Surviving Extreme Heat and Power Outages

by David Morris on July 21, 2011

We’re to the part of the summer when the heat seems to be one of the big news stories. Conveniently, everyone seems to forget that it gets hot EVERY summer, so it makes good news.

Along with heat comes power outages, primarily from increased air conditioner use. Several cities are experiencing localized and/or regional brownouts and blackouts this week including Chicago, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Detroit, and hundreds of smaller cities and towns.

The media loves this time of year. They can interview hot people, talk about where power is out and when it will come back on, and talk about all the people dying and being hospitalized from the heat.

As our population and electrical infrastructure ages, this is going to be a bigger and bigger issue. Throw in a local or regional disaster, and it’s an issue that almost everyone needs to have a plan for.

I want to start with heat related deaths and say that for the most part, they are a creation of the media. It actually makes me mad when I hear talk about people dying from the heat. It’s not only inaccurate, but it plants the idea in people’s heads that they might die simply because it’s hot out. In the majority of cases where people die from the heat in urban areas, the deaths are completely unnecessary and avoidable.  It’s much more accurate to say that these people died from a lack of knowledge, rather than from the heat and a power outage.

Do people die when it gets hot out? Yes, but ask anyone who has deployed to the sandbox, done manual labor throughout the summer, or the millions of people who live in Africa and the Middle East without air conditioning and they’ll tell you that hot weather alone won’t kill you.

Which begs the question, why do more people die when it gets hot and air conditioning stops working? In short, the problem isn’t with the heat as much as people’s inability to control their core body temperature.

One of the first signs of heat related issues is muscle cramping, although that is more of an issue for people who are exerting themselves and not for people who the media claims “died from the heatwave.”

The next stage is heat exhaustion, which is caused by low water and salt levels. It’s exactly what it sounds like…you feel exhausted because it’s hot. In addition, it’s normal to also have headaches, confusion, and cold, clammy skin.

If it’s not treated, the body can “stroke out and eventually die. At this stage, people don’t sweat anymore, their pulse is fast, they feel nauseous or vomit, they’re extremely confused and/or delirious, and may pass out.

It’s important to look for and recognize these signs, both in yourself and those around you. If you’re alone, you can take care of yourself if you’ve got cramps or early heat exhaustion, but if you let things go too far and get heat stroke, your survival depends on someone else finding you and helping you.

Here’s a few things you can do to influence how vulnerable you are to heat related illnesses and death during a temporary power outage:

First, we’ve got sweating. Our bodies rely, in large part, on sweat evaporating off of the skin to cool the body. You want to give the body the tools it needs to be able to sweat as it sees fit.

If you take medication that interferes with sweating or is a diuretic, then you’ll have a harder time sweating.

If you don’t drink enough water, you won’t sweat as much as you need to. I like to drink as cold of water as I can.

If you consume sugar, caffeine, or alcohol, you will need to drink more water or you won’t sweat as much as you need to.

Your sweat contains salt and minerals. If you don’t replace them, your body will enter a low salt state called hyponatremia. When you’re in this state, you feel like you want to die. I would gladly have the worst flu conditions that I’ve ever had for a week than hyponatremia for a day.

All of these factors are more pronounced for the extremely young, extremely old, and people who are chronically ill.

Second, you can make yourself more resilient to heat by simply keeping your house warmer when you use AC. It may not seem like much, but your body will be able to handle 100+ degree temperatures much easier if it is used to 74, 76, or 78 degrees than if you keep it at 68 or even 72 degrees.

It takes a few days to a week for your circulatory system, breathing, and sweat glands to get used to high temperatures. If you’re constantly telling your body that “normal” is 68 degrees, then it simply won’t be able to adapt to extreme temperatures very quickly. But even if your body IS used to 68 degree weather and you get an extended power outage, keep in mind that your body will quickly adapt to the higher temperatures over a few days.

Personally, we keep our house between 74 and 76 during the summer so that we can run easier in 100+ degree weather and so that our kids can play in 100+ degree temperatures without thinking it’s too hot to play. There’s also a benefit of lower utility costs, but the biggest benefit is the freedom that it gives us by not being “prisoners” to air conditioning.

As an example, yesterday I ran 5 miles when it was 102 degrees and 50% humidity. It wasn’t all that bad, simply because my body is not used to 68 degree air and I gave it the raw materials it needed (water, salts, minerals) to cool itself. In addition, I wore loose clothes and soaked myself with a hose before starting my run. I also had a camelback with me that I filled with ice and then water to drink on my run.  Many people would call my steps of using the hose and drinking icewater “cheating”–and they’re right 🙂  Heat and humidity can lower your pace by half or more, and I want to squeeze as much performance out of every beat of my heart as possible.  By taking these extra steps to cool my body while running, I’m able to run at a faster pace while maintaining my target heartrate.

Third, influence your environment. It’s pretty obvious that if you’re stuck in a 100 degree house with the electricity off that you shouldn’t wear a winter coat. Even so, many people don’t take the next logical step of wearing as few lightweight breathable clothes as possible.If you’ve got water and lightweight breathable clothes, the next thing that you want to do is get them damp so that your body doesn’t have to sweat to get the benefits of evaporative cooling. Any time you feel uncomfortably hot and realize that your skin is dry, you should both drink water and get your skin damp.

If you’re moving around, that’s great because you will be creating airflow that will increase evaporation. If you have to sit, try to sit in a chair that exposes as much of you as possible to air. A good example of this is a wicker chair.Unless it’s a lot hotter outside than inside, open windows so that you get a breeze.

If you have access to water that’s cooler than 98 degrees, take a bath or shower. Water conducts heat away from the body 27-30 times faster than air and can help you get your core temperature down quickly.If you live in an area that gets to temperatures that you consider to be “dangerously” hot, invest in some batteries and DC fans. You can get low power 12 volt fans from Amazon or Radio Shack for $10-$60. When combined with moist skin, they can cool you off very quickly.

Powering items during power outages.

And what about powering stuff? Whether it’s power for medical equipment, for cash registers and credit card processing, for computers, or just to run fans, having power during a short term power outage can mean the difference between a minor interruption and a disaster.  I’ve written about this a few times in the past, and I go into detail on the subject in the SurviveInPlace.com Urban Survival Course, but here are a few quick-n-dirty tips.

One of the simplest things, although not necessarily the cheapest, that you can do is buy a couple of 6 volt golf cart batteries and a properly sized inverter. Golf cart batteries are about the same size as car batteries, but they’re made to run things for a long time where a car battery is only designed to start your car for a few seconds and then get immediately recharged. This will allow you to run or charge both 12 volt and 120 volt items, including refrigerators (in the summer), medical items, fans, computers, well pumps, and a furnace blower (in the winter).

You can scale this up as your needs dictate and your finances allow, but I suggest buying batteries in sets of 2 and never mixing batteries of different ages.

You can also scale this up by adding solar, wind, or hand/foot crank generators to the mix to recharge the batteries.

And one trick on your refrigerator…if you change your light bulbs from incandescent to LED, you might just cut the size of inverter you need by 25% or more! Since LED lights are pretty expensive, you can also just remove your refrigerator lights when the power is out.

If you’re in one of the areas being impacted by the summer heat and power outages, what have you done to minimize the inconvenience? What lessons have you learned that you could apply to a medium to long term power outage? Do you have any kind of power backups in place? If so, what kind? Share your thoughts and answers by commenting below.

Until next week,

 

David Morris SurviveInPlace.com

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{ 90 comments… read them below or add one }

+12 Vote -1 Vote +1Jarrod in Texas
July 21, 2011 at 6:59 pm

Here is a quick tip I learned while in the sand box. If you want to cool down the temp of small quantities of H2O, under 2 liters. First take your bottle of water, place it in a clean sock, dirty will work, lords knows I went that route more than once, then pour any excess water you have onto the sock and bottle. You can even use stagnant water, but must make sure that the lid on your drinking water is tightly sealed. Hang the sock/water in a shady spot, preferably were there is a breeze. If no noticeable breeze is felt you can usually find one between buildings, or other such avenues, that force air through it. continually wet the sock, ensuring that it does not dry out. An hour later, the temp of your drinking water should have dropped as much as 10-15 degrees. This works miracles in times of need in respect to morale, remember it’s the little things that count.

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+2 Vote -1 Vote +1Guy in Woodstock,GA
July 21, 2011 at 8:26 pm

Although not inexpensive, I purchased a solar generator back-up power system that can produce up to 1800 watts (1440 watts continuous) and can be recharged by a solar panel at a charging rate of 80 eats maximum. The batteries in the power source are deep cycle Duracell sealed lead acid. This can power a 5 watt product for 63 hrs., a laptop computer using 20 W for 22 hrs., or an 18 cu. Ft. Fridge for 2.8 hrs.

