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Community => Coffee Lounge => Topic started by: Fleecewife on December 05, 2021, 10:36:40 pm

Title: Are you prepared for snow and power cuts?
Post by: Fleecewife on December 05, 2021, 10:36:40 pm



Everyone must have seen how Scotland and Northern England have had a large number of people 'stranded in their own homes' without power for a week and ongoing, after the ravages of storm Arwen.
I am amazed that these people, or at least the selection chosen for interview by the media, had no camping stoves or other alternative methods of heating water and food, but appeared to rely totally on their electricity supply.
Surely we all know about the phenomenon of The Power Cut, or the American version, The Power Outage?  Or am I the only one who EXPECTS power cuts in bad weather?  That can't be.


When I was a child, I remember my mother stocking up at the end of summer for being cut off from the village:  tinned and bottled food, candles, torches, well stocked wood shed and coal shed, and my father made sure we had animal feed for a few weeks without power, although it was never that bad. We lived in Norfolk which back then could have some bad winters, with very deep snow.


Now, here I do just the same as my mother, I stock up with food for us and our pets, and make sure there's enough to feed the livestock.  I have a camping stove with plenty of reserve cannisters, a solar powered lamp, candles and plenty of batteries for torches.  We keep our fuel supply topped up, and we have a generator for emergency power for the freezers, recharging phones etc. We have a wood burning stove in addition to central heating which needs electricity to work. 
We also have plenty of winter woollies and hard-winter clothing.  When it's cold I wear about 6 or 7 layers.  One woman when interviewed said "I'm wearing three layers" as if she normally went around in winter wearing almost nothing.


Anyway, rant over, but what does everyone else carry as emergency supplies in the event of a power cut in bad weather, and how long do you reckon your supplies should last?
Title: Re: Are you prepared for snow and power cuts?
Post by: harmony on December 05, 2021, 11:35:55 pm
I see where you are coming from Fleecewife but to be without power for a day maybe two is quite unusual these days and many people have been without for over a week now. Thirty years ago when I first came here the mere hint of a storm and the power would go off. Line maintenance and infrastructure investment has greatly improved that. The scale of the damage to power lines is the worst the network has suffered for over 30 years.


Many did have alternatives to electric for heating and cooking but elderly people often live in properties entirely reliant on electric. To be without heating for several days was especially hard for these people. Extra layers are fine but when the temperatures hoover near freezing all day and dip below at night old people are going to struggle to keep warm. Plus many were contacted by their supplier and told they would be reconnected that weekend when in reality there was no chance.


The situation was compounded by the failure of the mobile phone masts and bt lines coming down too. People were literally cut off.


Information provided was especially poor and misleading if you had the means to call the electric helpline.


For most it was an inconvenience and people managed just fine but for the vulnerable in our communities it was pretty grim even with good community support from volunteers.
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Title: Re: Are you prepared for snow and power cuts?
Post by: oor wullie on December 06, 2021, 06:21:17 am
I'm always amazed that so few people, even here in the Highlands, don't put winter tyres on their car.
A 2wd car with winter tyres has better grip in snow than a 4wd vehicle in summer tyres.

I'd go so far as trip say that anyone without winter tyres that ends up in a ditch in winter time deserves no sympathy at all as they are making the roads more dangerous for everyone.

......I'd better get a move on and get my tyres changed as I haven't done it yet.......
Title: Re: Are you prepared for snow and power cuts?
Post by: Rosemary on December 06, 2021, 07:20:14 am

......I'd better get a move on and get my tyres changed as I haven't done it yet.......
We have winter tyres on ours all year. This is the first time we've had them. I hopw we don't need them, but I guess that's the point of "insurance". Doesn't seem to have made any diffrence to fuel usage (although with prices being what they are, it's hard to notice ::) )
Title: Re: Are you prepared for snow and power cuts?
Post by: chrismahon on December 06, 2021, 07:43:41 am
Snow chains must be carried in many Departments here- recent legislation. We have a set but have never used them as it's easier just to stay at home until it melts, which is usually within the day.


