Preppers: The Power Grid Is Down but the Chores Continue
The devil is always in the details, and the simplest of things can become monumental tasks if you have not prepared for them.
Take washing dishes for example. You will need a plan in place for washing dishes and you may not be able to wash them inside your home for any number of reasons. You will of course need a cleaning solution, dishcloths, steel wool, sponges that have an abrasive side and dishpans.
Salt and sand can be used as an abrasive if nothing else is available. Salt is many times used to clean cast iron cookware.
Today you may use an automatic dishwasher, or stop up one side of the sink and fill with hot tap water and a few drops of dish soap. When the power goes out and the faucets deliver nothing but air, then what do you do. If you are connected to a sewer system, you may not be able to use your drains in some cases, so dishwashing must be done elsewhere.
Municipalities are likely to close the floodgates during a crisis to prevent sewage from entering the system so there is not a backup at the waste processing area. This means you cannot use your drains.
Dishpans, you would need two and possibly three. Have one tub to wash in, one to rinse in and possibly one for sanitation. Wash, rinse and then sanitize. Sanitation will be important, even more so during a crisis so make sure you have common household bleach that contains sodium hypochlorite as its active ingredient. It should contain between 5.25 and 6.0 percent. Do not use bleach with any additives, such as fragrances, or use bleach that states it is splash proof, because it will contain thickening agents.
Never mix any other chemicals with bleach
A ¼ cup of bleach to a gallon of water would make a strong solution and a tablespoon of bleach to a gallon of water is considered a weak solution.
Use the weak solution for sanitation of dishes, silverware, drinking cups/glasses and children’s’ non-porous toys. Items must remain in the solution for at least one minute, and then let air dry. Use the strong solution for sanitation of countertops, bathrooms, door handles and any hard non-porous surface and then let the surfaces air dry.
Cutting the Grass
You may not have access to fuel for your lawn mowers, but this does not mean that you let the grass grow wild. High grasses around the home invite snakes, ticks, field mice, chiggers and a host of other pests. Additionally, high grasses can conceal intruders, shooters or anyone looking to enter the property for nefarious reasons. If the grass dries out it can become a fire hazard as well.
There are Reel mowers that you can use but they are not efficient if the grass gets too high. They are hand operated (push) mowers that have a set of rotating blades. They are difficult to push through heavy grass however. You can also use a grass sickle or a larger scythe, which is typically used for grain harvests. You will need honing oils and a large enough whetstone and/or the proper file to sharpen the blades on the mower as well as the sickle/scythe.
You may have to, or prefer to bathe outdoors in warm weather. In years past people used galvanized tubs that were filled from rain runoff usually from off the roof. The tub once filled was allowed to warm in the sun. In cold weather, you would have to bathe indoors, and have a means of heating the water for bathing.
Rainwater is soft water and you will be surprised how well your skin will feel after bathing in rainwater. You should have a collection method to collect rainwater for bathing, irrigation and for emergency drinking water once filtered and purified.
Have bar soap, washcloths and towels along with a galvanized pail for transferring water from rain collection vessels to your bathtub. Bar soap is better suited for emergencies because it is easy to store, will not leak and virtually never expires and it can be used for the hair if shampoo is not available.
You can make an ad hoc outdoor shower system by hanging a sprinkling can from a tree limb using cordage or some other adequate hook that can hold the weight and allows the can to be tilted.
Paint the can black for better thermal radiation absorption. Hang the can filled with water and allow the water to warm up in the sunlight. Once ready, simply tilt the sprinkler to wet your body, soap and then rinse.
You may very well have to cook over an open flame so you will need cooking utensils that can withstand the heat. Cast iron is probably the best for open flame or charcoal grill cooking. Aluminum pots and pans with or without non-stick coatings may not hold up and plastic utensils certainly will not. You will need stainless steel spatulas, tongs, and spoons and so on for cooking over open flame. Cast iron Dutch ovens can be used to cook virtually any type of meal and they can be used for baking breads and even for making desserts.
Make sure you have potholders or gloves that are adequate for the job and never use wet or damp cloth to grasp any hot handle or surface.
In most cases, you can only go a few days before the laundry is piled up. You cannot wear dirty clothes for long. Soiled clothing has reduced insulating properties in cold weather and dirty clothes harbor bacteria as well.
You will need a tub, soap, stirring or agitation paddle, a way to heat water and a means of drying the clothes. Drying outside on a line is the most efficient. You can invest in clothing racks for drying clothes indoors or out, or simply string heavy gauge rubberized wire or heavy cordage. Bare metal cable will leave rust stains on your clothing.
You can wash clothes in your bathtub or sinks if you can use your drains. You will have to work at rinsing and wringing the clothes out however. Wet clothes are heavy and dragging dripping clothes throughout the house to hang outside is a chore so wring them out well.
In cold weather, hanging wet clothes inside will cool the room off but also will add humidity to the air, which by the way may be needed if you are heating with wood or coal. In hot weather, hanging wet clothes in front of window with a breeze coming in will help cool the room off.
The above mentioned are common everyday chores that most people perform daily, and the methods used are often times taken for granted. Without electricity, gas or running water these chores become real burdens and yet they must be performed almost daily. Do not let common everyday chores create big problems during a crisis, simply because you were not prepared.