When the electricity went out for 26 hours recently, it was an eye-opener! Here are ten important lessons I learned:
If it happened once, it can happen again – so best to implement lessons learned from the first one right away. All the takeaways from our first power outage began to fade in my mind as the days went on and life returned to normal. When another outage occurred about six weeks later, I was kicking myself for not being on top of some things. (The second outage, however, convinced us of the need for number two listed here).
A generator may be worth its hefty cost. “Thought every good farmer had a generator,” friends ribbed us good-naturedly. The price of the generator itself, plus installation costs, were formidable. We could purchase a nice car for less. After the events of the last year, generators were especially in-demand. But the fact that our well water is dependent on electric is a real issue, particularly in terms of watering animals. And being unable to take a shower or flush the toilet during a power outage is a real bummer.
Fast food gets old fast. Eating out at a burger joint was okay for the first meal. But by the time we went for sandwiches later at a coffee shop, we were already tired of heavy, restaurant style eats.
I wasn’t as prepared as I thought I had candles but they weren’t where I thought they were. Lots of canned food, but no stove to cook it on. Freezers, but I didn’t dare open them much for fear of losing everything in them. Knowing where items are in an emergency is half the battle. Having a small propane stove or even a wood stove to cook on and being prepared in how to use it is key!
Helping others is right but quickly taxes supplies. Most of us have it in our minds that we want to help shelter family or friends if times of trouble were to visit us. Just remember, you’ll go through items in such a case much more rapidly. We had a couple staying with us during the outage, and even though we suggested they might be more comfortable in a hotel, they were up for an adventure and decided to stick it out. All the regular items we needed for our family, including candles, water, and flashlights, we went through that much faster having just two more people around.
It pays to be on good terms with your neighbors. The times we are in make it especially wise to be on good terms with your neighbors. We called and texted each other with updates from the power company. When I had to run out, I was especially glad when we were all contemplating showering at a family member’s house a half hour away to get a message from the neighbor announcing the return of electricity.
Little perks and pick-me-ups go a long way. It’s an unsettling feeling when you’re suddenly without the conveniences that make life normal. Having the little things that cheer you on a daily basis can be important psychologically. After our second power outage, I bought a French press so that coffee was available, come what may. I resolved to keep a little more chocolate on hand, too. If things are to get uncomfortable, chocolate helps!
Reports were unreliable. Someone who lived through the Texas Snowmageddon that happened back in February 2021 said that there were three separate instances in which it was reported that help or resources were on the way from the government, and all three reports turned out to be false. In the same way, what we were told as the reason for the power outage when I called the company was vague. The time frame for when the power was to return also turned out to be unreliable. The company told us a time, and when that hour got close and we were all waiting for the power to return, the electric company bumped it back two hours. This happened maybe four or five times over the course of the 26 hour outage. The other power outage we had since then was shorter, but something similar happened in that the window came and went for the electric to return and nothing happened, and they pushed it back two hours.
Rain barrels are life-savers. We have three 55-gallon drums that my husband converted into rain barrels that catch the runoff from the downspouts. These proved invaluable for flushing toilets! And, while we normally would not give our animals water from the rain barrels, in this instance we had little other choice since the well was not working.
Disconnecting from the grid makes for meaningful moments. There was a positive aspect to the discomforts and inconveniences of the outage, and that was some quiet family time centered around candlelight board games. We had to slow down! This is the stuff memories are made of.