Being Prepared: Hunkering Down in a Power Outage

I’ve developed a new interest over the past few months—prepping—although I’m not certain that most “real” preppers would consider me one. I leave zombie apocalypses to the movies and think of it more as simply being prepared, going back to my roots as it were. Hey, I used to be a Girl Scout. And my grandmother would never have considered going without a few months of food set aside, even when she lived in a mobile home. Okay, so it’s taken me a while to follow her example. But recent events have made me feel like it’s been the smart thing to do.

As regards food prepping, I’ve discovered that oven canning instant potato flakes actually makes them taste a LOT better (they end up being lightly toasted which makes them smell wonderful), that there’s such a thing as being rich in food and it feels really good, and that having a stash of freeze-dried meals can help you think clearly if you have to evacuate because of a forest fire.

And then there’s going without power.

California now has the dubious distinction of being an economic powerhouse with a third-world power grid. One windy day and we’re without power for yet another week. Oh, huzzah. And here I thought the comments about California couldn’t get any more condescending.

As an aside, there’s NO WAY any of this is getting me to leave. I’m a third generation native Californian, on both sides. This is my home. My family is here. It’s going to take more than incompetent politicians and a greedy bureaucracy to drive me away. Historically, California has seen waves of “get rich quick” types come and go, starting with the gold rush in 1849 before we were even a state. I figure those of us who really love this land will outlast them. We have before.

coleman stoveAnyway, for those preparing for power outages, the first thing I’d recommend is to buy a Coleman stove. Not only are they useful for cooking, but I’ve needed them for heating wash water as well. Amazon has one here: https://www.amazon.com/Coleman-2000020943NP-Classic-Propane-Stove/dp/B00005OU9D/, and you can also pick one up at any camping store. They’re great for camping, even if you think your lights are never going out. Although I will add that you should also make sure you have a carbon monoxide detector if you use it indoors. We’ve used our stove inside for years, long before having CO detectors was even a concern, but there’s no point in passing up any reasonable safety precautions. That would be the opposite of being prepared.

(Side note: any links here are just for your convenience. I’m not affiliated with Amazon or anyone else.)

The other thing I highly recommend is a stash of solar lights. Candles and oil lamps are lovely; I have a quite a few, and it’s always nice to have a good reason to use them. However, it’s not the safest move to leave them burning while you go to sleep. The biggest problem I’ve had with solar lights is that they’re great when they work, but so many of them are garbage. I’ve gone through many purchases and ended up simply tossing most of them. But you can benefit from this, since I have two that I can recommend. They stay on all night, usually until dawn.

large solar lightFor larger, more permanent lighting outside, this one works terrific: https://www.amazon.com/Large-Outdoor-Solar-Powered-SL-8405/dp/B00F6INLVG/. And for smaller lights, I’ve just picked up these: https://www.amazon.com/BABALI-Lantern-Waterproof-Lanterns-Decorative/dp/B07H9WJ5K4/. small solar lightThese also last until dawn, even the one I just leave on the windowsill. I don’t even have to take it outside and hang it in the sun. I particularly like the small ones because I can bring them inside at night and leave them on while I sleep.

I already heat my house with a wood stove, since I live in an oak wood, and every year we lose enough branches in storms to heat our home for the winter. If you don’t have an emergency heat source, that might be worth looking into.

As long as you’ve got light, a decent stash of food, a supply of clean water, and a way to heat your house and cook your food, then barring any medical considerations (which you should definitely plan for in advance), you’ll do okay. I miss internet access, (apologies to those who’ve waited for me to visit their blogs), but I’ve got lots of good books. I’m fortunate that I can just hunker down and ride it out.

I’ve been thinking about doing a whole series on being prepared, and I was wondering if anyone has any input on it. I can speak intelligently about emergency bags, camping gear, and food and water storage. I was also thinking about doing a few YouTube videos on these things, if anyone would be interested in seeing them. Please let me know in the comments if any of these things interest you.

Stay safe, everyone. And remember, no matter the state of affairs, a good book is always a great comfort. : )

Avid writer and reader of Faerie tales and noblebright fantasy.

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18 comments on “Being Prepared: Hunkering Down in a Power Outage
  1. Outstanding post, especially in this hideous fire season. Thank you for posting your experiences, thus helping the rest of us avoid the awful ones. I’m in So Cal and not near any of the current fires, but I worry about the fires everywhere. Stay safe, Cathleen.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Sharon, and I’m glad to hear that you’re out of harm’s way. I think it behooves all of us to plan ahead. A lot of things that we once took for granted seem to be changing. I never expected to go weeks without power. I’ll write about my local fire experience when the fire season is over. It’s too raw still right now.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I lived in Marin County for 20 years (until 2014) , and never once did we have a power outage. Northern CA had floods and mudslides and fires (but not these terrible horrible ones) and no power outage. Much of the ones in Marin County now are self-induced by PG&E. Yes, with substandard equipment and maintenance. So as one of my friends said, this may be the “new normal” in the CA fall. So sad. Now here in New England, we get power outages from snow/blizzard, nor’easters, sleet, high winds, etc. The best investment we ever made was in our generator. ;-0 xo

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m looking at solar, actually, as my long-term solution. One thing we have no shortage of in California is sun.

