Even if you've got ways to generate renewable power, like a solar system or a wind turbine, I'd recommend stocking up on fuel as a backup. Having power once the grid goes down is going to be critical to your survival. The trick with fuel though, is to do it the right way. Get fuel storage wrong and you're not only risking the safety of your family and your home, you also risk hoarding useless supplies, as you discover it's worthless when you need it most. Having a car or a generator with no gas is like having a rifle without any ammunition. Not having enough fuel to ride out a crisis can be a critical mistake to your ability to survive. You'll need enough to keep your generators running, as well as having fuel for your car, and the ability to heat your home as well as cook your food. Having an abundant supply really is a good idea. Here's how I'd get started.
Gasoline storageFirst, you'll need an ample supply of gasoline. The trick when it comes to gasoline is ensuring you've got it in containers that protect the fuel and make it easy to transport. Now a giant underground storage tank is probably your safest bet, but for many of us this is an unrealistic dream. Instead, opt for the plastic containers (gasoline ones are red) that have been specifically designed for its storage. Home Depot and Walmart sell these so you can stock up quite easily, and remember to keep the caps on tight (so the fumes don't leak) and they're kept in a well ventilated area. In addition to the right storage containers, gasoline will degrade over time. But there's a simple fix. Purchase additives along with your fuel, and you can up the life of your gasoline significantly. These are designed to be added every year, so when I do my yearly spring cleanup I go through all my stored fuel, following the directions on the bottle to add the right amount to each container. But can you ever have too much gasoline stored? Well, it really depends. Storing a few hundred gallons is definitely overkill if you just need to keep your generator running when the power goes out over a weekend in a storm, but in a crisis that lasts months, it will probably be nowhere near enough. My advice is to consider what you're planning to use the fuel for, calculate how much you'll need, and then store double this amount. So let's say your escape plans are to get to your bug out location, and it takes a tank of gas in your car. I'd figure out how much gas your car holds, then store at least double this amount just to get you to safety. Then consider how much you're going to need to power your vehicles after a crisis, and don't forget generator use. For me, I burn through about 20 gallons a week even when I'm trying to be careful, so I'd plan for at least enough to keep the generator running a few months. Suddenly, storing four or five hundred gallons is starting to make sense.
Firewood storageWhen you need to cook and warm your home, one of the most cost-effective sources of fuel is firewood, and it can be stored almost indefinitely. But there's a few things to know to ensure you're doing it right. Different types of wood burn differently. Softwoods burn quick and with only a little heat, and tend to deteriorate over time (i.e. during storage). What you want is to find a good supply of hardwood. Then to get the most benefit, you need to season it. This is a simple enough task, you simply split the wood into the sizes you need, and storing it in a dry location for a year before you use it. Firewood makes a great fuel for a wood-burning stove, or even used outdoors in an open pit fire. In the city firewood may be hard to source, while in a more rural area it can be as simple felling a tree on your own property.
Other kinds of fuel
- If you've got any equipment that runs on diesel this will need to be stored in a similar manner to gasoline, in the appropriate storage containers along with the right additives included to boost its shelf life. Again, you can buy these at most home-supply stores, so stock up now.
- Kerosene is another great fuel that I store in bulk, as its non volatile. Because it's an oil, there's no risk it will explode, like a tank of gasoline. We've got a number of kerosene lanterns in our backup supplies once the power goes out, as the oil can be stored for a number of years without degrading.
- Propane is another great fuel source for survivalists, because in the proper storage tanks it doesn't degrade at all. Just ensure you check if there's any storage limits in your state, and keep it in a well-ventilated area away from direct sunlight.
- In addition to firewood, I've got a big supply of charcoal for cooking in my fire-pit barbeque, as well as a backup for the fireplace in my home. Kept dry, you can store charcoal almost indefinitely, I've got it all on a shelf in the same shed I store my firewood.
- Batteries. Without these life is going to be tough in a crisis, and you can store both alkaline and lithium batteries for up to ten years without any major losses in their capacity. Just remember to remove them from any appliances when not in use, and keep them in a dry and cool place.