Monday, June 28, 2010

Be Prepared or Be Me

We had some nasty storms roll through over the weekend. There was a lot of tornado-ish activity, 70 mile-an-hour gusts of wind, hail, and an electrical blackout. For almost 24 hours, we were living in the stone age, with nothing but smartphones for internet, and high-lumen flashlights being used to see. With no cartoons for the girls, we were forced to read them bed-time stories, while my son and his friends were forced to use their imaginations to entertain themselves.

Every time we called, the electric company added 12 hours to their estimated repair time. Amazingly, they came in 7 hours ahead of schedule, if you don't count the first two revisions.

By Saturday afternoon, we were out shopping for things we should have already had ready.

For years, we had discussed buying a generator. For some reason, it never became a priority. We have a large freezer and refrigerator full of food. With no electricity, a generator was suddenly prioritized. All of the places near us were sold out of budget-priced generators when we decided it was better to drop $400 on that than to lose $600 worth of food. We did find one, eventually, but it would have been better to take it out of the garage than have to shop for it when we needed it. Naturally, 10 minutes after we got it home, the power came on. Do yourself a favor: if you own a home and have a small corner available for storage, start shopping for a generator. Pick one up on sale instead of waiting until you have no real choice.

We have a ton of batteries. It's one of the things we stock up on when they are on sale. Unfortunately, our broadest-beam flashlight takes a 6-volt battery, and we don't keep a spare. By the end of the night, it was getting pretty yellow and dim. Another night would have killed it completely. This wasn't a widespread blackout, so there was no shortage of batteries, but it would have been nice to have the spare already at home. Check your emergency supplies and make sure you have replacement batteries that fit everything you need.

The one thing that would have improved the night most is a good lantern. We had our 5, plus two of my son's friends all trying to play board games by flashlight. A lantern could have been set on the entertainment center and lit most of the room.

For everything we were without due to the blackout, the one thing I truly missed was the air conditioner. When the storm died, so did the wind. Completely. Opening all of the windows didn't help at all. Other than that, it was nice to have everyone forced to interact. Nobody was whining about being bored and we were all having fun.

I want to schedule a pseudo-blackout more often.

Cross-posted here.

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