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Vote -1 Vote +1BOB
July 25, 2011 at 4:33 pm

HOW MANY BATTERIES/

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+12 Vote -1 Vote +1Ed in NC
July 22, 2011 at 5:55 am

I fill used soda bottles with water and keep them in the freezer to help “store cold” in the event of a power outage.By filling this other wise empty space with ice it helps to keep the temperature down longer and as an added benefit I always have ice to put in the cooler for summer outings

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+5 Vote -1 Vote +1David Morris
July 22, 2011 at 8:26 am

Great strategy, Ed. My family grew up RVing and RV refrigerator/freezers used to be notorious for bad performance. (They’re still finicky) Putting ballast (water bottles) in the freezer is one of the most effective strategies we found for keeping freezers/fridges cold longer when they were working intermittantly or not at all.

Another strategy you can use, if you can keep them from flying all over the place, is to stuff empty spaces with ziplock bags full of air and/or crumpled newspapers. As far as I know, this started as a fishing/hunting trick to keep coolers cold longer. In short, it cuts down on the amount of cold air that escapes when you open the cooler/fridge/freezer.

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-3 Vote -1 Vote +1Mike Andreasen
July 25, 2011 at 8:44 am

A couple of cautions concerning bottled water:

While working with FEMA, we were advised that letting the temperature of bottled water in original plastic bottles as they come from bottler rise above 100 F. allows the bottles to out gas into the water, resulting in a foul taste. They did not indicate a health problem due to this, but maybe they felt the taste would keep people from consuming it.

On the obverse side, they did warn us that freezing the bottles, as many of our field agents were prone to do allowed carcinogens to leech into the water and it could possibly cause harm to your health.

So, If you are freezing water in plastic, only use it as ballast to help maintain your freezers cool, but be cautious about drinking it.

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+2 Vote -1 Vote +1David Morris
July 25, 2011 at 9:00 am

You’re right…and this is a case of picking your battles. You shouldn’t drink out of hot plastic bottles, nalgenes with BPA, aluminum cans, or cook out of aluminum cans…All of these are bad for you. We eat a lot of locally grown, fresh organic foods, drink water from a Berkey and other high quality water purifiers, spend a fair amount on vitamins, got rid of all of our non-stick cookware and only use ceramic, and are very conscious about what we put in our bodies. That being said, we still drink bottled water, water out of 10-15 year old nalgenes, and I don’t hesitate to cook out of cans when camping.

Interestingly enough, whether you like it or not, I’m one of the people who agree with the studies that sodas sweetened with aspertame that are heated over 100 degrees release formaldehyde. This is believed by some and vigorously opposed by others to be one of the contributing causes to Gulf War Syndrome. In any case, we avoid artificial sweeteners as if they were Roundup or wasp spray.

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+3 Vote -1 Vote +1c
September 23, 2011 at 2:08 pm

In any case, we avoid artificial sweeteners as if they were Roundup or wasp spray.

EXACTLY

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+2 Vote -1 Vote +1S in ny
July 22, 2011 at 11:04 am

I-m sure U know this, but for someone who.s not tried it yet: Be sure to NOT fill the bottles All the way full! (Water expands when frozen)!
Be Cool!

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+2 Vote -1 Vote +1Linda
July 22, 2011 at 3:01 pm

Thanks so much for that added information.

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+2 Vote -1 Vote +1M
July 22, 2011 at 8:55 am

I continue to read about golf cart batteries – i can get the batteries.

What is the inverter that I need? can you provide a link?

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+1 Vote -1 Vote +1jim 28th reg
July 6, 2012 at 7:23 am

The easiest place I’ve found for an inverter is either a truck stop or Radio shack. Some of the larger Wallys have small inverters. Size of the inverter should be determined by what you intend to use it for. may be necessary to order one from r.S. or Wallys though truck stops usually carry several sizes. Those I have purchased all have an internal fuse and the instruction sheet recomended to have an inline reg.auto fuse in the hook up line. When I did this the fuse just kept blowing so I hooked it up direct and had no problems.
OH guess I better add I was driving semis at the time with four truck batteries in the regular truck set up. Hope this will help — GOD BLESS YA.

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+2 Vote -1 Vote +1lightyeare
July 22, 2011 at 9:15 am

Thanks for this. It is amazing the difference even just a little bit of information can make. I try to learn one new thing a day about survival, otherwise known as common sense, and I can always count on you.

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+5 Vote -1 Vote +1Ron Halfhill
July 22, 2011 at 9:17 am

Here’s a trick I learned Hong Kong in miserably hot and humid situation. I shop owner I patronized advised that instead of consuming a cold drink, I drink hot tea he offered instead. The theory was based on equalizing the temperature of the inside of my body with that of the outside air, and it worked. I “felt” cooler and much better. People who rush to consume chilled drinks on hot and humid days are working against themselves trying to remain so much cooler than the ambient conditions.

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+2 Vote -1 Vote +1Urbnsr
July 22, 2011 at 1:26 pm

My wife’s late father would use this theory. I understand he would also eat hot soup at lunch for the same reasons.

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+1 Vote -1 Vote +1Pat
July 23, 2011 at 1:51 pm

Makes you sweat too, which helps a lot if there’s even a tiny breeze.

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+1 Vote -1 Vote +1Otto
July 22, 2011 at 9:22 am

Here in S. FL, 90+ temps are something we live with every day for 5-6 months out of the year. We keep the house at 76 during the day, although we find turning it down to 74 at night yields better sleep. When outdoors, keeping out of the sun makes an incredible difference, even when there’s little or no breeze.

We are, of course, set up for post-hurricane, no-power situations as a matter of course. This includes a generator, enough plastic gas cans to store 60 gallons to power it, and two small fans to hook into it to provide a breeze if none is available. We also have a pool- a good place to dunk in to cool off, a source for non-potable water for flushing, etc., even when the pool pump is not working. We also chose to live in a community just to the north of the international airport, (which has east-west runways so that airplane noise isn’t a problem,) but since we’re on the same power grid, we get our power back fast- we were out for only about 12 hours altogether with Wilma, while some areas of town took a week to get back online.

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+1 Vote -1 Vote +1Penny
July 22, 2011 at 9:29 am

Here in SW. Florida such preparations are a matter of course. We have power generators to run the fridge and freezer, fans and lights.We stock up on food, water and other supplies for at least a week. Iwould be willing to bet there is info about hurricane preparation on the net. That would be a good place to start.

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+1 Vote -1 Vote +1John Zander Schmitt
July 22, 2011 at 9:39 am

David,
For us non-techies. How do you connect up the battery-inverter-to the appliance or to the house?

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+1 Vote -1 Vote +1G. Houston
July 23, 2011 at 10:40 pm

Most power inverters have regular 110 outlets on them

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+1 Vote -1 Vote +1Mike Andreasen
July 25, 2011 at 8:50 am

I purchased an 850 watt inverter that I use with my truck. It has two leads that connect to the battery. They are marked and easy to clamp onto the terminals. It also has some outlets I can plug extension cords into. It also has a display that shows battery voltage and an automatic shutoff if the battery voltage falls low enough that it can no longer power the device hooked up to it. Easy to use, great for emergency power or power at remote sites. They are available at Lowes in the power tool area and I would assume other building supply stores as well. I’ve also seen them in Truck Stops.

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+1 Vote -1 Vote +1David Morris
July 25, 2011 at 9:02 am

Do you know the brand that you got?

I have half a dozen…from 300/350 watt Energizer ones from Radio Shack to the 1000 watt in-house generic brand from Harbor Freight. They all have their place, but none of mine have automatic shutoffs…That responsibility still falls on me.

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+1 Vote -1 Vote +1Mike Andreasen
July 25, 2011 at 9:45 am

Sorry, this is an 800 Watt instead of 850 as I first indicated.

Stanley 800 watt converter
PC809, SEL
Input: DC 12V ~78A
Output: 800 Watts
AC129V – 60 Hz
USB Output 5V DC ~.5A

I was amazed at the short time for my post to be approved, even more amazed at the short time for your reply. How do you do it along with all the other stuff you do?
I also have a smaller inverter that plugs into the cigarette lighter socket. I used it to power 2 60 watt light bulbs. When the battery volatage got too low it would start flashing my plugged in lights for a few times then shut down. There was always enough battery left to crank my vehicle, so long as there was no problem with it that required extensive cranking. I primarily use it to power my laptop while on the road and don’t want to run off batteries. I think I got it at a truck stop.

