So, apparently, we’re getting all of our winter in one week, and while I know we need the snow, I may have turned into a bit of a winter wimp of late, which means I’m dreading the storm and the inevitable that is to follow–the loss of power.
When our family moved to rural Maine six years ago, we didn’t really know what to expect in terms of power outages. We asked a few questions about it, but what we heard didn’t prepare us for the reality. We lose power quite a bit here amongst the trees, and the worst experience came a few years ago when we spent a week at Christmas with no power.
It actually turned out to be one of my favorite Christmas memories. We had no electronics to distract us, and we had Chinese take-out for our Christmas dinner. Still, it was tough with no power, which also meant no water for us, since we are on a well.
I didn’t handle that part very well. There was a lot of whining. I remember driving into town in Brewer on my way to find an internet connection for work, convinced people with Christmas lights were just showing off because they had electricity.
But the good news is that we learned to be prepared. If you live in rural Maine, you can count on losing power at least a few times during the winter–sometimes for an extended period of time. And there are some steps you should take (if you haven’t already) to be prepared.
1. Stock up on water.
If you live in the country, when you lose power, you also lose water. Our well pump takes a lot of electricity to kick in, so until this year when we were finally able to purchase a larger generator, when we lost power, we also lost water.
You’ll need water to drink and water for sanitation. Even though we thought we were repapered and had cases of water and about 30 gallons of water saved for sanitation, I was surprised at how quickly our water began to run out. I don’t think we could have imagined being without power for so long.
So prepare for the worst and then some when it comes to water.
2. Make sure you have heat.
An alternative heat source is a necessity. If you have a wood stove, you’re set, as long as you have wood. We don’t but do have a pellet stove. Even a small generator can keep that going, so you can have heat if you have a pellet stove and a small generator. Just be careful with pellet stoves, however. They have electrical panels, and surges from generators are not good for those panels. If you are taking the pellet stove route, it’s a good idea to research your generator purchase carefully to make sure it helps regulate surges of power.
3. Prepare food in advance.
Sandwiches. Sandwiches will be your friends. Make sure you have plenty of food around you don’t have to cook. Since we had a small generator for our great power outage, we invested in a hot plate, and it was the best. Just being able to make tea and cook some macaroni and cheese will make your day. I’ve also started cooking in advance of big storms. Today, I baked rolls, cookies, and a giant roast to get us through a couple of days.
4. Keep light sources handy.
It’s a good idea to have an immediate plan for light. My husband keeps a stash of flashlights in the same place all of the time, so we have that as an immediate go to. But we also have lots and lots of candles. Even if you have a generator, it may not have enough power to run too much in your house, so keeping a stash of candles around is a good way to be prepared for an outage.
5. Keep tools that do not require power.
Make sure you have some basic tools that do not require power, such as a manual can opener. It’s also a good idea to keep a lot of charged batteries on hand to power all of those flashlights.
6. Find some low-tech entertainment.
This may seem like the least of your worries when you have a power outage, but if you have kids, it’s important. Legos, puzzles, and board games by candlelight will keep your kiddos entertained and probably make some great memories. This is, of course, unless you have a teenager. In that case, a week with no power and internet will mean the end of the world, and there’s nothing you can do to help that.
7. And, finally…take a shower.
My best tip may be this one: When you know a storm is coming, take a shower. It could be your last for awhile.
Winter is upon us, and being prepared for the power outages can make a huge difference in the quality of your life during one of them, especially if it’s an extended outage.