Disaster Prep For The Rest Of Us
by Dave Robinson
Maintaining Your Gear
Originally published April 17, 2014
Most preppers have not only a good stock of food and supplies, but some of us have actually got a fair amount of equipment (essential equipment of course) to be used only in case of emergency. The trouble with that plan is some equipment deteriorates with time and disuse. Seems our damp climate and in some cases, salty air, are two factors known to wreak havoc on our treasures. One example I discovered during a recent power outage was my Black & Decker Storm Station. The Storm Station is a pretty handy item that (according to the instructions) is to be left plugged in to maintain its charge so it will be ready to use when the lights go out.
The Storm Station has a built-in, detachable flashlight, a room light, a radio that includes a NOAA weather radio, AM-FM radio, and a TV audio band. There is also an on-board inverter with a 25 watt 120 volt outlet, and a 12 volt outlet. I’ve had mine for over six years and in times past it has performed as designed. It’s the first thing I reach for when the lights go out. When the power failed last month, I set it on the kitchen counter, hit the light button and...nothing. The flashlight was likewise dead. The radio worked, but I was later reminded it operates off a separate pack of AA batteries.
After the power was restored, I did what any computer-literate handyman would do. I Googled the problem and learned it was likely the main battery was dead. Then I dialed up the next great on-line resource, Youtube. I watched some guy take his Storm Station apart, install a new battery and put it back together again. It looked like a project I could handle. (Quite unlike a similar project when I disastrously tried to replace the broken screen on my grandson’s ipod touch.)
When the new battery arrived, I removed the 10 screws on the back and carefully separated the front half from the back. Installing the new battery was a snap and I put it back together with no screws left over. (Usually a good sign.)
Plugging it in, I let it charge overnight. The next morning the green light indicated a fully charged condition. Everything seemed to work as designed. Problem solved.
The lesson I learned from this was this particular rechargeable gizmo will work best if not left plugged in continuously. The trick now is to remember to plug it in once a month or so to keep the battery topped off.
I recommend periodically checking your gear to make sure it is still operational. If it has batteries, replace them every so often inspecting for corrosion. If there is corrosion, clean it off with abrasive cloth or an emery board. (Hint: Don’t use your wife’s. Some wives object, go buy your own. The voice of experience.
If your equipment is gasoline powered, make sure it starts. If the gas has been in it for a few months, draining the gas might be a good idea. The alcohol in ethanol tends to attract water which will affect how well your engine runs, if at all. If your well-being is at least partially dependant on how well your equipment works, then taking care of it is a good investment.
As always send your equipment repair stories to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Note: Dave Robinson is Bandon's Postmaster and has worked for the postal service for 30 years. He has a background in law enforcement, served in the Air Force in Vietnam, worked nine years for the Coos County Sheriff's Department, and serves on the Myrtle Point School Board, where he lives.
additional columns by Dave Robinson