The economy is down, gas stations are rationing gas and you need to get to work, so you can pay your bills. What do you do before the gas stations are empty?
Do you think this scenario couldn’t happen? Well, not only could it happen, but it has, and not in the distant past, in some far away third world country. It’s happened in the U.S. and Canada as recently as this year.
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Hello, all! My name is Eve West. I write a collaborative blog over at Be Tomorrow Ready (site no longer exists) with two other authors. Our mission is to share good information in a calm manner for those who are looking to make a change in their lives to becoming more disaster ready, in whatever form that may take. Marie was so kind as to let me share some thoughts with you all on how you can prepare for a gasoline shortage.
If you haven’t read Marie’s post ‘When the Gas Tanks are Empty‘, you should do so now, then come back here and read about what you can do before anything happens to cause concern.
#1 Change Your Routines NOW
Don’t wait until the last minute.
When that sign goes up on the gas station that they are rationing, there will be an inevitable run on the gas stations. Don’t let yourself be one of them. (Incidentally, many of those will be wasting their fuel, idling their engines, while waiting in line for more fuel!)
Make it a habit to not let your gas tank go under 1/2 a tank. When you notice it getting close, fill up. On a road trip, this is always my policy. If you are driving in an unfamiliar area, you never know when the next station will be, especially in remote areas.
Don’t be that guy/gal sitting on the side of the road, stranded, because you didn’t plan ahead.
#2 Store Extra Fuel
This should be fairly simple, but it does require an upfront cost.
You can pick up plastic fuel containers at most home improvement stores, yard sales, or even home goods auctions. Fill them and make sure that they are airtight.
They can be safely stored for up to a year (possibly two, according to some sources), but be sure to rotate it out, keeping your supply fresh and stable. (More helpful information on how to successfully store fuel long term).
- Ensure that there is a tight seal on your containers. Any leakage in the seal means that gas can evaporate and you’ll lose your investment.
- Store the gas in approved containers, out of direct light and away from any heat sources. (At least 50 ft. away from an ignition source). Gasoline goes in red containers, kerosene in blue and diesel in yellow.
- Add a fuel stabilizer to ensure that it’ll last at least a year (maybe two).
- Store gasoline at room temperature (20° – 26° C or 68° – 79° F)
#3 Dust Off Your Old Bicycle and Start Using It
In many places of the world, people routinely ride their bikes to get around, especially for shorter trips.
The benefits of riding your bike reach far beyond saving on gas. It’s a great way to save money and there are obvious health gains as well.
If you live near your work, then it makes sense to start doing this sooner rather than later so you’ll be used to it when you actually need to do it.
If you live out of town, toss your bike in the back of your vehicle, park in a central location, and ride to and fro to complete all your errands.
In countries like the Netherlands, people routinely ride their bikes for their daily commute to work. If they can do it, so can we!
#4 Slow Down
Driving at a slower speed than you normally would will not only save you from a speeding ticket, but it’ll save 7% – 10% for every 10 kilometers slower that you drive.
This keeps your engine from working so hard, which in turn will pull less fuel from your tank. You’ll get to your destination a bit later, but at least you’ll get there! When you’re short on gas, this is one tip that has the potential to make a huge impact.
#5 Create a Back-up Plan
Guess what happens when there’s a fuel shortage?
Trucks stop running, bringing in needed supplies. Food, water, medicines, all the basic necessities – usually available at all times so that people are lulled into a false sense of security and believe that they always will be available – stop getting restocked at the stores.
So, even if you’re able to drive to the store to stock up on supplies, they may not be available for you to purchase. This is just one reason why it makes sense to stock up on those needed supplies now.
Even better – find a way to get those things without going to the store.
These things will not only help you if there is a gas shortage, but they will improve your health, quality of life and sense of well-being:
- Start a vegetable garden or if it is too late in your area, prepare your garden beds and plan one for next year.
- Learn to hunt or trap small animals.
- Get a goat, chickens, or rabbits. Even within city limits, many of these animals are permissible and will keep your family fed when times get tough. Bonus: They’ll keep you healthier too!
- Make it a habit to keep an extra week or two worth of your needed medications and vitamins on hand.
#6 Choose a Manual Version!
If you are looking to replace any old appliance or tool that uses gas, think about choosing one with an alternate power source. You’d be surprised what you can find out there that doesn’t require gasoline.
Lawn mowers, chain saws, lawn trimmers, etc. can all be found with a battery powered version and in some cases, a manual version.
Choosing a manual doesn’t mean that you’ll be stuck in the 1800’s. On the contrary, you can pick a brand new lawn mower up for under $100 that cuts manually and even has a grass catcher. If you find yourself without access to gasoline, you’ll be the only one in the neighborhood with a tidy lawn.
This doesn’t just apply to appliances. Converting your vehicle to a manual transmission will save on fuel also. This is because you control when to switch gears.
#7 Back-up Fuel Source
If using propane to heat your home and run your appliances, try to find a back-up source.
Remember, if trucks are bringing in supplies, your propane supply might not get refilled when you need it to. Kerosene heaters, corn pellet stoves, or just an ordinary wood burning stove might be in order.
Find what works best for your home and make sure you have a supply that could last you a while.
#8 Take Care of Your Vehicle
This might sound obvious, but by keeping current with your vehicle maintenance, you’ll extend the life of a single tank of gasoline. It could make the difference between making it home and spending the night in your car. There are several steps you can take, including:
- Change your oil and make sure that you are using the correct oil for your car.
- Change your air filter, spark plugs, and fuel filter. These all ensure that your car is running at peak performance, thus saving on gas.
- Check your fluid levels often and top them off when they’re getting low.
- Consider using a fuel injector cleaner. This will make your engine not work so hard, again saving money and gas.
- Ensure that your gas tank doesn’t have any leaks. Even a small leak can greatly affect your mileage.
- Check the oxygen sensor and replace it if it is reading incorrectly. This small task can make a big difference in your cars fuel economy.
- Replace your gas cap if it’s cracked and be sure to tighten it down after every fuel up to prevent it from evaporating. You don’t want gas that you’ve paid for to simply vanish in thin air!
In addition to caring for your vehicles maintenance, make sure that you are doing everything you can to maximize your car’s aerodynamics.
Car manufacturers design cars to be aerodynamic, which makes them more fuel efficient and then we mess it up by adding bike racks, roof luggage racks, colorful baubles and special antennae.
Decide whether you really need these every day and consider taking them off until you need it for your next trip.
#10 Lose the Weight
If you live in the cold northern climes, then you’ve probably at some point added weight to the back of your vehicle to make it more stable for driving on slippery roads.
This is great during the winter, when your safety is paramount.
However, in spring and summer your car does not need this and yet many people will leave them year-round. The conventional wisdom says that for every extra 100 pounds you carry around, you are reducing your cars fuel mileage by 2%. So to reduce the weight your car is hauling around:
- Remove sandbags once the threat of icy roads has passed.
- Remove those bike racks and luggage racks that we discussed in #9. Also, unless you use it often, remove your trailer hitch.
- Consider whether you really need to take everyone to the store, or if just one person could run all the errands, which has the added benefit of making the trip go faster.