TARGUS
APV12US
Input 12-16 V 20 A max
Output 120V – 60 hz 150W
Thanks for all you do.

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+1 Vote -1 Vote +1Bill
August 11, 2011 at 11:23 am

In general, you don’t hook up the inverter to the house. You only hook up those individual items that you need, using extension cords. The inverter only creates a small fraction of the power that your house can use at maximum (if you turn on a hair dryer, it will shut down or burn up your inverter). And having an inverter hooked up to the outside power supply when the power comes back on is dangerous (and typically illegal). So just unplug things from the wall and plug them into your inverter (or generator).

There are “gizmos” intended to allow a quick or even automatic switchover from a generator to commercial power and back that work fine. Otherwise, just plug and unplug stuff by hand.

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Vote -1 Vote +1Theo
July 6, 2012 at 9:00 am

I have used inverters on sports shoots to power my strobe lights. The inverters all have 12V inputs and also have the standard outlet outputs for appliances. They are quite simple to use. Just input your 12V from your battery/batteries to the 12V input side, then simply plug in your appliance to the standard outlet.
Now the tricky part is with the battery setup. Assuming your inverter is 12V input, using a single 12V battery is pretty straight forward. If using multiple 12V batteries ( to increase run time), connect negative terminal to negative terminal, and positive to positive. This will give you 12V output, but with increased amperage.
If using 6V batteries with a 12V inverter, you will need two batteries. Then you would connect the positive terminal of one battery to the negative terminal of the other battery. (Be sure to use standard battery cables, as 14, 16 or 18 gauge regular wire will rapidly overheat) 6V plus 6V equals 12V. Now connect the remaining (or open) negative terminal of one 6V battery to the 12V input side of your inverter. Now go to the other battery and connect the open positive terminal of the 6V battery to the to the 12V input side of the Inverter. Just think of a 12V battery as two 6V combined internally into one with a single negative terminal free(open) and a single positive terminal free(open). Now you have done the equivalent by connecting positive to negative of your two 6V batteries with a free negative of one and a free positive of the other. This is known as a “series” connection. This increased your voltage, but not your amperage. When you connect the neg to neg and the pos to pos of the 12V batteries, this is known as a “parallel” connection. Parallel connections increase the amperage while laving the voltage the same. Need more help? [email protected] Warning! I am not an electrical expert. Just done a lot of study and know quite a bit!

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Vote -1 Vote +1Theo
July 6, 2012 at 9:09 am

One more thing! If you are going to use heavy duty appliances or machinery, you likely will require a pure sine wave inverter. Light duty applications like lights or fans will work with the modified sine wave inverters. Yep, you guessed it. Quite a difference in cost between the two.

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+7 Vote -1 Vote +1Dick Weber
July 22, 2011 at 9:46 am

In dry areas you can make a refrigerator from two porous unglazed large planters, one smaller than the other and placing them inside one another surrounded by sand between and on the bottom of the larger pot. Fill the bottom of the larger pot so the rim of the inner pot is slightly above the outer pot then pack sand all around the sides. (Be sure and tightly block both holes in the pots with caulking or something similar) Then fashion an insulated lid for the inner pot out of styrofoam cut to fit snugly and simply pour water into the sand between the two pots and keep it filled with water. It will lower the temp in the inner pot by 15 to 20 degrees (sometimes more) if the pot is in the shade and the air is dry.

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+1 Vote -1 Vote +1Mike Andreasen
July 25, 2011 at 9:48 am

How neat!

I am in process of moving. Once I’m moved, I’ll set some of these up so they are always ready.

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-3 Vote -1 Vote +1Matt Ojennus
July 22, 2011 at 9:47 am

What you’re not mentioning as you beat on the media is that most of the deaths occur among the elderly with no support system from either family, church, or government who are living in inner cities, which are huge heat generators because of their micro-climate, in very basic housing that does not include air conditioning. Their bodies have a lower capacity to cope with extreme temperatures. So what advice do you have for them?

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+6 Vote -1 Vote +1David Morris
July 22, 2011 at 1:45 pm

Matt,

Please see the advice in the article above. Again, I stress that the issue is one of a lack of education and not one of how hot it is outside. This is a VERY important point, because every time the media says that there’s been “another heat related death,” they increase the fear, stress, and anxiety levels of people who believe the media and don’t have simple heat management knowledge like what I shared above. When people are in fearfull, stressful, and anxious states, they breathe shallower, their heart beats faster, they don’t absorb nutrients as fast, and sometimes urinate more frequently–all of which are bad when you’re trying to regulate your core body temperature when it’s hot out.

Instead of announcing the number of “heat related deaths,” it might help if the media would say something like, “More proof that we screwed up and caused another death by not spreading the word about how to regulate your body temperature during summer power outages. We apologize. Keep in mind, the heat is nothing to panic about. All you need to do is follow some simple steps and you won’t have any trouble with the summer heat that we’re having. Remember, our soldiers are fighting and exercising in the Middle East in temperatures 15-20 degrees warmer wearing more clothes, body armour, backpacks without the benefit of air conditioning. If they can do it, we can sit in our houses without AC for a couple of days. There is absolutely NO reason why anyone should die due to heat during a summer power outage.”

Of course, that isn’t a “soundbite” so we’ll never hear it from the media, but you can share it with your friends, co-workers, and relatives.

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+1 Vote -1 Vote +1Martin
July 23, 2011 at 10:44 pm

You’re right dave. I truley don’t believe the majority of the mass media cares about anything but ratings. Death and suffering sell more then prevention.

As far as what I do in these cases, unfortuneately, I as of yet don’t have the ability to be long term off the grid. I do have a 7000 watt gas generator, but use it only to operate my well pump, to keep my 5000 gallon water tank full. It uses much too much fuel to keep it running just for lights and refridgerator/freezers. For this I use a Honda 2000 watt. A ton less fuel and a whole bunch quieter. A tip for the readers…When trying to conserve power, turn your freezers off at night and back on in the morning. During outages, ours goes off at 10pm and back on at 8am. No food damage at all and less energy usage. I have off the grid neighbors who have timers on their freezer for just this reason, off every night, on every day.

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+2 Vote -1 Vote +1MP
July 25, 2011 at 12:00 am

That reminds me of my late grandmother who lived to be in her middle 80’s, lived in rural MS in a little house with no AC, other than some box fans and survived just fine. Like most people out those ways up until recently when cheap made in China AC units made getting cool affordable for even the poorest people, she survived the humid 90-100 degree summers year after year. Open windows, box fans, water, even sitting out on the porch were all utilized to help stay cool, along with the other common sense measures. There was no issue about the heat killing any of us, even grandma.

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+1 Vote -1 Vote +1Mike Andreasen
July 25, 2011 at 10:03 am

Older houses were designed to function with no A/C, not like our modern homes that quickly become unbearable without electricity or other utilities. I’m currently sitting in a 100 year old house with no A/C. It’s 10′ ceilings and wide windows make it bearable even though the outside temp is at 90. My 20 year old son is napping on a cot with a box fan blowing on him. I’m sitting in the middle of the room enjoying the cross current breezes from the open windows both down and upstairs. We get up just before day break, work until the upstairs becomes too hot, nap until temps start to drop in the evening, then work till 10 at night or so, being careful to not use power tools or make other noise after 9 that would disturb neighbors. We don’t beat the heat, we go around it.

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Vote -1 Vote +1Joe
July 10, 2012 at 5:14 pm

Very interesting observation….any other observed differences in the old home construction? I would assume that a house that wasn’t completely air-tight might cool better in summer but could be a disadvantage in winter .

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+1 Vote -1 Vote +1arkaty
July 22, 2011 at 10:49 pm

I have a metal tub, filled with water. It is on my back porch. If I needed to , I could get wet or simply put my feet in it and cool down. I have encouraged my parents to KEEP a large container of water available , and of course change it often. This could cool you down, if you had no fan or a.c.

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+6 Vote -1 Vote +1Ken Sayar
July 22, 2011 at 10:10 am

When cooling keep in mind that the second law of thermodynamics is that cold draws heat, or heat goes to cold. So cold air never ‘escapes’ a compartment, hot air enters to warm cold air. Hence the water bottle in a sock, the heat in the bottled water draws out to the air-cooled watered surface of the sock, thus dropping the internal temperature of the bottled water. In a cooler or freezer, your goal is not to keep the cold air in but to keep the hot air out.

In our homes, all winter the heat is trying to escape from every nook and cranny. In summer, the outside hot air is working its way into our cool homes through the same channels.

