Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Daily Briefing for Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Ice Ice Baby

The chumps are acting ill because they're so full of eight balls
Gunshots ranged out like a bell
I grabbed my nine
All I heard were shells
Fallin' on the concrete real fast
Jumped in my car, slammed on the gas
Bumper to bumper the avenue's packed
I'm tryin' to get away before the jackers jack
Police on the scene
You know what I mean
They passed me up, confronted all the dope fiends
If there was a problem
Yo, I'll solve it
Check out the hook while my DJ revolves it

-- from Vanilla Ice's "Ice Ice Baby."

Andrew in Virginia, who endured the Great Land Hurricane of 2012, shared some of his thoughts on last night's blog based upon his recent experiences.  I'd like to discuss a couple of points he brought up.

  1. Generators.  I am in the minority on this.  I don't think most people should go out and buy one for emergency preparedness.  I can think of five big reasons: (1) they cost a considerable amount of money that could be better used towards other preparations; (2) they must be maintained to be reliable; (3) they require fuel that, unless you're using propane, must be rotated or treated for long term storage; (4) they can draw unwanted attention to your house if everyone else in your 'hood is grid down; and (5) if you do have one, it requires having a plan to utilize the generator efficiently so as to maximize the energy production capacity of your limited fuel supply.  Most people have neither the time, resources, nor commitment to make the generator a viable part of their emergency plan. 
  2. Ice.  Andrew took issue with me on this one, and since he's now an experienced operator in a grid down environment, he's entitled to some deference here.  He doesn't full embrace my assessment from last night's blog, where I pooh-pooh the notion (pooh-pooh being a technical term, of course) that one should make acquiring ice a priority in the grid down environment.  I can tell you from personal experience that I made it 17 days in Miami without ice (or electricity) in my apartment after Hurricane Andrew.  You can live without ice.  Been there.  Done it. 

    What many of us cannot afford to do is to stand in long lines, in brutal summer conditions, just to get a small amount of ice.  Many in Miami who did so after Andrew were overcome with dehydration and heat exhaustion from standing outside in line in the August heat and humidity.  And in those grid down conditions, where debris littered the roadway, traffic lights didn't work in huge sections of town, and everyone was calling 911 with various self-inflicted chain saw injuries, it wasn't like the ambulance could get to them in five minutes or less.  In short, the risk of acquiring ice in those conditions can outweigh the benefit it provides.
If you can get ice with relative ease in the grid down environment, by all means do so.  If you have the extra cash and are willing to maintain and create a plan for the generator, do that as well.  I remain of the opinion, however, that most of us don't need either one.  And if you do decide to acquire either one of these, understand the risks and limitations in doing so.

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