Barnett Vortex Youth Bow

Barnett_Vortex_BowIf you’re interested in getting a compound bow for a youth, this may be a good option. It can be tuned for a young archer and can grow with them as they get bigger and stronger. With an adjustable draw weight of 19-45pds and adjustable draw length of 21″-29″, this bow is pretty versatile for a wide range of newer archers. It’s also very affordable at around $180 from BassPro in Vaughan. I purchased this bow for my son for Christmas and not only does he love it, but he’s become quite good with it.

Now keep in mind that this is a starter bow and as your young archer gets better, you will want to make some changes to it pretty quickly. First things to get changed was the arrow rest and the sights. The plastic is pretty cheap and before long the sight mount snapped due to the shock transferred to it from simply shooting the bow. The arrow rest isn’t the greatest either so changing that out to a proper capture style rest will improve both their accuracy and confidence when shooting.

The pack also came with a quiver and three aluminum arrows and the package itself can be used as a carry case. All pretty neat but also pretty useless. Don’t worry about the arrows being cheap ones because it won’t be long before your young archer loses or breaks them anyway. Until the new archer gets to a point where they are constantly shooting with some accuracy, it’s not worth buying expensive arrows, so stick to the cheap ones for now.

The neat thing about this bow though is that not only can it be adjusted as the youngster grows but that you can make those adjustments yourself without the need for a bow press. It uses a modular cam & pulley design so to change the draw length, you simply change out the modules in the cams. The package comes with all the modules needed for the whole range of settings as well as the tools to do the work. Same goes for adjusting the draw weight.

One thing this bow could really use is a peep ring in the string. Since it doesn’t come with one, it’s on the todo list for further modifications.

Now that all is said and done with all the mods though, this may not have been the best choice for my son. At $180 its a great price and an affordable way to start a new young archer off. Although, after the mods that I’ve installed on this bow, perhaps buying a slightly more expensive bow that already has the stuff on it that I added to this one would have been a better choice.

So it comes down to how sure are you that your young archer will really love archery. If you (and they) aren’t sure, this bow is a good option but know that in the long run it will cost you more as you add better equipment to it. However, if you are convinced that they will love archery for a long time, and that they aren’t just now interested in it thanks to Hollywood blockbusters and only a fad, then spending more money will save you money in the not too distant future. Perhaps something like the Bear Apprentice 2 would be a better option. Actually, if I could go back, I would have spent the extra $100 on the Apprentice 2.

Barnett Vortex Youth Bow

Axle-To-Axle Length: 28-3/8″
Brace Height (in): 6-3/4″
Draw Weight: 19-45pds
Draw Length: 21″-27″
Weight: 2.0 lbs.
Product Color: RealTree APG Camo
Arrow Speed (fps): 175

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Bear Outbreak RTH Compound Bow

This is not only my first compound bow but perhaps also my last. It’s that good. If it should ever break or somehow be damaged, I will likely buy another one if it’s available.

The main reason for purchasing this specific bow is because of it’s wide range of adjustment. The draw weight range is 15-70pds, with an arrow speed of 308fps, and the draw length can adjusted 16″-30″. This was ideal for me since initially I thought I could de-tune it for my son to shoot it as well. The fact that all the adjustments can be done without a bow press meant that I could do it all myself while at the range. It only took about 5min to change the bow from my settings to the settings for my son.

It wasn’t long though before we both wanted to shoot at the same time, so I bought him an entry level bow of his own and that meant I could really tune this bow exactly the way I liked it, without having to keep changing everything for ‘mini-me’.

bear_outbreakThe bow comes with everything you really need or want on a compound bow and really is “Ready to Hunt” as advertised. Assuming that you buy it from a store, they do all the initial setup for you (draw weight, length, peep ring, etc) so all you then need to do is spend some time adjusting & tuning the sights. Obviously if you buy this bow online, you will have to do everything yourself. The package includes not only the bow, but also a 4-arrow quiver (which is attached to the side with a quick release), a Whisker Biscuit arrow rest, a large three pin sight, wrist strap, stabilizer, nock loop (D-Ring) and a peep sight.

