Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Be Prepared for a Power Outage

Powerful Thunder Storm 
Last night I saw a flicker off in the distance. Lightening. Rain was not in the forecast last time I checked, but in Oklahoma weather changes from hour to hour. Off in the distance was a storm. An hour later my weather monitor went off alerting that I was directly in the path of the storm and that it was packing some high winds and hail. I was in for a rough storm and possibly a power outage, but I was not worried. It is not uncommon to lose power out in the sticks. In fact, it is not uncommon in the city to lose power during a good thunder-boomer. Rolling blackouts and brownouts are common in larger cities during heat waves. Sometimes power outages happen for no apparent reason. 

An Oklahoma storm
off in the distance
I was not worried about losing power at all simply because I am prepared. In fact, losing power this time of year is a cake walk compared to losing power in the dead of winter or during a heat wave. However, with winter rapidly approaching I thought I would take this opportunity to review how I prepared for a potential power outage, no matter the time of year. Perhaps you can take some ideas from my preparations.

The first item to worry about is shelter. I immediately checked all the windows that face the direction of the prevailing winds, the known direction weather moves in in my area. I don't have to shut all the windows, but the ones where weather and wind could infiltrate the house must be closed to prevent damage. In this case the air conditioning unit is in the one window on the Shouse that could potentially allow in moisture. The only other window that faces in the direction in which weather moves in is protected by a porch. 

Kerosene Lamp
Next I unplugged important electronics such as my cell phone, my computer, and my iPad. My television is on a power surge-protecting power strip, so I didn't need to unplug it. I gathered together my portable alternative lighting sources (kerosene lamps, lanterns, flashlight, candles, etc.) and made sure I had adequate fuel and a lighter.  

I placed my car keys were I could find them easily along with my purse and my boots. If I need to leave in a hurry I am good to go. I still keep my bag with a change of clothes and a first aid kit in my car, so if I need to leave in a hurry I don't have to be worried about packing anything additional. 

I secured all my animals in shelter. I brought my cats and dog inside

Kerosene Heater
Recently we went through a brief cold snap here in Oklahoma where the morning temperatures dipped down into the 40's. As a result I have already gotten out the extra blankets I stored over the summer. Should the power go out and it be cold, staying warm will not be an issue.When the winter is in full swing I will be using a propane heater for heat. If the power goes out then it will not affect the ability to heat the building, but I will have to be vigilant to make sure I do not run low on fuel. I bought two new 5 gallon kerosene cans this year in preparation. There should never be a time I run out of fuel for heat. 

Propane Cook Top
Cooking will not be an issue either. The hot water heater and the cook top both run on propane and I also have a wood stove. Should the power go out, the pressure tank holds 30 gallons of water in reserve. The propane on-demand water heater will heat the water allowing me to bathe and clean dishes. When the power goes out I make a point of not going in and out of the refrigerator unless I need to. The chest freezer remains closed. After 2 days of no electric I will need to begin using all the perishables in the fridge and transfer ice or dry ice to the chest freezer. I can also utilize my outdoor barbecue for cooking as well. 

Another safety factor that I think it important is to make sure you never let the gas tank on your vehicle go below half a tank. 

Preparing for a power outage really doesn't take all that much time. After I had everything in order I sat on the porch and enjoyed the storm as it moved in.  I watched the lightening show and smelled the scent of the rain. Feeling the winds kick up, I finally decided to go into house. I was able to fall asleep to the sound of rain on the roof. Peace of mind is priceless. Are you prepared for a power outage?