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Texas Power Grid Sounds Warning Of National Grid Collapse

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The situation on the Texas power grid this week poses a critical challenge for its managers at ERCOT (Electric Reliability Council of Texas) and underscores the vulnerability of the grid, not just in terms of renewable energy, but in its overall resilience. As weather conditions worsen across the state, ERCOT has issued a conservation request to cope with peak power demand, shedding light on the grid’s dependence on various energy sources.

ERCOT attributes the recent setback in the state’s wind industry to “unseasonably low wind” conditions. However, the well-known fact that wind tends to diminish in colder temperatures is evident. ERCOT cannot control weather patterns, but they can anticipate reduced wind contribution during less-than-ideal weather. Equally apparent is the lack of generation from solar farms when sunlight is unavailable, and the limitations of battery storage during extreme weather conditions, be it too hot or too cold.

Examining ERCOT’s generation mix at a critical time reveals 0 percent contribution from solar, 0.8 percent from power storage, and just 6.8 percent from wind. In contrast, “fossil fuels,” particularly the natural gas industry, contribute 84.9 percent of total generation, highlighting the grid’s dependence on natural gas.

Despite the push for renewables, the reality on the Texas grid remains centered around the performance of natural gas. Consumers’ experiences hinge on whether natural gas producers can maintain production, pipeline companies can keep gas flowing, and power generators can prevent plant freezing. This reality was starkly evident during Winter Storm Uri in February 2021, where failures in these aspects led to massive blackouts and tragic consequences.

Efforts have been made since then to prevent a repeat of such failures, with critical grid sites identified and measures taken to ensure uninterrupted service. The success or failure of the Texas power grid in challenging times is linked to the performance of natural gas, not renewables. This serves as a reminder that irrespective of the energy mix, the reliability of the grid relies on the robustness of natural gas infrastructure.

For you and your family, this underscores the need to be prepared with a backup power supply. In the cold of winter, you’re going to need some way to supply power to your home. As America’s power grid becomes increasingly unstable and creaky, it’s nearly inevitable that you will experience some kind of massive power disruption at some point in the near future. 

How are you and your family preparing for the grid going down? Leave your thoughts in the comments below. 

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Knowing How Much Wood You Need Can Keep You Alive

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Despite the prevalence of electric and natural gas heating, old-fashioned wood heat remains a reliable option for many households across the United States. Whether using a fireplace or a wood stove, heating with wood can serve as both a primary and supplementary source. Unlike electric and gas heating, your fuel supply depends on the firewood you have on hand. Running out in the middle of winter could be disastrous. 

Estimating Firewood Needs

To heat an average 2,000 sqft home through winter, you’ll need anywhere from 4 to 6 cords or approximately 525 to 750 cubic feet of firewood. Calculating fuel costs for heating is tricky due to many factors, and wood, being an imprecise fuel, adds to the challenge. However, understanding the key factors affecting your wood needs can help ensure you have enough to last through winter.

Factors Affecting Firewood Consumption

Home Size and Layout

The size and layout of your home significantly impact how much wood you’ll need. Larger homes with bigger rooms require more wood to heat effectively. Homes with multiple stories or large open spaces often need multiple fireplaces or stoves, consuming more wood.

Living Habits

Your lifestyle inside the home also matters. If the whole family spends most of their time in the room with the fireplace or stove, you’ll need less wood. Conversely, if everyone spreads out, you’ll need more. Additionally, how warmly you dress at home affects wood consumption. Bundling up in warm clothing reduces the need to burn wood constantly to maintain comfort.

Climate and Weather

The climate in your region of the country is a crucial factor. Colder regions with harsh winters require more firewood. Milder climates need less. Monitoring weather forecasts can help you estimate your wood needs more accurately.

Wood-Burning Appliance Efficiency

Appliance Type and Maintenance

The efficiency of your wood-burning appliance plays a vital role. Modern wood stoves are generally more efficient than fireplaces, providing more heat per unit of wood. Ensuring your stove or fireplace and chimney are clean and well-maintained maximizes efficiency, making your wood supply last longer.

Home Insulation and Draft Prevention

Insulation Quality

Good insulation is essential for retaining heat. Thick walls, modern windows, and state-of-the-art insulation keep the warmth in and the cold out. Prioritizing insulation in and around the room where the fire is burning is crucial.

Draft Control

Drafts can significantly reduce heating efficiency. Identifying and sealing drafts around door jambs, windows, basement vents, and attics is critical. Simple measures like stuffing blankets under doors and hanging heavy drapes over windows can help retain heat.

Gathering Real-World Data

If you’re new to heating with wood, real-world data is invaluable. Ask previous occupants of your home how much wood they needed or consult neighbors with similar homes. Their experiences can provide a reliable baseline for your wood needs.

