Are You Ready for a Power Failure | I am (sort of).

Finding your candle in the dark.
Finding your candle in the dark. | Source

When the power goes off suddenly, you will wish you had prepared ahead. How will you see in the dark? How will you keep warm or cook?

These are basic, but mental preparation is also important. You must review and memorize the rules for Scrabble and Yahtsee.

You must be able to deal with the effects of sensory deprivation caused by lack of TV, radio, and other media which normally provide continual soothing doses of commercial advertising.

You should be aware that this sudden loss can cause hallucinatory reactions, like imagining you see a busy shopping mall festively lighted for the holidays in the middle of the forest, or having the delusion of believing the Disneyland Electrical Parade is marching past your living room windows.

Powerless intervals rarely last long. By the time you have a roaring fire in the wood stove, after you fill and light the oil lamp, and have the emergency wind-up radio fully cranked, the TV will suddenly resume it's commercial messages, the heater will kick in and the lights will blink on again, The digital clocks will blink on and on and on.

Our first real rain this season did not start the seasonal creeks, was not enough to turn the hillsides green, and was barely sufficient to rinse the car, yet it proved more than adequate to do something to the dusty insulators on power poles that causes them to short out. We were suddenly powerless.

None of the several dozen flashlights in our house, were anywhere to be found. Trying to locate a manual can opener by the faint green glow of my wristwatch dial was hopeless.

I began to regret passing up that internet ad I had seen for night vision goggles. At mere five hundred dollars, they now seemed like a bargain.

Eventually I found the emergency candle by touch, after first trying to light a jar of jam.

I was getting into survival mode by setting up kerosene lamps, and lighting the tapers that always stand like untried but ready sentinels on the dining room table.

I dragged featherbeds and comforters into the living room, near the wood stove which was loaded with wood and ready to kindle.

Illuminating my way with a battery powered tap light shaped like Mr. Man-in-the-Moon, I lugged out the unused crate of Y2K supplies.

I ignited my denatured alcohol burner with the butane spark wand, and popped the emergency cheese fondue appetizer in the seldom used emergency cheese fondue appetizer pot.

Searching cupboards while wearing my spelunker's strap-on forehead light, I found the emergency cast iron pot needed to start a hearty emergency survival stew atop the wood stove.

With all of this accomplished and a cheery blaze dancing in the stove's firebox, the power came back on, ruining a perfectly good adventure.Darn!

Just when I was all geared up for proving I could do this without electricity, there it was zapping me back into modern times, revealing soot smudges on my arms and face, candle wax drips on the table, and disclosing the truly undistinguished appearance of the emergency stew.

Survival foods should never be fully illuminated, though the package labels do not include this warning.

They are designed to be eaten by campfire glow with the distant sounds of wolves howling in the background, while you are distracted by the challenge of balancing a paper plate on your knees. All these conditions prevent you from focusing too much on a meal which looks as if it could use some food styling .

We turned out the lights to eat.

Losing electric service before dinnertime is challenging enough, but there are worse times for having the power go out. For instance:

1. When you are completing your tax return on the computer and have not saved the final data and calculations.

2. When you are doing brain surgery.

3. When you are shearing sheep.

or 4. when you are doing brain surgery on sheep who have not completed their tax forms.

If you engage in any of these activities regularly, a backup power source is strongly recommended.

In the whole history of humankind, it is amazing to think that hundreds of millions of people have lived without the benefit of video games, bread machines, automatic pencil sharpeners, power car buffers, amplified guitars, and electric toothbrushes. People have survived for thousands of years without such power as we have... most of the time.

I am prepared to use a manual typewriter should the need arise . . . but then how do I get this on the 'net?

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(If you want to know more about being a foothill newcomer click here.)

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Comments 28 comments

monitor profile image

monitor 8 years ago from The world.

This was a very amusing read, Rochelle Frank. We are so used to the convenience and technology in our lives that we seem to be at a complete loss when it is suddenly taken away from us. Those candles sure do come in handy during those unexpected blackouts.

Your fan.


Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 8 years ago from California Gold Country Author

Thank you Mon, In the ten years we have been in the hills... the outages have become less frequent. Though two weeks ago a brief outage-- less than a minute-- blasted away a long hub that required a few hours of research.

dineane profile image

dineane 8 years ago from North Carolina

We get our fair share of outages too, with summer thunderstorms and the occassional hurricane. Then there was the last bad ice storm...we warmed soup on the kerosene heater. The pain was when the power came back on and I had to clean up all the dirty dishes and laundry that collected for nearly a week. And my last "quickie", recorded in my journal, is just as you describe...about the time I was settled in and ready to write about the quiet, I heard the hum of the 'frig start.

marisuewrites profile image

marisuewrites 8 years ago from USA

hahaha Some things are definitely better off left in the dark. Amid the humor lies good advice. Interesting!! I better dig out the hurricane kit. 'Tis the season!

Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 8 years ago from California Gold Country Author

Actually Dineane they do pretty well here in getting up and running-- I think the longest ever was about 30 hours. That was only because whe wind took down lots of trees, blocking roads and the crews couldn't get through to fix the wires.

With back up systems they can usualy "switch over" to ge us back. We don't have hurricanes in C alifornia and our tunderstorms are not frequent. Two weeks ago we had "dry" thunderstorms over the mountains sparking many wildfires. This is really the first day in about 12 days that I have not been aware of smoke in the air.

Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 8 years ago from California Gold Country Author

Thanks Marisue, I would not like to prepare for hurricanes. At least when we have an earthquake here, our stuff stays in pretty much the same place.

JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 8 years ago from Central Oklahoma

Oh Rochelle, I have tears from laughing so hard! Pretty sure the first outburst woke the neighbor guy...serves him right for all the nights he wakes ME coming home in the wee hours and slamming his door.

There's a REASON for the battery-operated camping lamp in my windowless bathroom. Found out the hard way one rainy afternoon that locating a new roll of toilet paper at a very critical moment requires LIGHT. I do NOT recommend, however. applying make-up by camping light in a windowless bathroom unless one can handle the snickers and pointed fingers when one arrives at work looking like Wib The Clown.

Another Lesson Learned In Darkness: in an all-electric apartment with no fireplace, there is NO re-heat coffee once the Mr. Coffee warming plate has cooled. If we haven't had an outage for awhile, I'll start a new pot at the first window-rattling clap of thunder. This is also a tried and true way to prevent an outage...go figure.

Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 8 years ago from California Gold Country Author

I appreciate the comment JamaGenee and am glad you enjoyed my thoughts. When we first moved here I was surprised that some people actually had electric cooking stoves. Ours is propane fueled-- and even though it has an electric ignition-- the burners can be ignited with a match. A warm cup of tea or broth can be very comforting when it is cold and dark.

The clown makeup thing could be a little embarassing.

I got my hubby a set of bar-b-que tools for Christmas (good for power outages, too) but the best thing in the set is a battery powered light with a clamp to attach it to a shelf and along flexible stem. THIS is MINE! It is great in the pantry when the lights go out, as it can be aimed at any area to find the soup, hot chocolate, or whatever...

DonnaCSmith profile image

DonnaCSmith 8 years ago from Central North Carolina

LOL, I remember how my Daddy made hurricanes and ice storms that took out the electric fun, like camping out. I still kind of like the challenge - if it doesn't go on to long. Being in the country with a well that depends on an electric pump, I have stored jugs of water for "just in case."

CJStone profile image

CJStone 8 years ago from Whitstable, UK

As to how you could get your hubs onto the net with only a manual typewriter, that's easy. Use semaphore. A great read. It was the snow in the commode that got me.

JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 8 years ago from Central Oklahoma

In lieu of the b.p. light with a clamp, those round battery-powered closet lights about 6 inches in diameter that you only have to press anywhere to turn on are the next best thing. They have a sticky patch on the back for wall-mounting, but can be used "un-sticky" on any flat surface too (like a bedside table).

The spelunker's strap-on forehead light is my favorite. How it would've played out at my house is I'm in the otherwise dark kitchen perusing the contents of the cupboards when a little voice says "Mom?". Naturally I turn toward the source to respond....and momentarily blind one of my offspring with The Eye That Sees All. And 40 years later the "kid", now a grown man, entertains his own kids on dark, stormy nights with the tale of how 'Grandma scared the bejeezus out of me with that miner's headlamp, so NEVER go into Grandma's kitchen when the power is off'. =)

Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 8 years ago from California Gold Country Author

The miner's lamp story is hilariou -- never to be forgotten for sure. I have one of those tap lights in the pantry also-- but the BBQ light has the advantage of being able to aim it at different shelves, up or down and hands free.

multimastery 8 years ago

Hi Rochelle, I was browsing Hot Hubs and the title on this one caught my eye! I have had two power-outages in the past year and must say i was ill prepared. No flash light, no candles, no nothing -- just darkness. So after a short while I just went outside and sat in my car, relaxed and listened to the radio until the break of dawn. I'm still not really prepared but after reading this hub I promise i'll try harder ;-)

Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 8 years ago from California Gold Country Author

Actually that wasn't a bad idea, but some snacks, a flashlight and maybe a battery radio might be a good start.

Jeanette M 8 years ago

Rochelle, a very funny and realistic hub from my point of view! We have fairly frequent power outages here and we are mostly ready too. Unfortunately, i've lost many articles, pictures, and files from off of this old computer as a result. On the other hand, I think rural living people may have the advantage during power failures over city dwellers. many of us already use wood for heat, have wells and are easily entertained as well. I love your hubs


Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 8 years ago from California Gold Country Author

Thanks Jeanette,

Yes, we have a well-- but an electric water pump. We really shuold have a backup generator, but it's one of those things we haven't quite got around to.

The amazing thing is that we have internet access. For me, it would be harder to live here if I didn't (usually) have the world at my finger tips.

JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 8 years ago from Central Oklahoma

Ah, the light goes on... =) You and Jeanette aren't city-dwellers but have internet access, but when the power goes out and I can't get online, it feels like being in the country. How odd... (Oops...wrong hub!)

Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 8 years ago from California Gold Country Author

When you can't get online it can feel lonely and odd-- but at least you don't have coyotes howling outside your window.

It's OK, we pretend were are living in the little house on the prairie. We can always go out and grab a couple of squirrels to pop into the survival stew.

Pamela N Red profile image

Pamela N Red 5 years ago from Oklahoma

Great hub. I've actually put snow in my toilet when our pipes froze and we couldn't flush. It worked and kept the odor down. I didn't notice the frozen bottom situation.

We do what we gotta do when nature reeks havoc.

Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 5 years ago from California Gold Country Author

Technology may never be perfect nature will always be stronger in some cases. Thanks for commenting.

JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma

Rochelle, I've visited this hub several times but had forgotten about it until I saw the link at the bottom of your "OUT-dependence" hub and needed a good cleansing belly laugh (or four). Nothing new to add to my previous comments except that this hub is still as knee-slapping funny as it was the first, second and third time around! Off now to find something to sop up the tears of laughter! ;D

Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 5 years ago from California Gold Country Author

Thanks so much, JamaGenee. As you know this was written some time ago. I even wrote a more serious version with all of the things I have learned since then. But yes, ineptness is funnier 'expertise'.

producreview profile image

producreview 5 years ago

Thanks for the good content.I like to leave a link. electric guitar packages

Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 5 years ago from California Gold Country Author

Thanks producreview-- Maybe you could write a hub about the product you wish to review. This isn't really the right place to leave links. It is interesting that you would want to place a link for electric guitars on a hub about electric power failure. Do you have a generator for your guitar?

Phil Plasma profile image

Phil Plasma 5 years ago from Montreal, Quebec

Entertaining read. I've read of some families that 'practice' power failures by turning off their power main for extended periods (a few days). My wife would never permit this, and with good reason.

Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 5 years ago from California Gold Country Author

I have a couple other more serious hubs on the subject, but you are right-- foul-ups are more entertaining. learning from your mistakes is one way of becoming educated, but my Mom always said nobody lives long enough to learn EVERYTHING by experience. Thanks for commenting.

Lita C. Malicdem profile image

Lita C. Malicdem 4 years ago from Philippines

With the rainy season down here comes occasional power failure and I was so excited to read this hub expecting to learn how you beat it! Haha! I enjoyed so much the humor as I collected in mind the things lying hidden anywhere in my house that I can use when darkness befall me. At night time, though, I always carry around a small flashlight the way I carry my cellphone, just in case! Many times, however, when the lights went out, I 'm mad because I left them somewhere. I have my moments, you know! Thanks for this wonderful hub. Voted up and beautiful!

Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 4 years ago from California Gold Country Author

Thank you, Lita. I have another hub with more a more serious side of being prepared for outages. We are most likely to have outages with a heavy snow that brings down trees on power lines.

Cold weather outages are a little different from warm ones., but some factors are common to both.

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