      They’re even talking about cutting the power to San Francisco. Seriously?! Because the forest fires are somehow going to sweep through the concrete jungle? That’s just ridiculous. If they cut off the power to SF, people are going to get killed. A certain type of person sees darkness as an invitation to loot without reprisals. And that’s not even counting all the elderly with their special needs.

      Stay safe yourself in New England. Snow can kill as surely as fire. Really, weather in general is nothing to mess around with.

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  3. Glad you liked it. I’m trying to be succinct. I’ve waded through many very long videos and posts on this topic, and I think it’s important not to get overwhelmed.

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  4. I live in SoCal and we are considering a home backup generator. They’re pretty expensive but might be what we-all have to do.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think everyone is going to need some sort of back up power plan, at least for the foreseeable future. NOT the area I was planning on going to financially, but I doubt that anyone else was planning on this, either.

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  5. Yikes, Cathleen. I’m glad you’re prepared. It doesn’t hurt. We live in the Cascadian Subduction Zone, and the “Big One” is frequently in the backs of our minds. But it’s not only the quake that’s a bit scary. Fires and winds can also cause havoc around here. We keep a garden, stock some food, and heat with wood. I’ve cooked on the woodstove on occasion but have a Coleman cookstove as well. Fuel? Good question. The solar lanterns are a great idea. I’d be interested in these posts if you decide to continue them. 🙂 Thanks for sharing your tips!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. My friend Maureen and I had a discussion that touched on this topic. We live a little over a hundred miles from San Francisco. Our particular corner of the state is seismically stable, at least as far as we know, but a major earthquake in SF would affect all of northern California.

    Perhaps this has done all of us a favor. Far too many people toodle along with no real reserves, and in an emergency, that can be deadly. Everyone I know is starting to talk like mild preppers, putting a few weeks of food aside, considering backup power sources, and where they’re going to get clean water if the taps give out.

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  7. Sounds like you’re right ready, Cathleen! Great tips and resources for those new to roughing it in our digital age. Here in Maine we’re used to power outages (just had an eighteen hour one to contend with last night and today. Will share your post and praying that everyone stays safe, warm and well-fed come what may…. ❤ xo

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Bette. I had family living in upstate NY, and they had their power knocked out by ice storms. The first thing they did when the emergency was over was to purchase a wood stove. They were really wishing they’d bought one before it all happened, though. Much better to be ready ahead of time. : )

      Liked by 1 person

      • Wood stove is essential up here. Like you, all of our wood is cut from downed trees. Dan starts cleaning the trails each spring and before long has enough for more than one winter’s supply. Between barn and wood shed, we have about an eight-year supply on hand. Wood is good! 🙂 xo

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Cathleen,I tried to leave a comment on your blog, but I don’t have my wordpress log-in info–it’s been so long since I’ve logged in. Oh, well.Sorry to hear you’ve become such an expert on prepping! It pays to be prepared, so thank you for passing your tips along. Here’s hoping your power stays on, though!Take care,Margaret

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well, we’re on day 2 of power being on, so that’s something. I actually took a shower and washed my hair today. It’s amazing, the little things you end up looking forward to.

      I’m glad you’re nowhere near Simi Valley. That SoCal fire sounds scary as can be.

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  9. Ann Coleman says:

    I think you are very wise to be prepared, Cathleen! And honestly, wherever we happen to live, there are some risks and it’s a good idea to be prepared for them. I’m in St. Louis, where we also have power outages due to high winds because we have so many trees that fall on the lines. And we have to worry about tornadoes, and also are very close to a major fault line. I’ve heard that camping equipment is an excellent thing to have during the aftermath of a major disaster, so your suggestion is right on target! (We do own a generator, too!)

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Yeah, bugging out is a topic I’m planning on addressing because so many of us are at risk for it. Hurricanes, tornadoes, forest fires, floods–there are simply some disasters that are too big to simply ride it out in place.

    At least minimal camping gear is a very good thing to have. I’m planning on addressing that when I get into bug-out bags. But for now, I’d highly recommend a portable stove, since you can use it to shelter in place and for camping. All this stuff costs, so it’s best to find gear that can function for more than one emergency, if possible.

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  11. I have so many students who were without power and couldn’t turn in assignments. University policy was amended to allow for late assignments and exams. My dad lives in Michigan Bluff and were without power for days. It’s just so crazy, Cathleen, and I’m glad you are prepared and that you are ok. We are going to have to meet up for coffee sometime soon again!

    Like

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