Be prepared

We had a little wakeup call yesterday – a little taste of what life would be like without electricity. Our power went out at 236pm, just minutes after I had finished my last Zoom call of the day. Not a big deal; these things happen. SDGE’s outage map (accessed via phone, as cellular service was still up), indicated that power would be restored by 430pm.

At 430 the same outage map said 630pm restoral. And then at 630 it said 4am. So an inconvenience became a small exercise in life without power. The massive fusion reactor we all depend on for light and heat was working just fine, 93 million miles away, but the Earth was inconveniently rotating us away from our reactor friend. Bummer. So we built a fire, gathered up the flashlights and settled in. Fortunately the flashlights and lanterns all worked, and we used my cool Cat battery pack and air compressor (basically a car battery with plug interfaces and a compressor) to keep digital devices charged.

Dinner was no problem – we took some salmon out of the freezer, thawed it in front of the fire, and then cooked it alongside an iron skillet full of mashed potatoes and peas in the grill. Delicious.

Power was eventually restored around midnight, and so far no repeats or repercussions (freezer stayed frozen). But it was a great reminder of how tough things will get if you’re out of electricity for more than a day. Our little process would work fine for a day or so, but then things would go downhill fast. Batteries die, you lose light and communications, and then…hello Middle Ages. You need to be ready for these things with a checklist something like this:

  • A stockpile of batteries, all types
  • Candles
  • Matches and/or gas lighters
  • Flashlights and lanterns, maybe a headgear light
  • A generator or big battery bank
  • Firewood
  • A fresh water source (our well doesn’t work without power, so we can switch to city water if needed)
  • Extra (and filled) propane tanks

Do that, and you’re probably good for a week without power. Beyond a week, let’s hope you’re on good terms with your neighbors.

This post is particularly relevant today, as the media reports that 500K Midwesterners are without power right now due to high winds and storms. I hope they were ready.

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