The removable quiver is ideal for hunters by holding four arrows with broad heads but I found the rubber grips held the arrows pretty tightly and removing the arrows exerted a lot of flex to the arrow shaft. This is not good for my carbon arrows so it wasn’t long before I removed the quiver and instead used a hip quiver. Since I only do target shooting, a hip quiver made more sense since they are easier to use, there is no flexing of the arrows and they can obviously carry more than just four.

The sight was good and certainly more than adequate for both hunting or target shooting and the pins could be adjusted for quite a range of distances. Personally I found it a tad large and eventually upgraded it to a smaller, illuminated one (gotta love Christmas gifts). The sight that came with the bow is now mounted on my sons compound (instant upgrade for him too).

Arrow rests are often highly debated as to what style is good and what isn’t. Some insist that drop-aways are the best, whereas others insist that capture style is the way to go. The Bear Outbreak came with a capture style Whisker Biscuit rest and I love it (I even bought one for my sons bow also). Once your arrow is loaded, it’s not going to fall out…period. This is ideal for newer compound archers and also perfect for hunters (just load the arrow and forget about it until you’re ready to shoot). The bristles do wear out over time though and eventually the whisker ring needs to be replaced. After about 2000 arrows passing through it, mine is only just starting to wear out. So unless you’re shooting 300-500 arrows every single day, this shouldn’t really be a concern for anyone.

The only problem I’ve had with this bow seems to have been a one-off because the shop I bought it from (who sell and service a hell of a lot of hunting bows) had never seen this issue before on any bow. The problem was that the string suppressor bar snapped at the mounting point after a few months of heavy shooting. This was presumably caused by the vibration of bow causing metal fatigue but the metal in the bar seems to have been weak to begin with (manufacturing defect). Heavy usage just brought the issue front and centre very early but because the bow was under warranty, it was replaced without question and I was back to shooting.

Whether you’re a target shooter (adult or child), or a hunter looking to take down a Moose, this bow can pretty much do it all. It is probably the most versatile compound bow on the market and once you’ve tuned it properly, it is insanely accurate. I’ve Robin Hooded several arrows at distances of up to 30m.
Two thumbs up!

Purchased from BassPro in Vaughan

55 lbs. of adjustment (15pds-70pds)
80% let-off
Draw length range of 16″-30″
Easily adjusted without the use of modules or a bow press
Dual Cam System
Axle-to-Axle: 29-1/4″
IBO speed: 308 fps
Brace Height: 7-1/4″
Weight: 3.5 lbs.
Colour: RealTree APG Camo

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Winter Driving and Survival

(feature photo from Lesley Wimbush)

Stranded in your car:

Winter driving isn’t fun and some drivers have a visceral fear of it. Some people feel safe in their skills as a driver, or in their denial, and think that getting stranded in the snow would never happen to them. It’s a scarey thought so perhaps ignorance is bliss. It doesn’t matter however, how good of a driver you are…you can still easily find yourself stranded in your vehicle for a long period of time.

In January and February of 2014, North America got absolutely hammered by extreme weather events. Heavy snow, freezing rain, extremely cold temperatures…you name it…we saw it. The ice storm that hit my area, just a month before, resulted in me losing power for three days. Even Atlanta, GA got freezing rain and it pretty much crippled the entire State…many States actually. Just to add insult to injury…the South got hammered hard again just a couple of weeks later. They simply aren’t used to driving on wintery roads and in no way whatsoever were they prepared. The result was grid-locked traffic from hell and tens of thousands of cars being abandoned all across the Southern US. Many people found themselves stranded in their vehicles for about 24hrs (a couple cases I heard of involved being stranded for 30hrs). Spending a couple days in your car doesn’t sound too horrible…in the summer. In the winter however, when the temps drop down to -20c (-4F), or much colder, it can be lethal if you’re not prepared for it.

We like to believe that we’re great drivers and never going to crash into a snowbank. Come on…we’ve all said it..”It’s not me…it’s everybody else”. Well lets think about that. Time and time again, drivers have found themselves stranded in their vehicles because of massive pile-ups around them (ahead and behind) thus leaving them stuck on the highway. Other times, the road conditions get so bad that authorities close down the roads while you’re still on it leaving you stuck. Both scenarios happen quite a lot and it’s not something that most drivers think about.