Heating your home with wood is a dependable and often economical choice, especially for urban and suburban preppers. Understanding the various factors that affect how much wood you need will ensure you stay warm and comfortable throughout the winter. From the size and layout of your home to your willingness to dress warmly, each element plays a crucial role. With proper planning, insulation, and draft prevention, you can make the most of your firewood supply and enjoy a cozy, secure winter.

After reading this do you feel like you have enough wood? Leave your thoughts in the comments below. 

 

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Knowing How to Refill a Bic Lighter Can Save Your Life

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There’s hardly a lighter more iconic or ubiquitous than the humble Bic. Sold by the billions and found everywhere, these cheap little lighters are simple and disposable—use them until they run out of fuel, then toss them away. But what if you could extend their life by refilling them?

The Necessity of Refilling Bic Lighters

For urban and suburban preppers, knowing how to refill a Bic lighter can be a game-changer. While these lighters are designed to be disposable, the ability to refill them can be crucial in survival scenarios. Whether you’re in the midst of a prolonged blackout, a natural disaster, or simply trying to reduce waste, refilling a Bic lighter can provide a reliable fire source when you need it most.

The Reality: Bic Lighters Are Not Supposed to Be Refilled

Before diving into the how-to, it’s important to note that Bic lighters are not designed to be refilled. The manufacturer states that these lighters are disposable and should only be used until their initial fuel runs out. This recommendation is due to safety concerns and the design of the lighter itself.

Despite the manufacturer’s stance, it is technically possible to refill a Bic lighter. However, this process involves some risk and requires careful handling. You might damage or destroy the lighter, or even make it unsafe. But for those determined to learn, it can be a useful skill in a pinch.

Why Refill a Bic Lighter?

You might wonder why anyone would go through the trouble of refilling a cheap, disposable lighter. Here are a few reasons:

  • Survival Situations: In a crisis, every resource counts. If you have fuel but no functioning lighter, being able to refill a Bic can be invaluable.
  • Sentimental Value: Perhaps you have a Bic lighter that has sentimental value or unique artwork you don’t want to discard.
  • Environmental Concerns: Reducing waste is important. Refilling a lighter instead of throwing it away aligns with sustainable practices.
  • Cost Efficiency: While not significant, refilling a lighter can save money over time, especially if you already have the necessary tools and fuel.

How to Refill a Bic Lighter

Method 1: Refilling Through the Bottom

  1. Ensure the Lighter is Empty: Verify that the lighter is completely out of fuel by trying to ignite it repeatedly. Listen for any hissing sound indicating remaining fuel.
  2. Prepare the Tools: You’ll need a thumbtack or a similar pointed object, butane fuel, a small rubber gasket, and another thumbtack to seal the hole.
  3. Puncture the Bottom: Carefully use the thumbtack to make a small hole in the bottom of the lighter.
  4. Refuel: Insert the nozzle of the butane canister into the hole and fill the lighter. You’ll feel the lighter getting colder as it fills.
  5. Seal the Hole: Use the rubber gasket and another thumbtack to seal the hole tightly, preventing the butane from leaking.

This method mirrors the factory filling process but requires caution to avoid leaks or damage.

Method 2: Refilling Through the Tank Opening

  1. Remove the Shield: Carefully pry off the metal shield around the igniter without damaging the mechanism.
  2. Remove the Flint Assembly: Take out the flint and spring assembly to access the fuel tank.
  3. Open the Valve: Use a bent paper clip to hold the small valve release, called the fork, out of the way.
  4. Refuel: Depress the butane canister nozzle into the tank opening while holding the fork aside.
  5. Close the Valve: As you remove the fuel nozzle, release the fork to shut the valve.

This method is more delicate and requires steady hands, but avoids creating new holes in the lighter.

The Risks Involved

Refilling a Bic lighter involves risks, including:

  • Fuel Leaks: Improper sealing can result in butane leaks, which are hazardous.
  • Damage: The lighter can be easily damaged, rendering it unusable.
  • Safety Hazards: An improperly refilled lighter can be dangerous, potentially leading to fires or explosions.

Is It Worth It?

While refilling a Bic lighter can save money and resources, it’s not always the most practical choice. New Bic lighters are inexpensive, and butane canisters are not always cost-effective for this purpose. However, as a survival skill, it’s worth knowing how to maximize the tools at your disposal.

Refilling a Bic lighter is a useful skill for urban and suburban preppers. Whether you’re preparing for emergencies, reducing waste, or simply want to keep a favorite lighter, knowing how to safely refill a Bic can be valuable. Remember, safety first: ensure the lighter is empty, handle the butane carefully, and be prepared for the possibility that the refill might not work perfectly. With practice and caution, you can make the most of this iconic survival tool.

