Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Survival 101

This past weekend our area of Kansas experienced one of the worst power outages since 2002. I'm not making it up, that is what was expressed in the news. In our small county alone we had over 25,000 outages! Hundreds of thousands in a three county area alone! That's massive.

We were so fortunate and there was no damage to our property whatsoever. I was awoken at 1:30am, on Friday morning, when the heart of the storm was ripping through our state. The winds topped out at 74 MPH, and the damage around us was immense. Even though the damage was terrible around us, it never touched us. We have several trees that need to be removed, and will be this autumn, but even though those trees are rotting they weren't touched at all. The hand of G-d was placed around us, of that I'm certain.

Even though our property wasn't damaged, we still lost power for a considerable amount of time. We were the only ones on our street who seem to have been prepared for it, however, and it showed. While people were leaving their homes at night to go to a hotel, giving food away to a church who did have power- rather than let it spoil- we were sitting tight. Was it fun? No. The storm hit right on the day that I normally do my Shabbat preparations, so that was a bit of a stressful time for my OCD, and the kids were restless as they couldn't play in their playroom downstairs. That basement gets dark without lights! That, mixed with the ground being a swamp land and power lines down around us meant we needed to stay inside until things were right again. We never had to leave our home, didn't lose any food, and we were very blessed. It did help that the temperature, after the storm, went down considerably. It was a high of 95 F before the storm hit, with a dew point that was about 75 and 85% humidity on Thursday. It was miserable. On Friday, after the storm, the high was 73 F, lower dew point, and next to no humidity. Much easier to be comfortable when no power was on!

There were a few things that we learned, and things that we were already doing that I thought I would share. Who knows, maybe it will help you be prepared for a power outage.

Things we had already done:

1. Store gallon jugs of water in your deep freezer.
We had gallon jugs of water stored in our deep freezer. I know, it might seem like a waste of space, but we've learned to work around the space issue. The beautiful thing about storing that massive jug of ice was when the power went off, 24 hours later our freezer was still cold! No food waste.

2. Call around for dry ice.
Don't concern yourself with the areas near you. If you have a massive, city wide power outage chances are that there's no dry ice to be found in that area. Call around outside of the city limits to different stores. We found a store, about 30 minutes away from us, in a different county that hadn't been affected by the storm, that had a ton of dry ice. Fridge was saved!

3. Stock up on candles.
We have a massive stockpile of candles that we rarely use anymore, but are stored in our pantry. We used them a lot before kids, but now they sit waiting for emergencies. Because the storm hit in the summer, the days were longer so we didn't need many candles. We lit maybe 4 candles, in the 2 1/2 day black out. Not bad at all.

4. Get used to, and perfect, the art of cooking on your grill.
I'm not talking about hamburgers here, although those are good too. My creative husband, on Shabbat morning (Saturday) went out, fired up the grill, and put our cast iron griddle on it. He made scrambled eggs, chicken sausage, and even made toast and boiled water to make coffee! I haven't tried my cast iron dutch oven on the grill to see if I can boil water yet. I should probably try that to see if it will work...

5. Stay calm.
This might seem like a no brainer, but you wouldn't believe the amount of angry people I saw on our utilities Facebook page just getting mad! I mean I get it, these people were panicking, blaming the utility company for their loss of groceries, and berating them for their lousy service. The thing we need to remember is that in a massive power outage, like this one, you're not the only one!!! I know, it's sad that I have to remind people, but it's true. There were tens of thousands of people out, and I know that our utility company was working like mad to get the power restored. Relax, stay calm, and count your blessings.

There were a few things that we didn't have, and were able to get during the power outage that made our life much better. Now that we have them, we'll be keeping them in the emergency storage area.

1. Portable charger for your cell phone.
Our cell phones were the only way we could monitor the blackout online. We're lucky to have such great coverage without WiFi, but our batteries wouldn't last forever and there's only so much charging you can do in the car (well only so much driving you can do without going mad). Hubby went to Wal-Mart and bought a portable device charger. It cost about $15, and ran off of 4 AA batteries. The charge was great and just meant that we needed to stay stocked up on some batteries to have cell service.

2. Generator
We actually still don't have one, but we had some wonderful people loan us theirs' on Saturday. Funny thing was, after we picked up the generator, the power came back on about 4 hours later. You don't need to get a large one, just one to power up your fridge and keep your food fresh. We're fine cooking on the grill, so we don't need one to power the whole house.

After the power outage was over, we got the house back in order and daddy was able to show off some cool science experiments with the leftover dry ice! The dinosaurs thought it was super cool!

They were so fascinated with how the dry ice made the water freeze so fast! And yes, my son put his shorts on inside out. He's independent and wants to do everything himself!

All in all we were very fortunate. The hand of G-d protected us in a huge way, and we were blessed as the days went on. Beautiful weather made the conditions bearable, and we knew how to survive without electricity. It wasn't a blast, but it was tolerable. Next time a storm hits we'll be better prepared for it. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to get a campfire kettle so I can boil more water for coffee the next time the power goes out...

Until Next Time,

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