Certainly, drivers in Canada and the northern US are more aware of the possibility of getting stuck on winter roads but many find that they are still not prepared for it. At most, they may have a couple blankets in their car along with a shovel and some salt or sand but they still don’t plan for being stranded in their car for a couple of days. Learn What Hollywood Can Teach Us About Vw Transporter and other interesting information on vehicle driving online.

24hr Winter Car Survival Challenge:

Sometimes the best way to really know what it’s like to be stranded in your car and know what it takes to survive, is to just go ahead and do it. My friend and Automotive Journalist Lesley Wimbush joined me and we challenged ourselves to surviving 24hrs ‘stranded’ in a vehicle. In hindsight…I wouldn’t recommend people do this just for kicks and giggles…especially if they aren’t damn sure that they are prepared for anything that could happen. My background and training has provided me with survival training in various situations and climates but every situation is slightly different.

Lesley and I found a safe spot just off a back country road in Ontario, surrounded by snow in sub-freezing temperatures. We got bored. We got cold. We suffered Hypothermia. We got a touch of frost bite. We recorded it. I edited it down to just over an hour and you can see the progression from being ok, to getting hypothermia (and a serious case of the sillys), and recovering in the morning. The temps dropped to -18c (0F). During the video, we had some great discussions about winter driving and survival. We also discussed some of the mistakes commonly made by people who have gotten stranded in the past. We also demonstrate some basic survival gear and provide some tips to help you stay warm and keep your sanity. Please forgive the quality…as we started having trouble thinking, we forgot to turn on all our lights for the video.

A BIG Thank You to Volvo Canada for providing the XC60 for this experiment!

Prepping your Car:


Lesley trying to sleep and stay warm

Prepping your car isn’t all that hard and with some basic gear, you can likely get yourself unstuck. If you’re stranded for some other reason, like road closures, some simple equipment can help keep you warm until you’re rescued or the road is re-opened. The items below are just the bare essentials and could help you handle a few hours easily.

  • first aid kit
  • flares, shovel, salt/sand, jumper cables
  • SOL emergency Bivvy bags for each person in your car
  • sleeping bags for each person in your car (preferably ones rated to -10c) or at least heavy, warm blankets for each person
  • thermal underwear
  • toilet paper – trust me on this one
  • warm winter boots (just leave them in the car. You shouldn’t wear winter boots while driving anyway because it’s dangerous)
  • a GPS unit is handy to have (especially when trying to provide your location to others)

NOTE: I’m not a fan of keeping water in the car during the Winter (other Seasons yes but not Winter). Once it freezes, it’s pretty much useless unless you have a way of melting it. I prefer to put water in the car every time I go for a drive and then remove it when I park. I always have water in my shoulder bag anyway so I always have some water on hand no matter where I go.

Prepping your Gear:

The following items are from my shoulder bag that I carry around with me everywhere (my ‘murse’). As my every day carry bag (EDC), I switch up the contents regularly depending on the season or what I expect to be doing on any given day. Some items I use almost daily, whereas other items are in there ‘just in case’.

  • cell phone and car charger
  • At least 1L of water
  • about 2000 calories worth of energy/meal bars
  • 2 disposable lighters
  • 4 tea candles
  • a decent folding knife
  • emergency survival whistle with a button compass and some NATO matches inside
  • multi-tool (Swiss, Gerber or Leatherman)
  • several hot packs
  • baby wipes
  • a couple flashlights (consider headlamps for hands free use) plus extra batteries –consider a small wind-up light/radio unit as well which you can just leave in your car
  • extra clothes (wool socks, mits or gloves, warm hat, balaclava, a sweater)
  • large heavy duty double zip freezer bags (to pee in and use as hot water bottles)
  • handful of glow sticks
  • chap stick
  • small bottle of hand sanitizer
  • 10-20m (30-65ft) of para-cord braided up so it doesn’t take up much space
  • a sturdy bag to carry it all around in (shoulder bag, backpack or duffel bag)

NOTE: My bag contains other items also but everyone’s bag needs to be packed based on your own needs. Not mine or anyone else. The items listed here are what I would suggest but you may want/need to add or remove certain items.