Having lived in the Dordogne and experienced power cuts on a regular basis, so many that we received a rebate on out standing charge, we are well prepared for them and have backups with backups. We hatched eggs there and the process became a nightmare. Eventually we bought a mains failure alarm to warn us of power loss during the night, at which time we would use an inverter with a leisure battery.


Cooking here is usually with a bottle gas hob anyway, because all power lines are overhead and do come down in storms. We have a winter checklist for gas bottles for cooking, petrol for the generators, wood for the fire, paraffin for the Tilly lamps and a full tank of heating oil. We have spare cookers, gas heaters and bottled water, because a major failure will see mains pressure lost. Yes, I'd say we are prepared. If we've forgotten anything please tell me.
Title: Re: Are you prepared for snow and power cuts?
Post by: Womble on December 06, 2021, 09:20:23 am

I bought a set of winter tyres when we first moved to our smallholding, but I had a hell of a job getting hold of them - various garages said "oh, you don't need them for the UK". However, I notice the same garages are now offering to not only sell winter tyres, but also store the off-season set for you, for a price.

Perhaps they just realised that 40 for a change-over every 6 months plus storage made good business!

In the end, we bought sets of spare alloy wheels for both our cars, so we can switch them over ourselves without having to pay. Oor Wullie is right - 2WD with good snow tyres beats 4WD without. The added bonus is that you get four wheel stop as well! :-D

We have winter tyres on ours all year.


Do you not find they wear a lot during the Summer, Rosemary?  I would have expected that to be a real problem?

Oh, and to answer the original question - yes, backup generator plus secondary cooking and heating that don't need electricity. It's just plain sensible.
Title: Re: Are you prepared for snow and power cuts?
Post by: doganjo on December 06, 2021, 11:32:48 am
I must admit this topic worries me somewhat, at almost 78 I would be classed as vulnerable I guess

I downsized two years ago and at that time had the option to install a woodburner, but decided not to as I no longer had a free supply of wood. In addition to that was the directive that woodburners would be banned in a few years, along with gas boilers.

Now no-one is certain which fuel is best to use and I can't now have a woodburner as the chimney has been capped with a concrete pad. So I am stuck with a gas boiler which depends on electricity.

I do however have a plentiful supply of candles and matches, battery torches, and blankets, plus i keep my freezers and fridge well stocked.  And I keep a flask of hot water most days if the weather starts to look serious.

So I reckon I could survive a couple of days - but not the 8 days already seen this year - and we're not really into winter yet.

My other back up is good neighbours, one of them a retired GP, both my kids less than an hour from me, and friends down in the village - all of whom would come to my aid if necessary, even without me having to call them

I hope I never need it.  What these people have gone through is inexcusable - some truth and foresight would have alleviated a great deal of their suffering
Title: Re: Are you prepared for snow and power cuts?
Post by: Backinwellies on December 06, 2021, 12:52:20 pm
The news article that got me was 'lots of people are in danger and are getting burns due to using camping stoves or open fires'    .....  are people really that helpless now?

Got used to power cuts as a kid in the 80's .....  mum and dad were off for 10 days post the hurricane due to the line coming through a large wooded area...  mum's cupboards are always full (and I follow this habit) ...  have options of wood burner, oil cental heating, and camping kit. we  use hotwater bottles   and am sat now with blanket over my legs .  Forget what you look like and dress properly!

Where have all the girl guides and boy scouts gone?
Title: Re: Are you prepared for snow and power cuts?
Post by: chrismahon on December 06, 2021, 01:18:56 pm
They will be banning BBQ's next! Which reminds me I didn't mention charcoal and lighter fluid which we need for the kettle style BBQ, which doubles as an oven and gets a lot of use in Summer, because cooking inside the house is impossible- raises the internal temperature too much.


