Emergency, we need to talk...

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Queenofreef

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Here is the story of how I prevented my reef tank from crashing during the TX winter storm a few weeks ago. It was truly a miracle that I managed to have such few losses considering what happened.

This storm was completely unprecedented and there was really no way we Texans could’ve anticipated that kind of weather, even more so that they turned off our electricity and water for over four days. I was lucky to have been more prepared for this kind of situation than most, but faced numerous setbacks that almost cost me my entire tank. I’ve heard of many other hobbyists that had generators and still faced complete tank losses. It was a heartbreaking situation on so many levels.

I think that we rarely discuss the necessity of emergency backup equipment and procedures until it’s already too late. It feels like it unfortunately takes being burned to prioritize the importance of having that equipment on hand. I personally think that including what emergency equipment we keep should be included on our build lists and discussed more when talking about “setting up a reef tank 101”— perhaps it could help others who never really had to think about these kind of scenarios because they might live in a location where it seems unlikely.

I’m using this event as an important learning lesson to become prepared for every “what-if” scenario in the future. Not just with equipment, but also with having a plan of action. This storm made me realize that even if you have a Plan A for an extended power outage, you need to also have a Plan B and Plan C and maybe even Plan D as well.

Would love to hear if anyone has any tips or experiences for tank survival during extended power outages from storms, hurricanes, floods, snow, and the like. What emergency equipment do ya’ll keep on hand and what steps do you go through? Texas is asking for a friend.
 
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Here is the story of how I prevented my reef tank from crashing during the TX winter storm a few weeks ago. It was truly a miracle that I managed to have such few losses considering what happened.

This storm was completely unprecedented and there was really no way we Texans could’ve anticipated that kind of weather, even more so that they turned off our electricity and water for over four days. I was lucky to have been more prepared for this kind of situation than most, but faced numerous setbacks that almost cost me my entire tank. I’ve heard of many other hobbyists that had generators and still faced complete tank losses. It was a heartbreaking situation on so many levels.

I think that we rarely discuss the necessity of emergency backup equipment and procedures until it’s already too late. It feels like it unfortunately takes being burned to prioritize the importance of having that equipment on hand. I personally think that including what emergency equipment we keep should be included on our build lists and discussed more when talking about “setting up a reef tank 101”— perhaps it could help others who never really had to think about these kind of scenarios because they might live in a location where it seems unlikely.

I’m using this event as an important learning lesson to become prepared for every “what-if” scenario in the future. Not just with equipment, but also with having a plan of action. This storm made me realize that even if you have a Plan A for an extended power outage, you need to also have a Plan B and Plan C and maybe even Plan D as well.

Would love to hear if anyone has any tips or experiences for tank survival during extended power outages from storms, hurricanes, floods, snow, and the like. What emergency equipment do ya’ll keep on hand and what steps do you go through? Texas is asking for a friend.
Haven't had a chance to watch your vid yet, but I will later this evening.
 

zoa what

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@Queenofreef

 

DaddyFish

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Sorry, all I could think was "Yes Dear, I'm listening"

Now that I've read your post, yes, I have several suggestions. But my suggestions are based on 30+ years of being responsible for keeping similar electrical loads running 24x7x365 under all, and I mean ALL conditions. Power outages, hurricanes, floods you name it. Many of those were IN Texas too.

1. There's a cost/benefit ratio to every backup plan that should be realistically evaluated. It's one thing to say "You need a Plan-A, B & C". Each plan comes with a cost. Honestly evaluate how much are you willing to spend to save "X".

2. Most every electrical backup plan is dependent on batteries at some level, especially multi-stage backups where UPS systems are supplemented by generators for longer term operation. If you aren't going to test those batteries every 6-months and be willing to replace them regularly, you don't have a backup plan, you own sequential disasters.

3. How much fuel is required for your second stage systems (generators)? Can you keep a 24-hour, 48-hour, longer supply of that fuel on-hand? Remember that during a large-scale power outage (like TX recently experienced) gas pumps don't work and Propane dealers are swamped and have limited supply available. And just like #2 above, if you aren't going to storage condition that fuel and/or replace it regularly it's worthless.
 
