Been There, Done That: A little power outage preparedness goes a long way

Just like everyone else in Northeast Ohio, we got caught up in the storms a few weeks ago. Dave and I and our Beagle Boy Cletus went downstairs and waited out the storm watching DVR because, of course, the cable was out. We kept tabs on the storm’s progress on our phones and when it had pretty well played itself out, we went back to bed.

And I slept like a brick right up until the fan shut off. Great, the power is out. I had been preparing for a total loss of electric since the last time it went out. That was a nightmare.

This time, I was ready. I had flashlights on our headboard and battery-operated light switches that I strategically placed everywhere there is a real light switch or a lamp to turn on.

The switches and flashlights made it easy to locate our battery-operated lanterns. OK, lighting was handled as it was getting to be daylight anyway. Now on to solve the no water situation.

If you have a well instead of city water, you don’t have water if you don’t have electric. You can’t make coffee, or brush your teeth, or most importantly, you can’t flush a toilet.

But like I said, I’ve been preparing since the last time when I couldn’t even fill the dog’s water bowl. Dave had dryly said, “Check the fridge, see if there’s anything else in there he’ll drink.”

What we did since then is get a water cooler with a five-gallon jug of water for the kitchen. The rain barrel our son installed at the back of the garage and a bucket take care of the toilet flushing problem.

As for the food in the fridge, Dave has been hoarding water. Every time I empty a jug of tomato juice, he washes it out and fills it with water. The ones he froze, we stuck in the fridge to give it some help until the power comes back on.

With the homefront under control, I wondered how widespread the power outage was — would I get an unexpected Friday off work? Nope. What I got was a chance to do something with my hair after I got to work.

I assumed the ladies room at work would have an electrical outlet. I assumed wrong. The men’s room didn’t have one, either. I found one in the hallway just above a shelf and near the window to a co-worker’s office.

If I left the light off in the hall, I could kind of glimpse my reflection in the glass and managed to do a little something with my hair with a curling iron and lots of hairspray.

My other co-worker said I looked pretty good for someone who did their hair in the dark with no mirror.

That’s sort of a backward compliment. She didn’t actually say I looked good, just good for how I got there.

I worked all day and Dave was pretty well bored out of his mind with no TV or computer to play with. So when I got home, we packed our stuff and headed for our camper, which also had no electric service. What it did have was a bunch of our friends around, campfires and cold beer. We’ll deal with the rest of it in the morning.

Or so we thought. We were quite a ways from our next paycheck, so we planned to use our emergency-only credit card and get some ice and another jug of water for the kitchen cooler.

Only the card got declined. Our card had been hacked and the bank froze the account. OK, so unfreeze it. They said that’s not how this game is played. You have to call the number on the back of the card and they’ll close the account and send you a new card in seven to 10 days business days. But we needed water and ice now. So we cashed in our loose change and bought two big bags of ice and went old school.

We made sure the house fridge had plenty of frozen water bottles to hold it over for a bit and headed back to the camper.

We loaded our new “great white” cooler, affectionately known as the whale, with two to three days worth of food and two big bags of ice. Dinner consisted of ham and cheese sandwiches and chips.

My plan for the next day was to bust out our little charcoal grill and get to cooking, but I didn’t need to bother. Power had come on at both the house and the camper. Hillbillies can survive. And a GREAT BIG SHOUTOUT to the LINEMEN, who worked night and day to get everybody taken care of.

Laura Nethken
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