A brief power outage in my town inspires a question: How resilient are we?

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'Power went out for a short time (less than two hours) on a rainy hot day. My first thought (since my office is in my home and no power limits the work I can do): "Now what?"

Second thought: "Hmmm. . .an opportunity. Let's see verify WORKS in this house."

Discovery #1: 'REALLY glad we purchased a gas stove. 'Not happy we purchased one with electronic oven controls. But--the burners still work and will work (provided the natural gas works) in any power outage.

Discovery #2: 'REALLY glad I have my grandmother's old cast iron dutch oven, and that I purchased a cheap oven thermometer that could be placed in it, along with an old fondue stand at a garage sale that can elevate the oven well above the flame. I'm baking carrot bread right now on a whim. (I'll let you know how it turns out!)

Discovery #3: My older neighbor (a woman who lives alone with a dog) called me (one phone still worked. . .though not the cordless) because she needed help raising her garage door. The thought occurred to me that I've never raised mine manually. (Whoops! Better learn how!)

Discovery #4: Battery powered lanterns worked just fine. I have a good storage of batteries in my freezer. I have oil lamps. I have no oil. (Hmmm. . .maybe I should buy some soon?)

Discovery #5: (Minor, but what the heck. . .) No microwave. Who cares? Glad I purchased an old two piece steamer at a second hand store. 'Warmed up my lunch with steam. Works!

While discovering these things, two thoughts occurred to me: Could ANY community (short of an act of war) really have enough rotten, horrific luck to lose, within seconds of each other: 1. Electricity, 2. Natural Gas (for those who heat and cook with it) 3. Purified water?

If natural gas lines were to fail, how long before we would notice?

Electricity can go off suddenly--and stay down for days and weeks--but in the event we lost it as a result of Y2k, wouldn't people still have time to store water?

With the above in mind, a national magazine recently ran an excerpt from the book 'The Survivor Personality,' by Al Siebert, Ph.D. I haven't read the book, but I thought the survey was interesting and worthy of reproducing on this forum. I guess today's the day. Here goes:


From 1 to 5, rate how much each of the following applies to you (1=very little, 5=very much)

(Add up your points. I'll post what your totals mean after enough of you have had time to take the survey. If you want the totals sooner, send me an email.)


#1) Curious, ask questions, want to know how things work, experiment. (Note: I was a 5 on this one. . .)

#2) Constantly learn from your experience and the experiences of others.

#3) Need and expect to have things work well for yourself and others. Take good care of yourself.

#4) Play with new developments, find the humor, laugh at self, chuckle.

#5) Adapt quickly to change, are highly flexible.

#6) Feel comfortable with paradoxical qualities

#7) Anticipate problems and avoid difficulties

#8) Develop better self-esteem and self-confidence every year. Develop a conscious self-concept of professionalism

#9) Listen well. Read others, including difficult people, with empathy.

#10) Think up creative solutions to challenges, invent ways to solve problems. Trust intuition and hunches.

#11) Manage the emotional side of recovery. Grieve, honor and let go of the past.

#12) Expect tough situations to work out well, keep on going. Help others, bring stability to times of uncertainty and turmoil.

#13) Find the gift in accidents and bad experiences.

#14) Convert misfortune into good fortune.

Again, I'll be back with the scores later, and I'll let you know how the carrot bread turns out!


-- FM (vidprof@aol.com), June 02, 1999


Skipper Clark recommended the sierra zip stove here about a year ago, I found it in the campmor catalogue. It's a small backpacking stove that has a battery operated fan & will burn paper, pine cones etc. It fits in a bugout kit. We've bought their larger eagle model, too. Power & water outages here are all too common, it's good to have a plan B & C.

-- flora (***@__._), June 02, 1999.

Carrot bread experiment update:

'Turned out pretty good! A little burned on the bottom, though. 'Could be flame too high, or cooked too long?

Suggestions from experienced dutch oven enthusiasts?


-- FM (vidprof@aol.com), June 02, 1999.

One more item: do post here if you've taken the survey. That will enable me to know when I should post the scores.


-- FM (vidprof@aol.com), June 02, 1999.

I bake many desserts in a pan that fits inside the dutch oven. I have a cake rack that fits inside & put the pan on that, it lets the heat circulate & lessen the chance of burning the bottom. Before I found the rack I used rocks to elevate the pan, but it's tricky to get it level. I've heard of some people using coins instead of rocks, I have no desire to become an accidental alchemist! In the campfire you can raise the oven above the coals on bricks or rocks if it doesn't have legs.

-- flora (***@__._), June 02, 1999.

For a good rack to fit into the dutch oven use the "thingie" that goes over the burner on a gas stove. I have a square one for the solar oven and round for the dutch oven.


-- Taz (Tassie@aol.com), June 02, 1999.

Those "thingies" are called trivets and if you cook in a pan inside a dutch you do need one so air can circulate around your cooking pan. Even just a bent clothes hanger would help ( 1/8" )because it allows for way less heat conduction from iron to pan, but something like 3/8 or 1/2" would be better.

-- Ken Seger (kenseger@earthlink.net), June 02, 1999.

Boy, you guys are good!

