Welcome! I am a mom to two wonderful kids, and a wife to a great husband. Needless to say, there are a lot of daily messes to clean up around our house. Daily Messes is my blog to share ideas on things to do with your kids, snack and meal ideas, crafts, and holiday fun. I hope you find something to enjoy!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Goodbye Power, Come Back Soon!

We live in a neighborhood fairly prone to power outages. This year we were pretty lucky and only had a few short disruptions. However, we have had the power go out at various times of the year. Since winter is quickly approaching, I thought I would share my learnings from past years.

A few years ago, we had high powered winds that knocked down trees and power lines. We didn't have power for a week. We lost several branches, but several houses down the street lost entire trees that took down lines and blocked the road. We had another way out of the neighborhood, but some people weren't as lucky. It was warm out so we didn't have to worry about heating, but it did get stuffy in the house. My husband had some Ryobi tools, so we bought the Ryobi fan and a couple extra batteries that we keep charged all the time. At least with a battery operated fan we have some way of keeping cool. There was a shortage of bottled water, batteries, flashlights, and gasoline (almost all the stations within 20-30 minute drive didn't have power). We quickly learned what we needed to have on hand in case the power goes out again.

Hula hoop in the neighbors tree

Light. We had a couple of flashlights, but bought more as back ups. We also bought a LED camping chandelier, which worked really well. Now we make sure to keep lots of extra batteries, candles, and matches/lighters on hand. Originally, we had flashlights that took anything from AAA to D batteries. We consolidated and only kept ones that took AAA batteries. It makes it easier when we buy new flashlights and batteries. I also discovered that a candle in a glass jar or with a hurricane globe produces more light than a candle just sitting on a base.

Heat. During one winter, we had an ice storm that knocked down branches and power lines. Power was only out for a day or two, but when it's freezing outside that seems like a long time. We have a gas water heater, so we could still take hot showers. However, we have electric heat and our fireplace is nonfunctional, so heating was an issue. We do have some down comforters, but when it drops to the 50's in the house (during the day) it's not always enough. Other than having a costly fireplace repair, our options are limited. We found the Mr. Heater Big Buddy Heater. This is a relatively small heater that hooks up to propane cylinders or to a tank with a propane tank hose. The heater also has an internal blower that needs to be powered by D batteries. You should keep the tank outside your house, as far away as you can (i.e. buy the longest hose you can). You also need to keep a window cracked in case of carbon monoxide. It doesn't keep our entire house warm, but when we keep it in one room with the door closed, it will heat that room nicely and we have someplace to stay warm.

Food was another problem we had during the wind storm outage. After several days without power in warm weather, the food in the freezer and refrigerator went bad and had to be thrown out. Most of the restaurants near us didn't have power and even the grocery stores were affected. My husband works an hour away, which is normally a pain, but in this case it worked out because places near his work had power, groceries, and functioning gas stations. We now keep extra canned food on hand, as well as some of the freeze dried meals we use when we go camping. I like the Mountain House brand for the freeze dried food. You just add hot water and you have a good tasting meal. They sell all sizes and varieties of food, including a 72 hour emergency kit that has a variety of meals. We used our grill for some of the cooking, but we also used our camping stove, which worked great with the cast iron skillet and dutch oven I have.

Water was also an issue. When the power went out for a week, bottled water flew off the shelves and stores ran out within a couple days. We now keep at least several days worth of bottled water on hand as well.

Bored kids. A week without power means no TV, no computers, no movies, no Angry Birds. We read lots of books, colored, and played lots of board games and card games. Due to the lack of gas stations, we tried not to drive unless absolutely necessary. Luckily we have a park within walking distance, so we were there daily. Bernardo has a LeapPad that runs on batteries (4 AA's, but it can also be plugged in). We keep extra batteries on hand for it, and it has worked out great. It reads books to the kids and there is a pretty good variety of games available for it as well.

Phones. The phone lines were down for awhile as well. We have mostly cordless phones, but I keep one landline corded phone for when the power goes out. Once the power returns, the cordless phones will work, but until then you will want to have a back up. My cell phone needs charging every few days. I have a car charger, but I also keep a solar charger for emergencies. You can get a corded phone and a solar phone charger relatively cheaply. (I found this solar charger by ReVIVE that has multiple device plugs and this one by Instapark for smart phones that received really good reviews.)

Money. When the power goes out many places cannot accept credit cards or debit cards. However, some places will still accept paper/coin money. In this day and age of electronic money transfers, some places will not have a lot of change on hand. The best thing to do is keep about $100 per person in cash on hand and in smaller bills ($1, $5, and $10).

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