Making the Most of a Power Outage

A recent series of rainstorms left my home without electricity for 2 days. Being without power certainly made me realize how dependent I am on it. No lights, no landline phone, no computer, and only intermittent cell phone service left me feeling as primitive as it's possible to feel during a suburban blackout. Here are a few observations about my experience that may help you be prepared for a power outage:

  • Have backup lighting ready to spring into action . Whether it's candles (be sure to know where they are, the matches, and a candle holder are), flashlights (keep fresh batteries on hand and know where they are) or a lantern (keep kerosene or the appropriate fuel on hand, or, if It's electric, keep it charged), do not wait until you need it to think about backup lighting. My husband and I keep our electric lantern charged at all times, and we know exactly where it is. It was great to be able to grab it as soon as the lights went out. It allowed us to navigate our way to the generator, which kept our sump pump, refrigerator, and a very popular lamp working.
  • Keep your cell phone charged . Although we had only sporadic ability to talk on our cell phones, texting worked just fine, and allowed us to keep in touch with friends and family members. My husband and I both have phone chargers in our car as well, should the need to recharge ever come before the electricity does.
  • If you have a gas-powered generator , keep plenty of backup gasoline on hand. Of course, store it safely in a well-ventilated area. We went through quite a bit of fuel for our generator, and given that the gas stations near our home were all closed because of the power outage, it would have been quite inconvenient to have had to make frequent trips to a far-away open gas Station to refill our gas cans. We had enough gas on hand to get us through the first 18 hours.
  • Be creative on how to make the most of the darkness . I discovered that the chore I go out of my way to avoid, dusting, was actually fun when done with a flashlight. Now if I could only convince future visitors to my home to keep the lights off, I would never have to dust! With no electronic distractions, like email, I got talked up on a few other chores as well: I emptied the dishwasher, put away the clean laundry, and prepared the grocery list. I also found it easy to make time to read – that's something I do not typically do. I planted myself near the coveted generator-powered lamp and plowed through a book I'd been trying to get to for a long time.
  • Do not stress about not being able to check email . Because most cafés and coffee shops in the area that normally have free internet access were without power, and I was not willing to drive around searching for a place that was open, I did not check email for 2 days. When the power came back on, I had 198 new email messages. Although I thought I was very efficient with my email processing before the outage, having such a huge backlog really made me be purposeful and decent as I handled each message. I plowed through them in about 3 hours, whereas they normally might have taken me at least twice as long.

Although it was certainly inconvenient, being without electricity for a couple of days gave me the opportunity to break from routine and enjoy the serenity of being "disconnected" for a while. After all, with no TV, computer or other electronics, it was easy to enjoy the simple pleasure of reading, and yes, even dusting. While I do not wish for you to experience a power outage, here's hopping that if you do, you're well-prepared and can weather the storm with a good book (and dust cloth) in hand.

Wishing you simplicity, harmony and freedom.