We had a 5 day power cut years ago in Derbyshire, caused by freak weather conditions which iced up the power lines to the extent that they collapsed with the weight. Managed to hire a generator from outside the affected area. It was simply a case of isolating the main supply and plugging the generator into the house circuit with a double plug lead. This then ran the oil central heating, the fridge and freezer. Haven't tried that approach here because I don't know how the earth trips will be affected- does anyone know? Fortunately our oil boiler with pump plugs into a socket and the thermostat is wireless.
Title: Re: Are you prepared for snow and power cuts?
Post by: Fleecewife on December 06, 2021, 01:28:39 pm
@harmony I am all too aware of how badly an event like this impacts on the elderly and vulnerable - I'm one myself and a one-time hospital nurse and I know how quickly someone can succumb to hypothermia.  My rant was not directed at them but at those able bodied people who seemed to just stand back and expect help to arrive, having made no effort to make themselves ready for such an event.  There are plenty of situations in life where we truly need help; if there were not then we would not have organised emergency services. But for their time to be taken up with tending to those who could have helped themselves, when they are needed for the truly vulnerable is galling.


In fact I think most elderly people are like me and doganjo and still see a good electricity supply as a bit of a wonder, but one not to be totally depended on, so we have an alternative up our sleeves.  I love the vox pops of smiling people dressed snuggly in all their winter woollies, showing how it should be done. @doganjo a supply of those sticks and handwarmers which give off heat when you open them would help in an emergency, also keeping moving warms you up while your rellies are on the way.  Our rellies are too far away to come - you are so lucky in your family  :)


I have also realised that few younger people can imagine a time without electricity or some reliable power supply, so they can be connected by computers, phones, food deliveries and other instant services.  Also people under about 30 have only known the UK in fairly mild times, although we had a whopper of a winter storm here about 20 years ago.  I was on my own for that, initially locked out of my house as I got home from the airport to find my husband had flown with our doorkeys in his pocket!!  A blizzard produced 8' snowdrifts which initially were too soft to climb over.  I couldn't get to my coal which was lost somewhere behind the drifts, I couldn't get to my animals until we had a really hard frost to make the drifts almost climbable (but not quite, occasionally breaking through the crust).  Of course I was 20 years younger and not so badly affected by a medical condition then, but it was extreme.  It was 4 days before the electricity came back on and five before the roads were cleared enough for anyone, including my husband to get through.  However, I survived (as did all my animals), with only the little bit of help from a neighbour who dug out my coal for me.  So I learned a whole lot from that, and I apply it to how I prepare myself and our farm for winter.


My rant was directed at those who could prepare themselves but choose not to, to rely on the emergency services to do everything for them instead of taking responsibility for their own wellbeing.  Many people were well prepared.  Maybe we just need to get more information out so everyone has the knowledge they need.  After all, Climate Change means storms like this are likely to become a regular occurrence in the future, just as droughts are too.


Most people on farms have some stocks and maybe a generator, and are used to braving the cold to reach livestock, but in the end we must be aware that we have to guard our own lives first and be sensible about when to hole up and ignore what's outside the door.
Sometimes I'm mocked by those who think being prepared is just a Boy Scout motto, but in our family we had a death due to extreme weather and a bit of a lack of good sense on the part of the person who died. Also someone living just a half mile from us lost his sister who froze to death on her way home from the pub on foot.


So be sensible folks and be prepared - it sounds as if most of you are.
Title: Re: Are you prepared for snow and power cuts?
Post by: Fleecewife on December 06, 2021, 01:41:01 pm
@doganjo these are the sort of things I mean: 


www.amazon.co.uk/HotHands-836-8342-Hot-Hands/ (http://www.amazon.co.uk/HotHands-836-8342-Hot-Hands/)

or even these if you want a laugh www.findmeagift.co.uk/gifts/toasty-balls-handwarmers (http://www.findmeagift.co.uk/gifts/toasty-balls-handwarmers).
Title: Re: Are you prepared for snow and power cuts?
Post by: Rosemary on December 06, 2021, 02:18:56 pm
Do you not find they wear a lot during the Summer, Rosemary?  I would have expected that to be a real problem?

