|The star of the show this morning.|
|The stars of the show last night.|
So last night yet another drunk hit yet another power pole in our neighborhood. That's one thing that's predictable about wine country: When you live in an area that produces something alcoholic as its primary crop, you will attract people who like to consume alcohol as their primary nutritional crop. With expected results: Knock down a power pole. Flee the scene. Rinse and repeat.
But these 10 - 14 hour power outages provide a great opportunity to see how my disaster relief skills work, especially if I'm on my own. Big Ag was on a business trip yesterday in Oregon, so when the drunk hit the power pole, it was about 7:30 pm and I was here by myself.
And I soon realized that I did not have enough familiarity with 1) manually opening the automatic garage door while also (more importantly) re-engaging it so it was locked afterwards, so I could 2) drag the generator out and start it with no light and no one to hold a flashlight for me so I could see. And let's not even start with trying to find all the flashlights, candles, hurricane lamps and lighters after the power had already left me in darkness.
It turns out, the battery-operated candles I keep next to my bathtub for ambient lighting were my best friend in the first few minutes after the outage, since they just needed just the flick of a switch to light up and were out in the open and easy to find. They allowed me to search for and find all my other emergency equipment.
And did I mention they are vanilla scented candles? No reason to ride out the apocalypse without aromatherapy.
So looking back on the 14 hours with no power, I got some things right and some things definitely need improving.
First, props to me for:
1) having enough oil in the hurricane lamps, and having them in an easy-to-locate space, plus knowing exactly where the battery-operated candles were.
2) I had all the wax candles in one area.
3) I easily found the lighters.
4) I knew enough about the generator that I could at least start it once daylight came around.
5) I was also able to bring in numerous solar lights from outside, as well as having tea lights, to light up the less important areas of the home.
So all that was good. But a scowl and wag of the finger at me for:
1) not being familiar enough with the generator to start it in the darkness.
2) not knowing how to re-secure the automatic garage door after opening it manually.
3) not having candles, lighters, lamps and oil in ONE place, so there was only one place I needed to go in the house to find everything I needed. And also for not having lighters with the candles, and another with the hurricane lamps.
4) not knowing where the gas can was for the generator (luckily it had a fair amount of fuel already in it so I did not need to add more).
5) not keeping my devices fully charged. A 100 percent charge on my phone and Kindle would have been nice, not just for emergency calls and messages, but also for entertainment while I waited for the power to come back on. I DID have a mobile charger, which was great, but instead of having to use it on 50 percent charged devices it would have saved power on that to have everything on a full charge to begin with.
6) not having other things I'd need in a real emergency, like tools, conveniently located and close by. A true disaster is no time to have to head to the barn to look for the right wrench to shut the gas off.
|On sale at Walmart, this looks like a good idea....|
|But these might be symbolically more correct. Wine Light, anyone?|
My biggest plan for the future going forward is to invest in things that will light up the house immediately -- namely, battery-operated, "flick of a switch" lighting like small lamps, plus more good, LED flashlights, placed in EVERY ROOM of the house, including spare bedrooms and bathrooms. And better organization so that all those things are close to each other and easy to find. But the lighting especially needs to be present and easily located in the first few minutes of any emergency so you can then see what you're doing, whether it's placing candles around the house, shutting off water or gas (in a true emergency) or starting the generator!
Obviously, if disaster hits in the daytime, you hopefully have several hours before darkness comes. But I've noticed that disasters, like drunks, tend to want to show up at night, so it's best to be ready for that probability.
I learned a lot from this little preparatory drill and will be making some improvements in the next few days.
How ready are you for a real disaster?