5 Days with No Power – When the Ice Hits the Fan

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One of the longtime, faithful readers of Backdoor Survival was without power for five days during the recent ice storm in Aiken County, South Carolina.  Sandra and her husband are preppers and have been for quite some time.  That said, she ran into some bumps during her experience, one she calls “when the Ice Hits the Fan”.

Sandra has graciously shared her experience and the experience of her family – what worked, what did not work and what needs improvement – so that we all can learn for it.  There are surprises here so sit down, grab some coffee and take notes.  This is good stuff.

The Ice Hits the Fan – February 2014

Although we’ve been prepping for many events for quite a while, you learn quickly you’re never completely prepared. The major ice storm and the grid down we dealt with a few weeks ago taught us many things, including what worked, what we weren’t 100% satisfied with, along with a few things that would have made this a little more comfortable.

The power company was able to repair the lines so that most grocery stores, restaurants and gas stations were operational very soon. Our power was out for 5 days.


You definitely need cash. Many gas stations and some other businesses were open but their systems which handle credit/debit cards were down. Cash was a necessity.


We had plenty of food and water storage. We are on city water which did continue working, although we had enough water stored to get by for the week, if it had come down to that. Beyond a week, we would have had to obtain more water.

Both of our children are on well water with pumps which require electricity. One had a generator and was able to get water from the well. The other did not have a generator but did fill both bathtubs with water before the power went out at their house. The bathtub water was strictly for flushing the toilets.

Both had enough cases of bottled water for drinking and cooking.


We have a propane grill, charcoal grill, and a Coleman 2 burner camp stove. With all the ice, it was easiest to use the camp stove on the back porch. I am purchasing one of these for future events. It is a small oven with a thermostat to use on a camp stove (folds flat for storage).

We did learn that we desperately need a covered area for cooking in inclimate weather. If it had continued sleeting/raining or more ice falling, we wouldn’t have had any way to cook or even boil water. This would be a problem in a Summer grid down situation if it were raining.


Our only alternate heating source is a kerosene heater. We had about 10 gallons of kerosene on hand but we did have to buy more. You cannot burn a kerosene heater without the danger of carbon monoxide. We ran the heater full blast for 30 minute intervals (used the alarm on the cell phone) then turned it off. During the night, we did the same thing – 30 minutes of kerosene heater running when we got cold – ALWAYS SETTING THE CELL PHONE ALARM to remind us to turn it off to prevent carbon monoxide from building up in the house.

We have an 840 sq. ft. house but we closed off 2 bedrooms. The average temp in the house was in the mid 60s.

The wick burned out on the kerosene heater and thankfully we had an extra. We had never changed the wick nor had our handyman son. He came over and changed the wick – a learning experience for him and his Dad.

The decision has been made to take up the carpet in the living room and replace it with laminate flooring and having a small wood burning stove installed. A wood burning stove would be less dangerous than the kerosene heater and would also provide a stove top for some cooking or boiling water.


Oil lamps, candles, flashlights, outdoor solar light, and headlamps were all used.

I had quite a few of these 3 LED key chain flashlights scattered through the house plus I carried one with me all the time.

We had a good assortment of flashlights: battery operated, hand crank, and shake it to recharge.

I am going to experiment with ‘flashing’ behind the oil lamps to reflect more light into the room. The edges will have to be bent over & duct tape applied to prevent slicing fingers and hands.

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