Editor’s Note: This full article is a guest post submitted to us for use on the site.
This was my experience with a mild earthquake and a power outage, in the Philippines.
Amazingly nothing was damaged by the quake. I expected some things to tip over. Latest reports say it was a 6.5 quake. The epicenter was about 15 miles away.
It was stronger than other quakes I have experienced here in the past 8 years. Also immediately after the main quake, there was a long slow side to side rocking motion, for several seconds. I never felt that before. Also had 10 or more after shocks. A local man who is about 50 said it was the strongest quake he has ever felt in town.
I have 2 – 5-gallon containers of gas and half tank in the generator. I needed to get one empty 5-gallon can fill and did not do it. 2 cans should last 3 or 4 days. Generator started easily. I was lucky because I had not started it in more than a month. Update – I now have 4 new gasoline cans with modified caps. So now could run 2.5 days 24 hours or 7.5 days 8 hours a day.
For water, we have a 1000 liters (250 gallons ) in the main water tank. This is part of our water system. City water does not run in the morning. So if you want to have water in the morning you need to store it at night. That is what this tank is for. I also have three plastic 50-gallon drums cleaned but not filled. I should have filled them.
I have voltage regulators for everything! Voltages fluctuate a lot in the Philippines. Every hardware store and department store sells them.
I ran the generator and the AC till about 10 PM. In the past, the neighbor had complained about the noise. One project we will start on is a super quiet extended muffler for the generator. My worker says a 50-gallon drum can be used for this purpose.
The last time in Cebu ( nearest large city ) we bought two large rechargeable battery fans. The blades are 9 inches in diameter. We ran these after turning off the AC. We slept OK with just those. We will need to charge those today. They ran about 4 hours. By then it was cool outside. They charge slowly. It takes 8 hours to charge them.
I have an electric drill, but I would recommend getting a hand drill as well. You know when the power will go out!
I used lots of multi plug extension cords. At 10 am I have a generator running to run the fridge and charge rechargeable fans. Also recharging batteries for lanterns that I used last night before starting the generator. There are lots of items to recharge all at once when the generator is running.
Cell Phone & Communication
Cell phone works but the local internet connection does’t work. We do have a data ability on the cell phone. So can transfer some prepaid amount to that account and access the internet via smart phone. It is slower and more difficult to work. However, it does allow access to the Internet. Cell phones here work with prepaid cards. Most business do not do monthly billings. Mail service is more much less frequent than in USA. There is NO junk mail. The electric bill is printed on a handheld meter and printed when the guy reads your meter. He hands it to you or puts it in a plastic bag and ties it to your fence. The same is done with the water bill.
Lots and lots of rechargeable batteries are very handy! I have 24 batteries charging now! Lots of chargers are also handy! I have 4 chargers. 2 chargers that will charge 8 batteries. I also have 2 chargers will charge 4 batteries. So in total, I can charge 24 batteries at once.. One type of flashlight and my headlamps use 3 AAA batteries. The AAA batteries discharge very quickly. So I need to have replacements available. The headlamp will discharge in a few hours. The chargers are able to charge AA , AAA, or D cell batteries all at the same time in any combination. For rechargeable batteries, I would recommend having at least double the number of batteries that you will be using. The AAA batteries discharge very quickly in bright flashlights. Also according to the Internet rechargeable batteries loose half of their charge in a month. Therefore I date when all the batteries are charged. Then monthly I recharge ALL the batteries.
I used paper plates for meals. I have water but to precious to use for dishes. Also paper plates save time. In this case nothing to do as far as house repairs. In other emergencies saving time is a critical item!
Headlamps have been wonderful! I bought 4 good ones from the USA. They got here in March. They have high, low, strobe, and red light. The only down side with them is that they use three AAA batteries, so they run out quickly. The brand is Black Diamond. The Model is “Spot”. It is $ 39.00 on Amazon. Usually I need to swap out fresh batteries every day.
The city water is back on!! If the 1000 liter tanks had run dry it would have been a lot of work to go get water!
The 1000 liter/ 250 gallon tank is part of my fixed water system. City water is low to nothing in the morning. So the tank collects water at night and with a pump provides water 24 hours a day. Without the 1000 liter tank, I would need to rent a truck and load the empty 55 gallon barrels ( which I have ). Then fill them maybe 1/3 full of water. Then haul them back to the house. Then pump the water thru my backpacking water filter for drinking water. It would be lots of work! Two liter bottles of water stored in freezer add extra cooling capacity when power is off.
The fridge does not keep things cold if only running 8 hours a day. It needs to run almost 24 hours a day to keep cold. Because the neighbors do not like the noise, I will need to make a super muffler for the generator. The worker I have said that a 50 gallon drum works very well as a muffler. I will try to buy one and connect it to the generator. I am looking for a metal 50 gallon drum. Plastic and hot metal does not seem safe to me.