Survival Tips:

This could easily be a rather long section so I’m just going to focus on some important things and a few simple tips. I’m certainly not going to write a full blown survival handbook. If you’re really interested in one, there are lots to choose from at your local bookstore. Natural and man-made disasters happen quite a lot so there are plenty of books out there on survival.

  • Always travel with a survival kit in your car. Something containing most, if not all, of the items I listed above and be sure to personalize it for your own needs. If you have very young children, remember to pack some diapers. You get the idea.
  • Never let your gas tank go below half way. A simple 30min commute could easily turn into 3hrs and running out of gas is simply not acceptable. If you find yourself stranded for any reason, you will need to warm your car every so often. A general rule of thumb is to run the engine for 10-15min every hour or so to keep warm. Make sure your exhaust pipe is clear of snow and open the window slightly. This will help prevent Carbon Monoxide building up inside the car which can be a lethal mistake.
  • Communicate. Call your family or friends and let them know where you are, what your status is and what supplies you have. If conditions are bad, Emergency services will be busy so don’t waste their time unless you really need too. Now is also a good idea to put some distress signals outside your car. Turn on your hazard lights, put a couple glow sticks in a clear water bottle and put it on your roof which may attract some attention (works like a lantern), put out a road flare, hang something brightly coloured from your window, etc. Be creative and be seen.
  • Don’t piss away your body heat. This sounds strange but hear me out. Your body wastes a tremendous amount of energy to keep a full bladder warm. You’re going to piss that away eventually anyway so it’s better to do it early and not waste energy to keep urine warm. With that in mind though, don’t waste it…it is after all…warm. Urinate into a bottle or large double zip freezer bag and you’ve just made yourself a hot water bottle of sorts. Put it inside your jacket against your body. If you don’t have to pee outside, do it in the car. Every time you open the door, you’re letting out the heat. For the ladies, urinating into a large freezer bag works well. You can also get a ‘SheWee’ so that you can pee in a bottle. Look it up online and you will see what I’m talking about.
  • As soon as you get stranded, layer up. Put on all your extra clothes and slip into your survival bivvy and sleeping bags. Trying to warm up is hard so it’s more important to retain heat…not try and warm up once you’re cold. In winter, heat is another essential of survival and if your body core temp drops by just a few degrees, you will become hypothermic.
  • If you’re in a blizzard…stay with your car! Far too many people have died trying to walk to safety. It’s very easy to get disoriented and lose track not only of where you’re going but also where you came from. You may think it’s only a short walk but I can assure you…it’s always farther away than you think. Walking in a snow storm always takes longer and your footprints will cover fast making it impossible to find your car again. Your car is your shelter and shelter is an essential for survival. If you’re in a heavy blizzard and you have to get out of your car for any reason, use your para-cord to tie yourself to your vehicle. Even just stepping a few metres (10ft) away from your car, and you might not find it again.
  • Don’t chow down. You’re food supply is for when you REALLY start getting hungry, not just for snacking on because you’re bored or a bit peckish. You’re better off going hungry when you’re trying to fight extreme cold. If you fill your belly, your body needs to use a lot of energy to start digesting your food. That energy is better used for keeping you warm. Food is actually the last essential of survival and you can go about three weeks without any depending on the fat stores in your body. If you’re cold…don’t eat. You’re just wasting energy.
  • Save your water. In a survival scenario it’s better to NOT drink any water for the first 24hrs. This puts your body into conservation mode. If you drink too soon, your body will demand more which may use up your supply rather quickly. Once you’ve gone 24hrs without water, you can sip at it but don’t chug it. Water is the second essential of survival and you can go about three days without any. However, once you reach the second day, you start losing your ability to think straight so knowing how to conserve your water supply is essential. So no drinking for the first 24hrs and after that, sip at it slowly and you can last several days with a very small supply if needed.
  • Light some tea candles. Open flames aren’t a good idea in a car but tea candles can be ok if you’re careful. They will slow the rate at which the car cools but won’t restore heat. They are also really good psychologically and help keep your spirits up. Do NOT use a camp stove or any other type of flame based heater in your car to keep warm, melt snow/ice, or warm food. The risk of Carbon Monoxide poisoning is very high, not to mention the risk of setting your car on fire.

