Monday, March 28, 2005

Lessons & Questions of the Over Twelve Hour Power Failure

It snowed again last Wednesday into Thursday here in NY. It was wet, heavy, branch snapping snow, a homeowners favorite kind. So it was no surprise to wake up at about 7:00am Thursday with no power. In fact, the only surprise Thursday was that all the tree branches that fell missed the house. School was canceled for the kids, hubby was working late shift and I was able to postpone my morning commitments. Loss of power should be no big deal, right? Heck, the power even came on for fifteen minutes between 8:30 and 8:45 and I got to take a shower. Life was good.

By noon, we were beginning to lose patience. Almost all the food in my house needs to be cooked. I mean you can't gnaw on dried split green peas, can you? Our house has a tiny fireplace but its pretty, not practical and its not on the main foor of the house. We kept the fireplace going, so the basement and pipes remained unfrozen but upstairs it was 56 degrees. I could have gone out for food but that would blow my budget in a big way. So we made do. Thank heavens for peanut butter, homemade bread, bananas and apples.

By 5:00pm we were getting concerned. We are so dependent on electricity. My mind began to wander, delerium from lack of coffee perhaps. Our cabin in the mountains is far more prepared for this type of event than our "real" house in the suburbs. There, the fireplace is huge and in the center of the main room of the house. At one time it had been a one room cabin and the fireplace sat dead center. There is no basement, only a crawlspace so the pipes are more protected. There is no upstairs, only a small loft. The fireplace is big enough to cook in if I had to, unlike here.

When power finally came back on at 7:00pm I had given in and we were heading out to get food, with coupons of course! I had stacked wood in the fireplace to keep the pipes safe and had been wondering what to do about the long night ahead.

The hubby and I spent a lot of time talking about this experience. The need for quick meal availabilty being the focus of it all. The food was there but not in a form that was useful. This will be an ongoing project for us. At this point, I'm focusing on canning, which I did for the first time last year. I'm thinking that may be one way to keep food handy in easily usable form.

The other thing that really became evident was the need for a reliable radio in situations like this. Two Christmases ago we got my parents a solar/crank radio/flashlight combo for camping. We plan to invest in one as well.

We are tossing around lots of other ideas too. I'll be sure to share them as they become more concrete.


Judy386 said...

Do you have a grill? Would work for some veggie burgers, etc. We had a big storm a few years ago and didn't have power for 48 hours. Not fun at all! I had to pack all our food into coolers and take all the frozen items to my mom's house since she did have power. I remember using the grill and making grilled cheese by wrapping them in tin foil.

Katie said...

Its funny you should ask, up until last fall we did. I finally gave it away on freecycle. We just never used it. We had a table top one as well that we also gave away. It just never occured to me that we might need them again.

Oddly enough, we do have a grill at the cabin.

Jacq said...

We have one of those crank flashlight/radio combos and it also runs off solar power. They are a great investment and never cost any money after you buy them.

We are planning to install a windmill to generate electricity. That way if we lose power we can still run our furnace (it is oil/hot water but needs electicity to start) and cook and possibly still have some energy left over. This would also give my relatives a warm place to come to. I live on part of my Grandfather's old farm as do my parents, 2 aunts and an uncle and their spouses/children.

Katie said...

I love the idea of installing a windmill. We're going to a solar energy conference in 2 weeks. I'm excited about finding out more.