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CMMorgan

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Agreed, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
I have the basics... bubblers, extra batteries... rotated regularly.
We have a generator and a whole bunch of gas cans.
Long term, I am looking into a small solar panel that can power a back up battery generator. In Fl., sunshine is our greatest asset and it's free.

Glad you pulled through the storm... #Texasstrong
 

HB AL

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If your in that situation then whatever you do its to keep all the tank inhabitants alive. With that said its actually pretty simple, I have 2 generators that allow me to run everything in the tank, + my wifi and TV and fridge.
 

Jeffcb

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It was 9 here. The longest outage was 13 hours. Tank got down to 66 and the power came back on. The next day it power went off for 11 hours. Luckily the gas didn't and I have a gas fireplace. It doesn't happen here often.

Thinking about a generator but would never need it again.
 

Hydrored

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I made it though it thankfully due to my whole home natural gas generator.

For my tank coverage that I keep on hand-

Whole home natural gas generator
2 spare COR20’s
1 spare full apex
1 spare pmup
1 spare optical sensor
Spare DOS heads
2 spare 300 watt BRS titanium heaters and controllers
If I have a DOS fail I can pull 1 from either my food dosing or AWC in garage
Ecotech battery backup for MP60’s
Keep 70 gallons of water on hand, soon to be upgraded to 110

This has most issues covered, I just don’t have backup if my natural gas generator were to fail. I will be picking up another spare generator that can run the tank only if needed.
 

Sabellafella

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Here is the story of how I prevented my reef tank from crashing during the TX winter storm a few weeks ago. It was truly a miracle that I managed to have such few losses considering what happened.

This storm was completely unprecedented and there was really no way we Texans could’ve anticipated that kind of weather, even more so that they turned off our electricity and water for over four days. I was lucky to have been more prepared for this kind of situation than most, but faced numerous setbacks that almost cost me my entire tank. I’ve heard of many other hobbyists that had generators and still faced complete tank losses. It was a heartbreaking situation on so many levels.

I think that we rarely discuss the necessity of emergency backup equipment and procedures until it’s already too late. It feels like it unfortunately takes being burned to prioritize the importance of having that equipment on hand. I personally think that including what emergency equipment we keep should be included on our build lists and discussed more when talking about “setting up a reef tank 101”— perhaps it could help others who never really had to think about these kind of scenarios because they might live in a location where it seems unlikely.

I’m using this event as an important learning lesson to become prepared for every “what-if” scenario in the future. Not just with equipment, but also with having a plan of action. This storm made me realize that even if you have a Plan A for an extended power outage, you need to also have a Plan B and Plan C and maybe even Plan D as well.

Would love to hear if anyone has any tips or experiences for tank survival during extended power outages from storms, hurricanes, floods, snow, and the like. What emergency equipment do ya’ll keep on hand and what steps do you go through? Texas is asking for a friend.
The biggest problem I had during sandy was trying to find gas for the generator. Still have to get a natural gas one just incase, otherwise I'll just stock gas before a storm.

Just need to get a good plan together, and not loose your mind when the power goes out. Especially if you live in an area where you have frequent weather issues.
 
Zoanthids

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I'll start with first make sure to take care of yourself/household.

I live in Vermont. I saw TS Irene flood my yard, which was supposed to push through Connecticut. It ran right up the mountains and dumped 8+ inches of rain, my town lost our House of Pizza. I was lucky, never lost power, watched the whole thing unravel on the Weather Channel and when they started mentioning major roads in Vermont being washed out I was shocked. The longest I've ever lost power in two different places I lived was 4 days, I did have a 65 gallon fowlr and that was fine. Both events were ice storms so the temps weren't bitter. Most of the time now it is a few hours, just enough time to start the generator and get out the extension cord.

My plan is have a generator, make sure to run it occasionally. I may even buy a second more portable one that I can bring camping. Get gas before the storm hits, if you don't need it for the storm you can use it in your car later.