Have you ever refilled a Bic lighter? Leave your thoughts in the comments below. 

 

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The Dire Consequences of a Grid-Down Event on the U.S. Food Supply

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Imagine waking up one day to find that the lights won’t turn on, your phone has no signal, and the hum of everyday life has fallen eerily silent. This scenario isn’t the latest dystopian movie plot—it’s a grim possibility that experts warn could become a reality: a grid-down event. Such an event would plunge the United States into darkness, and the repercussions for our food supply could be nothing short of catastrophic.

The Fragile Web of Our Food Supply

The modern food supply chain is a marvel of efficiency, but it is also a house of cards, delicately balanced on the stability of our national power grid. From the fields where crops grow to the aisles of your local supermarket, every step of food production and distribution relies on a steady flow of electricity. When the grid goes down, this intricate system collapses, leading to immediate and severe consequences.

Farms and Agriculture: A Devastating Blow

The first domino to fall in a grid-down event would be our nation’s farms. Modern agriculture is heavily dependent on electricity to power irrigation systems, milking machines, and climate-controlled barns. Without power, these essential systems fail. Crops wither in the fields as irrigation pumps stop working, and livestock suffer as automated feeding and milking systems grind to a halt. The loss of power also means no refrigeration, leading to the rapid spoilage of perishable goods.

Transportation: The Lifeline Severed

Even if some food manages to be harvested, getting it to consumers becomes an insurmountable challenge without a functioning power grid. Transportation networks are the arteries of our food supply, and they depend entirely on electricity for fuel pumps, traffic control systems, and refrigeration units in trucks and trains. A grid-down event halts transportation, causing massive food shortages as supplies can’t reach their destinations. Supermarket shelves would empty within days, and panic buying would only accelerate the crisis.

Food Processing: Factories Fall Silent

Food processing plants are the backbone of the American diet, transforming raw ingredients into the products we consume daily. These plants rely on advanced machinery and technology, all powered by electricity. In a grid-down scenario, these factories fall silent. The production of everything from canned goods to frozen meals stops abruptly. The consequences extend to packaging as well—without power, even the materials needed to safely transport and store food become unavailable.

Immediate Impact on Households

The immediate impact on households would be stark and brutal. Most American homes are not prepared for long-term food storage without refrigeration. Perishable items would spoil within days, and families would be forced to rely on whatever non-perishable goods they had on hand. This sudden shift would lead to widespread hunger and desperation, particularly in urban areas where people are less likely to have stockpiled food.

The Threat of Spoilage and Contamination

Without refrigeration, food safety becomes a major concern. Spoiled food can harbor dangerous bacteria, leading to outbreaks of foodborne illnesses. In the chaos of a grid-down event, the ability to detect and respond to such outbreaks would be severely compromised. Hospitals, themselves struggling without power, would be overwhelmed by cases of food poisoning and other related illnesses.

Long-Term Consequences: A Descent into Chaos

 

While the immediate aftermath of a grid-down event would be dire, the long-term consequences could be even more devastating. As food shortages persist, social order begins to break down. Desperate people may resort to looting and violence in their struggle to find food. Law enforcement, already stretched thin by the crisis, would struggle to maintain order. The fabric of society, built on the assumption of a reliable food supply, would begin to unravel.

Economic Collapse

The economic impact would be profound. Agriculture and food production are major sectors of the U.S. economy. A prolonged grid-down event would devastate these industries, leading to massive job losses and economic instability. The ripple effects would be felt across all sectors, plunging the nation into a severe economic depression.

A Humanitarian Crisis

Ultimately, a grid-down event could precipitate a full-blown humanitarian crisis. With food production and distribution crippled, the United States would face widespread hunger and malnutrition. Vulnerable populations, including children and the elderly, would be hit hardest. The government and aid organizations would struggle to provide relief in the face of such a vast and multifaceted disaster.

Preparing for the Unthinkable

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While the prospect of a grid-down event is terrifying, it is crucial to consider and prepare for such scenarios. Individuals and communities can take steps to become more resilient, such as learning about emergency food storage, investing in renewable energy sources like solar panels, and cultivating local food production through community gardens.

At the national level, bolstering the resilience of the power grid and diversifying energy sources are essential steps. Policymakers must prioritize infrastructure improvements and emergency preparedness to mitigate the impact of potential grid failures.

A grid-down event poses an existential threat to the U.S. food supply, with the potential to cause widespread chaos and suffering. The intricate web of our food production and distribution systems is highly vulnerable to power disruptions, and the consequences of a prolonged blackout could be catastrophic. As we contemplate this unsettling possibility, it is imperative to take proactive measures to prepare and protect our food supply from such a disaster.

How is your family preparing for a “grid-down” event? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

 

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