I like to think of myself as a capable person, I feel that I would be able to handle myself in an emergency situation.
It’s a bit embarrassing to realize that a little power outage has shown me that I’m not as well prepared as I thought.
A week ago we were without power for about 10 hours. Not a long time, just long enough for us to realize we need to work on being prepared. There are some issues that both Leighton and I hadn’t thought of, the biggest being what would I do if Leighton wasn’t at home, like this time.
Leighton works in emergency services, this means that if something like a natural disaster (or a power outage) happens he can’t call in sick or not show up, he is expected to go. I would be home alone with the boys, which means I have to know how to take care of our house. For example; we have a small generator, big enough to run our fridge, freezer and sump pump should the power be out for a prolonged period of time. I have no idea how to run it or set it up. I also don’t know how to hook up our furnace to a generator. Leighton has since given me a crash course in using a generator.
Water is another issue, normally we have large jugs of water in the house, that day we didn’t. Making us aware that we need to stay on top of our water storage. Thankfully, A is a breastfed baby and we didn’t have to make formula for him. But if we did I would have had to pack up the kids and go find some. Not an ideal situation if there is extreme weather going on outside. This also meant we didn’t have water for our animals, fortunately we have a large ditch with water running though it and I was able to cut through the ice to water the animals.
Food and cooking are not as big of a concern for us since we always have our pantry stocked and we are comfortable cooking in the fireplace, outside, etc.
The experience has shown us how important it is to have a friendly relationship with your neighbors. We are fortunate enough to have family near by (within walking distance) as well as neighbors that we can call upon if needed. We are confident that we could call them in an emergency and they know they can call us.
We are using this power outage as a learning experience, so that we can be better prepared. We are currently working on making a ‘home care’ binder where there will be steps and guides to show me how to set up the generator, hook up the furnace, etc. We are planning to include any important information about the house and where to find emergency supplies.
I remember as a kid the Ice Storm of 1998, it was exciting and fun for us to live without power for two weeks. I have fond memories of cooking on the wood stove and playing board games by candle light. I remember the sense of community as neighbors worked together to ensure everyone had water, food and heat. That moment has stayed with me, and I still enjoy the experience of having no electricity. Now that I have learned how to start the generator and hook it up to the house, have my home care binder, I am secure in the knowledge that I am able to take care of the house on my own.
What steps or tips do you have in place in the event of an emergency situation?