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So, the power went out last night (thoughts.)

Discussion in 'Survival/Preparedness Forum' started by ric0123, May 8, 2012.

  1. I live in Austin, Tx, which is known for having a very stable power grid. I've been here for 5 years and the power has gone out 3 times that I can recall (last night being the forth).

    We've had some nice rain the last few days. Last night I was watching TV and the power flickered. I walked over and grabbed the closests flashlight and put it on the table next to me, just in case. Few minutes later the power flickered and went out entirely.

    Ok cool, prepper mode.

    Step one. Pull the last cold beer out of the fridge :)

    I go to my storage room and pull out some of my ultra bright white glowsticks. Last time I had a power outage in Orlando I hung one from the ceiling fan and it was bright enough to light up the room enough to walk around without holding a flashlight. This time, I was very disappointed. So given that experience, I'd tend to agree that glowsticks loose their brightness with age, because these things are normally awesome..

    I went into the bathroom and tested the water, to make sure I still had it! Water pressure was fine. (I have water stores anyway but i wanted to check)

    Then I started looking around for my candles. Counldn't find them (ooooop). Candles get a bad rap, for good reason (house fires) but since I live alone and I'm in a small apt, I figured I could handle it. (kids + candles = bad)

    Ok no biggie

    I've stated for several years that I own a Xantrex 1500 power pack. I really like this thing. It's come in handy MANY times. Part of my prep gear is one of those $8 metal funnel shop lights and a CF bulb. Break those out, clip it onto a floor lap, plug it into my xantrex, and I've got as much light in my apt as I normally do. The draw on the CF bulb is so low it doesn't even register on the meter.

    It was a relatively cool night, but I don't get a lot of cross breeze at my apt. I have a 8" battery powered camping fan that I got at walmart. I pulled that out and set it in the corner of the room to get some air flowing

    Then I pulled out my Ham radio, which is programmed to local repeaters, FRS, GMRS, OEM, Biz Band, CB and a bunch of other stuff. I turned it on and let it scan. Suprisingly, I didn't hear virtually anything. I keyed up on the local Austin repeater and called out, didn't get any replies.

    I ventured outside a bit and walked around. I still don't know what happened, since the Apt complex next door had exterior lights lit (I think they were on battery back up, since all of the apt windows were dark)

    I texted a couple of friends in various parts of the city and found out that it was isolated to just my area.

    I did notice how DARK my complex was with no lights. There was some ambient city light, but overall it was DARK. I didn't pull my guns out this time, since I live in a pretty good area and I didn't notice anyone outside walking around.

    I was going to take the opportinity to break out my camping gas grill and test out some survival food, but didn't find myself to be hungry.

    Mostly, I was bored. I played around with my ham radios a bit, trying to pick up intel from the city, traded some text messages with friends, and went to bed. I could have read a book, but I wasn't really in the mood.

    So, recap!

    Know where your flashlights/candles are, and test them! I just bought a 50 pack of tea lights at walgreens for $4. I think that more, smaller lights spread out are better than one big one.

    battery powered fan helps air flow in a still room.

    Comm gear is nice, but only helps if people are talking! My HT didn't get very good reception in the house, so I tried the radio in my car.. which has more power but also exposes me

    Xantrex power pack gives AC power to charge phones, lights, and other small AC devices. I think it's an awesome option for urban dwellers (dont have to deal with fuel)

    Boredom sucks.

    Cold beer is nice.
  2. Kadetklapp

    Kadetklapp Methberry PD

    Jan 2, 2007
    I treat power outages the same as you, as a good sudden excersize. We had a tornado blow thru 8 miles south of my house last week and a good time was had by all (not). When our power finally did drop out (at the end of the storm mind you) I was faced with having to fire up my small ChiCom genset in order to get my basement sump pump running (or I will have water where I don't want it). I found my cords to be a tangled mess and I broke lots of things dragging the cord out from the garage. My lesson learned was to take better care of my cords!

    I was able to start the generator with absolute ease, with gas that's over a year old (stabil). Just as I was about to plug in the sump pump, the power came back on. FML.

    I also learned it gets very lonely in my basement bunker when the power is out as that means my base station 2-meter is out (Yaesu FT2600M). I've yet to make alternative power arrangements for it. As I was signed onto a local storm net, the net control operator was starting to worry. I could hear him on my 5 watt HT, but I couldn't respond to him (wayyy too far).

