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When a “Winter Wonderland” Becomes a Survival Course: A Cautionary Tale

I love sitting in a comfortable chair, watching the snow fall outside as I relax by the fire.  But sometimes it goes all wrong, and when it does, there are practical lessons to be learned…

Yes, our ancestors were born, lived, and died in frigid climates.  That climate enforced genetic standards that made us White folk tough, resilient, and smart  –  the weak and stupid died off, leaving the strong and clever to thrive.  It made us what we are today.

My wife and I got a chance to revisit that environment recently, and  it forced us to do a little adapting and overcoming ourselves, albeit in a much milder form.  I wouldn’t exactly call us survivalists, but we all know tough times are a real possibility in the world in which we live, and Sheila and I try to be prepared  –  but we learned a few things a couple of weeks ago, when a winter storm forced us to get creative.

As the snow got deeper, we got more concerned.  First, we lost power.  The lights went off, and so did the pump that provides our water.  So far, no problem:  We had filled five or six gallon jugs with drinking water as soon as the impending storm was announced, and our cabinets were well-stocked with food.  I pulled our collection of supplies  –  flashlights, a battery-operated lantern, two wind-up/battery powered radios, and other things  –   I had stashed these items, and more, in a couple of plastic storage boxes that fit perfectly under the bed.  We had candles, too; they provided light as well as a surprising amount of warmth.  Though we had propane for heat, we conserved what we had by retreating to one of the bedrooms and using the rest of the house only when needed.

We got up the next morning to find seven  –  yes, seven  –  toppled trees fallen into our driveway.  It was just as well, as the roads were pretty bad, but we got our warm clothes on and went to work.  Unfortunately, my chain saw wasn’t working…My bad.  I got a cheap hand saw and started sawing.  It was ineffective, not to mention exhausting.  Later, a friend and his father came over with a chain saw that actually worked and did the job in minutes!  Lessons:  1.  Keep your equipment working.  2. Have friends.

The neatest piece of equipment proved to be a power storage device by Jackery  –  look them up.  I couldn’t afford to spring for a generator, but this gadget filled in pretty well.  I had it charged up before the storm, and recharged it periodically with a solar panel or, when the sun was not cooperating, by plugging it into the cigarette lighter of my car.  It gave us dependable light, and ran our battery charger, too.

Internet was down, of course  –  and stayed that way for days and days.  That meant no television, which didn’t bother me much; one of the most influential books I have ever read was titled Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television .   However, it DID prevent us from communicating with most of you out there, for which I apologize.  A good point was that I actually had time to sit down and read a book,  which hasn’t happened in far too long!  It was wonderful.

Were we adequately prepared?  No, we did a number of things right in terms of basics, but there’s a great more we need to do  –  not just for getting through a few days house-bound by a winter storm, but for all the other events that could threaten our survival in a hostile world.  This was a relatively minor kind of emergency.

I urge all of you to learn from our little adventure  –  not so much the details, though all of them are relevant when it comes to the basics like food and water, warmth and light, as well as tool maintenance  –  but to all the other things that could happen.  We didn’t have to  survive for six weeks, or face marauding crowds out to kill us and take everything we had…and I hope we never have to. But who knows what the future holds?  I encourage each and every one of you to come up with a survival plan suited to your needs, and to do something TODAY to put it into practice.