I bought a used 55 gallon metal drum. I am painting it now. Most sites on the Internet, that used a 55 gallon drum, had the drum buried in the ground. So that is what I am planning. The hole has been dug. Once the painting is done, I will put it in the ground and connect pipes between the drum and the tail pipe of the generator. Suggestion to also put the drum in concrete to reduce rusting. That also will be done.
Super muffler is done. I bought a used 55 gallon steel drum. Painted the outside, dug a hole where it sticks up about 8 inches above the ground. The hole is lined with concrete, to keep steel from rusting. Concrete also covers the 8 inches of drum that is above ground. The top of the drum is covered with a dome of car body filler. This will keep any puddles of water from forming. One expensive piece of this setup is the stainless steel flexible hose, from car parts shop, that that connects the generator with the steel drum. It is only 1 foot long and costs about $ 32.00.
I wanted something flexible otherwise the vibrating steel pipes would tear the tailpipe off of the generator. The exhaust coming out of the 55 gallon drum is warm not hot, at least with short run times. I now have four new five gallon gasoline containers. So now I can last two days running generator 24 hours a day. I also modified the caps on the gasoline containers. The caps on containers usually break. I covered the outside of cap with auto body filler to provide some support. I will see how it works. I also covered the top of the 55 gallon drum with a dome of “Sil-Coat”. It is used to smooth concrete surfaces. It is like a smooth concrete. The dome will prevent water from laying in the lip of the drum and rusting.
We charged the neighbor’s cell phones. Now they lets us run generator all night! The generator ran from 6 pm to 6 am and then ran out of gas. It used 25 liters of gasoline. So here that is about $ 20.00 a day for gas. If it goes for a month it will be expensive, $ 20 times 30 equals $ 600 per month. Ouch! I now try to shut generator off before it runs out of gas. I am afraid the voltage will vary a LOT when it does last couple revolutions before it stops.
Power is on sometimes. At first it was on for four hours and then off. One night it was on all night. Sunday it was on all day and cut off at 7:30pm. There has been no schedule. For several days it was on at night. Because of never knowing when it will stop, I ALWAYS keep a flashlight in my pocket.
Lots of headlamps and flashlights using AAA batteries. Actually once I used ALL of my charged AAA batteries. I had to use AA flashlight with a strap to hold it as a headlamp. The strap is made for this purpose. I would recommend having at least double the number of rechargeable batteries that you are using in your devices. Flashlights with triple A batteries could use up a set of batteries before backup set is recharged! So for high use AAA battery applications need THREE sets of batteries for each device!
Good Tip I Saw Not Related to This:
Although it seems more logical, do NOT pack 1 Rubbermaid plastic tub, carry on bag, or backpack, for each person but instead, pack multiple containers with 2 sets of clothes (warm/cold climate) for each family member. This way if you run out of space and can’t take all of your containers, nobody gets left without clothes.
Another project I did was to make a safe area in the house for supplies. I currently have two sturdy steel shelves facing each other about 8 feet apart. I live in a one story house. I expect the shelves would support the ceiling if it collapsed in an earthquake. What would cause a problem would be if they tipped over. To prevent them from tipping over I am thinking of putting steel angle iron to attach them together. I would put one angle iron on the top and one angle iron on the bottom, on one side only to keep them from tipping. Them I would have a space 6 feet high by 5 feet wide by 8 feet long that should not crush easily. The angle iron is against the wall so I will not be ducking my head every time I use the shelves. The change dos not cost much so why not.
Another consideration, only for the Philippines is to have a hacksaw stored outside the house, and at each bed. The windows all have steel bars on them ( NOT up to USA fire code). So I would need to be able to cut the steel bars to get into the house if the walls collapsed, and I got out before the collapse. Update – I have attached steel angle iron to the shelves at the top and the bottom. They cannot tip over now
Tuesday, July 11, I ran electric from the generator to the water pump and washing machine, so I could wash clothes and wash dishes. I ran out of the water. I guess the water flow is much less than a normal day. Hopefully, the water tank will fill up tonight. We still have containers of water to flush toilets. We also have bottles of distilled water to drink. Now I heard on the news that the city has a problem with their water supply. The news did not give details as to why. I do have water filters and a stream nearby. It is just a LOT more work!!
We have had many after shocks. So I am making some small changes to the house. The guest bedroom has a bunk bed. The bunk beds here are different than I have seen in America. Both beds are wider than in America. The bottom bed is 54 inches wide. The top bed is 36 inches wide. There is a very heavy steel tube frame. I am thinking that the steel frame would be handy in an earthquake. If you sleep 8 hours, you have a 1/3 chance of being in bed when quake hits. So I got a bunk bed to replace bed in main bedroom. The current bed is only 54 inches wide so the bunk will not be more narrow. I only need to buy the frame as I already have correct size foam mattress. No one will be sleeping on the top.
