in different directions in a panic unless they know what to do. Read our post on creating an emergency communication plan with your family.

Beyond that, here are four ways that you can still keep lines of communication open if the electrical and cell phone grid goes down.

1. Walkie Talkies

Really check the distance capabilities of walkie talkies before you buy them. Most of the limits put forth by manufacturers don’t account for trees and buildings. That said, good two-way radios, or “walkie talkies,” can work well for near distances such as half mile for FRS (Family Radio Service) radios. GMRS (General Mobile Radio Service) devices generally transmit at higher power levels and can expand your reach by a few more miles. Multiple channels are a good feature to investigate. Good versions will also have an emergency button allowing you to transmit an SOS or use Morse code if need be. If your walkie talkies need batteries, keep back-ups at the ready.

2. CB Radio

Depending on who you ask, CB radios are either making a comeback or they’re as dead as 8-track players. Either way, they are useful in an emergency and unlike hams (see below) do not require a license. Complete systems are affordable and pretty simple. They can also operate on your car’s electrical system or a small battery. Range can be up to 15 miles, although smaller antennas will reduce this.

3. Ham Radio

Ham radio operators must take a test and earn a license, however, when the power lines go down and there is no more radio communication, this is a reliable means to communicate. Basic ham radios can be operated with a couple batteries and an antenna. If you’re planning on using ham radio for an emergency, you might be tempted to skip getting the license. Don’t skip it, because the knowledge you gain from taking the test and going through the process will show you how to operate your radio under many conditions.

Why is it called “ham radio?” It’s an old name that originally started as an insult. Now we know that hams, or amateur radio operators, are a key line of communication in emergency situations. Just look into how much ham radio operators helped out during the Hurricane Katrina disaster.

4. Delorme InReach SE Satellite Messenger
Satellite phones use 100% satellite technology rather than cell phone tower connections. This makes them a stable choice for when the grid goes down. However, they need a clear spot to “see” the sky in order to provide the most accurate GPS signal. It is not reliable in a covered are such as deep woods, in a building or a cave, for instance.

We like this sat phone because unlike others, this one can reliably receive messages while others are one-way outgoing only. It does cost more than others, though.

5. goTenna

The goTenna is a digital radio and app combo that allows you to use your smartphone to send and receive messages individually and in groups, and share your GPS location even when you don’t have cell service. Download the app and wirelessly pair your iOS or Android device and send texts or share a location while offline.

It can be used to communicate with other nearby people who also have goTenna, anywhere on the planet, according to the product’s literature. It can also openly broadcast to any other goTennas within range. It charges via a micro-USB charging port, which makes it compatible with other hand-crank or solar chargers which charge similarly.

What’s your strategy for how to communicate in an emergency when there’s no infrastructure?

If the power goes out, will you be prepared? Power outages can happen for a number of reasons. Blown transformers, strong winds, natural disasters, and other situations can cause widespread power outages.

The fact is that it doesn’t take much of a disruption to cause an unexpected power outage that affects thousands of people.

Most of us have been taught since we were young that it is important to have flashlights and candles available as light sources in case the lights go out. A lantern with a wide beam is good to have on hand to brighten up a room when the lights go out.

These light sources don’t work without their own fuel, so be sure you have extra batteries and matches available (or propane, if you have a propane lantern). These supplies will suit you just fine if the power goes out for just a few hours.

If you’re faced with a long-term power outage, you’ll need more than just light to make it through. You need to be able to stay warm, cook food, access fresh drinking water, and protect your family.

Make sure you have plenty of warm blankets, sleeping bags or comforters on hand. If the electricity goes out, the temperature in your home may quickly drop to an uncomfortable temperature. Long johns, winter jackets, warm hats and gloves are also good to have to keep you comfortable.

Read More: 3 Questions Every Prepper Should be able to Easily Answer

If possible, you should have a heat source in your home that does not require electricity. Wood stoves are excellent sources of heat, and most are designed with a stovetop you can use to cook food and boil water.

If you don’t have a wood stove, you should consider other options for cooking your food. Camp stoves, outdoor grills or fire pits are great options. Make sure you store extra fuel so you don’t run out just when you need it most.

Store plenty of foods that don’t need to be refrigerated. Peanut butter, crackers, canned tuna, granola bars and trail mix are excellent to have on hand because they don’t need to be cooked. Make sure you also store plenty of drinking water in case the water supply is affected.

To stay updated on the latest news, consider purchasing a battery-operated or hand crank radio. This radio may be your only source of information during a power outage.