No idea. Not had them but a few months.
Title: Re: Are you prepared for snow and power cuts?
Post by: doganjo on December 06, 2021, 02:31:49 pm
@doganjo these are the sort of things I mean: 


www.amazon.co.uk/HotHands-836-8342-Hot-Hands/ (http://www.amazon.co.uk/HotHands-836-8342-Hot-Hands/)

or even these if you want a laugh www.findmeagift.co.uk/gifts/toasty-balls-handwarmers (http://www.findmeagift.co.uk/gifts/toasty-balls-handwarmers).
I didn't think to mention handwarmers and hot water bottled. Got a stack of them too  :excited:
Title: Re: Are you prepared for snow and power cuts?
Post by: doganjo on December 06, 2021, 02:36:26 pm
@doganjo these are the sort of things I mean: 


www.amazon.co.uk/HotHands-836-8342-Hot-Hands/ (http://www.amazon.co.uk/HotHands-836-8342-Hot-Hands/)

or even these if you want a laugh www.findmeagift.co.uk/gifts/toasty-balls-handwarmers (http://www.findmeagift.co.uk/gifts/toasty-balls-handwarmers).
links donlt work, Juliet - try this https://www.amazon.co.uk/HotHands-836-8342-Hands-Hand-Warmer/dp/B00AHVXSY2 and this https://www.findmeagift.co.uk/gifts/toasty-balls-handwarmers.html
Title: Re: Are you prepared for snow and power cuts?
Post by: Bywaters on December 06, 2021, 03:27:54 pm
A 2wd car with winter tyres has better grip in snow than a 4wd vehicle in summer tyres.

really ?

Did you just make this up or has it some foundation of truth - if so where ?
Title: Re: Are you prepared for snow and power cuts?
Post by: Womble on December 06, 2021, 04:20:46 pm
^ I know this wasn't my quote originally, but I do agree with it from experience.

I put really good Michelin winter tyres on our 2WD diesel Focus, and it was incredibly sure-footed. Naturally, it didn't have the ground clearance of our Defender wearing all terrain tyres, but it had a shorter stopping distance on snow and ice. (When you're braking, it doesn't make any difference whether you have 2WD or 4WD - it's grip that counts, so four grippy tyres outperform four slippy ones.)

As for climbing hills etc, I never found the Focus wanting at all. There's a steep hill about a mile from our house and I made it up there a few times in snow and ice when the likes of AWD CRVs didn't.
Title: Re: Are you prepared for snow and power cuts?
Post by: cans on December 06, 2021, 06:26:08 pm
"A 2wd car with winter tyres has better grip in snow than a 4wd vehicle in summer tyres."



All depepnds on the car and the experience/confidence of the driver.

Title: Re: Are you prepared for snow and power cuts?
Post by: oor wullie on December 06, 2021, 08:04:30 pm
A 2wd car with winter tyres has better grip in snow than a 4wd vehicle in summer tyres.

really ?

Did you just make this up or has it some foundation of truth - if so where ?

Practical experience.

I live at the end of a 3 km  unsurfaced road that doesn't get ploughed.  The snow gets packed into ice and doesn't melt.  Recent years it has been frozen continuously for around 100 days most winters.

I run a 4x4 truck and a smaller runabout (Toyota Yaris most recently).  The car gets winter tyres but the truck doesn't.
Even with a weight in the back of the truck the Yaris will always* outperform the 4x4 on snow & ice.  At times me and my wife have taken both vehicles along the road at the same time and the snow tires always win.

*The exception is, of course, when the snow depth is greater than the height of the car.  Then it gets stuck and the truck wins due to better ground clearance.

I carry chains for both truck and car, and expect to use them, some winters 20 or 30 times. 
4x4 with chains (on all 4 wheels) will out perform the 2wd.

Ideally I would put winter tyres on the truck too.  I did put them on a Hilux a few years ago but was forced to sell it a few weeks after fitting the new tyres which was a sickening waste of a lot of money!
Title: Re: Are you prepared for snow and power cuts?
Post by: mab on December 06, 2021, 09:02:56 pm
on the winter tyres subject: It's hard to compare like with like but the best example in my experience was when i took my old series landy (2 or 4wd selectable, BF goodrich All terrains) to an off-road event along with a mate who had a mercedes g-wagon (road tyres) - my mate was very impressed with his g-wagon and quick to point out the g-wagon comes with a full set (front, rear and centre) of diff-locks as standard, so ought to be good off road despite the road tyres.


After I'd pulled him free for the 3rd time he conceded that he needed better tyres - I didn't have the heart to tell him the landy was still in 2wd.