Keep this in mind and you can plan your heating and cooing strategies accordingly.

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+2 Vote -1 Vote +1David Morris
July 22, 2011 at 11:28 am

Hey Ken,

I love the entropy reference, and try to incorporate the concept into conversations as often as possible 🙂 In the case of coolers and freezers, I DO want to add to what you said about how you only want to keep the cold air in and that the only principle at play is thermodynamics. When you open or close freezers or coolers, you also have fluid dynamics at play.

The turbulance generated by opening and closing freezers and coolers (fluid dynamics) causes some (sometimes a LOT) of the cooled air/water vapor in the cooler/freezer to come out of the refrigerator and to be replaced by ambient air from the surrounding air that is presumably warmer. Once the warm air is inside the cooler/freezer, then thermodynamics comes into play as the calories of energy from the warm air/water vapor transfer to the air/water vapor/contents of the freezer.

Now keep in mind that even though fluid dynamics was one of my favorite classes in college, that was almost a generation ago and I’m open to the possibility that I’m off on my description 🙂

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+1 Vote -1 Vote +1jim
July 24, 2011 at 11:26 am

David,
Good description, however there is another aspect to the fluid dynamics. Cold air being heavier than warm air, when you open the door on an upright freezer the cold air will flow out the bottom of the freezer container and warm air to flow into the top. Chest type freezers will transfer heat only at the thermal boundary.
JC

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+4 Vote -1 Vote +1CaptTurbo
July 22, 2011 at 10:27 am

While I have not had to put my battery back-up system to a test much beyond 6 hours yet, I have a 48 volt battery bank composed of 8 golf cart batteries.

I have the battery bank linked to my grid tied 10.120KW Solar power system. This solar power system makes more energy then my SW Florida home consumes so I back-feed power into the grid by day and pull some of it back by night. The extra is sold back to the utility.

My battery bank won’t run an air conditioner for long periods but should be more then enough to get my three freezers through the night. Morning will come and then I’m back up to full power while the battery bank recharges.

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+1 Vote -1 Vote +1Mike Andreasen
July 25, 2011 at 9:04 am

A new problem in South Alabama is the new power rates the Utilities are levying on those who sell electricity back to the Company . The excess on the rate is for “Grid Maintenance” so Solar / Wind customers are paying their fair share of grid maintenance that they are not paying due to their reduced usage of electricity. This raises their rates so they do not achieve a payback on their investment. Anybody else know about this going on?

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+7 Vote -1 Vote +1S in ny
July 22, 2011 at 11:27 am

2 tips from Mom(biologist):–1 small pinch of (multi-mineraled) sea salt in just 1 of your glasses of water will help adjust balance all day;
–If drinking when very thirsty, instead of quickly gulping, 1st hold water in mouth to contact all surfaces for a moment, thus giving your brain maximum quick message re: water input (do a couple of times)–big help!

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+2 Vote -1 Vote +1Cat
July 22, 2011 at 12:40 pm

Lived in Arizona which we all know has 100+ temperatures all the time. Here are some tips
* Don’t drink iced cold water quickly as it will make you sick, it needs to be sipped
* Use passive solar, when its hot close the curtains/blinds so the sun does not heat up the room, when cold open the curtains/blind to let the sun warm up a room.
* As David said wear loose clothing and get it wet, plus if you are out side wear a loose hat to keep the sun off your face, it help keep your head cooler
* if you don’t have a pool soak in the tub, cool water will lower your body temp.
* If you have a garden and it has a shady side, go sit in the garden and let evaporation and a breeze help cool you off

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+3 Vote -1 Vote +1Kara
July 22, 2011 at 2:39 pm

When I carried my youngest child it was a very hot summer and we had no a/c. I spent the summer sitting in a tepid bath about half the time! I also found that if you put damp sheets on the bed, it cools you all night. (Damp, not soaked. We don’t want to encourage mildew in the mattress.) A shower before bed helps too… oils on skin hold in heat. If you have a waterbed, turn off the heater. The cool water will draw heat from the bodies sleeping on it. (An air mattress, on the floor, will, too – but not quite as effieciently.) Dimmer switches and ceiling fans are good investments. Not only will they make your life more comfortable, (winter & summer) but they will also help when the electric bills come.
Speaking of dimmer switches, what no-one seems to have mentioned is that electric lights create heat, as well as light! Use light sparingly, and the lowest wattage you can manage w/o walking into walls! Flourescent creates less heat than incandescent, I believe.
When possible cook outside on a grill to keep the heat out of the house. Even using the microwave ( which also creates a certain amount of heat) is better than firing up the kitchen stove.
If you are with someone who is showing signs of heat exhaustion, get their clothes wet & have them lie down in the shade, and /or on a cement floor. Have them sip cool (not icy cold) water or gaterade type drinks. If you can get them to drink it… water with a little salt added is better.
That’s all I can think of now. Be Cool!

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+1 Vote -1 Vote +1David Morris
July 22, 2011 at 3:13 pm

Thanks, Kara! We had our oldest in the summer too and your comment brought back happy memories.

You’re spot on on flourescent. Even better is LED, but they’re very expensive and take a long time to pay for themselves in a “normal” situation.

If you use dimmer switches, consider taking the face plate off after the light/fan has been running for awhile to see how hot it is. Older dimmer switches used rheostats that simply used the electricity (and converted heat) at the dimmer rather than at the bulb. Newer dimmers, like Lutron dimmers, use a different system that actually uses less electricity when you dim the lights.

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+4 Vote -1 Vote +1Stephen
July 22, 2011 at 1:33 pm

Hey David, I couldn’t agree with you more. With my training background we never lost a man or woman due to heat. Every civilian & Special Ops who have gone through my training program knows survival in Xtreme climates. All the comments made today are very helpful for those who want to learn.

I finished a killer workout today in KY where the temps are 94F and humidity 60%. The other day the temps/humidity put the heat index at 110. Frickin awesome! In Vegas we train in Death Valley during July & Aug where temps are in excess of 116F and often in the low-mid 120’s. This is the American “sand box”.

Anyone taking on a survival training regimen must, without hesitation, take it very slow and take every precaution. It usually takes 2-3 seasons, hot/cold, of Xtreme training for the body to fully adapt.

So start now folks to be ready when it counts!

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Vote -1 Vote +1Irene
July 22, 2011 at 1:43 pm

Okay so David, can you help out those of us that are not technical with getting a golf cart rv and show us by video what else to buy to power a fan and or a fridge. Or show us links for everything we need to make a proper fit. 🙂

I know I use the wet towel method just to walk outside. I take a bath towel and wet it and put around my neck or on my head and I walk in the shade no matter how silly I may look zigzagging around. I also soak my feet in cold water and like others have said take a cold shower or use a spray bottle of water to spritz myself down. I have a fan that I bought from an army supply that takes 8 D batters which is supposed to run concurrently for 72 hours and I have a backup of 8 more batteries on hand. However being on the second floor of a tin can apartment I don’t know really how I could manage if the electricity would go out because right now in the hall it is 100 degrees and it’s just down right oppressive with the dew point so high. So I’m not sure how this would really pan out in reality. Also I do have ice in the freezer in container that I could use to put up to my battery run fan.

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+3 Vote -1 Vote +1KenDawg
July 22, 2011 at 4:41 pm

What’s funny is that I grew up in NY and when I moved to AZ I thought some of the things that the locals did was strange. Today I am confident that I can easily survive extreme heat situations. We ride motorcycles and the AZ heat makes riding MISERABLE sometimes. Keep in mind that on a motorcycle there is no shelter from the sun either! Some of the techniques we use to keep cool may help in a situation where you need to move in direct sunlight.
**First we stay covered! No matter how hot it is, we typically wear long sleeves, pants and gloves. Our helmets help to keep shade on our heads too! Tony Stark was walking through the desert in a tank top with his shirt wrapped around his head in Iron Man. That kind of outfit in that kind of heat would have gotten him killed quicker.
**Second, as you pointed out, we stay WET! Many riders carry spray bottles and mist themselves down as they get warmer. Some of us take every opportunity to saturate our clothes and it makes a huge difference. Keep in mind that we also are typically riding into 60+ mph dry winds and soaking yourself may not be practical. Plus it can make some parts of your body sore if you do it incorrectly (think diaper rash! Ouch!!) We actually have a buddy who rigged up a 5 gallon bucket and a battery operated pump to the back of his Harley. We all laughed at him in the beginning but the line forms behind him at every stop!
**Third, We try to ride in the cooler morning or evening hours. If you need to move in an emergency situation, remember that it may be better to travel in the early morning or evening while seeking shelter in the heat of the day. Paracord and a tarp is a great way to rig up some quick shade and they are lightweight and easy to carry.
I know this was a little off topic seeing as how most people were talking about batteries and AC units. It’s just something I thought may be helpful in the event one cannot “survive in place.”

