Top 10 Tips for your Next Power Outage

I’m a willing slave
To amps, volts, joules, things with plugs;
So lost when they go…
Around 5pm Friday, a mere 30 minutes before I made my way home through fallen branches and strewn-about leaves, the power left my street. Gone. Caput. Not a downed tree in sight, but that didn’t matter. We were on our own.

As with most calamities, one of which I describe in this posting on a car breakdown, there are several stages one goes through as the event continues on. This post is really an after-event learning summary… tips I’ve gleaned from 21 hours of a power outage.

1. Give your house some credit. By the end, the temp was only up 5 degrees downstairs and 7 degrees upstairs. Mind you such temperature shifts have caused ice ages in our evolutionary history, but in an old house, with no insulation, these thick plaster walls did us a favor. Thanks house.

2. In spring and summer, when strong storms are common, I recommend checking the weather channel before going on a big grocery shop. It will minimize your losses considerably.

3. Don’t assume the dog won’t jump out the front, screen-less window just because she won’t jump out of the parked car.

4. Never lose hope that electricity will mysteriously return to just a single room. Keep flicking the switch each and every time your enter it. Statistically speaking, you are bound to be right at some point.

5.  Go ahead and open the damn fridge. By hour 15, when you are emptying the thing into coolers, your trepidation at opening it a half day before will seem silly.  At hour 1, open it. The thing will either come on soon enough that it won’t matter, or so far from now that you will have solved the problem by then. Either way, the outcome is the same.

6. Don’t drink all the beer too early in the process, or make sure you have enough to take the edge off for a while. You need to buzz to take you all the way to bedtime, not just help you navigate request after request to play “paper airplane versus king kong” with your 5 year old, his imaginative, no-plug-required game just for just the two of you.

7. Never, ever, inspect your skin in a magnifying mirror in the dark with an LED flashlight. You will find more facial hair than a Russian weight-lifter, decide it is all pitch black and that anyone who says you looks great for your age is a lying bastard. Don’t do it. No good will come from it.

8. I cannot recommend walking past an open bedroom window naked, silhouetted by a flashlight. You thought you looked like crap in the bathroom…

9. When, during your mad scramble to save food into coolers at hour 15, you purge year-old salsa, mustards, 3 bottles of half full Italian dressing, and some strange Asian sauce, try not to dump 2 jars of pickles down the disposal before you remember there is a power outage.

10. Once the power is back on, and you decide to clean the fridge for the first time in *mumble* months, resist the urge to inspect the crumbly bits in the back or the sticky stuff in the bottom of the meat drawer. You really don’t want to go there.
There you go. Upon reflection, apparently the only thing I really cared about during the last day was keeping food cold and proper flashlight positioning. And beer.  That isn’t too far off a normal day after all…
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