    I have a Husky power pack that I bought in 2007 due to a need during severe weather. I was able to power my wireless router, a fan, and plug in my laptop and cell phone without a hitch. Not quite enough power to push the inverter for the ham radios though.

  3. G29Reload

    G29Reload Tread Lightly

    Sep 28, 2009
    I have a Xantrex powersource 400 that was a much better deal.

    I think yours has a 60AH battery in it and the price was …ridiculous.

    The 400 has 2 20hr MC batts in it, it was hundred and change. 150ish? Think yours was 3 times that.

    I also keep a large computer UPS that my Big screen and sat gear is plugged into. Takes care of 100% of the fluctuations, blinkouts and short term outages. If it last more than a couple of minutes and I'm watching TV, I'll start the DVR so I don't miss anything then shut off the TV.

    TV draws 300watts, the DVR and satbox about 25w each. The TV will wipe it out in under half an hour, I can get several hours of vid recorded and watch it later.

    The xantrex covers a table lamp.

    I found the Maglight 3 D cell with LEDs which is pretty bright is great to set in the middle of a room on its flat cap and the reflected light off the white ceiling is more than enough. With LEDs I can only guess how long it will last but its a lot.

    Besides beer, for me its COFFEE. I always have at least a weeks fresh ground and in a mason jar on the counter. GAS is where its at, one camp stove with 2 back ups, another spare and an MSR pocket rocket and my bialetti stovetop espresso maker and I keep my sanity.

    Also have a propane powered fridge that lasts a weekend on a 1lb cylinder, made by the swedish company that owns electrolux vacuum cleaners. So, cold beer.
  4. Powermwt

    Powermwt Millennium Member

    Sep 23, 1999
    Fort Worth Texas
    The power goes out on me usually several times a year... sometimes for days.
    What I do is first get my Kerosene lamp going that is stored right outside the house.
    The next step is to call the power company and find out if the outage has been reported and report it if necessary and get some kind of handle on how long it will be. PG&E will call you back with updates if you ask for them. It really helps to have a hard wired phone as sometime cell phone service is overloaded or out and most of the time phone service is still working.

    I have several generators... one 13KW that runs off propane large enough to run my well pump and house.
  5. I re-read my post and I have a xantrex HD 600. The orange one, I think it's got a 26 ah battery in it. I've looked at the 1500 in the past and I agree that they are over priced for what they are. Though I think the concept is good for apartment people and short term use

    @Kadetklapp . The Ft-2600 pulls 10 amps on high, 6 amps on 25W. You could go to Batteries plus and get a 55amp battery for about $100 and a slow charger for around $30 and set it up in the corner. You'd probably want to drop it to 25 watt setting to conserve. Radioshack has 33ah batteries on close out, but I don't know what they are rated to put out. 6 amp should be ok.

    I've got an 8900 in the car that I was running scans on. I also have a 7r in the house, but I wasn't picking up anything. I was able to hit the local repeater from inside the house, but no one was responding. I also have a roll up dual band antenna and a tree outside my porch I could throw it up and over if I wanted to stay inside.
  6. 'bout the only thing I would comment on is.. unless ALL that was in your fridge was that last cold one.. don't open the fridge until you have to. It will stay cold a long time without power.. if you don't open the door.
  7. Lt Scott 14

    Lt Scott 14

    Mar 14, 2006
    N.W. Indiana
    Power out, preps come out. Lights, coms, check and fill 3 military canteens, (Have bottled for past 24hr usage), definitely weapons lock and load. Use binos and battery radio to secure any news, and check w/ both neighbors for sit rep. First neighbor is 1/4 mile east, and other is about 1/3 mile away. Rural roadways between. No sirens? no flashing lights? Get out the board(bored for me)games and figure out who is the Monopoly banker. Hang tight, fire up lp grill, or as backup: Weber jr w/matchlite charcoal. Have a cook out. As long as my home stands, no or minimal damage, we are good to go. Winter time: fire up gas fireplace, and watch dvds on portable player.
  8. LongGun1

