Sunday, September 21, 2008

Wake Up Call

Last Sunday’s wind storm was a wake up call. Hurricane force winds of 70 mph or more wreaked havoc on many Ohioans who found themselves without power for a day or more. Some are still waiting to have their electric restored. We were some of the extremely fortunate ones. Our power was restored within 20 hours. Fortunately for all Ohioans this storm occurred in warm weather. The last time I can recall winds close to the magnitude we experienced last Sunday was during the blizzard of 78.

Sunday started out warm and breezy. As the afternoon wore on the gusts increased in strength and duration. Around 4:30 we had to close up the house. The gusts were strong enough by then that the houseplants sitting in my south window literally blew off the table. It was then I questioned how much longer we would have power. An hour later we didn’t.

Throughout the evening high winds continued with gusts reaching hurricane force. The sound of their approach was pretty scary. We watched as trees fell in the woods across the field south of our house. Crack after crack came from the woods just behind our home. We watched as not only limbs but entire trees came down, some that had stood for more years than we have been.

On Monday with daylight having returned, damages were assessed. Trees and large limbs down behind the house, but elsewhere only the littering of smaller limbs and twigs and a few shingles. We faired well. At the kitchen table it was time to assess our preparedness, or perhaps the lack of it.

Our major concern at the time was the freezer and not losing the produce and fruit inside. Of course generators were nowhere to be had. If the electric came back on in a reasonably short time everything would be ok. If not, we made plans to move the contents and the freezer into my sister’s house to plug in…a lot of hassle but one we considered worth the effort to save the food inside. Luckily it didn’t come down to that. Other than that, this is where we stood on the basics.

Food on hand - very good
Food prep capabilities - good. Propane stove with a full tank of propane, along with the outdoor charcoal grill. Not much charcoal on hand but plenty of limb wood! We also have an outdoor camp fire ring.
Water - good for short term as I always have several gallons of tap water on hand plus the 50 gallon hot water tank can be easily drained. Long term water storage is not good. In searching the internet for water storage solutions I came across Water Preserver™. It doesn’t clean water, but preserves tap water for up to 5 years. One bottle, depending on size, treats 30 to 55 gallon of tap water. Verde over at Justice Desserts just blogged about clean water solutions and after researching I agree that the Berkey Water Filtration System is the way to go.
Heat – We don’t do so well here. Because we rent we aren’t allowed to install a wood burner for insurance reasons. This is a real shame as we have loads of downed wood. Instead we have a kerosene heater and a small propane heater. But do we have an adequate supply of fuel on hand for these? Short term only. Luckily this power outage occurred in warm weather.
Back Up Power – no, a generator is in order. (wake up!) A good thing to remember here is that one doesn’t need to run a generator continuously. Operating one 2-3 hours at a time may be sufficient and would save on fuel usage and cost of operation.
Communication – we faired ok here because our landline stayed in effect and fortunately we still own a land phone. The cordless phone was of no use because the base is electric and with no power there is no function. We also have a cell phone but no car charger, so once the battery went on that it was useless, too. A car charger is in order. Also, we have a portable radio with batteries we keep for emergencies. However I think we may invest in a crank radio. Ironically, despite listening to the radio during the storm, no news on the storm was to be heard from any of our local stations, even the major stations in Cleveland. A weather radio would be a plus.
Light - good, we have kerosene lamps and lanterns, several flashlights and lot of candles.

Like many, we tend to be somewhat complacent until shit hits the fan. In ending this post all I can say is I’m glad for this wake up call. We definitely have things to work on and this situation brought those things to our attention. How about you? How prepared are you?


  1. Good question. We tend to stay fairly prepared for winter weather, but not summer power outages.

    Here's a quick summary:
    Food--plenty canned and the freezer is full.

    Power: oops. We used to have a generator that we gave to our son because it needed so many repairs. We need to invest, perhaps in a natuarl gas unit since we have access to free gas.

    Heat: fine here. Wood heat, free gas coming.

    Water: another oops. We have a deep well. No way to get water in a power outage. The HW heater holds 30 gallons. In winter, we just melted snow or ice as needed.I(n summer? Hmmm....

    Communication: cell phone charger in the car and in the house. Have a weather radio. Have a corded phone that works when electricity is off.

    Light: have kerosene lamps filled, flashlights with batteries.

    Cooking: have a turkey fryer that we never use to fry turkeys but always for canning, and for cooking if the power is off. Cylinder is half full. Charcoal grill and most of a bagof charcoal. Fire pit in the yard.

    So some areas to address, but in the main, we're okay.

  2. Sounds like you did pretty good.

    A Generator is on our wish list to after the storm.

    We still had water and water heater so we were ok there. But we had a 55 gallon barrel of water incase we needed it.

    I hope EVERYONE affected by the storm reviews their preparedness. I hope it is a wake up call for many.


  3. Thanks for sharing Granny Sue. I envy you the wood heat and free gas. I understand that there used to be free gas on this land years ago.

    Carolyn - I agree!

  4. Think we'd be fine. Have lived without all the amentities before on several occasions.
    We have:
    *Wood heat
    *brick fire "place" outside where farm hands meals were cooked years ago in heat of summer, can use very easily for cooking, instead of pleasure.
    *Dutch ovens
    *Camp coffe pot...a must! :)
    *food stash to last 2 years
    *kerosene & lamps + candles
    *We do have a well, but also a cistern on the hill behind us, spring fed, piped down here with a switch to open/close
    *wall phone if need/or can, to communicate

  5. I'm also wondering about how to store water. Having a well pump means not even a flush when the power is out. I have flush water stored in two large trash cans, which are fortunately stored in an unused shower, as one just sprang a leak. But that's really not enough water to last for more than a couple of days.

    Our neighbors were without power for a solid week. I still can't believe our power stayed on.

    Can you have a hand pump installed on your well? Ours is too deep.


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