Learning lessons from non-critical events

Discussion in 'General Survival and Preparedness' started by Imasham, Jul 24, 2017.

  1. Imasham

    Imasham Monkey

    At about this time last night the power to my house came back on after a four hour outage caused by a pole mounted transformer that blew out (with a mighty bang I might add!). The conditions were:
    -sun had just about set
    -weather has been dry and quite hot for us (high 20s Celsius (low to mid 80s F)) almost continuously over the last month
    -affected area was very small...just about 20-30 homes as near as I could tell

    Tonight my wife and I did a lessons learned and here's how we did:
    1) We did not have the power company (or any utility providers) phone number posted anywhere
    2) Had readily accessible headlamps but should have night light/emergency flashlights that turn on when power goes out
    3) My battery bank storage device was not charged (I could have used it to power my router which I didn't even think of until tonight)
    4) My various generators have not been tested in over a year as they are still in storage from moving here last year
    5) Still have no long term fuel storage plan as I've been humming and hawing over whether to go with propane or gas
    6) If the incident had been more severe we could not have evacuated very far by car as I had let the gas tank get down to nearly empty

    While I have classified this as a non-critical event it could easily have been much worse. For example, the whole town could have been affected which would have meant no gas pumps working at any of the stations. While making plans last night I had decided that I would start up a generator this morning to run my freezers if power was still off. I had enough gas in my garage jerry can to run a genset for maybe 10 hours.

    Now it's time to learn from the lessons and make improvements.
    sarawolf, duane, Bandit99 and 7 others like this.
  2. oil pan 4

    oil pan 4 Monkey+++

    Gasoline or propane?
    Go diesel.
    sec_monkey and Ura-Ki like this.
  3. Tevin

    Tevin Monkey+++

    Along these lines, my sister understands the need to be prepared and wants to go that way but has not done much preparing, mostly due to employment issues and the fact that she lives in a rental home so she's limited as to how many physical changes can be made to the property.

    But a simple power outage should not be a big reach, even for the lightly prepared in rental property.

    When the power went out in a storm the other night, her idea of a "prepared response" was to call me to bring over a generator...the next morning! She went through the entire night with no radio, half a cellphone battery, and one flashlight.

    Oh, we have work to do...
  4. Merkun

    Merkun furious dreamer

    1) Until recently, I didn't have critical numbers posted anywhere either. No sooner than I did make a sheet (actually written out!! with a flashlight right nearby) than I had cause to use it (not for the powco.) FWIW, look carefully at your phone service, some do not stay usable when the power goes out. Specifically, if you are on a fiber optic service, no power, no phone.
    2) Think about auto turn-on lighting. Maybe not so good if after you go to sleep, they could eat up the batteries before you alert.
    3) How 'bout I leave that one alone? (UPS aren't too expensive, but the batteries do NOT last forever. I had one go south that I found by accident.)
    4) FWIW, I have a tickler file that tells me to do a test run every quarter if there's been no use.
    5) You have gennies, thus no need to debate what the next one is going to be to cover the interim. BYKT.
    6) So your car is fueled differently than the genset that you have some fuel on hand for? But my rule of thumb (used by others, too) is quarter tank minimum, and preferably 3/8. YMMV of course, but my gennie and mower all use the same fuel, so there is always some on hand.

    I hate wakeup calls even if not in critical circumstances. It's good to see that the lessons learned were not hard lessons for you; good on ya, and it looks time for a thoro review.
    sarawolf, sec_monkey and Ura-Ki like this.
  5. Imasham

    Imasham Monkey

    Just to clarify the gas I had in my garage, like you, will power my gensets, mower and car. I could have used the jerry can to add fuel to my car. It would have been enough to get me to the next town if needed.

    All this said...I am now actively researching my options for fuel. I must admit that I had been strongly leaning towards propane but am now thinking diesel might be better. For me, a primary decision factor is the optics of a tank sitting in my yard. Since I live right in town it might be better to have a propane tank as I think I'd get less questions. I'm not trying to hide anything, I've checked the town bylaws and there is nothing about tanks in yards, but I still want to avoid nosiness on the part of people who might go by. The new fence I need to build will help with this.
  6. DKR

    DKR Raconteur of the first stripe

    Based on my experience as an Operations Manager for the largest Telco/cable provide int he State:

    Diesel will store for long periods but requires 'polishing' every 6 months or so to avoid the dreaded 'Dinosaur snot' (organic growth) buildup so often found in above ground tanks.
    Diesel tanks may require double wall tanks or diking - check you local codes
    Your neighbors may bitch/file complaints on the smell of the diesel or the exhaust...(my biggest headache)
    A diesel spill will be both a big hassle and expensive to clean up. This is getting to be a big deal when selling the house - the buyer/mortgage lender may require independent soil testing around/under the tank

    Propane has none of these problems. Usually, the tank belongs to the supplier, they take care of pressure testing etc.

