Monday, October 31, 2011
AAR on storm related power loss.....
A late October snow. Wet, heavy, plentiful..... and all the trees still have leaves. The obvious happens. Trees shatter, branches fall, and power goes out. Our delicate lifeline to civilization gives way before Mother Natures whim.
Now, the power is out. The sounds left are not comforting; Ancient tree's shattering under the load, hitting the ground hard enough to shake the house. Tree's that once shaded house, garage, and vehicles now threaten them with destruction.
In the end, the worst damage suffered is a loss of electricity for a few days and many.... many trees down, waiting to be cleared.
What hardships suffered, and what lessons learned?
Heat... not an issue. The woodstove kept the house toasty warm.
Drinking water.... Six cases of bottled water on hand most of the time made that a non-issue.
Flushing water.... Experience has shown the value of filling the tub at the first flicker of the house lights. That was done, and a weeks flushing was but one large pot away.
Light... An Aladdin oil lamp with a mantle made the living room cozy. Tea light candles placed safely here and there made the house navigable. LED flashlights provided reading light with exceptionally long battery life. It was acceptable, but not optimal. Two LED lanterns were ordered, along with a big pack of D cell batteries. Providing 150 hours of reading quality light from three D's, they eliminate the fire hazard of candles and oil lamps. They will also do regular duty for night time outdoor parties and work events.
Coffee... (Of vital importance). I brewed a pot of fresh ground as soon as the lights flickered. It's quite good, even a day later... but not so tasty cold as hot. Two days in... and I am driving to the loacl town to buy morning coffee. One day this may not be an option; I need an electricity free percolator. Before spending money on one, I will browse the local Amish stores to see what they have on hand. I also need to keep a supply of pre-ground coffee in the freezer, as my grinder is electric.
Cooking.... no provisions had been made till now, except putting a pot on the woodstove. It's hot enough there for a long-cook soup or stew, but not enough to boil water for coffee or sizzle a steak. My Hibachi outdoors... works great outdoors... but is useless in a storm. A propane camp stove seems to be the answer. Possibly a propane grill, which will do patio duty all Summer as well, and can be used under the front porch in inclement weather. Maybe it will do... but I can envision times I'd simply rather not have a presence out of doors... so I think a camp stove is in order.
Electricity over the long term.... A generator would not be a bad idea. We don't NEED electricity on a short term basis (a few days), but over a longer period it would make life easier. It would also save the food in the fridge, which I am now in the process of sorting and disposing of, as required. One needn't lose more than a few armloads of frozen meat before a generator becomes economically reasonable.
I need to better evaluate our electricity needs. Right now, and easiest to deal with, the fridge... a few lights... the DSL modem... maybe the TV. Longer term, the oil furnace and well pump, but those will require a bigger generator and some hard wiring done to the house, such as a double throw switch and gen-set connection.
Regarding the DSL modem (and our laptops, and our cell phones, etc), I am wondering if a large UPS would be a good idea. Our smart phones keep us in contact with the world, as do our computers over the internet. We've come to rely on them, and having backup power to operate them seems like a wise choice. Procuring an outlandishly large UPS might not be so difficult. I may be able to get a used one headed towards the scrap heap, and simply wire in new batteries.
All in all.... we did well, especially since we could hop in our cars and head into town to do whatever we wished. If that hadn't been an option, our biggest concern short term would be boredom (Princess is not a reader). Long term... water and cooking food.
I think it will be possible to solve all the issues uncovered in a few days without electricity by spending no more than $400... give or take a lucky break. None are immediately life threatening, and can be done as time and interest permits.