Day: September 21, 2014

Sunday, 21 September 2014

08:47 – Barbara left at 0400. Colin was outraged. I just went back to sleep.

Something odd is going on with the fire hydrants on our street. Ever since we moved into this house in 1987, the hydrant in the front corner of our yard and the two at the ends of the block have had green tops and caps, which indicates a flow rate of 1,000 to 1,500 GPM. NFPA considers that excellent for a residential neighborhood. Then, a week or so ago, I noticed that the hydrant in the corner of our front yard and the one on one corner had had their tops and caps painted blue, which indicates a flow rate of 1,500+ GPM. This morning, I noticed that the hydrant in front of our house is back to having green top and caps. Very strange. I conclude that the flow rate of our hydrant must be very close to 1,500 GPM.

I’m building science kits today. While Barbara is gone, I intend to get some work done on the new science kits we plan to introduce Real Soon Now. That and watch Heartland re-runs.

11:47 – One of the things on my to-do list while Barbara’s gone is to do some freezing tests for canned foods that I intend to include in our car emergency kits. Water isn’t an issue. Water expands by 9.0% (or a bit less, depending on the initial temperature at which the volume is measured) when it freezes, so for example 2.00 liters of water forms about 2.18 liters of ice. Allowing for a bit of safety margin, that means I can store 900 mL of water in a 1 L bottle or 1.8 L of water in a 2 L bottle, knowing that if it freezes it won’t burst the container.

But I have no idea what the freezing points of, for example, Bush’s baked beans or Chef Boyardee ravioli or canned chicken or evaporated milk are, nor how compressible the non-water contents are. So I’ll check that experimentally by freezing a can of each of them and seeing if the cans rupture. Anything that doesn’t survive the freezer test won’t be in our emergency kits.

I’ve also been thinking about containers. A good 3-day car kit is bulky and heavy. As of now, I’m using one opaque 20 gallon (~ 80 L) storage bin per vehicle, which is large enough to contain a pretty comprehensive 2-person/1-dog 3-day emergency kit, other than a full complement of water. For water, I’ll probably use clean 1-gallon heavy plastic orange juice jugs. Six of those should suffice, even in hot weather.

For organization within the bins, I’m using quart and gallon ziplock bags to group subassemblies like fire making, water treatment, medical, personal sanitation, etc. Those are further grouped into one backpack and one duffel bag per kit, on the basis that although it’s almost always best to remain with the vehicle, there may be times when it’s necessary to walk out.

I suspect that Barbara may not be delighted about hauling this much stuff in the back of her car at all times, but I think I can bring her around. As they say, it’s better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it. Anyone who remembers the mess in Atlanta in January of 2014 should make it a high priority to have a car emergency kit. Tens of thousands of people stranded, thousands of them for two or three days, when Atlanta roads became parking lots, all because the Atlanta area had a minor snowstorm, with accumulations of only 1″ to 3″ (2.5 to 7.5 cm). Imagine what might have happened if there had been a serious widespread emergency. Thousands, even tens of thousands, of people might have died because they were unprepared for an emergency.

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