We recently experienced losing power at home, specifically our gas-powered heat, for a few days while away on vacation. In the aftermath, I got to thinking about how I could have been better prepared.
A backup generator wouldn’t have helped in this instance because we didn’t lose electricity. Rather, it was our gas-fueled heating system that stopped working. And, because it was very cold, several of our water pipes burst once the temperature rose. The ensuing flooding caused a lot of damage.
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What could we have done differently? Well, our pipes certainly could have been better insulated. We could have had a neighbor come and check on the house while we were away. We could have monitored the temperature of the house remotely.
What did we do right? We had very good insurance (at least we think we did; I’ll be sure to write a future installment that reports on how our insurance claims were handled).
If a summer storm knocks out your power, then you can say goodbye to the air conditioner for a while. Writing as I am from Chicagoland, this is not that big of a deal. However, in hotter climates losing power at home can certainly be more than just a modern inconvenience; it can actually be deadly. But regardless of where you are, not having power for an extended period of time can cascade into a parade of horribles, starting with your food rotting and extending to a lack of potable water if the power outage impacts your area’s water purification plant. Just ask the people of Puerto Rico.
Not having power for an extended period of time can cascade into a parade of horribles
A local power outage is just one type of what I’ll refer to as an “infrastructure risk” (not a new term but one generally used in a slightly different context). We live in a hyper-connected world where political turmoil halfway across the globe can impact whether the local gas station has gas in its tanks and where a pandemic can travel as quickly as the fastest commercial airliner.
So, while I’m not about to build a bunker, the question of how much time and money to spend preparing for the unknown is a legitimate one. After all, I suspect you have an alarm system installed at your home. Is it likely your house will be the one targeted by the burglar? No. Yet, you have an alarm because, when measured against the consequence of not having one, your cost/benefit analysis told you that the small investment was the right choice.
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A long-standing tenet of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is to have a supply of food and water on hand to survive the coming world-wide apocalypse. Not a bad idea (and you do not have to convert to follow suit)
I’ve been thinking about investing in solar panels and likely would’ve already done so if I lived in a sunnier place. If I lived in the right location, I would also consider a wind turbine. And, while I’m not planning to move into a missile silo when I retire, living in an area that is not too far away from fresh water and farms is always a good idea.For more information, visit PrepperWebsite and TipsforSuvivalists.
Jonathan Friedland is a partner with Sugar Felsenthal Grais & Hammer, a law firm with offices in Chicago and New York City. Born and raised in a New York suburb, Friedland graduated SUNY-Albany magna cum laude in three years and then earned his law degree from the University of Pennsylvania Law School. Friedland clerked for…
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