Camping gear like propane lanterns, cooking stoves, space blankets for yourself AND the tank, food and water, extension cords, portable electric heaters for the room the tank is in and for your comfort. You can use water bottles or something similar for heating water to float in the sump. I do the same with iced bottles in the summer time.

Heat tape for pipes. Even though my basement is insulated I have a spot which gets cold and freezes. I plug the tape in on single digit days.

Write up a plan so you don't panic.

Remember help may not be able to get to you.

Goodnight Irene 021.jpg
 

Weasel1960

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@Queenofreef I couldn’t agree more. As a newbie to the hobby living up north I was disheartened to hear and see what was happening to all of you. I have included backup plans into my build for this reason.

But here is a piece of honest advice for folks down south and I mean this with no disrespect...

Plan A...Keep an eye on the weather beyond your local forecast at least daily. We saw this storm coming down from Canada a week in advance, filled our LP tanks, made sure we had essentials, etc. I am sure you all watch the weather during hurricane season, winter is our hurricane season, a 10 degree shift in wind direction can mean the difference between expecting 2” snow and getting 6” or temperatures dropping 20 degrees. Heck I even keep an eye on hurricanes up here just because we will occasionally get days of rain from your storm as it pushes north.

I hope you all are able to recover from this and stick with the hobby you love. Best wishes.
 

ca1ore

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Sorry, all I could think was "Yes Dear, I'm listening"

Now that I've read your post, yes, I have several suggestions. But my suggestions are based on 30+ years of being responsible for keeping similar electrical loads running 24x7x365 under all, and I mean ALL conditions. Power outages, hurricanes, floods you name it. Many of those were IN Texas too.

1. There's a cost/benefit ratio to every backup plan that should be realistically evaluated. It's one thing to say "You need a Plan-A, B & C". Each plan comes with a cost. Honestly evaluate how much are you willing to spend to save "X".

2. Most every electrical backup plan is dependent on batteries at some level, especially multi-stage backups where UPS systems are supplemented by generators for longer term operation. If you aren't going to test those batteries every 6-months and be willing to replace them regularly, you don't have a backup plan, you own sequential disasters.

3. How much fuel is required for your second stage systems (generators)? Can you keep a 24-hour, 48-hour, longer supply of that fuel on-hand? Remember that during a large-scale power outage (like TX recently experienced) gas pumps don't work and Propane dealers are swamped and have limited supply available. And just like #2 above, if you aren't going to storage condition that fuel and/or replace it regularly it's worthless.
Excellent observations. I’ve got plan A, plan B and plan C ..... but all rely, at some level on access to fuel. Whole house genny will run for around 5 days before exhausting the propane tanks. Last time we had a major outage here in CT it lasted a bit over 4 days and I was preparing to switch to plan B because propane refills were on a muttiple day backlog (took almost a week after power was restored to get the cylinders refilled). Plan B is a portable gasoline genny and across the three cars and spare gas on hand that’d get me through a further 3-4 somewhat less comfortable but survivable days. Assuming gasoline refills are not available, Plan C is a few battery backups that will run the vortech pumps for about a day .... so I can keep the tank alive for about 10 days. That’s always been more than enough .... until it isn’t.

All the discussions, for obvious reasons, have been about cold .... but hot is almost worse. Absent house AC, or the chiller, my tank would rapidly overheat even in the CT Summer; and there’s really not much you can do about that. My big genny load sheds the main AC, so I have a few portables that I can press into service. Genny will handle them and the chiller just fine, but the plan B portable will not.
 

CMMorgan

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....and really really tired right shoulder trying get the generator started after 4,793 pulls

Not Starting Baker Mayfield GIF by Progressive
This is what husbands are for.... ;)
my job is stocking provisions. We let him do that during the last hurricane and he came home with two cases of canned chili - with beans. He's not allowed to stock hurricane food anymore.
 
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Imaexpat2

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I will count myself as one of the more fortunate ones in the area...I only lost power once or twice for about 40 minutes max before it came back on.