I've had all-season tyres on the astra last winter - they are better than road tyres for snow but still wear well in the summer months - and i haven't had to use my chains yet. Haven't tried winter tyres yet, so i don't know how much difference a softer rubber compound will make.


back on the original subject:
I do think it common sense to have backups, particularly if you are out of town: I'm building a house at the moment and plan to use an ASHP, but will have a woodburner too, not just for loss of grid, but because any modern heating system incorporates complex electronics and if/when it goes belly-up you can't assume it can be fixed instantly - so you need a low-tech backup.


As for grid failure - i'm way ahead as i use hydro and solar to generate my own power - i use <100units of grid leccy / year - although when i get the ASHP that will go up a little i expect.
Title: Re: Are you prepared for snow and power cuts?
Post by: Fleecewife on December 07, 2021, 01:27:37 am
Can we hear more about your hydro power please @mab ?
Title: Re: Are you prepared for snow and power cuts?
Post by: mab on December 07, 2021, 06:12:40 pm
Oh, OK. Not sure what you want to know?


Well, when I was looking to buy this place I recognised the potential for hydro-power: a small stream in the trees that drops about 70' over 300' horizontally. It produces anything up to about 450w (currently about 360w). The original generator was built on a low budget:- an old induction motor 0.99 off eBay, a 'pelton wheel' turbine 27, some capacitors to make the motor work as a generator 30, some home made nozzles and the big expense - 100m of 90mm pipe to bring the water down the hill 500, Oh, and about 100 for cable to get the power back to the house.


Basic principle of operation: water passes through a strainer into the large pipe to go down the hill - it needs to be large as you want the water to be moving slowly to minimise frictional losses - then at the turbine it funnels down to a narrow jet. For my system a single 10mm diameter nozzle will give me about 120w; 20mm nozzle theoretically 400w, but by this time friction in the 'penstock' (big pipe) means you only get 350w. With this penstock it tops out at 450w (at this point I'm losing about 1/3 of the theoretical power in the pipe).


If you want to estimate the power available in a stream you should get some estimates for head (vertical drop) and flow and try them in this calculator.


https://www.powerspout.com/pages/advanced-plt-and-trg-series-calculator


 There is another calculator on that website for low-head turbines as well.


Actual power obviously varies depending on the available water - any you shouldn't take all the water as you need to maintain the existing stream for migratory wildlife,  but typically it runs for 10months / year.
Title: Re: Are you prepared for snow and power cuts?
Post by: Fleecewife on December 07, 2021, 10:45:19 pm
Thank you @mab that's fascinating.  When my brother and I were kids we amused ourselves by designing a self sufficient farm which included hydro-electricity (all imaginary of course).  Ever since I've been fascinated by small hydro generators like yours, so it's good to know how you set it up, also how much power you get from it.  We can't do the same thing here as the only water we have, apart from a hand-dug well, is an unimpressive spring (more an ooze) which has appeared twice in 26 years - we find it when the tractor gets bogged down!


Does anyone else on TAS have their own hydro-electric system?


I've been scratching my head to remember where I saw a small hydro scheme.  It was at Dawyck Botanic gardens in the Borders, which is now apparently producing enough power to supply '25 family homes' (or perhaps one tea room?)
Title: Re: Are you prepared for snow and power cuts?
Post by: Backinwellies on December 08, 2021, 07:23:40 am
mab (long time no see)   

You didnt mention all the regulations (and costs) involved in using hydro .... it is water 'extraction'  so comes under lots of regs  (which ofcourse you have  :innocent:)

Just pointing out to all those others who may be off to buy a few bits to make own electric ..... we looked into it and it would have cost 1000's.
Title: Re: Are you prepared for snow and power cuts?
Post by: harmony on December 08, 2021, 08:09:38 am
mab (long time no see)   

You didnt mention all the regulations (and costs) involved in using hydro .... it is water 'extraction'  so comes under lots of regs  (which ofcourse you have  :innocent: )

Just pointing out to all those others who may be off to buy a few bits to make own electric ..... we looked into it and it would have cost 1000's.


Yes, I was wondering about this Backinwellies.


