Things I learned when the power went out

Heater Meal
Heater Meal heating

The power going out in some ways turned out to be a nice little lesson on survival after the “Big One”.  In my corner of the SGV trees didn’t just break apart they were uprooted with giant rootballs leaving craters behind.  All that flying and falling trees made for numerous power lines down and power out for me for two-and-a-half days.  The clean up was all outside instead of inside, but still took plenty of man power to get things back in order, not unlike the aftermath of Northridge.

Once it became apparent that it would be days instead of hours before power was restored my neighbors and I got the brilliant idea to cook up all the perisables in our fridges and have a giant “candlelight potluck” party on the first night.  Chilly as it was in the house it was fun just talking with the neighbors, commiserating on the lack of power and just feasting and enjoying all the wine.

Anyway this was also a great test of the Earthquake kit.  Out came the flashlights and candles.  We even tried out the “Heater Meals” that were coming closer to expiration date, they were edible but not terrific. The principal behind it is pretty easy. One simply takes out the heater package, adds water that is included in the packaging to activate the chemical reaction that creates the heat. Once that is done you quickly fold the top over and place the heater on top of the food package. 10 minutes later it is done and you have a meal ready to eat. (Well sort of, in spite of all the steam your food is just warm. The food is fine for an emergency but it is lacking seasoning. The included “saltless seasoning pack” is mostly pepper which is to say the food is still a little bland even with it being used).

After the clean up was done and we entered the second day we were very greatful that we had packed “baby wipes” into the earthquake kit.  They turned out to be very handy for sponge bathing among other things.  (We had no hot water as we have a tankless water heater that needs electricity to work).

We had a nice time with the kids.  It was the first time in a while where we just sat and talked while playing card or board games without distractions such as TV or Xbox to ruin it all.

I did learn that I need to stock more batteries than I had in the EQ Kit as they did die off much faster than I had expected.  I decided that we need to have more snacky type items in the kit as prepared meals aren’t as easy to do nor happen as often in an emergency.  Grab and go stuff has a lot of merit in the kit.

Several of my neighbors broke down and got generators.  Turns out a basic one that can run a TV and fridge can be had for around $130.  I may spring for one as at least once a year whether we need it or not here in the foothills we do lose power for a while.  Would be nice to know what is going on in the city as well as not lose a fridge worth of contents.  Once the lines die down at the local OSH I may just break down and get the generator for future emergencies.

By Saturday our power was restored and the fridge was nice and clean ready to be restocked.  I can’t say that it was a miserable time living a few days without power, but it was enlightening.  I doubt it would have been as much fun if we hadn’t had broken out all the perishables and had a party the first night.

7 Replies to “Things I learned when the power went out”

  1. As soon as you lose power, go buy a few blocks of dry ice and throw them in your fridge and freezer and you needn’t worry about losing your perishables. You may have difficulty sourcing it over the long term in the wake of a true disaster, but it’s a great solution for storm-related power outages that last a day or two. Also, keep a cooler handy and move 1 day of perishables into the cooler once per day in order to cut down on losses from opening the fridge and freezer doors.

  2. After some distant natural disaster I decided to prepare-up and bought a generator from Costco that’s been sitting in its unopened box down in the basement for well over a year. I finally hauled it out into the light of day this afternoon, fed it gas and oil and fired it up under the winds-driven rationale that it’s better to figure out how to work the thing before we need it, rather than after. I hope I never have to use it but I’m happy it’s there just in case.

  3. In August, I got stuck on the east coast in CT because of the hurricane. I was with my family staying at my Grandfather’s place and we didn’t have power for 3 1/2 days! It was kind of cool in a way that it forced us to not use our electronic devices that we are glued to everyday BUT at the same time, I realized how unprepared we were for the event. Fortunately we were able to have some nice candle lit evenings and some valuable family time I must say. I have definitely learned from my mistakes to better prepare myself. Always better to be safe than sorry.

  4. That “Heater Meal” is basically a civilian version of an MRE, right? One of my USMC relatives (I have at least two cousins and exactly two brothers who served) once brought some MREs to a family Christmas gathering and gave them out for the sake of novelty. I didn’t try one.

  5. I’m in WeHo. My power didn’t go off completely but it flickered a few times; pc would shut down and restart and it happened twice so there was some kind of stability problem. One of the best foods to eat during power outages is stuff from Trader Joes; they have tuna curry and brazilian potatoes w/steak that comes in a foil pouch. It taste good straight out of the pouch; no need to heat at all!

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