This summer I will be setting up a 220 Amp Hour battery to a 1000 watt inverter and a small gas genset and keep about 15 gallons of gas on hand to recharge battery as needed. I did have a 65 amp hour battery, 750 watt inverter and 80 watts of solar I could have used...once the sun came back out! But as long as we were out of power in most places here that would have been totally inadequate. Other than that unlike many we were well prepared otherwise to weather the storm. I just didnt have as much of some things as I would have liked to have had. But we got through fine and I was able to keep my neighbors supplied with water and food and some LED lights for the duration. Most of them now are preppers too and dont write me off as "out there" anymore, lol!

Those battery back up units designed for computers will not last very long at all. They are designed to let you power down your equipment so you dont loose any unsaved work you have done. There are some Lithium Battery Packs that will run things for a while but they are pretty pricey at about a buck a watt.
 
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Queenofreef

Queenofreef

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Sorry, all I could think was "Yes Dear, I'm listening"

Now that I've read your post, yes, I have several suggestions. But my suggestions are based on 30+ years of being responsible for keeping similar electrical loads running 24x7x365 under all, and I mean ALL conditions. Power outages, hurricanes, floods you name it. Many of those were IN Texas too.

1. There's a cost/benefit ratio to every backup plan that should be realistically evaluated. It's one thing to say "You need a Plan-A, B & C". Each plan comes with a cost. Honestly evaluate how much are you willing to spend to save "X".

2. Most every electrical backup plan is dependent on batteries at some level, especially multi-stage backups where UPS systems are supplemented by generators for longer term operation. If you aren't going to test those batteries every 6-months and be willing to replace them regularly, you don't have a backup plan, you own sequential disasters.

3. How much fuel is required for your second stage systems (generators)? Can you keep a 24-hour, 48-hour, longer supply of that fuel on-hand? Remember that during a large-scale power outage (like TX recently experienced) gas pumps don't work and Propane dealers are swamped and have limited supply available. And just like #2 above, if you aren't going to storage condition that fuel and/or replace it regularly it's worthless.

You make great points about the cost/benefits of owning “heavy duty” emergency equipment that I never really thought about before. I’m thankful that I had a generator and was able to get it to work during the storm (having not known about the maintenance required before this, whoops!). But your post made me question if I would “buy it again” or recommend buying one to another reefer in North TX.

I think reflecting on the situation now that I’m no longer in this “post-apocalyptic” mindset, I don’t think I would recommend a generator for those who live in my area because the electricity truly never goes off for more than an hour here. We’re too far inland for hurricanes, don’t experience significant rain storms, and only have an odd light dusting of 2” of snow every few years. I guess the only thing to fear here is the rare chance of a tornado, but even in the event that you’re unlucky enough to be affected by it, you’re looking at a flattened house not a struggling reef tank. What we experienced here was truly a one-off event, and more than likely I won’t experience anything comparable again in my lifetime.

With that being said, emergency backup equipment of some sort or at least a plan of action is obviously still mandatory! Given my particular location, I think other power backup options like car power inverter would probably make more sense to own here because the odds of needing backup lasting 1+ day are extremely slim.

Thank you for sharing these suggestions! Made me think about the situation differently as I’ve been hearing a lot of “own a generator or you’re irresponsible” talk since this event.
 

Imaexpat2

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Yeah we're unlikely to lose power here for an extended time. But thats also the mind set that resulted in disaster for many here that were without power or heat for 72-96 hours! You realize how close our electrical grid came to completely crashing which would have resulted in a week or two to bring back on line again.

While we dont normally have winter cold snaps like we had this year, Tornado season is upon us and if one touches down and knocks your power out, do you think you will have enough gas in your car to provide power to your inverter to keep your tanks on minimal life support till it can be restored again?

Not taking shots at you, I am just trying to better understand your line of thinking per chance I have over looked something and over reacting?
 

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Hydrored

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I have thought about getting one of these. Not necessarily this exact one, but a natural gas one like it.


I use that same generator on natural gas and has been great
 
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