There are a number of larger hydro projects in the Lakes but also someone in our village has their own. They live in an old mill. They needed planning permission. The chap is an engineer and he built it himself but it was still a fair investment. It is fed from a largish beck, of course as a working mill it did rely on hydro to operate in the past, but they find the very prolonged dry spells we get now has a significant impact.
Title: Re: Are you prepared for snow and power cuts?
Post by: harmony on December 08, 2021, 08:41:17 am
@harmony I am all too aware of how badly an event like this impacts on the elderly and vulnerable - I'm one myself and a one-time hospital nurse and I know how quickly someone can succumb to hypothermia.  My rant was not directed at them but at those able bodied people who seemed to just stand back and expect help to arrive, having made no effort to make themselves ready for such an event.  There are plenty of situations in life where we truly need help; if there were not then we would not have organised emergency services. But for their time to be taken up with tending to those who could have helped themselves, when they are needed for the truly vulnerable is galling.


In fact I think most elderly people are like me and doganjo and still see a good electricity supply as a bit of a wonder, but one not to be totally depended on, so we have an alternative up our sleeves.  I love the vox pops of smiling people dressed snuggly in all their winter woollies, showing how it should be done. @doganjo a supply of those sticks and handwarmers which give off heat when you open them would help in an emergency, also keeping moving warms you up while your rellies are on the way.  Our rellies are too far away to come - you are so lucky in your family  :)


I have also realised that few younger people can imagine a time without electricity or some reliable power supply, so they can be connected by computers, phones, food deliveries and other instant services.  Also people under about 30 have only known the UK in fairly mild times, although we had a whopper of a winter storm here about 20 years ago.  I was on my own for that, initially locked out of my house as I got home from the airport to find my husband had flown with our doorkeys in his pocket!!  A blizzard produced 8' snowdrifts which initially were too soft to climb over.  I couldn't get to my coal which was lost somewhere behind the drifts, I couldn't get to my animals until we had a really hard frost to make the drifts almost climbable (but not quite, occasionally breaking through the crust).  Of course I was 20 years younger and not so badly affected by a medical condition then, but it was extreme.  It was 4 days before the electricity came back on and five before the roads were cleared enough for anyone, including my husband to get through.  However, I survived (as did all my animals), with only the little bit of help from a neighbour who dug out my coal for me.  So I learned a whole lot from that, and I apply it to how I prepare myself and our farm for winter.


My rant was directed at those who could prepare themselves but choose not to, to rely on the emergency services to do everything for them instead of taking responsibility for their own wellbeing.  Many people were well prepared.  Maybe we just need to get more information out so everyone has the knowledge they need.  After all, Climate Change means storms like this are likely to become a regular occurrence in the future, just as droughts are too.


Most people on farms have some stocks and maybe a generator, and are used to braving the cold to reach livestock, but in the end we must be aware that we have to guard our own lives first and be sensible about when to hole up and ignore what's outside the door.
Sometimes I'm mocked by those who think being prepared is just a Boy Scout motto, but in our family we had a death due to extreme weather and a bit of a lack of good sense on the part of the person who died. Also someone living just a half mile from us lost his sister who froze to death on her way home from the pub on foot.


So be sensible folks and be prepared - it sounds as if most of you are.


Folks on here are well used to dealing with weather and problem solving. The vast majority of the country are not. The biggest issue for people was heating. Is it realistic to expect people to keep a generator for the exceptional times that power failures last a week? Many of the alternatives talked about are beyond the pocket of many and there are limits to what investment people are going to make to rented properties.


I think you are quite right @Fleecewife that people do need educating about how they can be better prepared for weather events and climate change. Communities need emergency plans and that might include generators for powering community buildings for example.


The shops were not without food or the garage without fuel but tills and pumps work on electric. Nobody knows the price of things as they are scanned and they don't have change to deal with cash. The large supermarkets continued deliveries once roads were unblocked.


One of the largest failures was not people being unable to help themselves, or their communities, because despite the impression the media gave that people were about to die of cold and hunger because they weren't capable of dealing with the problem people have survived. It was the very poor communication/information from the utility companies. If people hadn't been told power would be restored over that weekend they could of done more early on such as moving elderly relatives to family with heating.
Title: Re: Are you prepared for snow and power cuts?
Post by: chrismahon on December 08, 2021, 09:49:25 am
There are lots of problems with small generators which make them impractical for many. Storing them and the fuel, having somewhere to run them outside and under cover with power leads, draining them afterwards, replacing the stored fuel every 6 months which requires some way of using it up. In our case it can be used on the garden equipment, which few people will have, but they may have a petrol car? When we replace our diesel vehicles we'll be switching to petrol.