Hopefully you’ve found this information useful and if so, please share this with your friends and family (there are some handy buttons below to help you pass this around online). If you know anyone who drives in winter conditions, they should be sure that they are prepared for the worst while hoping for the best. Common sense can go a long way in a survival situation and some specific gear can be the difference between life and death. Don’t panic, stay with your vehicle, stay warm and conserve your supplies.

Click here to read Lesley’s article in

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Dog Sledding in Haliburton Forest

(above photo from Fifi Campbell)

Winter isn’t exactly everyone’s favourate time of year. It’s bitterly cold, wet, snowy and a long winter can be absolutely miserable. There is nothing like stepping outside your front door and instantly your nose hairs freeze solid, your face hurts and tears stream from your eyes. It sucks…I know. I know because I’m Canadian.

It’s like the world is going to the dogs…and when you join them, winter is suddenly more enjoyable. Join me I as do some dog sledding in Central Ontario. Wait a sec…I’m allergic to dogs! Screw it…I went anyway.

For more information, check the Haliburton Forest website.

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Cast into Darkness – Will you be Ready? (part 2)

(above photo from Wobblycat Photography)

During the power outage that affected Toronto, we personally coped with the challenge rather easily. The only thing that would have made things easier for us would be a gas generator running outside and running an electrical cord in to the electric heater we have (but in this case couldn’t use without power) to keep the basement from getting so cold.

Other than worrying about our pipes bursting, we were fine and could have lasted a lot longer, even if we had to shut off our water. We knew what to do, how to handle things and we had the supplies and equipment on hand that we needed to survive. Obviously not everyone has a gas stove but we had camping stoves we could have used. They aren’t that expensive. Not everyone has a wood burning fireplace, but we would have gotten on fine with all our blankets, sleeping bags and survival gear. Actually…we had pretty much everything we needed to survive and in this case it wasn’t all that miserable for us. This sort of event will happen again. The reality is…it could happen again in a couple weeks…even next week. After all, winter has only just begun. How well you can cope, depends directly on your preparations.

Governments (including Canada) and disaster management groups (like FEMA, Red Cross, etc) across the world all recommend having at least a 72hr supply of resources and means of surviving. My years of experience camping and my time in the Forces have prepared me well enough mentally for such scenarios. However, you don’t need my experiences to be prepared though. Just logic, some equipment and supplies, and the ability to keep a cool head and not panic.

Emergencies can hit anywhere in the world, any time of year so I can’t really advise you of what to do in every situation. If you really want to get a better idea of how to be prepared for various disasters, go pick up a couple of books on the subject. There are literally hundreds of them at any decent bookstore because literally hundreds of disasters happen around the world nearly every year. So here are some recommendations I can offer should THIS type of situation happen again. Hell I could probably make a 30min YouTube video just on what we have in our camping packs alone.

  • 72hr Kit
    Make sure you always have enough on hand to survive at least 72hrs should a massive power failure happen again. This also applies for any type of natural disaster like any severe storm (torrential rain, hurricanes, tornadoes, etc). This would include at least three days of non-perishable food and a supply of water (or the means to purify water). It could also include appropriate clothes for the weather, blankets or sleeping bags, thermal survival blankets, perhaps also a signalling mirror, whistle, button compass, a multi-tool, another good sharp knife, work gloves, a water treatment kit, etc. This list can go on and on and be over whelming so I’m just sticking to some basics.
    Your ‘kit’ is something you need to create based on what could possibly happen in your area and is customized to your needs (not mine or anyone else’s). In Toronto, we could get extreme heat or cold, torrential rains, massive blizzards, high winds and freezing rain. The only thing we are unlikely to experience is a massive earthquake or direct hits from hurricanes or F3 (or greater) tornadoes. Although, areas near Toronto have in the past been hit by tornadoes reaching F2 levels.

