Okay so obviously we can survive without electricity, but these days we rely SO much on it that when it’s gone we kind-of go into a panic-mode. We are having a storm tonight and everyone is kind-of freaking out about it and we will most likely lose power. When we lost power for a week before, I didn’t have a smart phone, didn’t have a blog, wasn’t eating all organic foods mostly from scratch, and I was working full-time. So there were different challenges then, and there would definitely be different challenges now. We thought about getting a generator after that week-long-adventure, but still haven’t gotten one. I think we should! Even just to be able to plug-in the fridge. And sorry, this post really doesn’t have much to do with organic food or Fibromyalgia but I just wanted to tell our story and give some tips on preparing for a storm. 😉
So here’s the story. In January 2012, our area (Olympia, WA) had a Snow Storm/Ice Storm. It started with the snow. 22 inches to be exact! (See a picture below – I wish I would have gotten better pictures.) We don’t ever get snow like that. It just seemed like it kept coming and coming. At first we were excited. Then we were shocked. Then we were scared, lol. Then we got hit with freezing rain and everything was covered in ice (another picture below – sorry, not the greatest picture). This caused major problems like downed trees, huge branches falling, and downed power lines, among other problems. There were blocked roads, power outages, damage to homes, etc. A huge branch fell on our back deck and knocked out 1 of our railings. Luckily it was the railing that was already broke. I didn’t let the kids play outside after the ice storm hit because it was just too dangerous with branches falling, huge chunks of snow/ice falling, and power lines could snap at any moment. And just from the snow, the ambulance, firetrucks, mailman, and garbage trucks couldn’t get into our neighborhood for a while. We lost power right away and it was out for a week. I missed work most of that week. We were washing clothes and doing dishes by hand, used a neighbor’s shower because they had gas to heat their water tank, cooked off our wood stove, and used snow in coolers to keep our food cold. My mother-in-law was with us at the time and helped tremendously. It was amazing how many neighbors around us left to go stay with family or go to a hotel. We stayed home and got through it together. We are also lucky to have a wood stove we can cook on and keep warm.
1 week without power doesn’t sound very long, but it felt SO long to us. And we weren’t really prepared. We only had a small amount of supplies. Plus we didn’t know when the power was going to be back on. Our neighborhood was one of the last to get power back. And then even when it did, only part of the neighborhood was turned back on. We were still waiting. I hope we don’t have to go through that again but if we do, I know we will be okay. I think the challenges back then were when I had to go back to work. It was dark when I got home and having to try to look decent for work when you can’t just take a shower easily or wash your clothes easily, or even see very good to get yourself ready made things very difficult. If we lost power for a long period of time now, there would be different challenges. I am home now, so I wouldn’t have to worry about going to work, but we don’t eat a lot of ‘convenience’ type foods anymore. Sure I can throw together a pot of stew or soup easily and stick it on the wood stove to cook, but I can’t make my bread easily, or other things I make, and we wouldn’t be able to make smoothies or use the juicer. And I don’t think organic food would last as long as the other stuff. Our food would go bad quicker for sure. And obviously my husband and I couldn’t do our work on our computers like we are normally doing. Everything would be on hold.
We started with the items in the fridge. When the fridge was no longer cold, we transferred the items to the coolers filled with snow outside. We were trying to scrap things together to make meals and cook on the wood stove. Then when the items in the freezer were thawed, we transferred those to the coolers too. It got to the point where we had to start cooking all the meat so it didn’t go bad and used the BBQ to cook it. We tried to make meals and make things stretch as much as we could, without them going bad. We were not eating organic at the time but did try to eat at home as much as possible. Especially since it was really hard to get around anyway with all that snow and roads blocked. I remember when we did finally get out and it felt so good to go into a store and buy a bunch of junk that we could just eat. We also had to buy more batteries and other essentials.
We had a lot of blankets, and a wood stove. We slept in the living room some nights because the heat doesn’t go back to the bedrooms very much. We did get low on wood at one point and drove to my grandma’s house to get more (and took showers while we were there!). They were lucky and got their power back on pretty quick.