I think the solution for most people will be some form of secondary heating in one room (paraffin is very popular here), a small camping stove and an insurance claim for freezer contents and any burst pipe work.
Title: Re: Are you prepared for snow and power cuts?
Post by: Anke on December 08, 2021, 05:15:10 pm



I think the solution for most people will be some form of secondary heating in one room (paraffin is very popular here), a small camping stove and an insurance claim for freezer contents and any burst pipe work.


I agree - we did a rough calculation when we first built our house (15 years ago) and decided that the initial cost and then maintenace of a generator would just not be worthwhile. So we have a multi-fuel stove for heating the main living area (which we use most of the time anyway in preference to the oil fired central heating), the hob runs on bottled gas (and we actually keep a electric hotplate for the reversal - us forgetting to replace the gas bottles and then running out...). Insurance covers freezer contents (though I do not know if it covers the three freezers we run, rather than just one). Cold water & toilets work without electricity, but no hot water for showers. I can live without a hot shower for a while...


Oh, and we do keep a good supply of batteries for head torches (used every night anyway) and candles.


Some friends in Northumbria were withoput power and water for over a week after storm Arwen, and they were fine, though the novelty of doing Sudoku/crosswords or just reading a book with a headtorch did wear off quite quickly... BUT they still use an oldfashioned phone, so we could at least chat!
Title: Re: Are you prepared for snow and power cuts?
Post by: Fleecewife on December 08, 2021, 10:27:42 pm



<< BUT they still use an old fashioned phone, so we could at least chat! >>

See land line phones are to be phased about by about 2025?



Title: Re: Are you prepared for snow and power cuts?
Post by: Fleecewife on December 08, 2021, 10:38:22 pm
There are lots of problems with small generators which make them impractical for many. Storing them and the fuel, having somewhere to run them outside and under cover with power leads, draining them afterwards, replacing the stored fuel every 6 months which requires some way of using it up. In our case it can be used on the garden equipment, which few people will have, but they may have a petrol car? When we replace our diesel vehicles we'll be switching to petrol.


I think the solution for most people will be some form of secondary heating in one room (paraffin is very popular here), a small camping stove and an insurance claim for freezer contents and any burst pipe work.

I agree that most people don't have the space or even need for a generator, especially in town.  For rural dwellers though it is more of an option.

Personally I am terrified of paraffin heaters.  We had to use one when our children were young and we lived in married quarters.  We couldn't afford to heat the house any other way and it was sooo cold in the children's bedroom, but the paraffin heater worried me badly.  I used to keep checking on it during the night - knackering!

One year, someone on the airman's patch, burned all the furniture, doors, breadboard, anything flammable which wasn't part of the structure, in an open fire in the middle of the floor.  A mix of desperation and not giving a damn. (Salaries in the services were rather low back then)

For people who don't have a wood burner, a space for an open fire or a fancy self heating house (I forget what they're called but they don't seem very cosy to me) what other options are there to paraffin heaters in a power cut, if their gas needs electricity to start?
Title: Re: Are you prepared for snow and power cuts?
Post by: Anke on December 09, 2021, 09:18:00 am



<< BUT they still use an old fashioned phone, so we could at least chat! >>

See land line phones are to be phased about by about 2025?


Well I can't see that happen - the mobile signal in our house is non-existent, and even up the drive it is one bar at the most (not that there are "bars" anymore...). I can use my phone in the house now as it works through the WiFi, but of course our broadband comes into the house through the landline... No way will that be upgraded by BT in the next 4 years, and even if - to what?


After all cheque books were meant to be phased out years ago.... and even that may now be a bit closer, it still hasn't happened.
Title: Re: Are you prepared for snow and power cuts?
Post by: Womble on December 09, 2021, 09:29:39 am
No way will that be upgraded by BT in the next 4 years, and even if - to what?


