I’ve been working on the Preparing to Prepare non-fiction piece lately so research mania has pretty much been going full bore. One of the things that caught my attention was natural gas. Which, of course, sent me off on yet another momentum stalling tangent… c’est la vie.
Basically, I’m been compiling lists and supplying my own brand of advice with regard to life disrupting events of varying durations. Over the course of this book, I’ve been writing about ways to solve various issues given a specific set of supplies and recommendations. That being said, you can’t compile a worthwhile list when it comes to preparedness without discussing fuel. Namely, if there is a power outage, depending on the duration of said outage, you’ll quite possibly need fuel for:
- A vehicle to go 50-100 miles (one-way, double for round-trip) to get supplies
- A portable generator (assuming you have one)
- A house generator (e.g. Generac, assuming you have one that is not on a city feed – long term issue)
- Cooking meals and boiling water (propane, white, or charcoal - assuming you don’t have a natural gas burning stove/hot water heater)
- A kerosene heater to heat a specific centralized room
As I wrote that list out in the book, I was drawn to the part about the ‘city feed’. This made me curious. If you’ve lost power for a week due to a storm, or the grid is down entirely, would you be able to use, say, your gas stove? You gas hot water heater? Your furnace?
The short answer is generally ‘yes’ to the stove and water heater and ‘no’ to the furnace. A furnace requires electricity to turn the blower after it generates the needed heat. Your pilot light will remain lit, but it’s basically a paperweight at this point.
The stove should work, but might require you to light the burner with a match. Some stoves have safety protocols in place that might prohibit this activity though. The gas hot water heater should also work without issue as well provided you don’t have an electric power blower installed for venting. If you have a power blower installed, I wouldn’t recommend doing much with the hot water heater. That blower is there because you have venting issues.
So, that little bit of research answered the primary question, but how long will the gas pipeline transmission system, and water system for that matter, maintain enough pressure to feed my house?
Unfortunately, if some form of power isn’t restored to the compressor stations, you’ll be without gas and water in less than a week.
That wasn’t the answer I was looking for.
Here’s a well written piece that helps further this information: How Long Will Natural Gas Last Without Electricity.
As I read that article, I couldn’t help but be reminded on a line from the EMP Commission Report:
No infrastructure other than electric power has the potential for nearly complete [societal] collapse in the event of a sufficiently robust EMP attack.
Let that sink in for a moment.