Monday, February 21, 2011
Vicki here on a cold Monday.
When I was in the computer biz we talked a lot about a single point of failure. And how to ensure we didn’t have one.
A single point of failure is where one entire system can be shut down by one fault or mistake. Say a tree falls over and knocks down the wire bringing power to your house. Your stove and TV and computer won’t work. Doesn’t matter that the stove and TV and computer are perfectly fine. They’ve failed at the single point of failure. It would be better, of course, if you had multiple wires bearing electricity into your house, perhaps a generator also. The failure of one cable wouldn’t bring everything grinding to a halt.
I am thinking of this today because my furnace isn’t working. It’s two (TWO) years old and I came home late Saturday after being away for two days to find a very, very chilly house. Now, I’m saved because the heating system in my house doesn’t have a single point of failure. I have a propane fireplace AND a wood burning stove. I mainly rely on the furnace when I’m away or if the night is very cold.
I then began thinking about what single points of failure I have in the house. Electricity is of course the big one.
If the electricity failed, I’d have no water, because I have a well, and the water comes up from the well by means of a pump. An electrically operated pump. In the winter I have snow that I could melt on the wood stove. In the summer I have a swimming pool – wouldn’t want to drink that water though. I can walk to a lake if need be and carry home a bucket or two. I have several big bottles of drinking water stored in the garage. That should last me a week or so. I don’t think I’d be too concerned about bathing.
Food: I have a hand operated can opener. Telephone: I have an old-fashioned one that doesn’t run on electricity just for that purpose.
The contents of the freezer would begin to thaw after a few days, but I’d have plenty to eat until then! Unless it’s mid-summer in which case the freezer is pretty empty. But I live in farm country and could always crawl thought a farmer’s field in search of a tomato or something. Don’t know about chasing after a chicken with a hatchet though.
I have a laptop and a netbook, which combined have about 8 hours of power. So I’d have eight hours of writing I could do. (Of course the internet access would go out with the electricity.) Then I’d be hunting for pens and pads of paper. Lots of paper here, so I’d be okay.
Reading? Incredibly important – remember you have no TV or radio or DVD player working. I have a house stacked with books. Many of which I’ve never read, but always intend to one day. So the loss of power to my e-reader would be irrelevant.
E-readers can store about two weeks of power. Should be enough for any emergency. But, that’s if your reader is fully charged when the power fails. Suppose it has, say ten minutes of power left? And you don’t have a house stacked with paperbacks? Horror!
This exercise in evaluating my home is not a moot point. We’re incredibly vulnerable these days, so dependent on outside forces, such as the power company, to keep our lives going.
My daughter lives on the 26th floor of a high-rise and they lost power for two days. Now she’s young and fit and can manage 26 floors. (She walked up after work) But what about the elderly? Or if you’ve got a broken foot? And after about 12 hours the backup power in her building went out. No lights in the stairways or hallways. She was then trapped because she wasn’t going to try to manipulate 26 floors in the pitch dark. She didn’t even own a flashlight. And her cell phone power was faaddddiinnng…… (For her birthday I bought her a camping lantern).
Are you prepared, even for a temporary emergency? I’d like to know any tips or hints you have.
Posted by Vicki Delany at 9:27 am