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+2 Vote -1 Vote +1BOB
July 25, 2011 at 5:30 pm

TAKE FULL BAG OF ICE LIKE YOU BUY AT THE STORE.PUNCH SOME HOLES IN THE BAG PUT IT ON YOUR HANDLEBARS WILL KEEP YOU COOL MELTS SLOWLY WATER BLOWS UP ON YOU.

LEARNED THIS TRICK RIDING ACROSS TEXAS IN ONE DAY AUG IT WAS 109 IN THE SHADE.

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+1 Vote -1 Vote +1jenjenn
July 22, 2011 at 6:16 pm

Growing up a native Californian and then residing in SW Florida these last ten years, do I know different types of heat and surviving cool on a budget! For CA that is ‘dry heat’ and in my opinion, triple digits two weeks in a row is easier to deal with than the May to October humid heat where humidity rarely, if ever gets below 80 degrees, and 30 degrees during our coolest and driest season. In FL storms and humidity on a summer daily basis are unpredictable. For staying cool, try to keep as many appliances off as possible. Even refrigerators will generate some heat. One is able to in dry climates to close off doors in unused rooms. Depending on one where one lives, such as the Central Valley, where in most places, there is not a lot of breeze or wind movement, and dry air, either electric or portable fans on one’s person helps a lot. In the past two years, we have purchased two portable camping fans at Walmart between $10 and $15. They run on eight “C” batteries, which is great in case of our now FL residence possible ‘hurricane evacuatons’ that we can plan to possibly expect every summer. Right now, they run on an electric wall plug. We are able to position the fans so where we can ‘baseline’ low the a/c and then pick up the air flow to direct onto us, or like me, if the a/c vents are horizontal and blow straight across the ceiling out towards the back bedroom wall, I will station a larger fan to pick up that air, recirculate/recycle it back towards the middle of my home a/c unit…Dry air people, and again, places like Central California people can be tricky summers, so the using of inside, portable swamp coolers on wheels, is a bit pricey. For these summers, needed air for both home and human intake and skin ‘consumption’ is not only helpful with the output of moist air, but also drastically lowers the electric bill, as a larger swamp cooler unit was traditionally stuck outside, invariably all stuck in 100 degree heat, which required extra energy (and having to go outside if possible and take a garden spray hose to cool it off more quickly). Air conditioners are a necessity in FL as the a/c will draw out excessive moisture, which can make it hotter, raising any heat index. Wetting body bath sized towels and then placing in plastic bags in either the freezer or fridge I used a lot to cool both me and my then young ones, especially after an errand and no cooling system (in CA). We would come home, get the towels out, and lay down on them and just relax and cool off while transitioning from our errands. Sometimes when picking up my kids from school, I would take extra cooling towels and have them place around the neck, or over the heads as they walked some kind of a distance, just to keep cool. And bring along iced drinks (lots of ice to melt off and make a bit of a flavored drink more healthy). Again, no vehicle for me and my poor kids, but we survived….In both climates, ice packs, either homemade, ‘dry’ aka ‘blue’ ice, or from the health care sections help to cool. As for bottled water, during Hurricanes Wilma and even worse, Charley, my DH and I disagreed which would be best for keeping our waters and food coldest and longest. I placed about eight bags of ice, along with frozen water bottles in freezer and fridge. He bought a 30-can beverage cooler and placed his food and water items. After a few days, my project proved to be a messy, sloppy and expensive experiment, which food lasted only a few days. DH won as his cooler lasted about the five days without power, only needing one or two ice bag refills. We decided to refill to keep food safe, and use the extra water for dipping towels in to cool off, and any melting water for clean up use (dishes and personal use)….As for sipping vs drinking ice-cold water, am told that for dieters, to drink only plain water during meals, and to use some kind of lightly flavored drink in-between meals, anything adding a bit of lemons, lemonades, even Hawaaian punch, as drinking plain water on an empty stomach causes the body to get that ‘water logged’ feel (there is a chemical scientific reaction in which this is not a good practice)…As for keeping hydrated, in dry climates, one is blessed with being able to feel ‘thirsty and dry’, and the body clues one in when and about how much an intake of liquids is needed to hydrate. In SW FL, we don’t get this, as the body is fooled with humidity in the air, but can easily dry out and dehydrate even on an hour’s errand trip of going to the grocery store! One can feel ‘ill’ and have flu-like symptoms. Rehydrating drinks such as Gatorade and Powerade have the sodium and potassium that the body easily loses when dehyrating, and cause kidney and heart damage, either temp., perm., and maybe even fatal…So basic rule is to drink two eight to twelve ounces (depending on the person and day’s activities) in the morning. Orange juice also has potassium. Morton’s Lite Salt, which contains potassium and sodium also help a lot, and as a menopausal lady in these parts, and keeping in contact with my family and friends in CA, this helps the body’s sudden temp change stay ‘in balance’ and prevent ‘hot flashes’, at least, keep many in check….Keep heat (and ladies) survival in mind with what the athletes do to survive, and also campers. As for portable generators, not in my budget, nor do I want to be one of those people lined up to get the quickly shrinking and unpredictable gas shortages and not know if I have gas to get into my clunky machines. Solar is also a bit expensive right now, but am looking into a $100 or so units at Northern Tools, Home Depot, and Lowe’s…portable units…Also, those generators burn off a lot of carbon dioxide, and if one lives in a apt complex as I do, imagine the sound it created during both hurricane power outages, and the units not big enough to support a/c units. Only fans (which blow hot air when it’s hot) (placing much needed ice in front of the portable fans is a dilemma after a hurricane as we don’t have a clue how long we will be without power or if an evacuation might still be ordered). Only fans, tv’s and fridges….also, we have two portable, different brands of tv’s purchased in the last few months from RadioShak. Battery operated, great reception, and is a must for being able to have arial and visual coverage (vs radio, which we takes less power and switched to during no news hours of days)(although I have to admit, I enjoyed sneaking in the luxury of watching a fav tv show or two and feeling ‘in balance’ and within human normal limits)…As for non-cook meals, one must make a list and try foods ahead of time before ’emergency’. Granola bars, canned mac-n-cheese (luv the stuff, canned for me is tolerable during an emergency), adding one can canned chicken and one can diced tomatoes can make an easy meal for a family; also canned three bean salad with garbanzo (super healthy beans used for huumus). Others are granola bars, beef jerky. Trick is to keep from dehydrating, so less caffeine drinks (try adding water, after all it is temporary), and lessen up on super salty and sugar foods is the recommendation out here, especially in a hurricane crisis. Try to keep vitamins on hand, or vitamin fortified food…As for Florida, if one ever stands for a few minutes in any store’s or if a building has a breezeway, amazing and inevitably a extremely nice cooling, if not cold breeze on the worst of hot and humid days will happen!…This tip also from the old cracker style homes with the breezeway, ie type of cupola built on top to catch any and all breezes on all four sides helped the old timers keep cool. In our apt., we are able to create sometimes, a back and front window ‘breezeway’. Although an outside building breezeway works much more better! Thank you for allowing me to share these tips which I hope all will get to keep their ‘cool’.

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Vote -1 Vote +1David
July 22, 2011 at 6:37 pm

Where I Live, the xummer temps are 87-99 Degrees,. to keep cool, I open all the windows to let the cool night air in. During the day I close all the curtains to keep the summer sun out of the house. Plus I keep my AC at 79-80 degrees. I have done this when I lived in Ga., Az., Tx. I have never felt hot when I go outside. When I lived in Az. I threw my mattress on the floor at night, this simple act kept my about 10 degrees cooler at night.

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+1 Vote -1 Vote +1Doug
July 22, 2011 at 7:54 pm

A million years ago back on the farm in Kansas, before Thermos bottles were invented, we used clay or crock fired jugs with a cork in the neck for our drinking water out in the fields. The same one gallon jugs people see in old cowboy movies with the guys drinking whiskey. We just filled the jug with water, put a cork in the top of the jug and then we put the jug in the bottom portion of a gunny sack. Around the jug we stuffed old newspaper between the jug and the gunny sack. Wad it up and pack it in there! Tie the gunny sack with wire at the neck of the jug and cut off the excess gunny sack. Then submerge the jug in water. Let that newspaper get super wet and soggy. The gunny sack keeps the wet paper from falling apart. Put the jug on the floor of the tractor near your feet and go out to the fields and work. That water got VERY cool and it stayed cool for hours. Lots of good old evaporation did the trick.

