Power Outages: Preparing for a more common occurrence

We were in for a storm last night. The media hyped it up, as usual, warning us for several days high winds were coming. By dinnertime, nothing had happened but the 5 o’clock news said the bad weather was still on its way, due to arrive between 7 and 11 p.m. That’s a pretty big window. After a fairly busy day that included sewing and grocery shopping, as well as walking with a friend in the afternoon – it was a balmy 64 degrees here in Wisconsin – I retreated to the lower level of our house to watch some television. My husband had decided to bake dog treats in the kitchen.

Surprisingly, our dog who is very attached to my husband stayed with me. She knew the storm was approaching. If you’ve ever been around animals, you know they have that sense.  And, sure enough, we could hear the winds start to howl and see flashes of lightning in the distance.  The dog was content being stroked. At least she wasn’t shaking as she’s done in the past when she was afraid. The power flickered on and off several times, and then, it stayed off.

It’s still off now – more than 16 hours later.

There are certain things that we did prior to the power going off that are easing our life right now. Here they are:

  1. We have a gas fireplace with an electric ignition. I turned that on after dinner when I went to watch television. Great decision. It is keeping our house comfortably warm. If I had not turned it on – well, you know.
  2. We filled empty pitchers with water from the tap. My husband had the forethought to fill five pitchers with water so we have some for drinking and things like brushing our teeth.
  3. Don’t flush. This is funny. I cannot tell you how many times we had to remind our boys to flush while they were growing up. Now, none of them live at home anymore, but I know they would enjoy their father saying – don’t flush the toilet.
  4. Keep the refrigerator and freezer closed to conserve the cold environment.
  5. Charge your phone if there is concern about an upcoming power outage. I did this. But, once the power did go out, I used the flashlight on it. Big mistake. It drained the power.
  6. Have flashlights available and working. Luckily, we had these. Before our hiking trip out west, my husband bought two small but high powered flashlights. They are kept in our kitchen “junk drawer.” Use that source of light instead of your phone if you want your charge to last.
  7. Text loved ones. We let our boys know that we were fine and had what we needed. We also asked how they were fairing the storm. Everyone was doing fine, thankfully.

This morning, when we woke, the power was still out. Naturally, our dog woke us up. No need for alarm clocks – but I had set the alarm on a fully charged iPad just in case.

The first thing I did upon waking was go into the kitchen to make my tea. It’s the first thing I do every morning. Well, how do you make tea without power? There are so many things we take for granted! My husband offered to warm up water on our outdoor grill, but I declined. I had some iced tea in the refrigerator, so I did open the door to retrieve that source of caffeine.

After realizing there was not a lot I could do, I’ve spent the morning reading my current book, Wolf Hall. At close to two hundred pages in, I am finally getting into the story which is written with some humor about King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn but has Thomas Cromwell and Cardinal Wolsey as central characters.  Not sure I would enjoy this story at first, I certainly am now. I’ll have to watch the BBC/PBS series of the same name when I finish.  I was grateful to have the book.

  • Have books to read or something to do that does not require power. I’ve also wrapped Christmas gifts to occupy some time.
  • Consider your blessings. Even with the power out, we have warmth from our fireplace, warm clothes, shelter, food, a warm bed, and books to read. We know our boys are safe, as are we. What more could we want?
  1. Consider preparing for future outages. Unfortunately, as wild weather patterns become more common with climate change, we will face more and more of these times without power or convenience.  Think about how you’d prepare for future outages. What would you do differently to prepare for next time?  What can you do to decrease your consumption or dependence on utilities? How can you contribute to a greener planet so that climate change becomes less of a future factor.

These are all big questions as I sit at my charged computer typing without electricity today. I think about the book I am reading, taking place in the early 1500’s – how different their lives were then. And, how lucky we are now.

We are lucky that the power outage will most likely be short-lived. But, what about next time? Will we be as lucky? I don’t know and I don’t think anyone knows.  We best prepare.

Update: The power just came back on, almost twenty-two hours after it went out. I typed this earlier.

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