    • Light – make sure your kit has a couple flashlights. The camping headlamps we have are great and served us well. They cast a tremendous amount of light and leave your hands empty for use. At least have some type of flashlight and make sure you check the batteries often and ensure the light works. If you’re going to leave it unused for a long time, remove the batteries and store them with the light in a zip-lock bag. Otherwise, the acid in the batteries may leak making the light useless. Consider also a windup light. We have three various hand held flashlights, three headlamps (ironically I just got another one this Christmas…the day after the power came back on) and a windup light. Our windup radio also has a couple of built in LED lights. Regardless of what type of lights you get, seriously consider getting LED ones. The light they cast is way brighter than regular bulbs and batteries last much longer.
    • Windup radio – This was a hugely important tool for us. Without electricity, it was the only source we had for constant news updates. We installed some batteries and it lasted eight days before finally dying (after running all day and nearly all night for eight days, which is pretty impressive). If we didn’t have more batteries on hand (which we have lots of), we could just start cranking it up to get it working again. If you don’t like the idea of a windup one (I can’t imagine why), at least make sure you have a regular battery powered one. Once again though, don’t leave the batteries installed if you’re going to store it for long periods unused. I’d suggest storing two sets of batteries with your radio while in storage (once again an appropriate sized zip-lock bag will be perfect).
    • A deck of cards – helps keep you from losing your marbles in times of boredom. Trust me.
    • Food – ensure you have about a week worth of non-perishable food on hand. Canned food, energy bars, camping food, MRE’s, etc.
    • Water – You’re going to need 2-4L of water per person per day depending on how physically active you will be. Someone chopping wood all day is going to need more water and food than someone who is just lazing around. This could mean a LOT of water depending on your situation and how many people you have with you.
  • As soon as you find out that a major storm is pending, fill up your bath tub, pots, buckets, etc with water should you need to shut off your water supply (make sure you know where you main valve is located and that you can always reach it). If your municipal pumping station loses power, they switch to backup diesel generators. If it’s a prolonged outage they will be dependant on their diesel being restocked. If for some reason that doesn’t happen, they will eventually run out and so will your water supply. You can use water that you’ve stored in your tubs, buckets, etc. for washing and that water can be stored aside and for flushing your toilets (a ‘grey water system’). Don’t flush your toilets unless you really need too. If it’s Yellow…let it mellow. If it’s Brown…flush it down.
  • Medical Supplies – Keep a good first-aid kit on hand. You never know when you may cut or burn yourself, get a headache or just need some general pain killers. If you’re taking any regular medication, always keep an extra supply on hand and rotate the stock. You should always have at least a week’s supply of your meds. If you require constant medical attention, be sure to establish a ‘life line’ with others who will check on you. Consider taking a first-aid and CPR course.
  • A source of heat – This is only a concern in the winter really but it is a major priority. I can tell you first hand that hypothermia sucks and so does frost bite. If you don’t have a fireplace you should consider a camping heater that can be used in tents. They’re safe to use indoors so long as you don’t fall asleep with your face right up beside it. When selecting one of these types of heaters, make sure you talk to the sales person and tell them what you intend to use it for.
    • DO NOT use a gas or charcoal BBQ indoors! We’ve had a few deaths from that this week and dozens of people each night being treated for Carbon Monoxide poisoning.
    • When you go to bed (be it in a sleeping bag or wrapped up in lots of blankets) put the clothes you want to wear the next day in your bedding with you down by your feet. Your body heat will ensure that you have warm clothes to change into the next day.
      NOTE: Don’t worry about seeming like a silly nilly to the sales person. If you go to a camping supply store and ask a sales person for help to make a survival kit, they will ALL say “That’s a good idea”. Like buying a car (or anything else you’re not already familiar with), it’s not a bad idea to bring an experienced camper with you so that you don’t get sold stuff that you don’t need, or get fleeced into buying the most expensive of something when it’s not needed.
      *Whatever you buy, be sure to read the manuals carefully and be familiar with how to use everything. All this stuff can get very expensive. A choice needs to be made between buying cheap considering you may never use it, vs. paying more for something that is certain to work should you ever need it. Keep in mind that you don’t have buy everything all at once. Pick away at it over time when you can afford to add to it.
