Friday, December 3, 2010

Lights Out! A power outage and what I learned from it

Well for those of you who don't know it we are getting hit hard by snow storm after storm.  On Monday morning we were all preparing to get ready for the day and the power flickered, faded, and then went out!  Not knowing how long this outage would be for I immediately rallied the troops (Eldest Daughter and Myself) and started preparing for a day without power.  As it was still pitch black outside it was also pitch black inside so I reached on top of the fridge where we always keep one flashlight and matches.  I had already prepositioned oil lamps and candles around our house so I went around lighting them while my second in command filled the bathtub and large pots with water for drinking, cleaning, and flushing toilets.  With 4 small children it is impossible to make them remember not to flush every time! 

I also brought our cheap cord phone up from storage as our cordless will not work without electricity.  As I was calling the parents I babysit for and the school, second in command filled buckets of water for the animals and hauled in more wood for the wood stove which was already going anyways and I started the small fireplace in the parlor.  The younger children gathered at the kitchen table to color and play play doe by the light of the oil lamp and life pretty much went on as usual.  The power was off over our whole town, even the school had no power, but of course they still were going to have school because too many kids were on the buses and couldn't be taken back to empty homes with no heat.

One after another my babysit kids showed up, their parents telling me that my home was the best place to go because we had light and heat.  It was in the low 20's and most homes would turn into ice boxes if the power didn't come back on before nightfall.  All the kids gathered in front of the warm golden glow of our wood stove and colored or played games.  And I watched the snow falling outside.

Assessing my home I instantly saw that we had few clothes clean.  I hadn't done the laundry in a few days and everyone was going through socks and pants at an alarming rate from playing in the snow.  I also knew that if the power outage lasted more than a day water would be a huge issue.  Our town is on a well and after 1 day the tower would be out of water and unable to maintain pressure. I have about 3 days worth of water in the basement but still. Warmth we had plenty of.  We have at least a years worth of wood stored.   The grocery store was closed due to no lights but that didn't bother me as my basement and freezers are always kept full.

For dinner I prepared a pot roast with veggies and set it on the wood stove to cook slowly, but I could have used my gas stove because although the automatic lighter wasn't working I could light it with a match.  However since I was going to be keeping the stove stoked all day why waste the money?

Right before school was set to start the power came back on.  All the children filed out to school and I started laundry just in case.  All throughout the morning the lights went off and on.

The Things I Learned:

Most people had no way to heat their homes, they are dependant on their furnace or have little wood for the fireplace that puts out hardly any heat.  Pellet stoves wouldn't work either with out the fan and the automatic feeder.  After one day most homes would become iceboxes.

Most people had no way to light their home except for a few candles.  Within a day or so most people would have no light and houses are really dark with no light!  Our oil lamps were a lifesaver.  I buy all mine at yard sales and always get antiques because they are built for constant use, not just for occasional mood lighting.

Most people have no way to communicate from their home.  Once the cell phones batteries give out they are done.

Keeping up on laundry is a good idea because you never know when TSHTF.

If your grocery store has no power they wont let you shop.  Insurance issue.

Most people have only 4 to 5 days of food available to their family.  So if we were snowed in and it interrupted shipping or they couldn't get to the store that's it.

The upstairs of our house will stay very cold due to no heat, and even with the woodstove and fireplace going it would be freezing at night.  Having stockpiled extra comforters, flannel sheets, and blankets was going to be a very good thing.

Although I was able to cook a very good meal on our woodstove it kept the pot roast at too high of a boil.  My wood cook stove would have more control over heat but we haven't hooked it up yet.

Pretty much our little power outage showed me that my preps actually paid off, but that most other people are very unprepared.  If this event had been  prolonged many people would have been hurting.


  1. It IS unbelievable how many people are NOT prepared for things like power outages. I constantly think about it. Of course, our electric goes out a lot. lol. I'm glad that you were prepared.

  2. It is interesting how the parents who's children you baby sit know who could keep their children safe and warm! Maybe they need to take light of the issue and prepare their own home, and they have a perfect teacher to help them get started YOU! God bless you for taking in those children and being prepared!

  3. The power went out at my Oregon for 4 days on Thanksgiving night (big storm felled a tree on a main power line). It was "fun" at first. Heat wasn't really an issue, water was more the challenge. Was on a well, no power, no water. But, I loaded up several jugs of water from the "water spicket" free water spicket down the road. BUT it amazed me how much water I waste and how much I took it for granted. To rinse out a glass, etc. Washing my hair in the sink. How much water it really did take from my meager supply .....

  4. People need to remember that it is 1 gallon of drinking water per person per day, NOT including hygene etc. If you have animals you also need to provide for them. At my place I am working on the water storage, I figure 3 of us humans 3 times 3 gallons a day = 9 gallons a day for the humans, 9 gallons times 7 days = 63 gallons a week. The animals need a gallon of water a day (just to be on the safe side) so it adds up! And I am fixing on buying those 5/ 55 gallon blue water containers that would be 3 weeks of water for the humans and animals. not including the bottles gallons and water bottles I have in storage.


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