About four p.m the power went out. It would stay out for the next eight hours and my wife and I would have to cope. As emergencies go, it was a small one. It did succeed in pointing our our lack of preparedness.
High winds due to a cold front coming into Rochester caused the outage. For the first three hours or so, it was just inconvenient but at nightfall it became a little more serious. We did not have enough emergency light sources. There were two battery powered “lanterns” and one working flashlight in the house. There was enough light to navigate to the restroom and the telephone, but only just enough.
The house was warm enough, luckily. The cats’ food cans opened with pull tabs so they could be fed. The two people in the house were less fortunate. Other than some snacks, all the food required a microwave to prepare. Plus, we did not want to open the freezer or the refrigerator and allow the food inside more of a chance to warm.
Being prepared for an emergency is vital. Most state and national agencies advise you to plan for a three day wait for outside help in a large disaster. The recent tsunami in Japan showed us quite clearly that sometimes you may be on your own for days.
After the events of September 11, the U.S. government created a website to help all of us prepare for emergencies. Ready.gov is a one-stop source for all kinds of information on the topic. The Centers for Disease Control also have a website that provides equally valuable information.
The advice from the experts? Put together an emergency kit. Make an emergency plan. Keep informed of what is going on in your community.
We are going to make a few changes. The obvious one is to buy more flashlights and battery lanterns, as well as batteries and bulbs. Since my wife and I both have medically related dietary issues, we are going to put together a stock of foods that do not need cooking, have a long shelf life and that meet our dietary needs.
I am also going to put together a “sump kit”. Since our sump pump will not work in a blackout, it has been necessary on occasion to bail the sump to prevent our basement from becoming flooded. Rather than scurry around in a blackout to find what I need, I am going to gather it all up and keep it right at the sump.
Our telephone worked, but only because I had bought one phone that did not need power to operate. The cordless phones were useless. And, my cellphone barely had a charge. Keeping that charged is now a part of our plan.
Are you prepared for the next emergency, minor or major? The resources are available for free from the Federal Government. You just need to take the time and put some thought into the effort to prepare.