  • Strength in numbers – The idea of a Lone Survivor is very Hollywood and very rare in the real world. Even the most experienced campers, survivalists, explorers, elite solders, etc can still go ‘Bat $h!t Crazy’ (not a clinical term obviously) without having someone to talk too. Having more people in your group also means you will all be able to rely on each others knowledge and skills. Assign duties or responsibilities to people to keep them occupied. That also ensures that one person doesn’t have to worry about everything (which can be a stress over-load). Don’t be alone in disasters.
  • Keep busy – You’re going to get bored and before long that will have its affect, even if you’re with a group. Play some cards, board games, chop wood, clean, organize your movie collection…whatever, just keep your mind busy. Ever heard the saying ‘If you don’t use it, you lose it’? Nuff said. This is different for everyone so if you start noticing that someone in your group is getting antsy, give them a task to do.
  • Keep an eye on the time (especially the elapsed time since the outage started) – the food in your fridge and freezer will only last so long. Don’t open either unless you absolutely need too! Food in your fridge is good for about 4hrs after a power outage and if your freezer is packed full, it should last about 48hrs (in our case it was longer because the house got so cold). If its winter time, decide what you want to keep from your fridge, put it in a cooler and leave it outside (consider adding a large weight on it if you have racoons or other wild scavengers in the area). Throw out the rest. If anything starts smelling funky…toss it. You could do the same with the contents of your freezer too as long as the temps outside never gets near the freezing mark. Daytime highs should be at least colder than -4C to pull this off safely. Keep in mind that the stuff from your fridge though will freeze solid at those temps. The containers for fluids like milk, cream, pop, etc will explode as they freeze solid if the containers are nearly full. I know it’s a hassle but you may have to keep moving the cooler with your fridge contents inside and back out again to regulate the temperature (the average refrigerator is set to about 2C-5C). Add an analog thermometer inside the cooler so you can accurately monitor it.
    *Thousands and thousands of people lost all their food this past week because they didn’t think to put it outside or bring it to someone’s house that still had power (or could provide a safe place to store it outside). Had this happened in the summer, it would be nearly impossible to preserve food that needed refrigeration or a freezer but at least you wouldn’t have to worry about your pipes freezing.
  • Keep an eye on your pipes – Here’s another place where a thermometer will come in handy. I didn’t already have one on hand so I went and bought one. Find the coldest spot in your home and place the thermometer there. Keep an eye on the temps so that you can decide when to shut off and drain your pipes. If you have to do this, be sure you store as much water as possible if you haven’t already done so (see above about ‘grey water systems’). Once your pipes cool to about 4C, it’s time to make sure all your taps are running. This helps prevent them from freezing (flowing water doesn’t freeze easily). Once the temps drop to freezing, it’s time to act. Sure flowing water doesn’t freeze easily but copper pipes will start getting slushy and will eventually clog up and then burst. This is NOT a situation anyone wants to deal with. So do your best to avoid it. Just don’t act prematurely though because once this is done, life in your home will get even more miserable.
  • Know when to call it quits – Yes I know…the last thing anyone wants to do is abandon their home but there will come a point when you just can’t stay any longer or your life could be on the line. Setup a plan with your family, friends or neighbours BEFORE a disaster. Stay in touch with them and know where your safe havens will be if you have to flee your home. Establish a plan for when you have no communication (no phone line and your cell phone is dead) so that you can pack up and head to their place. If you are elderly or physically unable to leave, make sure your friends or family will come get you if they can’t reach you. Just leave a note though in case you’ve been picked up by a friend and your family comes looking for you. Once you decide that it’s better to ‘lose the battle to win the war’, shut off your water, drain all the pipes, lock up and leave. We came very close to having to shut off and drain our pipes here because keeping them from freezing was a battle we were about to lose. However, we still had plenty of means of surviving without having to leave (it was just a matter of saving the pipes and avoiding the water damage). If you aren’t prepared with food, water, warmth, other gear and supplies…staying in your home for too long could be a fatal mistake.

This isn’t meant to be a complete list and shouldn’t be taken as one. It’s just a collection of ideas that would have made things easier for people during a situation similar to what we just experienced. Do some research, pick up a few books on survival and buy some of the essential equipment and supplies. You don’t have to spend a tremendous amount of money on this stuff. Start with the basic essentials and add to it as you can afford to do so.

For some people, like us, it was just an inconvenience. For others, there was a lot of suffering and some people died. To be very blunt, and I know this will sound harsh, if you suffered during all this, you weren’t prepared. It will happen again eventually. Will you be prepared next time? Or are you going to suffer again?



Categories: Other Experiences | Comments Off on Cast into Darkness – Will you be Ready? (part 2)