Dead Battery: Happened to me this week:  Had to pull out one of our Home Emergency Plans to keep having a smooth week.

Six Basic Home Emergency Plans

These are going to happen to everyone, if you live long enough.

  1. Dead Battery:  Car Won’t start and you have to be somewhere.
  2. Electricity Goes Out (Daytime):
  3. Electricity Goes Out (Night/winter)
  4. Washer hose busts and floods the house.
  5. You slip and fall.
  6. You’re having chest pains
  7. A stranger comes to the door.

1. Dead Battery Got Me this week.

Elaine went out to make a grocery and wine run Friday morning.  It was cold.  Car wouldn’t start.  I forgot to get the “replace the battery that died last month” item done on my to-do list.

The fix was simple:  Change Elaine into the pickup instead of the old Lexus – call our car guy and got in Friday afternoon for a new battery.  Meantime, the heavy-duty charger had the Lexus starting on its own in 15 minutes.

Batteries are like politicians:  Once they let you down, get rid of ’em.

Slightly less complicated if you have Uber of Lyft in your ‘hood.  But in the Texas Outback?  Could be weeks (or never) for them to show up.  We can’t even get a pizza delivered out here.

2. Electricity Goes Out (Day)

Pretty simple:  Lock up house after calling in the power outage after making sure you paid your bill and after calling a neighbor or two to ensure there’s more than just your home involved.

Don’t open the fridge or freezer and find a coffee joint with wi-fi.  Do some shopping.  Whee!

3. Power Outage (night)

You did have a flashlight on your nightstand, right?

Smart meter ought to alert the power company (as in previous, too) but if not, is your power outage phone number right there in plain sight in a big enough font to read without glasses?  If you don’t have heat, as a result,  don’t waste the cold by opening up the fridge and don’t use hot water.  It will stay warm for a while.

You should have your cast iron grill ready to plop on the BBQ and the stainless coffee pot ready for the side burner.  BBQ breakfast when it’s 38F outside?  Brisk and refreshing.  The first time…

4. Water Hose Breaks Floods House

Yes sir, or m’am, this is a pisser, ain’t it?  Here’s the short list.

  • Turn off supply lines to washer.
    • If pipe is broken elsewhere, turn off water at the water meter.
    • You did get that water meter wrench we said to keep handy right?
    • And if you turn off the House water, you know not to leave your water heater on, so the elements don’t get exposed, over heat and add in the cost of a water heater, too, right?
    • You got pipe caps and hot set glue?  Plumber you can trust?
  • You get the Wet or Dry shop vac and get after the mess.
  • Call the insurance company…get them out right away.
  • Rinse and finish the half-washed clothes and get it dried.
  • Call spouse…drink in hand. It’s only a terrible hassle and mess.

5.  You Slip and Fall

Around here, if that happens, you simply call the spouse unit:  Alexa  Tell EVERYONE I have slipped and fallen in the gym.,..”

If you conked your noggin and aren’t awake,  whoever finds you should say something like “Alexa:  Call Dispatch” which, although Alexa is not for calling 9-1-1, you can still program in an emergency number and have her call.

When you get old, you think about these things.  Immortality and invincibility are young person delusions.

6.  You’re having Chest Pains

  • Summon help (see previous).  Tell ’em to get thee to an ER stat.
  • Take one baby aspirin immediately and chew it up  It will taste awful.  It will reduce clotting.
  • Make note “In next lifetime, make the spouse take the damn CPR course.”
  • Deep-breathing.  Better:  Oxygen tank.  We’re 2-deep on these: Medical oxygen from the plane’s O2 system and a tank of welding O2.  Not as pure, but O2 or dead>  Umm…pretty easy question for an old geeze to answer.
  • Relax.  *Who’s kidding who?” When you hear sirens coming or a couple of EMTs are shocking you back into your body I’ll grant you it’s not the easiest thing to do, I’m told.
  • Not in a hurry to find out?  Get these to the treadmill.

7. Stranger Comes to Door

  • Check drive for vehicle(s).  If none seen or recognized, call police and ask them to be on line as you go to door.
  •  (lock and load if rural).
  • Stand to side of door.
  • “Who are you and what’s your business.”
  • A clever crook might claim to be a cop.  You already have them on the line.  Ask them how to handle it – follow their advice.
  • “What is your shield number?  I’m on the line with police and units have been dispatched…”
  • Talk to the operator and don’t open the door.,
  • If rural, that is a 12-gauge Mossberg pump with 00 buck and a rifled slug for their vehicle engine compartment, right?

These may seem like ridiculous things to write a column about.  To some, it will be like writing up “How to deal with first contact space aliens when they land in your back yard.”  (You do have that, and a solife “How to kill zombies plan” ready at all times, right?)

BONUS:  Flat Tire Plan

Not to be too alarmist, but you ARE going to have a flat tire.  Only thing that’s not certain is WHEN.

So there’s a checklist for this every time you leave home.

  • What’s the weather?  Can I change a tire with what I have on or in the car?
  • Do I have rubber gloves to keep somewhat clean?
  • Did I check the spare time pressure in the last 6-months?
  • Is the cell phone charged?  Have AAA’as number?  Lyft or Uber?
  • Does my route have safe places to get out of traffic to change the tire?
  • Do I have the right tools to break the lug nuts (on the ground) and then take them off on the jack?
  • Does the jack work?
  • Do I have 20-minutes of leeway in case of a flat in my schedule?

This is the kind of checklist a super-competent person goes through every time they pick up their keys.  Only idiots don’t do this.

Seriously:  If you plan on things like having a flat, or a plumbing disaster, you’ll maybe remember to get that new tub of hot-set glue at  Lowes next time you’re in or fill the air in the spare.  Or, that new washer hose that’s always been on the sketchy side, but you keep hoping it will go another year…

Many home made disasters are the result of:

  • Thinking “It will never happen to me…”
  • Failure to plan for the unlikely event it actually does happen.
  • Skating on home repairs and trying to shirk what needs to happen.  It’s like arguing with gravity:  Most people can’t do that, either.
  • Doing half-ass repairs that will then fail at the most inopportune possible moment.

Where are Your Soft Spots?

We go through this all the time out here in the woods.

Yes, there’s a shotgun near the door.  Yes there is oxygen.  Yes,  we have lots of Band-Aids and plenty of super-glue for emergency wound closures.

A lot of people don’t think about this stuff…but when anything but “normal is going on” you will need a wide assortment of tools, devices, creams,  ointments, and materials to come through unscathed.   Make a list.

Like people that own swimming pools that aren’t fenced and haven’t learned how to save a drowning victim, everyone has exposures that can become major failure points.  Few ever study their lives like an ambulance-chasing lawyer or a loss prevention specialist, a criminal, or any of the many other trades that monetize bad things happening to people in their homes.

Some weekend – while you’re working around the house – notice eversything you do.  Have a back-up plan for each activity?

You can’t really think I’ll be spending part of today being one with my burn barrel without a plan laying out precisely how to respond if something goes wrong, do you?  Charged hose.  Fire extinguishers in the shop and office… sure, you know the drill.

But who actually  does that kind of continingency planning  habitually?

Here’s a hint:  I’ve passed 71 now…and if you’re not there yet, experience teaches that some of these things actually can shade the odds a bit in your favor.  Life isn’t fair, or fun.  But you can win with enough planning.

Prepping isn’t always cases of water and MRE’s.  Life’s little pissers happen all the time and they involve prepping, too.

Write when you feel safe…really, really, safe..

george@ure.net