Watching National Geographic’s “American Blackout” movie last night, it appears we are a bunch of numbskulls who can’t even open a can of peaches without electricity.
We haven’t had television for years, but were able to watch the movie on YouTube. It made for a pleasant evening as I brought in my comfy rocker and we propped our feet on the office desk to watch. The film dramatized what it would be like to live 10 days without power, particularly in cities. In this case, a cyber attack disabled the entire nation.
Although the 2-hour program exaggerated the mayhem (we hope so anyway) in a total grid-down situation, much of the footage of mile-long lines of frustrated people waiting for food and water was real. We kept asking ourselves, “How did Americans get so dependent?”
Most rural areas in this country didn’t even have electric power until 50 years ago. Our 90-something neighbor lived half her life without it. Only a meager percentage of Americans had electricity 100 years ago. Now, without high-voltage juice crackling through the wires 24 hours a day, we cannot fuel up, make phone calls, cook, conduct business or fill a glass with water.
I understand the show’s motive was to get us thinking about preparedness, and was not an actual portrayal of our ineptitude. Still, it is frightening to consider there are people without more than two days of food or water in the house.
An example was the wealthy Manhattan couple who had only “very old caviar and warm champagne” by the second day without power. On the streets, most people were frantically fighting for food after three days. The can of peaches ultimately became a murder weapon during a mugging.
According to the program, 3 million Americans (less than 1 percent) are preppers. The film’s one “prepared” family had a bugout place in Colorado with 2 years of food stashed, 4 months of battery power and 250 gallons of potable water.
The prepper dad, of course a total jerk, was portrayed as a Rambo wannabe running around in Army surplus attire and referring to the site as a “compound.” Really?
We were perplexed why the family had no means to generate more battery power, why they would be “crippled” if their fuel was stolen and why no food was growing anywhere on the, uh, compound. Even if the property is not maintained year round, perennial food can be planted. (See the Secret Garden of Survival by Rick Austin for examples.) Even in winter, wild edibles, insects and game are available for those who study the area ahead of time.
The big question for us, or course, was why the preppers didn’t have a means to get water without electricity. In our opinion, they weren’t prepared. No plans were mentioned for water once the plastic barrels were emptied.
If you have a drilled well, there is no reason not to have your own fresh drinking water without power. A well bucket is the least expensive option and can reach any depth. The well must be free of obstructions, such as an electric submersible pump. In a long-term emergency, however, two men with the right tools can pull the pump. Then all you need is a bucket and rope. A windlass of some sort also makes lifting the bucket easier, especially from deep wells.
Several hand pumps, including the WaterBuck Pump, on the market now can be operated with the electric submersible still in place. Hand pumps should be set up and operational before they are needed.
Another common mistake is long-term reliance on alternative energy and generators for pumping water. In a total grid-down situation, it may be impossible to get parts WHEN something breaks and to get fuel. Different types of storms can also render alternative energy systems useless. So, it is best to have a manual backup for water.
If you haven’t already watched the program, we recommend it. Here’s an interesting and thorough review written by Pat Henry at The Prepper Journal. It’ll get you thinking.
Now, where did I put that can opener?
Photos by The National Geographic Channel and U.S. Government
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