Question: Let's assume I'm going to be using different shapes of pans at different times, maybe a loaf pan or a round pan, etc.

Know of anywhere to purchase a round trivet that would fit precisely in the dutch oven and accomodate several different pan styles above it?

Also--I'm interested in getting a larger cast iron dutch oven to replace the aluminum pot I just threw away. Good catalog order sites for these? 'Haven't been able to find any in stores locally.



-- FM (vidprof@aol.com), June 02, 1999.

Wal-Mart has really nice 5qt Dutch Ovens. Sometimes they're in the pots & pans section and sometimes in the camping section of the store.

-- DJ (reality@check.com), June 02, 1999.

For recipes for carrot cake made with canned carrots and other edible stuff that can be cooked on top of a camp stove, in a Dutch oven, etc. All recipes for non-perishable food see:


-- sally strackbein (sally@y2kkitchen.com), June 02, 1999.

Kamper's Kettle has a bunch of DO stuff...


Here's the international dutch oven society page...


I prefer cast iron, but got an aluminum one from campmor for those times we don't want to lug a heavy one. They're great. The boy scouts have alot of recipes online. {Sorry, I'm Hotlink challenged!}

-- flora (***@__._), June 02, 1999.

Lewis & Clark held that their dutch oven was their most valuable piece of equipment.

PS the cake rack I have just fits inside my 12" oven, no need to worry about pan shapes.

PPS Great idea Taz!

-- flora (***@__._), June 02, 1999.

Just get a 1/2 dozen 3/4" nuts. Arrange them in the bottom of your oven to fit the pan. And Yes you can lose power, phone, water, gas, at one time. Solar flare, large scale power outage.

-- FLAME AWAY (BLehman202@aol.com), June 02, 1999.

If power goes down, "most" twons (under normal useage) will lose water pressure in 8-12 hours when the overhead tanks run down.

Mitigating circumstances - if power is out, people don't take showers or baths (its hard to wash in the dark or by candle!) and so useage goes down. Commercialuseage of water goes down too - no industrial processes are running.

So make a guess, water pressure drops out of site in two days. Problem then is - the ground water seeps BACK into previously pressurized water pipes, and the whole system has to be flushed and pruified and checked (two-three days) before it can be used for drinking and cooking.

Else - very good chance of many thousand very, very bad illnesses.


Natural gas - if power is out, most (almost all) electric blowers in the furnaces are "out" - regardless of natural pressure. Thus, loss of power means no heat - in the Northeast/midwest/far north - you'd be very uncomfortable in two-three hours. Getting worse until inside temp = outside temp, or until fireplace heats up one room.

Natural gas - if pressure (pumps or controllers or regulators or sensors or remote controls or satellites or radios or phones or pumping stations controls) control is lost - line pressure will begin dropping immediately. Losing too much pressure (again, assuming mitigated by no industrial processes or Big power turbines running) means in four-five hours, gas pressure is lost, and the gas company HAS to come by everybody's house and VENT, PURGE, and relight the pilot lights.

If the relight step (purge, vent, etc.) is not done right, your pilot light will trip off again as pockets of air come through. Else, expect many thousand fires as peopel do it wrong.....

Other questions? Its not as easy as it looks, is it?

-- Robert A. Cook, PE (Kennesaw, GA) (cook.r@csaatl.com), June 02, 1999.

Such good practical information comes from this forum, it continues to amaze me. (Makes it worth putting up with the flames.)

Robert, you touched on something I don't remember seeing covered in-depth here before. That is: answering the questions regarding "How long before we notice that such and such is out?"

Last Summer, for example, we had a problem with our water supply. 'Seems there was a leak in a nearby main, and an advisory had been issued for us to boil our water.

How did I find out about it? Well, really--just luck. I just happened to be watching the news (and we are a small city among so many this market covers) and got lucky.

If the power went out for an extended period of time (which it rarely does around here) how would neighbors know?

I hope more folks with knowledge are monitoring this forum and that others will contribute as well.


-- FM (vidprof@aol.com), June 02, 1999.

Dump day tomorrow, collecting bike parts, I look for some of Taz's "Thingie's" great idea.

-- && (&&@&&.&), June 02, 1999.

One other thing Robert:

What's a "twon?"


-- FM (vidprof@aol.com), June 02, 1999.

Our gas furnace had a safety interlock -- if there was no power for the blower, the gas supply valve would not open. It had a gas pilot light -- if the gas supply was off, the pilot light went out, and the gas supply valve again could not be opened. Of course the thermostat controlling the furnace needs power itself to work.

If your house is about to drop to ambient temps below freezing, keep all the taps dripping -- or drain all the plumbing -- or else!

-- Tom Carey (tomcarey@mindspring.com), June 02, 1999.

I have heard of installing a "butterfly valve" on water heaters to prevent the water from draining back out into the service line. I am no plumber. Any validity to this?

-- marsh (armstrng@sisqtel.net), June 03, 1999.

A "twon"?

T'was one of two towns....one won, t'other sunk like a twon of bricks. 8<)

-- Robert A. Cook, PE (Kennesaw, GA) (cook.r@csaatl.com), June 03, 1999.

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