If you’re serious about prepping for a power outage, you’ll want to invest in a quality generator. If you live in an area that experiences frequent power outages, you may want a generator that will automatically power your entire house when the power goes out. Otherwise, a portable generator is a less expensive option that will be adequate. Again, make sure you have stored plenty of fuel for your generator.


Preparing for unexpected power outages during winter is important so you’ll be better prepared for those long, cold hours of going without the modern conveniences we’ve all grown accustomed to.

What should you do to better equip yourself in the event that your electricity suddenly goes out?

Stock your home with essentials throughout the whole winter because it’s not just power outages that are likely to happen this time of year. Ice storms, heavy winds, or blizzards emerge as well.

It’s a good idea to have what you need when these circumstances arise. The main things you need to have around is extra food and water. Think of items you can eat that doesn’t require heating, like peanut butter, nuts, granola bars, chips, etc.

Fill at least a few 1 gallon containers full of water so that you have this to keep you and your family hydrated.

Have several flashlights and batteries on hand. Candles pose the threat of fire and aren’t the best source of extra supplies for emergency preparedness. Part of survival is having things that will last …  and candles won’t last that long.

If you don’t have a battery-powered radio, purchase one. When access to a television isn’t an option, a small radio that will keep you informed is a good alternative. You can be apprised of any warnings, evacuation orders, or status updates on power outages.

Lastly, to prepare for an unexpected power outage, buy a car cell phone charger. It’s vital to keep phone fully charged. The phone can be charged by using the cigarette lighter or auxiliary plug in your car as a supplement source of power. Another good tip is to consider having an alternate landline phone for your home, which tends to be unaffected during power outages.

Follow these main tips in emergency preparedness and you’ll be far more comfortable while waiting for the electricity to come back on!

Knowing how to work with the light or the lack of is paramount in combat situations. If you have the ability to choose a lighting situation or plan for it, you’re much more likely to win.

Most home invasions occur at night. Intruders are most likely to be in pairs. They’re looking to use any force necessary to gain control of the environment and, at most, you might have 60 seconds to get the upper hand. Other than your handgun, your biggest advantage is your environment. It’s nighttime, and since you know the environment better then they do, the darkness plays in your favor. Here are some tips to help you protect your home in the dark.

Read the Light

You should know how the light levels in your house will affect how you’re seen from various choke points. These points are basically the doorways to your bedroom and other rooms, the end of any hallways, across the living room, past the large window. What about mirrors? Move through your house and note the places where an encounter may occur or where you might become visible.

Practice at night with your home just how it is on any normal night. Set up a few scenarios. Start from your bedroom and move to the front door or move from the living room or the kids room to the garage. Take your time and move slowly. Consider the ambient light around you. Are you silhouetted?  Which angles put light on you? If intruders were coming from this way or that, how well could they see you? If you’re a photographer this will be much more natural for you.

Don’t Silhouette Yourself

The obvious strategy is to avoid standing in the light if possible. Don’t allow your face to be lit for your intruder but equally important, don’t give them a clear silhouette to shoot at.

Move to the Darkness

You should always be in the shadows since they can conceal your movements. Intruders may have flashlights, maybe they don’t. In either situation, you’ll be better off if an intruder simply can’t see you. This will give you a huge advantage to get a good view of them and add  the element of surprise.

DON’T Use Lasers or Flashlights

Flashlights and especially lasers will give your position away. This is the quickest way for two or more intruders to make quick work of you. If you have a flashlight on, you might be nervous and in that case, the first one to shoot will win. This puts unnecessary pressure on you. You don’t want to be in put a situation where you might feel you need to shoot prematurely. You’ll simply have one less round in the chamber and will have put friends or family under unnecessary risk.

If You Do Use a Flashlight

DON’T! But if you do,  flash your light very quickly. If you want a flashlight on your home defense pistol, get one that has the option to turn on when you squeeze the button and turn off when you release. You can use this burst of light to light your path. Make sure you don’t kick anything, trip over the kids toys or break your leg/toe or whatever which will certainly compromise your situation. Again, move to the point of the lowest light.


Practice the scenarios that make the most sense for you. If you’re usually in bed in the evening make sure to cover from the bedroom down the hallway over and over. If you like to watch TV in the living room, practice the living room to the front door over and over. Remember the second intruder could be out the back door or a window while the other one may come in through the garage door. Make sure to practice from the intruders’ perspective. How do the streetlights light the hallway coming from the front door or garage door? Try it with the front porch light on, then the back.

Breath and Try to Relax

You know you’re a much better shot when you’re calm but I had to say it anyway. You know the environment and you’ve practiced. You can do it. Be confident.