Sunday, August 14, 2011

What if the Electricity Fails?

Most often lightning strikes a transformer or strikes a tree that falls on a power line, causing an interruption in the power. Sometimes snow (which can be very heavy) will break a tree branch and knock down a power line. Here, I will tell you about how I prepare for this potential emergency.

First thing I do, when I hear my computer announcing a weather alert, is make sure I have enough water. I fill my two-gallon water dispenser (Not this brand, but mine wasn't listed. It is similar, though.), fill my Camelbak water bottles, and the gallon milk jugs I use for filling my Swamp Cooler during the summer. The combined water, with rationing for myself and my two cats, will last well over three days.

The second task is to check my battery powered lanterns and flashlights for power, and replace the batteries if needed. I also check the kerosene lamps for oil, in case the power is out longer than batteries last.

When the storm is a certainty, instead of a possibility, I fill my bathtub with cold water. Reason being is when there's no electricity, the water pumps don't work. However, the plumbing itself works on gravity. All you need to do is fill a bucket with water and pour it into the toilet. It will "flush" without electricity if enough water is poured in, which helps if the power is out for more than a couple hours.

If the power is interrupted, I unplug my cordless phone (which requires an electrical outlet to work) and plug in an old fashioned one (which does not require the electrical outlet). This way, if someone needs to get in touch for any reason, I am available.

One thing that I do year-round is keep two plastic bottles filled 2/3 with water in the freezer. In my case, they're re-filled half gallon plastic orange juice bottles. But you can decide for yourself how much space you want to give up for these bottles, and how much ice you need. Regardless of your personal preference, don't fill the jug too full. When water freezes, it expands (if you didn't already know). In the event the power does go out, I quickly transfer one to the fridge. The ice helps keep the food cold longer, especially if you don't open the doors to the fridge and freezer unless absolutely necessary. And, since this water isn't for drinking, there's no need to worry about BPA or other chemicals.

I would also keep a stash of checks and/or cash in your home. If the power is out, the store can't take your credit card.

I also discovered, the last time the power went out, that 3G service does not require electricity like WiFi does. I had no WiFi, because the modem and router was down, but my Kindle was able to check the status of the storm and the news with little problem using the 3G network.

A problem with the electricity failing is no air conditioning. There is a system to keeping a home relatively cool without electricity. It won't be 65 degrees Fahrenheit, but it will be bearable. When you get up in the morning, make sure to close your windows. If you have thermal curtains, close them as well. If you don't have them, and don't have the money to purchase a good set for each window, there are some alternatives. You could cut up cardboard boxes and set them up in the windows. You can also cover the windows with aluminum foil.  Either work to keep heat out, and hold cold air in. At sunset, open the curtains (or remove the alternatives), and open the windows to allow cooler night air in.

Good Luck!

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