Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Green Emergency Kits - Earth Friendly Survival

It's dark out!

In case you haven’t heard, the State of New Hampshire has been declared to be in a state of emergency. A few days ago we were hit by the worst ice storm in history. Over half the state remains in the dark and without power even after 3 days which is pretty nasty given that it is December. Shelters have been created, schools and town facilities, if they can be, are available for showers and people scramble to keep the pipes from freezing.

I was pretty lucky since I only lost power for about 10 hours, most of which was during the night. I did lose my phone service and Internet which I thought, at the time, was more of a nuisance. However, I think differently now.

So here I sit writing by Freeplay Lantern (no Internet) in the dark because we now have lost our power due to winds. In fact, even a larger portion of the surrounding area is without power and school is canceled again. I thought I would be fully prepared in the event of a power failure, but I definitely need to update my “green emergency kit”.

Going into this, I thought I had enough clean burning candles, beeswax and soy, but clearly I do not. As I began to run out of my too few supply of soy and beeswax, I had to resort to some old paraffin candles, the ones in glass jars that are heavily scented which I shall remain nameless. (I rarely throw out anything).Well it didn’t take long before the over powering stew of smells gave me a headache and tickled my already sensitive cough. Needless to say I cringe at the soot damage going on now. So I guess I need to stock up on more beeswax and soy candles for sure. I recommend the soy be in a heavy bottom jar for safety and placed on a good coaster in case the glass gets hot. You can get them in tins but make sure they go on a hot plate. Beeswax doesn’t need to be in a container, but I would get pillars no higher than 5 inches for safety’s sake. Three inch tall pillars are ideal since they are very hard to tip over. While the scents are nice for a single candle, when you have a house full of lit candles, the smells get overwhelming. So stick to unscented soy for your emergency kit. Same goes for beeswax. Besides, why ruin the good natural beeswax scent anyway. So this takes care of one kind of your light source.

Of course there are battery powered lanterns and flashlights but unless they are rechargeable, they are far from eco friendly since you can quickly go through a ton of batteries. You also run the risk of not having enough batteries or old dead ones by the time they get used.

There are some fine solar panel charging lanterns out there but not many quality ones. The technology is far from perfect so you get what you pay for. I have opted for the crank lantern by Freeplay which is working just great. They say I should never have to change the LED bulb or the rechargeable battery pack, ever. Plus Freeplay runs the Freeplay Foundation that does quite a bit of goodwill and is currently working in Rwanda and giving out free flashlights that use solar and crank for power. Nice company. Besides the lantern, Freeplay has other flashlights and radios that are both solar and crank. Lots to choose from. That should do it for light sources.

Since we have no power or phone service, the good old fashion radio is key in these times of emergency. Luckily we have one in the house, actually two, and old fashion battery sucking kind and the new crank one from Freeplay. The Eyemax has an incredible sound and a small built in LED light. It also comes with a weather band option. What else do you need to stay in touch with the world?

I won’t bother with heat since that isn’t really part of an emergency kit but there is one more thing that is…water. Not just for drinking, heck a jar of juice can satisfy your thirst. I’m talking about basic water for your everyday ablutions, you know, the morning ritual of face, teeth and oh yes, the toilet. Since most of us really don’t want to pull out the survival school manual and poo bags, it comes down to having enough water on hand for those special moments. (no I won’t say it) So make sure you always have several gallons of water stored away somewhere. Every few years, replace the water for safety purposes. The quantity depends upon how many people are in the house and…other things. The suggested rule is one gallon per person per day.

A couple more things for earth friendly survival are wet naps, though if you have water, not necessary. A solar panel charger for small items might be nice or a crank charger for cell phones. Just a thought.

So to recap, here is a list for your “Green Emergency Kit”:

1 – Candles – stick to unscented soy and beeswax. And have more than you think you need.

2 - Flashlights – look for crank or shake flashlights with rechargeable battery packs (that never need replacing)

3- Radios – Look for solar or crank or a combo solar/crank radios.

4 – Water – Have several gallons on hand, one per person per day.

I have to sign off now since my battery is about to di…………….

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