    Just some things to think about when buying a whole - home genset.
    sarawolf, sec_monkey and Sgt Nambu like this.
  7. Seawolf1090

    Seawolf1090 Retired Curmudgeonly IT Monkey Founding Member

    I keep 70 gallons of gas stored, periodically treated and rotated.
    My landline phone doesn't need plugged in, and service does work during power outtages.
    My cellphone gas the app for my local power company, and I have three portable charging packs.
    I have three LED lanterns in the house, and a flashlight in each room. I have four 12VDC O2 Cool battery operated fans, two in the bedroom.
    I keep a Schumacher jumper pack in my vehicle, charged each month, and it has a USB port in addition to 12VDC ciggy socket.
    Hmmmmm.....four hour outtage. I'd take a nap.
    sec_monkey and sarawolf like this.
  8. oil pan 4

    oil pan 4 Monkey+++

    At 4 hours I'm starting to fill sand bags.
    sec_monkey likes this.
  9. Imasham

    Imasham Monkey

    Now that I think about it it was probably around three hours: about two until the truck showed up and another one for them to remove and replace the transformer.

    The odd thing that I don't understand is that the pole transformer that blew out was just around the corner from my house. However, my house is fed from a different pole transformer that is right on my property. So why did my power go out?

    I have to tell you DKR that I think this post clinched it for me. I have NO desire to deal with a possible spill or leakage. While I understand it may be unlikely I just like the "set it and forget it" feeling that propane gives me.

    I am hoping to just buy a used tank rather than rent one from the propane dealer but I'll see what they say.

    And to clarify...I'm not running a whole home genset. I just want to have fuel stored in case I need it.
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2017
    sec_monkey and Bandit99 like this.
  10. Merkun

    Merkun furious dreamer

    There are several possibilities. One could well be that your transformer is fed from the one that blew up. More likely, if I understand all I know, is that system trips are staged specifically to protect upstream components from reactive loads. Methinks that may well be what gotcha.. Dunno ---
    sec_monkey likes this.
  11. DKR

    DKR Raconteur of the first stripe

    Check with your local bulk supplier as well. Many absolutely will not fill a tank they do not own. Some will. The claim is over liability issues....ain't that for everything these days?
    sec_monkey likes this.
  12. Bandit99

    Bandit99 Monkey+++ Site Supporter+

    I intend to purchase a small 2000 watt Honda (the kind that can run in parallel) gas generator but still am undecided whether to get gas or propane for the larger one, probably 10,000 watts.

    I am leaning towards propane mainly because I have a 250 gallon propane tank that is for my cook stove and a propane fireplace (which I doubt we'll use anymore now that we have a woodstove) and I have given thought to having an adapter installed that would allow me to hook up a propane generator to it. I have a 30 pound (7 gallons) and a couple of 20 pound (4.7 gallons) bottles but if an outage went for any length of time these would go pretty fast but storage space is a premium so really don't want to purchase more bottles and think being able to hook into the big tank is a good idea.

    However, I have heard that the cold can effect the flow of propane, especially these 30 and 20 lbs. smaller bottles. I have no experience with propane generators but imagine that if and when I need a generator it will be in the dead of winter.

    Anyone have first-hand experience with propane generators in a cold environment?
  13. BTPost

    BTPost Stumpy Old Fart Snow Monkey Moderator

    Modern Power Disribution Systems are built on Loops... At each Substation the Output Side I'd feed as set of Loops. That way, if you have a Break in the Loop, you still can get power thru the opposite side of the Loop... There are Disconnects, along the Loop, that allow the Linemen to isolate a section. With a Fault, while supplying other customers, from both the remaining ends of the open Loop. Same is true for the Supply Side of the Substation... They are connected in Bigger Loops, for the same reasons.. If one Substation, or section of the Loop, goes out, the remaining Sections can be isolated from the Fault, and continue to supply power to the rest of the area...
    sec_monkey and sarawolf like this.
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