Like many preppers, I am more connected to “The Grid” (including water, electricity, gas etc) than I want to be; an unavoidable by-product of suburban living. Grid-living is an addiction of sorts. And the first step in understanding any addiction is awareness. This is no different. This post shows you how I accomplished an awareness of my homes connections to The Grids and how you can too.
To become aware of my dependence on The Grids, I decided to start by documenting all the “inputs” (like electricity, gas and water) and “outputs” (like human and other waste) associated with my home.
A Revealing Stroll Around my Yard
With iPhone in hand, I stepped out my front door with a simple mission: photograph anything in my yard or connected to my house that I did not specifically put there. The obvious ones have always been there: the green posts used by my local telecommunications provider, the gas and electric meters: all icons and easily identifiable. Also easily identified were the various in and above ground spouts for my lawn sprinklers. I was feeling fairly knowledgeable at this point.
But then after I had photographed those, other things began to catch my eye. A heavy metal drain cover with my city’s emblem on it. A cement cover with the electric companies’ name on it inset in the yard with one bolt and 1 hole missing a bolt.
Then, I noticed a rectangular plastic cover half grown over with dirt and grass. After some cleaning the abbreviation: I.C.V. Upon further research I found out not only this was my natural gas Integrated Control Valve but that the hole was home to one or more mice that entered through the hole in the cover or the custom “side-door” they dug in the dirt on the side of the cover’s frame. Ok, now I have water, electricity and gas shutoffs accounted for: check!
But then, I noticed two small fuse boxes marked “1″ and “2″ on the outside of my garage with a loop for (but missing) a lock for each one. They were positioned just next to my A/C units. I lifted up the box snapped the fuses up and poof my A/C shut off.
Moving on from there, I noticed two exhaust vents for my gas fireplaces. One of them was in my designated safe room (also known as the master bedroom and closet). In all my prepping tests for air-borne contamination prevention in the safe room, I was dutifully taping off the doors windows and vents all the while ignoring the fireplace vent in the middle of our bedroom! Noticing the outside vent brought a humbling awareness to my preparedness in this important area.
And then I became more concerned when I found a coiled up coax cable that appeared to tap into my home’s cable system.
But maybe the most strategically important find was a circular cover marked CATV. Opening it up I found a spliced coax cable. Unhooking it, I waited a few minutes until my boys came stumbling outside dazed and confused due to the loss of signal (LOS) to their TV and Internet-based activities.
At this point, I began to feel my OPSEC rating dropping a few points BUT my parental power climbed tremendously!
One last surprise came in a small green cover that at first looked like part of the sprinkler system. Upon further inspection however, I found this was a fumigation port where anyone could insert any gas that would quickly permeate my home.
Remediation after findings.
Though humbling, like most preppers I treated this awareness as an opportunity to remediate and harden my defenses and learn how to turn on/off each of these connections to “The Grid.” Through the installation of locks, key-based plate covers, and other remediations, I developed a better relationship with my Grid providers. In some ways, they appreciated my calling just to know ahead of the need how to shut off these utilities at the source should the need arise. Normally, they reported, their calls were from frantic home owners in the middle of a crisis screaming “HOW DO I SHUT THIS OFF!”
A Grid for your Grid
Prepping can often focus too heavily on the acquisition of things and not enough on awareness of and knowledge about your surroundings. To help you document your “Grid,” assemble the following data and keep it handy in case of emergency.
|Service Type||Provider Name||Acct #||Emerg.ph #||Procedure to Disconnect||What would we use installed|
|Electricity||Propane and gas powered generators with auto sensing start and transfer switch|
|Water||Ozarka 5 ga bottles and Water Bob|
|Waste – Human||Hunter’s Loo, lyme and RV Holding Tank Deodorant|
|Waste – Garbage||Right corner back yard behind orange fencing.|
|Cable/Phone||Cellular Hotspot, NOAA weather radio, Ham Radio|
|Natural Gas/Heat||Propane and electric space heaters.|
With knowledge of your Grid providers and what your backup plan is in case of outage, you can run some interesting exercises with family members disconnecting services and pulling out the backup systems. Though I shared almost all of these procedures with my 3 boys, I decided to keep the cable TV/Internet disconnection point secret until the next time homework or chores go undone.
Craigb is a Dallas-based business executive and prepper. He and his 3 teenage boys seek to 1) prepare for a reduced standard of living 2) travel internationally 3) live in peace with everyone.
© 2012, DFW Preppers and Survivors. All rights reserved.
Tags: air-borne contamination, awareness, coax cable, dependence, drain cover, electricity, exhaust vents, fumigation port, gas, Grid, integrated control valve, internet, preparedness, remediate, safe room, shutoffs, spouts, sprinklers, suburban living, utilities, water