Interestingly, our landline used to be awful for calls. I used to call people back from my mobile so I could hear them, and don't even think about it for broadband. However, we now have a microwave link for broadband which is reliable enough that we switched our "landline" number over to an internet based "VOIP" provider instead. We now pay 1p/minute for calls but no line rental, saving us 15 a month.

To get back on topic though, it does of course die if the power or internet fails.
Title: Re: Are you prepared for snow and power cuts?
Post by: chrismahon on December 09, 2021, 09:31:55 am
When we arrived in France our experience of paraffin burners was limited to greenhouse heaters. Things certainly have moved on. QLima appear to be the market leaders and a search on Google gets guidance videos in english, so presumably they now sell them in the UK. The paraffin here is sold in 20L bottles in several grades ranging from the stinky stuff we used in England to Zero Odour, which I can vouch for. There is another extremely clean version which is meant for wick lamps- far too expensive for heating.


My preference is for Tilly lamps, which give a lot of heat and reasonable light. For those who are not familiar with them they pre-heat the paraffin (using a small alcohol burner) which becomes vapour and which is then burned through a gas mantle. They will run for about 8 hours on one fill, but do need to be re-pressurised as the paraffin is depleted. In England we used smelly meths to start-up but here they do a odourless 95% alcohol cleaner sold in 1L bottles for a fraction of the price, so if you come to France buy some in the supermarket (and acetone as well, if you like).
Title: Re: Are you prepared for snow and power cuts?
Post by: Anke on December 09, 2021, 09:54:36 am
And just to get back to power cuts... the problems we had with the recent storms would not have happened in Germany - overland electricity poles were phased out years ago... all done now via underground trunking/pipes. Only the really huge power lines are still overland. So it would be very rare to have fallen trees cutting the power to households.... or lightening strikes frazzling ancient transformers...
Title: Re: Are you prepared for snow and power cuts?
Post by: Fleecewife on December 09, 2021, 12:48:06 pm
And just to get back to power cuts... the problems we had with the recent storms would not have happened in Germany - overland electricity poles were phased out years ago... all done now via underground trunking/pipes. Only the really huge power lines are still overland. So it would be very rare to have fallen trees cutting the power to households.... or lightening strikes frazzling ancient transformers...


Seeing all those plantations of mature conifers so close to power lines made me sit up a bit.  Of course they got damaged in a storm.  Conifers are notoriously shallow rooted and the ones at the edge of a plantation, say along a road, where of course the power lines run too, those are the ones that blow down first. You have to wonder how Britain ever ran an empire  ::)   Also what happened to the planting of broad leaves along the edges of conifer plantations for amenity and wildlife?  I'm sure that plan came in long enough ago for trees which are now mature and ready to fall if not cropped to have been subject to the rule when they were planted.
There's an awful lot about the UK where we really need to pull our socks up.
Title: Re: Are you prepared for snow and power cuts?
Post by: Glencairn on December 09, 2021, 08:14:07 pm
That last named storm was a bad one, in that the wind came from the north and brought down many trees that had escaped being windblown for decades.

My relatives now are in the difficult position where they have approx seven acres of windblown sitka to have removed with some displaying the classic 'barber's chair' and many snapped off half way up the trunk.

On the upside I think they will at least have ample firewood should the power go off again!

I'm a annual user of winter tyres. Have been for about fifteen years.

Most of the time you don't know you need them, but there has been the worrying weather where it rains onto frozen roads quite often recently.
Title: Re: Are you prepared for snow and power cuts?
Post by: william_wt on December 12, 2021, 05:11:50 pm
BT have stopped my parents phone landline, and now their phone is plugged into the back of their modem.  It still goes down the BT phone cables, but now doesn't work without electricity.
Title: Re: Are you prepared for snow and power cuts?
Post by: doganjo on December 13, 2021, 02:22:27 pm
BT have stopped my parents phone landline, and now their phone is plugged into the back of their modem.  It still goes down the BT phone cables, but now doesn't work without electricity.
I'm about to move the fibre too, and BT advised me to make sure my mobile was always charged u[p and near to hand; or to buy one of the old fashioned plug in phones