Exclusive: Dads! Barbecue Your Way to Emergency Preparedness

by MICHAEL MANDAVILLE December 22, 2009
You can barbecue to fight terrorism. I don’t necessarily mean that you barbecue the terrorists. Hmmm…let’s think about that one another day. 
 
It’s no secret that many dads like to barbecue, especially on the weekends and for special events. But you may ask, “How can barbecuing help national security?”
 
First, during a natural disaster or a terrorist incident, you might discover that your natural gas line has been cut by either the supplier, a break in the line or shut down by an automatic valve. According to my gas company website, “A natural gas seismic shut-off valve automatically shuts off your gas service when an earthquake of a sufficient magnitude occurs at your home's location. An excess flow valve automatically shuts off your gas service when a significant gas leak or overpressure surge occurs at a pipe or appliance located beyond the point where the valve is installed.” The website warns you to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for resetting the valve. You could get a licensed professional or gas company rep to do it for you. By not following proper procedure, an errant flame could blow you, your loved ones and your home sky high. And get this: The gas company warns you that, during a major emergency, a service call may take days or weeks before an authorized technician can inspect your residence. Did you read that? Imagine 500,000 people requiring a gas leak inspection!
 
Second, you actually use your barbecue equipment. You know how to operate it and how it works. While you might buy some emergency preparedness equipment and put it into the attic or the garage, you still have to trot it out once a year to make sure it works and remember the inventory in these boxes. With your patio or backyard barbecue, you actually have an important component of a temporary emergency outdoor shelter and survival plan. 
 
Third, the equipment is outside and ready for use. These gas barbecues for backyard use are great for emergency preparedness. They are mobile with built-in wheels, made of durable materials for the elements and the cost is usually modest. Keep in mind, however, that you can’t relocate a BBQ installed in a patio bar if it’s under any house rubble. That also means you should stage the BBQ on your property away from a wall which could potentially collapse on your equipment. In California and other states, structural earthquake damage is a genuine concern. Your home may no longer be safely inhabitable. An aftershock could bring down the roof on you and your family. Tents and improvised shelters would be the order of the day. But wherever you position your barbecue, be sure to strategically store boxes of emergency gear: tents, space blankets, Meals Ready to Eat (MREs), etc. Keep the gear in a sealed waterproof container, either in a shed, an outdoor storage bin, or perhaps your brick BBQ counter. Some home improvement stores have outdoor storage bins which function as benches. Put a combination lock on the storage container so your entire family has emergency access.   Obviously, make sure that your family memorizes the combination or write it down – backwards – and place in a hidden spot on your property. Writing the numbers with a Sharpie on a prominent boulder might work.
 
Fourth, your BBQ provides a relatively cheap independent energy source. Many people are familiar with propane from their experience in camping or hunting. Propane is a three-carbon alkane, normally a gas, but compressible to a transportable liquid. Propane is used to power locomotives, buses, forklifts, taxis and used for heat and cooking in recreational vehicles and campers.
 
You can store a several propane tanks at a modest cost, approximately $32 apiece. There are also 40 lb and 100 lb tanks. You can have two or three tanks and cycle through them as you BBQ. Don’t get down to the point where you have no tanks! Always have one, preferably two, labeled as “emergency.” And never use them without having the third tank. Don’t be lazy – be prepared.
 
In addition, you can get a heat extension output for your tank. This versatility is especially important in regions with heavy snow and inclement weather. If the gas goes out due to terrorism, natural disaster, heavy storms or other disaster, you could die. You must have a backup heat source. Propane tank heater extensions have a continuous ignition type, a safety tip and flame out sensor and also a thermostat control. A 20 lb. tank can heat up to a 2,500 square foot space with an operating time of six hours.   Various outputs can reach 15,000 to 30,000 BTUs an hour. It is recommended for outdoor use only, but that’s during recreational time. An emergency may require indoor use to survive. 
 
Fifth, your energy source for heat, lighting and cooking is mobile. This is essential in case you have to abandon your primary residence. You can pack your propane tank, cooking and heating elements and get out of town.  
 
Sixth, gather your friends and barbecue. And inform friends and family about terrorism, national security and emergency preparedness. If it’s a social occasion, you don’t want to yammer on about terrorism – unless it’s that one screwy uncle whom you want to drive away. Discuss national security in real terms: the safety of your friend’s children the need for water, food, medical supplies, self-defense and more.  
 
I have friends whose emergency plan is, “I’m heading to your house.” My comeback? “As a friend, I think you should learn self-reliance. When an emergency happens, I’ll toss a box of cracker on the lawn and you can fight for it along with 30 other people.” That gets them thinking. Waiting on the government is not a plan. Those are the same people running the Department of Motor Vehicles, Social Security and the Post Office. Be ready to hold out – complete self-reliance – for at least a week or 10 days.
 
Reality check, folks, might just start with a simple barbecue.
 
FamilySecurityMatters.org Contributing Editor Michael Mandaville is a writer, filmmaker and activist. He graduated from the University of Southern California (USC) with a Masters Degree in their prestigious Professional Writing program. In the entertainment industry, he works as a Line Producer/Unit Production Manager (D.G.A.) on films such “Taken,” “Havoc” and “The Kiss.” He has also written, directed and produced commercials, documentaries , internet media and short films. He wrote the thriller novel Stealing Thunder, which won the 2009 Thrillspy Film Festival for Best Novel and the activist nonfiction book, Citizen Soldier Handbook: 101 Ways For Every American To Fight Terrorism
 

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