Monday, January 26, 2009

Lessons I Learned in the Dark (aka Surviving a Blackout) part 2

This is part 2 in the series on how to survive a long term power outage. I had planned on spreading this out over a week or two but since we are currently in the middle of an ice storm, I thought my local readers might benefit. I'm sitting in a silent house right now and I can hear ice coming down. It reminds me very much of what it sounded like back in 2007 when I went 9 days without power. Hopefully the trees have been trimmed and we are in better shape than before but time will tell. In the meantime, we have our stockpile together and our blankets, lanterns, etc all sitting by our fireplace just in case. Today's feature is on what to do once the power goes out.

If possible, get one hot meal a day: It will help your mood greatly to have one meal that isn’t highly processed food. This may come through an emergency shelter area or a restaurant. We were lucky that McDonald’s is very close to us and they had underground power.

If it is cold out, food will last for days in an ice chest: If there is snow on the ground, put your ice chest in the snow and it will last even longer. Obviously this tip does not apply to a hurricane but it can help in the winter. We lost all of the contents of our fridge after a few days. Our freezer was stuffed full and we only lost a few things. After about five days, we were able to move our frozen goods to two other freezers.

Pretend you are camping: Pull out the sleeping bags and hang out in front of the fireplace. Get out the camping stove (if you have one) and make warm meals over it. If you have leftover coffee, use an old coffee cup and reheat it over a candle. I do not recommend doing this with a full cup, but when desperate for warm coffee, it works.

Gas fireplaces are your friend: On the Sunday we lost power, everyone hung out at our house all day because they still did not have power either. Our gas fireplace in our basement kept the house warm enough. In fact, those sleeping by it were a little too toasty. With a few extra blankets, those upstairs were just fine. The only bad part is that with a fireplace running for nine days, we had to repaint the mantle as the heat discolored it.

The nights can be long, plan ahead: If you have oil lanterns, this will help greatly with the long, dark nights. You will be able to read or possibly play games with one. The radio is helpful too. For entertainment one night, we drove around town to see who had power and who did not. It was amazing to see major areas of town completely dark.


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