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Vote -1 Vote +1Dottie Ryemoor
July 22, 2011 at 9:49 pm

You’ve all brought back my memories of typhoons on Okinawa.Typhoons replenished the island’s water supply. So as unpleasant as the typhoons were, we could be grateful for the gift of water they brought to us.

As typhoons would develop in the Pacific, the military would track them and if they neared the Ryukyu Islands, the military would proclaim Condition 3,2 and/or 1. During Condition 3, I would check supplies beore heading out to the PX and Commisary. Candles, batteries, books, Then….food! At least three loaves of bread, four quarts of milk, six or so of canned soup. lunch meats chocolate bars, Potatoes, eggs to make potato salad.

Now check freezer storage, After packing all food packages tightly, start filling ziploc bags with ice cubes and tucking them every and anywhere there is space.. I start the freezing in both the refer as well as the freezer..

We had three Jerry cans that we kept for potable water. and a couple of glass containers for potable water. Now clean the bathtub and fill the tub with water for flushing, etc

I lived on Okinawa from 1951 to 1969..

Now hunker down and sit out the Blow.

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Vote -1 Vote +1PIAZ
July 22, 2011 at 10:16 pm

My good friend came to Arizona in the 1920’s. No AC at all…lots of rattlesnakes, high heat, and endless sunshine. To sleep, they wrapped in wet sheets used hammocks outside. Apparently never got hot, and sometimes even got cold in deep summer. (Haven’t tried it, but may have to.) Agree that keeping the inside air warmer creates more tolerable outside transition. Even for the old timers. Water will be the oil of the next generation; an Saudi sheik told my husband that 10 years ago. The same husband who was bitten by a rattlesnake and never needed anti-venom as the bite was most likely ” a dry bite.” With firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence…

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Vote -1 Vote +1arkaty
July 22, 2011 at 11:18 pm

I agree, Water will be very, very important in the very near future. You can live without oil, but not without water. We have drought conditions in much of the world right now.

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Vote -1 Vote +1Kaytee
July 22, 2011 at 10:35 pm

Do you have any suggestions re: dealing with moving between AC’d spaces (like work, school, stores, etc) and hot outdoor temps? It’s the fluctuation that makes me feel sick- I rather like the heat, actually.

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+1 Vote -1 Vote +1arkaty
July 22, 2011 at 11:21 pm

Get a neckerchief, that is filled with gel beads. You can freeze them, and wear them around your neck. If your neck is cool, it keeps you cool. I think they sell these at walgreens.

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+1 Vote -1 Vote +1David Hibberd
July 23, 2011 at 1:42 am

Our house is west facing and our basement family room is exposed to the afternoon sun. Even with thermal windows and insulated siding, it can get warm. We bought some blackout curtains and they help cut down on the excess heat.

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+1 Vote -1 Vote +1David Morris
July 23, 2011 at 11:21 am

Personally, I think everyone should have blackout curtains. In addition to the thermal benefits, using them in your bedroom helps create a much darker sleeping space, which works in harmony with your body’s hormonal system to give you a better quality of sleep. And, of course, in a post-disaster situation, they can help you hide the fact that you have lighting and a source of power.

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Vote -1 Vote +1Bill in Colorado
July 23, 2011 at 7:32 am

“If you don’t drink enough water, you won’t sweat as much as you need to. I like to drink as cold of water as I can.”

David — I’m curious — I’ve heard that drinking cold water in the heat forces your body to send blood to your stomach to warm the water up to body temp, thus removing circulation from your skin which is needed for heat dissipation through sweating. Doesn’t it make your body work harder? Not arguing; genuinely curious about your info on it —

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Vote -1 Vote +1David Morris
July 23, 2011 at 11:19 am

I’ve heard that too 🙂 I can’t tell you clinically, but I can tell you anecdotally that my running pace is higher and pulse rate is lower when I drink cold water. The number of calories required to heat up a sip (or even a gulp) of water are pretty miniscule compared to the number of calories being generated by intense exercise, so I’m guessing that the effects are psychosomatic (in my head) and not due to an actual physiological benefit.

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Vote -1 Vote +1Andy
July 23, 2011 at 10:29 am

As I read these past comments, several things come to mind. We have eliminated all CFL lights partly because of their polution both when operating and again when they have to be replaced. They do not work with dimmers. Our experience has been that they did not save on our electric bill, an

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+1 Vote -1 Vote +1David Morris
July 23, 2011 at 11:15 am

CFL lights are kind of a joke for most situations. If you run your lights 8 hours a day and you’re lucky, they’ll cut 50c-$1.00 per month off of your utility bill per bulb replaced. 50c-$1 can get eaten up by running your AC a little extra one afternoon, so it’s very hard to tell a difference in a residential application. If you’ve got a commercial building that’s running hundreds of bulbs 12-24 hours a day, then you can actually see a difference in your utility bills.

But, as you said, you can’t dim them, you can’t dispose of them, they cost a lot, and they burn out in a matter of days if you don’t have clean, consistent power.

Several years ago, we drank the koolaid, bought a bunch of CFLs, and replaced all the bulbs in our house. Because of the fluctuating nature of the electricity in our area, several burned out within the first few weeks and all of them had burned out within 6 months. This experience caused me to dig into the facts on CFLs and we will use them if they’re given to us, but we don’t buy them anymore.

In our RV, and to a lesser extent in our house, we use LED lights. Our experience has been that they actually do perform as promised. They don’t generate as much waste heat as incandescent, we dim them, and when we’re dry camping they can help considerably with battery life. The down side is that LED lights for household lighting are incredibly expensive. You’ve got to want them because of their ability to help you sip electricity rather than for short term cost savings.

One thing we DO do is buy up LOTS of strings of LED Christmas bulbs during after-Christmas closeout sales. We get 50-100 bulb sets for $2-$5, as well as smaller sets.

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Vote -1 Vote +1Martin
July 23, 2011 at 11:22 pm

CFL’s are dangerous. Not just due to the haz mat if broken. When we moved into our mountain home, every fixture in the house had them. Shortly after moving in, my wife started getting migraines. She suffered with these without knowing the reason. Wasn’t until I went thru haz mat operations training more than a year later I learned of the relationship between CFL’s and migraines. Pulled them all out and she hasn’t had a migraine since. Oh yea, I disposed of them (dozens) illegally, as they ARE a hazardous material if broken and must be disposed of ‘according to law’. If they are not broken when you throw them out, they will be by the time they get to the landfil.

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Vote -1 Vote +1Mike Andreasen
July 25, 2011 at 10:29 am

CFL’S as originally manufactured were reliable and long lasting. They were manufactured by a few plants, primarily Sylvania or in Germany. Now they are primarily manufactured in China. There is no QC on them and no way to return if they fail as there is no proof of when they were purchased due to no serial numbers. I was dreading having to go to them but the advent of the led’s has relieved me somewhat. Plus you can get the led’s in various heat ranges of color so they can look very much like our familiar incandescent bulbs. I have an amber antique lamp that looks just sickly with cfl’s but is warm and inviting with Incandescent bulbs. I’m going to try a led in it soon with the lower “yellow” colored led that emulates the light of an Incandescent..

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+1 Vote -1 Vote +1Sailorman Andy
July 23, 2011 at 11:21 am

I don’t know what happened, but I lost the comments and for some reason can’t finish, so thought I’d try again. Anayway, as I previously wrote, our experience with CFLs was not that good, and we have replaced them. The polution, cost, and reliability are not worth the cost. We have converted to the old reliable incadescents in most applications, but are replacing those with LCDs as the incadescents fail. We have been “ahead of the curve” and experimenting for several years. Our shop is completely off grid with solar generation and battery bank and inverter. While we prefer to buy U.S. made equipment, we purchased Chinese manufactured solar panels from Harbor Freight back several years ago. Our inverters are from the inverter store.com and also Chinese. We have two thirty five hundred watt inverters, one for powering part of our house, and one for running our complete shop. We use solar for our one hundred ten AC welder, band saw, plasma cutter, compressor, two drill presses, two grinders, turning lathe, and various hand tools. We have a back-up generator that has never been needed. Our shop is cooled with an evaporative cooler. While golf cart batteries may be a good option, we opted for deep cycle batteries that we could purchase as finances allowed, and that can be replaced individually if they develop a problem. We manufacture parts on a daily basis, and over the last several years, have experienced no failures. Ours is a two employee business, so there are seldome more than three machines operating at one given time, so the solar has no trouble keeping pace. The point I’m trying to make is that there are several relative inexpensive options for adding solar power as a backup. We have purchased components as finances allowed over a period of time. Now we are independent from the grid and can survive quite well without outside sources. A small solar panel and twelve volt battery with an inverter can run lights and a fan for several hours with a relatively small investment. We here in Idaho don’t really suffer from high heat and humidity, so we can also remain comfortable with a minimum of air conditioning although when we work outside, simply “watering ourselves down” before anything strenuous works well. We filter and store water to have available also in case of emergency, but that’s another story. Being prepared reduces the stress level considerably. Thanks again David, we appreciate your information.
For God, family, and country, Andy

