Power’s out! Are we ready?

Are you ready for a long term power outage?

You’re here because you at least have a fleeting thought of preparing for some future unknown event. The common thought is for terrible disaster, but as you’ll find as you read more from me there are countless other scenarios you can just as well be prepared for. But in either case the old adage holds true, ‘practice makes perfect.’ So, what ‘what he heck!’ I say. Let’s have a drill!

Following is a narrative of a recent prep drill – totally unexpected practice.

On the way home from doing a service project I ask my son to pull over to the side of the road before he makes the customary left turn on our way home.

“Okay… I just got a text message from the counties code red alert system.” Now, some of my children obviously didn’t hear me mention this was just made up, but it proved to be just fine in the end. “There is a big fire I am the next town and the road is blocked so we can’t go that way. How else can we get home?” Having an alternative route is certainly one way to be prepared. I dramatically depicted the scenario pretty well I guess because the younger children were still asking if it was real the next day.

We found our way home and it only took a few minutes longer than usual – good job kids!  We pull into the drive way and I ask everyone to wait for a minute.  “Although the fire isn’t that close it caused problems at the nearest power station and our power is out.  What are our plans for dinner?”  After some discussion we determined that we couldn’t use the oven as planned – so we’d have to come up with an alternative for dinner and decided to use the ground beef for hamburgers on the grill – not bad.

Fortunately it was still light – just before dusk so we had a little bit of daylight left.  We were busy making dinner preparations while we had light and taking care of the animals and doing our other evening chores.  My wife had the forethought to get out some oil lamps she had only purchased a week or two earlier and get them ready in the daylight.  Our youngest son scrounged up the flashlights as well.

It’s dark now.  The oil lamps are burning and the flashlights are hung in the kitchen so our hands are free to work.  No water is flowing out of the faucet because the pumps are out in town – so we set up a wash basin to make sure we have clean hands for preparing food.  Everyone is doing their part – some coaxing is in order but for the most part everything is coming along.

My oldest son is having the hardest time.  He’s needing to make arrangements with friends for the next day – but phones are out – no internet – I offered my cell phone to try, but as typical teens go he didn’t want to talk on the phone… he was pretty frustrated.  Some times temper’s would flair.

The burgers were ready to put on the grill – everything is going good so far.  I go out to check on the burgers, there just about ready… but theres a problem.  They are barely starting to cook – actually they had just barely started… I though someone checked on them. “I thought they were doing just fine” says my daughter.

“Grab another propane bottle – looks like this one’s out.” Sure enough it was.  So we hook up the other one. “Do you know how to hook up the bottles?  Let me show you.”

“This one is out to dad.”

“Uh oh.” We do some bottling in the fall so I had picked up another bottle some time ago to keep the water hot for the bottling process… the question is did we ever fill that one back up?

“Yeah, this one’s full dad” as my son lugs it in from the garage. Whew!  Now we can start cooking!

We add some veggies to grill – things are going well now.  Finally… it’s getting a little later than normal for dinner – but we’re eating.

We sat down for dinner – things were better – my son had found out everything will be ok without power – tomorrow would work out.  We enjoyed a dinner by oil lamp – it tasted great!  There was a little extra spice because we couldn’t see well by flashlight but it all turned out great – and we actually enjoyed ourselves.

What did we learn?  We can do it.  It was just one meal… an evening… not a big test, but it didn’t end in disaster.  A few lights were turned on accidentally – but it was all just fine.  We had a few close calls – luckily we had enough propane – and we had them all filled within a few days.

What do we need? A few more oil lamps and more oil for them.  We took care of that the next time we were in town.  An additional cooking method would have been nice just in case.  Sure, we could have had PB&J – but this was a lot more challenging and it kept us busy.  I couldn’t imagine what we would have done if we prepared and ate dinner in 30 minutes and just sat around – then we would have had frustration running rampant.

We ended the evening by playing some games and talking about how everyone thought it went.  Next time we’ll have to do it a little longer or throw a few surprises in to mix things up.

Give it a try – test your skills.  You can’t have a plan and not practice it – then it really isn’t a plan.

Good Luck!!