Thursday, April 4, 2013

Power Outages and You

Power Outages and You

Earlier this winter, I was woken up by a O’Dark Thirty phone call informing me that the power was out and that I needed to come into my day job to help out thanks to the increased call load. At this point I observed that clearly the power was out as my bedroom clock was no longer working nor the light from streetlights.

At this time I became thankful that I followed the 6 “P”s. Proper Planning and Preparation Prevents Poor Performance. How so?  On my nightstand I have a headlamp situated next to my wristwatch and cell phone that is always plugged in at night to ensure it’s always fully charged. (Needless to say, a pistol with white light is there as well.)

What did I learn during this?  Headlamps are worth their space in gold. Yes, you can read a book or walk to the kitchen with a handheld flashlight, but you can’t brush your teeth, get dressed and make breakfast in a hurry with one hand. I was able to do all of this much quicker with the use of the headlamp than I ever would have with a handheld light.

A previous power outage reminded me to keep candles and a lighter in the same spot at all times for access during a power outage, fortunately I did not need to utilize them for this outage.

What else did I observe and learn from talking to people that day?

Most people do not have a flashlight, let alone a headlamp around nor do they keep it fully charged if it’s a rechargeable light. When its pitch black in your house is not the time to look for batteries or flashlight.

Cell phones were whined about due to them being almost dead before the power went out and not being able to be charged. Do to most homes no longer having a landline; this results in an inability to call 911 should you have a Medical, Fire or Law Enforcement emergency.

No heat. This is the winter. Our winter was below freezing during the day for almost a full two months, and below zero at night most of that time as well. Residences couldn’t be heated when their heat source relied on power. Some homeowners bragged about having a wood stove, but then that smile turned to a depressed look when they realized that they did not have any wood for said stove. Some homes only had gas heat, others pellet stoves, others hybrid wood stoves and others traditional wood stoves. Yes, you should find a way to ensure warmth should the power go out for an extended period of time. 

No way to heat up food or beverages to keep one’s inner body temp up, let alone morale. Backpacking stoves seem to be only owned by a very few.

Lessons learned?

  • ·      Headlamp and Light sources in familiar locations.
  • ·      Wristwatch in familiar location.
  • ·      Charged Cell Phone
  • ·      Heat free food that can provide the substance needed to keep the body warm in cold temps.
  • ·      Layered plan should power stay out for longer.

  • ·      Cell Phone staying at 50% or better battery life at all times.
  • ·      Ensure all flashlights for use in these situations have fresh batteries in them at all times.
  • ·      Grid free home heating system.
  • ·      Further refine and expand the long-term plan for no power survival.

Hope some of these things are useful, as for what turned out to be a 2.5 hour power outage, I sure saw a lot of panic going on. Imagine if that turned into 1 day, 1 week, etc.

1 comment:

  1. On charging your cell phone, phone and internet access, etc. We use battery backup systems for our PCs and expensive televisions, which also provide clean power source to protect them from power spikes, etc. A largish battery cost $150 or so,a small price to keep PCs protected and running in a short power outage, and smaller battery backup systems are even cheaper. Basically, we consider them another $50-60 expense for each PC.

    For longer outages, we have used them to keep phones charged. We have also used them intermittently to get the news on television or radio, if cable is working. Satellite is always one, and was very useful.

    A couple of years ago, my employer hired a consultant who advised companies on disaster planning. His #1 rule: everyone, keep your phones plugged in whenever possible: at home, at work, in the car. The chargers and cables are a very small investment for a tool that, when you need it, you really needed it.