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Vote -1 Vote +1Rocky Justice
July 23, 2011 at 2:29 pm

I grew up in Texas quite some time ago. We did not have a lot of money, and no such thing as Air Conditioning, The house had a Ceiling/attic fan that sucked outside air into the house through the windows and blew inside air out through the attic. Drawing ambient air temp air of 103 degrees in the windows into the shade of the house actually felt cool, and by blowing this air through and out of the attic it lowered the roof temp’ caused by the all day direct sun. Still as mentioned in your article we really didn’t think it was too hot, we didn’t know any better. Yeah it was hot but that’s just the way it was in the summer and a good excuse to find some water to take a dip.
I now live in the Puget Sound area of WA. State, we have no air conditioning here either, not because of finances or technology; it just doesn’t get that hot here often enough to justify the expense. Any way it is hilarious to this native born Texan that when it hits 78 – 80 degrees people here are already complaining about how “Hot” it is. Actually they start complaining around 74 degrees.

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Vote -1 Vote +1Craig
July 23, 2011 at 2:38 pm

Juice and water containers made of polyethylene terephthalate (PETE) with the recycle number 1 can be used to store water in the freezer or the trunk of your car. They can be filled all the way and will not split when frozen or thawed. As you fill your freezer up, remove the containers and, as you use out of your freezer, replace the containers. It’s a way to store water. It also provides ballast for your freezer or refrigerator which reduces the compressor cycling and reduces the cooling loss when you open it.

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Vote -1 Vote +1Bartley
July 24, 2011 at 3:43 am

Hi foks!

Living in Arizona for the last 50 years I must say, im still not used to the summers, however I do have some advice. first, its important to drink BEFORE you get thirsty, once you are thirsty, dehydration is already a factor. Its important to drink as often as you can.. you can basically tell, if your mouth starts getting dry. drink!

Here is a tip from my younger days working as a carpenter in the Arizona sun. When I would go get a drink, one trick is to take a cup of cool water and pour it on the insides of both of your wrists, the skin is relatively thin there, and there are lots of veins. evaporation of the water can really cool you off! also, we wore scarfs that we wet and wore around our neck, it seems to cool the blood going to your head and if you are in the sun you MUST wear a wide brimmed hat. It will not only protect your noggin, but can provide shade for some parts of your body too. Its the theory of the mexican sombrero, portable shade.

so, the next time you’re out watering the garden, try running the hose on your wrists and see if you cool off. Also, if you have a cold beverage handy, before you open it up and guzzle it, put the can for a few seconds on the insides of your wrists, works well too.

Thanks for the advice everyone and keep up the great work David you are providing an invaluable service with your letters and website.

Bartley

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Vote -1 Vote +1Tim R
July 24, 2011 at 10:43 am

Ken and David, (thermodynamics)
I teach oceanography. Like David was saying thermodynamics isn’t the only thing that moves air masses and one of the biggest driving forces (and one that confuses students) has the opposite effect. Gravity pulls cold air down because of it’s higher density, this is the basic driver of wind and ocean. So cold air, in general, flows from the poles toward the equator along the surface, and the hot air travels back in the upper atmosphere, because it got pushed out of the way. Heat transfer from molecule to molecule works like pool balls or headbutts, the one traveling faster transfers more energy. But for refrigerator applications cold air will literally pour (it’s a fluid) out. But the it a chest freezer or cooler box the dense cold air will stay better if not disturbed by air currents (rapid open/shut or wind). Just my two cents on the science. Good stuff about filling voids with bags of air, it’s the best insulator.

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+1 Vote -1 Vote +1jim
July 24, 2011 at 12:01 pm

David,
What a bunch of smart sensible people on this blog.
JC

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Vote -1 Vote +1Eric
July 24, 2011 at 7:38 pm

Just the facts,money is tight, I work outside year round and am divorced with no kids at home right now. I can air condition my house but choose not to, because of the cost. The temp here is 100 or more on a daily basis. I do use fans, when at home, open the windows at night and close them before I leave. My house stays in the 80s (it has plenty of shade) and I am comfortable. I drink about a gallon of water a day to stay hydrated but that is about it. In the winter as long as the house stays in the 60s I am happy, I use a wood burning heater.
If you work indoors with AC, are married and have kids. You will most likely NOT want to do this, there will be rebellion, and CPS will come and take your kids.
The only point is, your body has the ability to withstand and be comfortable at a wide range of temps. if you can let it, or subject it to them, but it will take time. Depending on your situation, you might try to get out of your comfort zone and let your body adapt.
I did like the ideas presented on cooling water, there were a lot of good tips.
Eric

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Vote -1 Vote +1Eric
July 24, 2011 at 7:44 pm

I forgot to mention my Mom and Dad live in the same climate I do 100+ in the summer. Mom just turned 70 and Dad is 74 they only use AC when company is coming over.

Eric

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Vote -1 Vote +1Ginger
July 25, 2011 at 8:44 am

For living year around with hot weather, keep your body adapted to heat during the cooler months by layering clothes. Then as the weather turns hot you have layers to shed. Your friends may snicker, but it works.

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Vote -1 Vote +1Sam
July 25, 2011 at 8:49 am

Well, I doubt that the light bulb in your refrigerator is 25% of its power consumption, but switching to LED’s is always a good idea. They use almost no power. But DO NOT DO NOT get a CFL (squiggly bulb) anywhere near your food. When they break, they spew small amounts of toxic chemicals. I prefer none in my food.

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Vote -1 Vote +1David Morris
July 25, 2011 at 9:10 am

Our refrigerator is still relatively new and will run (including cycling) using a 300 watt inverter.

It has 2 bulbs in the refrigerator and 2 bulbs in the freezer…each of which is 60 watts. So, when we have the refrigerator or freezer open, it’s using an additional 120 watts which is considerably MORE than 25%. I’m aware that most people’s refrigerators use more power than ours does, which is why I used the 25% number.

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Vote -1 Vote +1Sue the frugal survivalist
July 25, 2011 at 6:25 pm

We had to paint a house in very hot weather. I wore a utlity apron of cotton with pockets. I kept blue ice in the front pocket and it worked like a charm to keep me cool.

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Vote -1 Vote +1Scott
July 26, 2011 at 11:52 am

I built a 12-volt generator from a four horsepower four stroke engine and a 100 amp car alternator. I have used it to do everything from lighting at campsites to powering the 12-volt system in my camper to charging a 12-volt battery. The gasoline enging turns the alternator by way of pulleys and a belt. A 12-volt motorcycle battery keeps a charge on the alternator and also serves as a regulator. Ask your local auto mechanic how to wire the input and output of the alternator. Camping stores also sell 12-volt bulbs that look like the 120-volt bulbs in your home lamps. Plug a few of these lamps in your home and you’re good to go indoors. But try to prevent any indoor lighting from being seen from the outside in a blackout situation. Light in the darkness might attract the wrong kind of people who may want to harm you.
Thanks for reading this.
Scott

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Vote -1 Vote +1David Morris
July 26, 2011 at 12:31 pm

That’s a great solution, Scott!

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Vote -1 Vote +1Bartley
July 28, 2011 at 1:58 pm

Hello everyone!
ump
I need some advice. The 2nd part of this blog was about power outages. We (my folks) have a well that we drilled some 30 years ago. The water table is down at 863 feet. The water comes out at 52 degrees and is slightly carbonated. The well works on 220 volt and is 3 phase? not sure exactly what that means, but the water pumps into a 5,000 gallon steel container for use, and the pressure inside will let the water flow until its empty.

The problem is, how to get the well pump working if there is a power outage? I’ve looked at some generators to do this, but long term with fuel scarcity, and the cost of $9,000.00 makes it a non-starter. Manual hand pump at 863 feet? There are very few wells in the area and it would be an important resource to protect in any length power outage. We drilled it in a day with an experimental oil rig. Does anyone have any suggestions to power this thing if the grid goes down? Water is critical, especially in Arizona during the summer.