To get warm water, we had to heat up a big pot of water on the wood stove. We did that to wash some clothes in the bath tub, wash dishes (the hard-to-clean-ones), or take a little ‘sponge bath’. And washed our hair in cold water sometimes. We also went to a neighbor’s house and used their shower once because they had gas heat to heat their water tank. And we took a shower at my grandma’s when we went there to get wood. The hardest part was when I had to go back to work and the power STILL wasn’t on. I felt so dirty and it was hard to come home to a dark house and try to find everything, and figure out what to wear to work. I didn’t worry much about keeping the house clean. The floor was very dirty, and there was stuff everywhere. It was easier to clean when I was home and it was light during the day. But when I was working and coming home to darkness, even with candles & flashlights, it was just too difficult to keep everything clean.
Keeping Our Sanity
We played games, we listened to the battery operated radio, we played in the snow, we just hung out and talked. I wrote in my journal a lot. It was really nice at first! Then we started getting bored and tired of the darkness. Each day the power wasn’t back on we kept wondering how much longer we were going to have to live like this. It seriously took a tole on us. We can live without electricity but our lives would definitely have to change to adapt to it. Think about the amish! Everything was more of a challenge, but doable. We were even potty-training by candlelight! haha.
*Tips on Preparing For a Storm*
1. Make sure you have supplies on hand ahead of time, like way ahead of time. When a big storm is coming people panic and raid the stores. In fact, you should keep a good amount of supplies on hand at all times just in case. Things like batteries, a battery-operated radio, candles, flashlights, lots of extra-warm blankets, any medicinal items (prescription medicines, first aid kits, etc.), a manual can-opener. Nice-to-have items like games, a generator, lots of things for the kids to do. Keeping a little cash on hand would be good too in case the power is out and stores cannot take your debit/credit cards. And make sure you have plenty of food/supplies for your pets too!
2. Use the electricity for everything you need before a possible power outage. Run your washer and dryer, dishwasher, take showers, and charge phones (especially if your cell phone is your only phone in the house).
3. Clean up and organize the house as much as possible. This is important because it will be hard to find things and get around when it’s dark. Candlelight and flashlights only provide so much light.
4. Stock up/Collect water. If your water doesn’t work when the power is out, then you will need to prepare for that as well. We are fortunate and have running water still, even though it’s cold water. You may want to collect rain water in buckets even just to be able to flush the toilet. You wouldn’t want to drink it, so make sure to have drinking water stocked up ahead of time. You could fill juice containers/milk jugs with water out of the sink ahead of time too. If you have a wood stove you can heat water to be able to bathe in, wash clothes, or do those hard-to-clean dishes.
5. Fill up the vehicles/gas cans. When people panic and raid the stores, they also line up at the pumps. You will want to be prepared ahead of time and make sure your vehicles are filled up and maybe a gas can or two, just in case.
6. Stock up on food, but be careful with the perishable items. Make sure you have plenty of food in the house because you won’t know how long the storm will last and what’s all involved. In our case, we had blocked roads and 22 inches of snow to get through if we needed to go to town. You will want to be careful on what you buy though. Some people lost freezers-full of food in the storm we had. It would be horrible for that much food to go to waste. So even though fresh organic food is nice, it will be a little different when preparing for a storm. I would make sure you have foods that don’t go bad quickly. Canned foods, rice, packaged non-perishable items. A little of the perishable stuff is okay, you can just eat that first.
7. Have an Emergency Plan in place. Know what to do to prepare if a storm is going to hit, if the family is separated during the storm, and what to do if something unexpected happens. We did not expect that much snow, or for the ice storm to be that bad. We weren’t prepared for road blockage and a power outage for a week. We just have to think of these possibilities ahead of time and be ready.
8. Have trees trimmed/cut-down ahead of time. We had some dangerous trees around our house during this bad storm. HUGE branches would fall and break things like our railing, we lost a couple BBQs and a chair. We are lucky it wasn’t worse. There could have been damage to our roof or one of us could have gotten seriously hurt. Those trees have been cut down now.