    LongGun1 StraightShooter

  9. FireForged

    FireForged Millenium #3936 Millennium Member

    Dec 25, 1999
    Rebel South
    I spent 10days without power last April due to tornadoes. The entire city was total blackness for 7days in most areas and 10days in my area. My recap (in no particular order)

    dusk till dawn curfew imposed
    some looting reported
    (1) looter vs citizen self defense shooting
    groups of unknown people roaming streets after curfew
    several people arrested for curfew violation
    generators being moved in for 2 local eateries
    churches set up food banks
    groceries donate meat/water to first responders
    some gorceries on early gen power sell out of goods immediately
    no gas available
    citizen vs citizen conflicts at gas stations
    gas being stolen from parked vehicles
    all lan lines down but cell (text only) would work from time to time but not all the time or even every day.
    news conferences/ status update 3x daily (radio)

    my failures:

    I needed much better broad band radio
    I only had a quarter of a tank of gas
    would like to have had a generator (not a must have)

    would like to have had more flashlights with a low-light mode. My (2) primary lights were 150-300lums which was just way too much light for most tasks. 30-150-300 in one light would have been perfect which is what I have now.
    Last edited: May 9, 2012
  10. smokeross

    smokeross GTDS Member #49

    May 15, 2011
    Power outages are common here. Usually happen in winter. Luckily it is most often caused by wind storms from weather blowing in from the Gulf of Alaska. That means the temps are not below zero for most of these storms. Keep the wood stove going. Fire up the lanterns. Hunker down. No big deal for the prepared.
  11. Bolster

    Bolster Not Ready Yet!

    Jul 23, 2011
    State of Stupidity
    Good post! Appreciate the chance to learn from real situations.

    Regards lo lumen flashlights, check out the highly regarded Quark series from are a perennial favorite over at the CPF forums. They have low modes that will run for many nights before needing new AAs.

    The GoalZero power pack has a built in LED that will do well over 100 hours; that's another option. Or attach the LunaLight for much brighter coverage for 10 hours. You don't HAVE to buy the solar panel with the power pack; you can recharge the power pack via your USB cable.

    If I could have just ONE light in an emergency tho it would be a Zebralight headlamp.

    Thanks for the kick in the pants re: gas. Need to get that second can filled today.

    I TRY to refill car at 1/2 full but don't always make it.
    Last edited: May 9, 2012
  12. For lighting I bought a couple of Bogo lights. They throw off a lot of light with many settings. They are very versatile and can actually charge up AA's too.

  13. G29Reload

    G29Reload Tread Lightly

    Sep 28, 2009

    IT should be 28ah.

    I just re-checked the latest price on mine. I can't find it under 400 bucks, so now I wish I had bought 2 when the price started with a 1. Will have to look around in case its a vendor anomalie.

    I am gonna get one the orange ones too if i can get a good price on it.
  14. Kadetklapp

    Kadetklapp Methberry PD

    Jan 2, 2007
  15. Kadetklapp

    Kadetklapp Methberry PD

    Jan 2, 2007
    Ok, I'm not finding the one you showed for sale anywhere. Nothing on Amazon or Ebay.
  16. If you are on the ground floor and able to park your car within heavy duty extension cord range of a window I get tons of good use from a 400w power inverter. During hurricane Wilma I had a 36" tv, halogen floor lamp, cell phone charger and box fan running from the inverter with no problems at all. Of course take all precautions for exhaust poisoning and fumes.

  17. It looks like you can't even buy from the site right now. I bought mine a couple of years ago.
  18. G29Reload

    G29Reload Tread Lightly

    Sep 28, 2009
    Updating my last, you can still find the Xantrex 400 online for in the low 100's…just not on amazon any more, they only had a high priced vendor.

    The xantrex power source with the 60AH car batt in it, that can be had in the 3's if you shop.

    So, that will store 720watts…enough to run a table lamp for a week or two, maybe a laptop for a bit.

    My 46" Samsung and the sat box would still suck it dry in a couple of hours.

    Got to keep it for small tasks. At the average draw of 100w per hour, it might get 7-8 hours with your 20cu fridge freezer.

    If the power were out for the day on a hot summer, I would use your charge in 2 4 hour runs during the day and keep it closed. Let the last 4 hours be from like, 5 pm to 9, then the sun goes down and it can coast till the morning…hopefully your power will be back on. Otherwise its generators and solar panels.
  19. Warp


    Jul 31, 2005
    What do you mean by 'pull your guns out'?