First, I want you to realize how lucky we are in the U.S., that is, in most places.
In Syria, even before the attacks from their own government for speaking out, and the starvation of the besieged, people had to put up with rolling brownouts because the gov't was stock-piling WMDs instead of building power stations.
Second, since my power system is the most reviled company in the U.S., I could count on the power going out when it was too humid, as well as during storms, because the transformers would blow and not be able to reset. This happened once in the middle of a dental appointment. That's because the company was claiming profits by not spending the right amount of money on maintenance and upgrades.
So I was already prepared for electricity outages.
1. Combo radio, clock, and flashlight with both A/C and hand-crank recharge. It also has a solar panel but it's not clear that has ever helped keep the charge from dropping. You need to have it set either to NOAA weather or to a radio station with regular and frequent weather announcements. You need to know if a tornado is coming even if the power is off. Link your smart phone, pad or tablet to accuweather.com or wunderground.com and hope that the storm doesn't cut service.
2. Emergency blankets made of Mylar, as well as lots of other coverings. That's because my heat is all electric. You may have an electric starter on your oil heater or your heat pump or whatever so electricity is important to you.
3. No-cook food and a hand-operated can opener. This includes baking my own bread and freezing the extra loaf of each batch; oven-dried beef in the freezer as well as home-cured turkey, corned beef and pastrami; canned fish; canned vegetables; nuts and dried fruit.
4. Emergency heat. I have a small hibachi grill that I bought at the grocery story. I've never used it because about the time I bought it, the power company got denied a rate increase to encourage them to make up for previous neglect.
5. Alternate water pump. This is not my problem because I am on city water and don't rely on a well with an electrical pump but I already talked about this.
6. Alternate entertainment. I have a Yamaha electronic keyboard that runs off batteries as well as a large quantity of books. I like to write, as you can tell, and I can do that by hand, then type it up when the power comes back. Long walks, quilting and other handicrafts, etc.
7. Alternate clothing. One recommendation I heard was have enough clothing to go three weeks without doing a wash/dry load. That's 21 sets of underwear and socks, as well as tops and bottoms. Face it, if the power's off, your dry-cleaner will be out of business too. But if your water is working, there are things you can hand-wash. So adjust the number of things in your closet accordingly.
8. Paper products. Now look, there is no excuse for having to rush out and buy toilet paper within 24 hours before a storm. There's no expiration date on toilet paper, unlike milk and bread. It ought to be automatic that you buy a new package every two weeks, oftener depending on how many people are in your house. If you run your household right, you have a piece of paper on the fridge where people put things that have been used up, and the day you go to the store, you should check the toilet paper supply and put it on the list if you're low.
9. Generator. Somebody I know has a generator. So far it seems more trouble than it's worth. They are expensive. He has to keep it in a shed, but it could get stolen -- there are people who will steal anything that isn't red-hot or nailed down and some of them will bring oven mits and crowbars -- because the HOA rules for sheds don't lend themselves to securing it. He has to drain the gasoline every so often because if the generator isn't used regularly, the gas gells up just like the oil in a car that isn't used regularly. He has to keep it a specific distance from the house to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning, so if he wants to turn it on he has to go out in the cold or storm to turn it on. His yard is larger than mine and a shed to house a generator would cut way back on how many veggies and flowers I have room to plant.
Now, you might think that if you start going into withdrawal because your Internet is down, you can go to a Starbucks or other Internet café venue but I tried that once after a hurricane. Three days later. Everything within a mile of my house was still out of power. After a snowstorm, the streets will be clogged with snow for some days -- been there done that -- and if the streets are clogged, the parking lots won't be shoveled unless the mall has its own plow truck.
Look at it this way. Every time you flip that switch, a little miracle happens. Appreciate the hell out of it. And be ready for when the miracle ceases.
© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved