Problem:Obviously, living without electricity is a pain in the bootie, especially when you power three freezers (Yup. We raise a lot of our own meat). I know that the hundreds of pounds of my home made cheese are fine in the crawl space under the house, but I always worry about our frozen food.
Solution:Get a generator. We use this one. These things are loud and smelly and obnoxious, but they really work. We run an extension cord with a splitter so that we can plug in our inside freezer and our refrigerator all at once for a few hours. We also use it to recharge battery powered lights, the computer, and our modem for the internet. Never use a generator inside the house, otherwise you might get carbon monoxide poisoning! Make sure you always have extra gas in a gas can so the generator won't run out of it.
Don't open the fridge or freezer unnecessarily, otherwise you let cold air out. If your freezer is not full, you might want to fill it with water bottles before a power outage happens. The frozen water will help it stay cold, and you can defrost the bottles for drinking water. Most food requiring refrigeration can be kept safely in a closed fridge for several hours. A full freezer will keep cold enough for about 48 hours.
We also use the generator to power up our modem and recharge the computer. Since I run my business online, I need to have access to the internet. That generator is a life saver when it comes to connecting with the world! I hate to admit it, but I do rely on the internet a lot. We live in the wilderness (that's literally why we are the last people to get our power back after a bad wind storm). Having access to the internet allows me to feel connected to the world, read up on news, check in with my friends, and run my business.
By the way, it's a good idea to disconnect appliances and other equipment in case of a momentary power surge, because a power surge could damage them.
Problem:We get our water from a well that needs electricity for its pump. When the power goes out, we run out of water quickly. We don't drink soda pop or other bottled beverages, so we mostly rely on drinking water. Dishes pile up in the sink and toilets don't get flushed (why do my kids always forget that we have an outhouse that needs to be visited when the power is out?)
If we get advanced warning that the power might go out (if the weather forecast predicts windy weather), we fill up bottles for drinking water before we lose electricity and therefore our water pump.
If we don't get advanced warning and we lose power, we immediately fill bottles for drinking water to use up the remaining water that's hanging out in the pressure tank. Otherwise, it's too easy to forget that the power is out, and someone flushes the toilet, which uses up a lot of water.
People have been known to fill up their bath tubs so they can wash dishes, flush the toilet etc with it.
Problem:It's sooooooo dark where we live in the winter. And some of us (ahem) go a little tiny bit crazy when there's not enough light. Everything is harder in the dark: milking goats, feeding my kids, reading...
Solution:Invest in some battery powered lights and oil lamps. Really. Candles are cute and all, but they can be dangerous when you forget about them and burn your house down. We do use candles, of course, and they add a romantic glow to dinner, but we blow them out as soon as we walk away.
We love us a good head lamp. We use them every day - power outage or not. Doing chores at night (locking in the goats, feeding pigs, tucking in the ducks) would not be possible without a good head lamp. We love this one. I wouldn't want to be without it during a power outage.
Oil lamps are great when you need more diffused light. They are easy to handle, create good light, and are so Little-house-on-the-prairie. I feel like a real frontiers woman when I light that lamp. We have this one, and it has served us very well.
Problem:So if you are not supposed to open the fridge and freezer, what do you eat? What if you have an electric stove? How do you cook?
Fortunately, we have a wood stove. It's the only source of heat in our house, and it lets us cook on top of it. Oh, I love this wood stove! When the power is out, I put a big pot of soup on it, or I throw in some food I canned in the summer and fall.
Our pantry is usually well stocked (they don't call me a homesteader for nothin'!), but if you don't have access to that scenario, you still can be prepared by purchasing easy-to-prepare canned foods, like soups or beans.
Many people use camping stoves or propanes stoves to heat water or cook food during a power outage. A single burner stove works great if you don't have too much volume, or you can use a two burner setup.
Problem:This time of year, the baby chicks we hatched in an incubator need a heat lamp, since they don't have a Mama chicken protecting them under her wings. Lordy, lordy, do I fret over these fluffballs! Yes, they're fluffly, but they can't generate much of their own heat, and I don't want them to suffocate by piling up on each other to stay warm.
Solution:We put them in front of the wood stove and kept the wood stove cranked. This created huge amusement when our puppy found out how fascinating baby chicks are. The puppy put her face close up and bit the door, while the baby chicks pecked at her teeth. Don't worry - we were always there to supervise the rising level of our puppy's
|Sorry for the bad lighting, but... you know...|
You run out of chocolate. Gasp!!!!!
Make my amazing, healthy raw chocolate truffles in advance, and make sure you never, never, never run out! Here's my video tutorial on how to make them.
Then there are other issues like having your first aid kit updated at all times, having access to a phone (preferably a landline you can hook into directly when you lose power, since cell towers can be affected by power outages), and other details like that.
The silver lining:
Although I don't like power outages because they inconvenience our comfortable way of living, a part of me cherishes the time without electricity, noise and distraction.
Our life style is more down-to-earth, unconventional, and slower than most Americans are used to, but in a power outage, we tend to slow down even more, spend more quality time as a family, and - our favorite - play games around the kitchen table by candle light. There are some great board games out there, y'all! We've been addicted to this game lately.
There's a part of me that kind of likes power outages and the unhurried, unplugged, quiet change of pace it brings.
Don't get me wrong: I'm the first one to do a happy dance when the electricity comes back on. I elbow my family members out of the way to be first in line for a shower. I get excited about doing dishes.
And still... For days after the power comes on again, I light candles more frequently, and the kids ask to play games at night. It's lovely, all of it.
I will leave you with images from the day of the power outage.
The kitchen, without power, but with plenty of natural light (Yippie for a break in the rain!):
Sure signs of spring:
Baby chicks, hanging out with Eva on the sofa. Yes, I have to clean up the poop. No, I don't mind. You might, if you come visit and dare to sit on the sofa.
My sons' friend (the dude with the pink hair) stayed for a sleepover, and in the morning I forced them to go outside for a walk. They grumbled, but I told them they could be sitting in school just then. The joys of homeschooling!
Tell me: What do you do in a power outage? How do you feel about 'em?
Power Outage Checklist