Thanks in advance,

Bartley

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Vote -1 Vote +1Roger Lewis
July 7, 2012 at 6:33 am

Hi Bartley,
Equipment is cheap right now with the recession. Look around on the net for construction auctions. I have seen them go for $400.00 (gas) and $1500.00 Diesel. Good luck.

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Vote -1 Vote +1Robert
August 2, 2011 at 1:01 pm

WE HAVE AN ARTESIAN WELL AND PUMP THAT IS QUITE DEEP AND OPERATES ON 220 VOLTS .WE PURCHASED A RELIABLE 11000 WATT PEAK POWER (8500WATT RUNNING) GENERATOR AND CONVERTED IT TO PROPANE FOR $200.00. ITS EASY YOU CAN ORDER THE CONVERSION KIT ONLINE. THE GENERATOR WAS MODERATELY PRICED BUT IS PORTABLE BUT WILL NOT RUN A WHOLE HOUSE…IN A MODERATE TO LONG TERM EMERGENCY A WHOLE HOUSE GENERATOR IS EXTREMELY IMPRACTICAL BECAUSE OF THE TREMENDOUS FUEL CONSUMPTION….REMEMBER GASOLINE WILL NOT BE AVAILABLE (NEED ELECTRICITY FOR GAS PUMPS TO OPERATE) AND GASOLINE IS A VERY DANGEROUS COMMODITY TO TRY TO STORE IN BULK AND IT DOES NOT HAVE A VERY LONG SHELF LIFE….BUT PROPANE WILL LAST INDEFINITELY ….WE HAVE OUR COOKING STOVE AND OUR HOT WATER HEATER ON PROPANE ALSO AND HAVE INSTALLED A 500 GALLON (400 GALL0N MAX 0R 80%) . USING FANS INSTEAD OF A/C PROPANE FIRE PLACE FOR HEAT (WINTER) AND THE PROPANE POWERED GENERATOR FOR LIGHT AND REFRIGERATION WE CAN STRETCH OUT THE PROPANE FOR ALMOST TWO MONTHS…..EVEN LONGER IF YOU HAVE TOO….

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Vote -1 Vote +1Nicole
August 2, 2011 at 7:52 pm

Hey guys. Im from TX wher the summer temps can reach 110 degrees and when I was a kid we left the house during the summer right after breakfast and came home for dinner (as long as there were plenty of wild edibles for lunch). I never heard of anyone dying of heat stroke, nor did I ever experience heat exhaustion. The key to hot summer survival is SHADE. Under large shade trees the temperatures stays an average of 10 degrees cooler near the base of the tree. Large areas of shade are even cooler. So long as you have access to both water and shade you should be fine, how in the world did people live for almost 6 thousand years with no electricity if it was not only possible but just fine for you.

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Vote -1 Vote +1Pat Hoffman
August 15, 2011 at 8:37 am

David,
I sent this article to a friend and her response was:

On 8/14/2011 8:32 PM, Lxxxxxxxxxxxx wrote:

Thanks—I haven’t read the entire article yet, but couldn’t wait to share this. The article comments that the media loves the summer heat and loves to talk to hot people and hear of their woes—so, so true. xxxxxxx had a phone call about 2 weeks ago from an Austin TV station who wanted to interview him about raising cattle in these extreme conditions. (Of course we have a very small herd and only 62 acres) They must have found our website online—anyway, xxxxxx agreed to the phone interview and they called back from their recording room. He answered the interviewer’s questions and explained in great detail what he was doing to keep our Longhorns healthy under current circumstances. After their long discussion, the interviewer asked if he knew someone who was having a rough time and selling out—that his story was too much good news—she wanted a sad story! Isn’t that just like the media!!!!!

I have their permission to send this to you w/o their names. Thought you’d appreciate this.:>)

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Vote -1 Vote +1Melinda
September 1, 2011 at 1:01 pm

About drinking cold water, I’ve heard that actually you should drink water @ room-temperature, because drinking it cold causes your body temp. to rise trying to warm the too cold water you drank.
Good article!

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Vote -1 Vote +1Gulfcoast Gal
July 6, 2012 at 8:57 am

Pre-AC days… screened breezeways and sleeping porches helped fight heat and mosquitos. Cots set up at night or pallets on the floor were cooler than staying in the bedrooms.

One thing on my wish list for after a hurricane (when the winds and electricity are gone) is a Coleman 10×10 Instant Screened Shelter. I just found one on-line for $107 + free shipping. It beats bug-spray and/or mosquito-born disease in our area.

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Vote -1 Vote +1RGT
July 6, 2012 at 9:14 am

True, drink water @ room temp, have done that many years and it works fine.
Have portable water purification on hand @ all times.

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Vote -1 Vote +1Jane Cassidy
July 6, 2012 at 3:04 pm

CaptTurbo July 22, 2011 at 10:27 am said
While I have not had to put my battery back-up system to a test much beyond 6 hours yet, I have a 48 volt battery bank composed of 8 golf cart batteries.

I’m wondering what he’d do with a 48 volt bank. My understanding is to wire 2 6V golf batteries in series, which are then 12V per pair, then wire the pairs in parallel so the whole bank is 12V with lots more amps. Inverters turn 12VDC to 110VAC.

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Vote -1 Vote +1Roger Lewis
July 7, 2012 at 5:49 am

David, I am an electrical contractor and have been in the trade now for 35 years. I also have installed a few solar power systems and have played with solar and alternative energy systems for decades. Your refrigerator power consumption amazes me. I am yet to see one that will run on 300 Watts. That is only 2.6 amps at 115v. Can you tell me what the brand and model are. Maybe share a picture of the specification tag with us. I don’t doubt what your saying is true. I just want to know so that we all could be advised. That could save billions of dollars if we all had refrigerators with that little of power consumption. I thought that I was doing good to run the two of mine on one 1200 watt inverter and two Walmart deep cycle batteries for all day. My refrigerators at that time were 5 and 6 amps. this was only a couple of years ago and both were new. The two that I have now are are 6.5 (it came with the house) and a commercial 3-door reach-in that we bought for health reasons. We have switched to eating a lot of organic produce after my wife fought and won 2 battles with cancer without drugs or chemicals. The normal side-by-side is 6.5 amps at 115v or 747.5 watts and the 3-door is 12.5 amps or 1437.5 watts. I have a lot of websites for batteries, inverters, solar panels, and other equipment if anyone needs some information and also could answer some technical things if someone needs help. We have lived in Arizona for two years now (40 mi SE of Phoenix) and lived in SW Utah (St George) for 33 years prior to moving her (also hot dry desert, just north of the Grand Canyon). There has been a lot of great information given here from everyone. Here is my summery of what we have lived. Keep the sun off of you. Shade with a hat with tarps. Loose, lite colored clothing will both reflect the sun and provide you shade. Open the window shades on the opposite side of the house for light and close them on the sunny side to keep out the heat. Switch sides when the sun is on the other side. Fans cost far less to operate than turning down the AC. Walmart has 12v (8x “D” battery) fans (in the camping equipment) $12 so $14. These fans have a power port that you can purchase an additional adapter for 115v and another for 12v (car type power cord). They work very well. They are a ten inch fan and put out a lot of air for their size. You could add a little solar panel and run all day. Drink water. Drink water. Oh and did I say DRINK WATER!!! You can put lemon in it and it is even better for you. Don’t drink coffee, soft drinks, etc. They will only dehydrate you. If possible plan you day to do the more strenuous things in the early morning. Thanks for listening. I’m probably forgetting a lot but I can add later. Rog

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Vote -1 Vote +1Jeanine Leach
July 8, 2012 at 8:36 pm

Hi Roger,

My husband and I are currently ignorant of electrical matters. This being your specialty do you have any suggestions on books, websites, “how-to” manuals on basic, backup electrical systems?
Thanks!

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Vote -1 Vote +1Skinshaman
July 13, 2012 at 9:30 am

Every juice bottle we empty in our household we wash and refill with water and freeze them.Its always enough to keep our perishable goods cold for days and as it thaws is a nice refreshing source of cold water.We live in virginia and during the power outage just stayed in our basement where it was much cooler,hydrated and then went out mostly at night to watch the panicked public discuss how they couldnt believe how the power company didnt have their lights back on yet.We have kids that need the lights on.Really!!!
Me too and its my job as a parent to be ready with well informed children who understand the situation and are prepared with the things we have to make the best of it.Its sad that its already the mentality that its not the responsibility of parents to provide any more but the duty now falls on “they” to provide.
A nation of sheep
ruled by wolves
owned by pigs.

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