For the kitchen shelves I am planning to put 3 inch high board on the edge of the shelf. In an earthquake the board will keep cans from sliding off the shelf. For cabinets with doors, some have two round knobs for handles. For these cabinets I looped a cut inner tube from a motorcycle over the two knobs. It holds the doors closed, but is easy to slip off. For other cabinet doors I need to get some type of latch to hold door shut. For where the canned foods are stored, this is to protect the tile floor from being chipped by a falling soup can.
Currently I use a heavy custom made extension cord to connect generator to the house. It is about 60 feet long. It is very heavy for an old guy like me. So it is a lot of work to unwind it clear out to the generator. In the future, I will put in a permanent electrical line in conduit underground. So then all I would need to do is walk out to the generator an flip the switch for the electric start of the motor.
16 D Cell
+ 18 AAA Cell
+ 6 AA Cell
40 Batteries Used Total
Extra Batteries not in a device
37 Total Spare Batteries
Friday, July 14 electric on from 5 am to 11 am. Time to turn on the water pump to push water through high-end filter and fill lots of now empty distilled water bottles. Also got two loads of clothes washed and dishes washed.
I also fill 6-liter water bottles with filtered water. When the electric is off that is all you have.
If possible over your sink have a shelf so that you can place a 4 or 6-liter container with a valve so that you can have clean water at the twist of a faucet or push of a button. This would be very handy for washing your hands.
The electric power still has rotating blackouts. Sometimes it is 8 hours off, sometimes 4 hours off. Sometimes all day Sunday, as businesses are closed so more available. One bad part is no schedule. So always keep the generator full, all batteries charged. A good thing is that there are no long lines for gasoline, as there were for typhoon Yolanda.
One guy I talked to had bought a generator 3 years ago after the typhoon Yolanda. Once he was done using it, he just put it away, and NEVER ran it. So now, after earthquake, when he needed it it would not start. His first trip was to shop to get it repaired. I would run my generator every month to keep the battery charged. Still after 2 years the battery had gone dead. I replaced the battery about 6 months ago and had carburetor cleaned. Anyway so when I needed it this time, all I needed to was turn the key.
As of July 27, some power outages are still happening. The power was out for 2.5 hours yesterday evening from 6:30 to 9:00 PM.
Storing Fuel for Power Outage:
Storing fuel for a long power outage would be a pain. One or more 55 gallon drums is easy. The hard part is rotating the gasoline all the time. You would need a manual pump on top of the 55 gal barrel or install a valve at the bottom, and elevate the drum to allow a gas can under the valve. Once every month or so could fill the car with gas from that drum. Still a hassle as need to fill about 10, five gallon containers with gasoline at gas station and bring them home and fill the now empty 55 gal. drum. So need two 55 gal drums so always have one full, even when changing gasoline. I currently have 3 five gallon containers of gasoline plus what it is in the generator tank. Running 24 hours a day that would last me two days. Running 8 hours a day, so a few hours to cool room with AC, run washing machine, and water pump would last 6 days.
NOTE – Large freeze dried cans usually have a plastic lid that comes with them. The plastic lid will keep out ants, once can is opened. It will not keep out mice. I lost one can of freeze dried food to mice. Also sometimes the lids are damaged in shipping and will not keep out ants or keep the food fresh. It is good to have several large containers to transfer the food to if lid was damaged.
Here I have had a problem with the caps of gasoline containers coming apart. To extend their life I have covered outside of the cap with car body filler. MANY items in the Philippines are not first rate! There is made in China in the USA and made in China for the Philippines. The quality is DIFFERENT!
Bug Out Materials I Have
First I have two backpacks with typical bugout gear. One is for me and my wife, one is for my son ( children want their own ). Each pack has a complete set of gear, such as knives, lighters, pot, stove, fuel, food, water, etc.
Second I have travel carry on bags 21 inches by 8 inches with more gear. I used to go camping in the USA for many years, so I have a lot of camping gear. Camping gear and “survival” gear are about the same. I have a tent, sleeping bag, much more food and water in these bags. I have a small Toyota Wigo car. To have room for luggage I have a roof rack. The travel bags are small so that weak old me, can lift them onto the roof. I weighted each one and spread the weight evenly between them. Each weighs about 20 pounds.
If decide to evacuate, a plan is to put backpacks in car and travel bags on the roof. If for some reason need to abandon the car, and walk, I still have the backpacks with gear, and food and water for a few days.