What To Do When the Power Fails


Our electricity was out for about ten hours the other day. This event happened, of course, right in the middle of Judge Joe Brown, which is my second favorite TV show right after Judge Judy. Joe Time starts at 4 pm. Judy starts yelling at people at 5. The power went out around 4:30. I missed Joe and Judy, and it is a wonder I am here today after that disappointment.

First, we revelled in our fantasyland about how this was going to be resolved any minute. Then we bothered the cousins until they called the power company. We only have a cordless phone, so we can’t call anyone when the power is out. The power company said the electricity was going to be back on at 7. This didn’t happen, of course. We sat on the porch and engaged in actual conversation (shocking!) and then we pulled out books to peruse with our flashlight. One of the books I grabbed was Country Wisdom and Know-How: Everything You Need to Know to Live Off the Land. Ha. Just what I need. I turned to the section titled What to Do When the Power Fails. Let’s see how prepared I am!

1. Know your plumbing. Let’s just skip this one, shall we? Cuz, I mean, get serious.

2. Electrical preparedness. This one tells you how your electrical box should be clearly labeled. This is a 100-year-old farmhouse. Nothing is clearly labeled. Moving on…..

3. Gather food and supplies. We need food, water, and fuel. Okay, my car has half a tank of gas. Oh, that’s not what they mean. I think the propane was filled up recently, whew. We have food. Water is a problem. The well runs on an electric pump, so we’re out of luck. We have no water.

4. Drinking water safety and storage. Water again! Usually I keep my two 2-1/2 gallon water containers filled up at all times, but I was lax and they were empty, so leave me alone already!

5. Light. I always have candles. I lit about six or seven scented candles around the house and it smelled really good! I have one little flashlight, too, and after I finally found it, I used it to read this book.

6. Keeping warm. We’re doing good here. We have propane heat and lots of blankets. And dogs. Dogs make good heaters in bed.

7. Contact with the outside world. We went next door to the cousins’ house again later and they were sleeping. It wasn’t even bedtime! Apparently some people take naps to get through power outages. So we used their non-cordless working phone to call everyone we knew. We were bored.

8. Transportation. I had half a tank of gas!! I was ready to roll!!

So does that count for five out of eight? More or less? Maybe I should have read that section before the power went out? I wonder if they have a section on driving in high water?

Never mind. Stupid book!


  1. Kim A. says:

    Are you having a generator installed in your new house? You know, the kind that has its own outside electrical outlet and can run the whole house. If not, it would be a good idea! A few thousand dollars well spent, IMO.

    I am sorely unprepared for power failures. Sure, I have lots of candles and flashlights, even a few batteries, but that’s it. You get soft, living in the city. In more ways than one! πŸ˜†

    Happy Friday to all.

    -Kim in still snowy Kingston…SIGH

  2. Suzanne McMinn says:

    A generator is on my wish list!!

    I did buy one of those non-cordless phones yesterday that will work during power outages. (As long as the phone lines are still working.)

  3. Amelia says:

    :biggrin: Living in the country does provide with a list of problems – i.e. no electricity! I know- as we live out of town also. We do have a generator – major investment – but well worth it in the long run.

  4. Lucy says:

    Buy a cell phone. πŸ™‚

    Oh wait…those take battery power. Which I never remember to charge half of the time. And when I need it…….oh well. Never mind on the cell phone.

  5. Suzanne McMinn says:

    Actually, the real problem with cell phones is that we have no cell towers out here. There are still many rural areas where cell phones don’t work. I know, shocking! One time I wrote that into a scene in a book and my editor questioned me about it because she thought it sounded unbelievable. It always surprises people to learn that there are still places where you can’t use a cell phone.

  6. Mental Pause Mama says:

    LOL–so did you go to an outhouse when you, umm?

  7. Bellen says:

    Power outages are the worst. Using candles for light – extremely dangerous. Please, invest in a battery operated light, a solar light (always left in sun on a windowsill), a hand-crank jobby that has a light, radio, etc.

  8. kacey says:

    maybe you can get a generator for the new farmhouse!

  9. Jill says:

    Is there a section in that book on how to deal with twelve feet of snow? If so, I need a copy, pronto.

  10. Annette says:

    I really enjoy reading your blog, I used to work for you cousin Mark at the PA’s office, but moved to Weston WV with my husbands job. so I enjoy getting to see things from “back home”! A few years ago we had a huge Ice storm and our power was out for 8 days, my husband went to wal-mart and his “Emergency Kit” included 6 bags of chips, 2 big boxes of matches, a bulk pack of cigarette lighters (we do not smoke??) 5 boxes of taper candles (five years later, I still have 4 1/2 boxes of white non scented candles, packs and packs of batteries of all kinds, even ones that did not fit a single flashlight we owned?? (his explanination was that they were almost out of batteries??), soda, and lots of peanut butter cups! He did buy drinking water which was the one thing I sent him to get!

  11. Jodie says:

    As a kid, we had a rural Texas “hill country” property that we called “the cabin”, if a storm came through putting out the lights, we just played poker by candle-light and tried to not open the frig too much. Dad loved it if the low water crossings flooded because then he didn’t have to go back to San Antonio to work on Monday. The heat & fuel for the stove was butane, so didn’t require electricity. This was way before microwaves were around. It was a place of good memories with my family that I miss when I think of it. I envy you and your extended family the peace & quiet and beauty of living in a rural area.

  12. Suzanne McMinn says:

    We don’t have an outhouse, LOL. When the power is out, the boys are sent out behind the barn. Us girls live by the rule–you can use the bathroom but you can’t flush!!

  13. Becky says:

    Wow, I’m really surprised our electricity didn’t go out. Usually when ours goes out and doesn’t come back on, though, it’s off for a long time — usually when I’m home alone with the kids. πŸ™‚ Good times.

  14. Lis says:

    The joys of power outages. :mrgreen: We had one last month, I was almost stranded in the basement, it was so dark I was afraid to move πŸ˜†

  15. Brandy says:

    This reminds me that I need to buy a portable heater, but not kerosene. Ugh! A weather radio is also a good thing to have!

  16. Tori Lennox says:

    If our power goes out, we could use our fireplace for heat. Except we don’t have any fireplace tools. *g*

  17. Estella says:

    I live in town and we seldom lose power. Used to live in the country—so am prepared for outages.

  18. Susan says:

    I love Judge Joe Brown and Judge Judy! :yes:

    A generator is a must when living in the boondocks if you don’t have fireplaces and/or a wood burner. Sometimes I actually like power outages! We used to have them just about every other day a few years ago. We got very good at cooking on wood burner. πŸ˜†

  19. catslady says:

    We’ve had two bad outages since I’ve lived in my house – one in summer and one in winter – each lasted over 3 days. I lost my food during the summer one but saved everything in the winter one. We have a nice lantern that lights up a room (to play games) and to read by. I get lots of reading done πŸ™‚

    I used to watch Judge Judy all the time and loved her!

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