We’re baaaack… November 2, 2011Posted by ourfriendben in homesteading, wit and wisdom.
Tags: disaster preparedness, emergency preparedness, power outage, preparedness, surviving a power outage
Gads. After being without power for four days, we’ve learned a bit more about ourselves. Living here in the precise middle of nowhere, Pennsylvania, as our friend Ben and Silence Dogood do, our situation in a power outage might be inconceivable to those of you who have city sewer and water.
We’re on a well and septic system, have oil heat and a gas stove. When we first moved to Hawk’s Haven, we were quite smug about our situation. If the power failed, sure, we’d be in the dark. But we had lots of solar-, hand-cranked, and/or battery-operated lanterns, radios, and a weather radio, not to mention wind-up clocks and watches. We also had a good supply of long-burning candles. No worries, right?
Wrong. The first time our power went out during an ice storm, we realized that all our supposedly non-electric conveniences were electronically operated. No power meant not just no lights but no heat, no water, no plumbing, no cooking. Yow.
Fortunately, our gas stove still can be lit with matches, so we can still cook in a power outage. After that first horrific outage, we got a small but efficient woodstove for our fireplace and have made sure we had plenty of cured hardwood and firestarters, not just for warmth but to make sure our pipes don’t freeze. We have bottled springwater to drink and filled gallon water jugs for flushing. And our lanterns let us travel from room to room after dark without problems, though they’re not really bright enough to read by or see yourself clearly in the bathroom mirror.
This outage was pretty mean, we have to say. It combined severe tree breakage with early darkness and late light, resulting in 13-plus hours of pitch blackness, and unseasonable cold, at 25 to 30 degrees F. every night. Because the ground wasn’t frozen, we weren’t too terrified of frozen pipes, but still were very happy for our efficient little woodstove. And of course we ate out and, when we ate at home, used paper plates and cups, which we can eventually burn in our firepit.
Now that the power’s back on, we realize how grateful we are for our modern-day conveniences. Silence keeps going on about how fabulous it is to have light and running water, so she can wash her hands and brush her teeth. We’re thrilled to see our indoor thermometer creep up to 59 degrees F., as opposed to 47 during the outage. Our friend Ben is very happy to brush my teeth, take a hot shower, and flush the toilet.
But you know what? OFB and Silence have talked at some length about what we missed the most, and it was a decent amount of light. 13 hours of darkness is unhealthy; trying to read or do anything else in low light is unhealthy. The defining factor for us wasn’t cold, or lack of hygiene, or humiliating bathroom practices, as we might have expected; it was the super-short days and subsequent endless, sleepless nights.
As Silence said, once our power was finally restored: “You know, Ben, I might just stay up all night.” Water for hand-washing and dishwashing is excellent. Heat, light, and plumbing are excellent. But OMG, strong light to see by coupled with computer and other electronic services are more than excellent: They’re essential, at least for us.
Did you lose power? If so, what did you miss the most?