September 9, 2011

Hey! Who Turned Out The Lights?

Yesterday afternoon the power went out at our house, and a lot of other places too! Apparently, some poor power company worker in Yuma, Arizona made a boo-boo and shorted out  the grid. Power outages from Ensenada, Baja California to Arizona to south Orange County.  1.4 million customers, according to SDG&E. It was a good time to evaluate our emergency preparedness.

We have solar panels on the roof, but by design we don't get power from them while the SDG&E grid is out. Something about protecting the grid from damage. We could get batteries for the system, but they are big, expensive, and generally not recommended unless one is living off the grid. A diesel or gas generator might be a better option. But really only necessary  if there is a long term outage. And I think it might need some special connection to send power to the house.

I moved food from the fridge side to the freezer side, figuring its pretty well insulated and would work like a big ice chest. Fortunately, I'd been putting grocery shopping off until today anyway, so in this one case, procrastination payed off. There wasn't that much food anyway, and there was room in the freezer. The power was out for just over 13 hours, but the ice in the ice maker had barely melted, so the ice chest ploy worked.

The natural gas lines weren't affected, so we could cook on the stove top or the gas grill, and we had hot water. We cooked bacon on the gas grill and had bacon and tomato sandwiches for dinner. We also have a 2 burner camp stove, and plenty of propane. So we'd be okay for a while if the gas was off. We have plenty of non-perishable food in the pantry. Two weeks ago, on a bit of a lark,  I bought a container of dehydrated food, supposed to contain 200 meals. Of course, to take advantage of dehydrated food , one needs plenty of potable water. I'm not sure we'd get a passing grade there. There's maybe only 4 gallons of drinking water in the house, plus whatever is in the water heater (ok, that's like 75 gal, so maybe we wouldn't be so bad off) and then there's always the water in the pool. That water could be boiled (wow, I just added chlorine yesterday) and used, plus we have a backpacking water filter. So, maybe we would get a passing grade there.

We have a propane lantern, and flashlights, candles, matches and batteries galore. But the only radios we had were the ones in the cars. We had cellular service, but only for calls and texts. A hand crank radio is a good idea. Ditto one of those little solar chargers that can be used to power cell phones, or batteries. We don't have a real family emergency plan, but since we had mobile service and our land line worked, I was able to let Evan up in Davis and my brother in Wyoming know what was happening. All of our supplies are in the house or garage. Being in an earthquake and wildfire area, I should move supplies into metal trash cans and put them in the shed, in case its not safe to go into the house. But maybe put the propane somewhere else, since if it blows up next to my supplies, I'm left with not much.

 Last night, I sat at my spinning wheel with a headlamp on. It worked pretty good. Here is a link to some cool pictures taken while the power was out.

1 comment:

  1. Oh, sorry to hear you were affected by that!

    We have a generator, and built our house with the right electrical panel set-up to use it. Everything here is electric (except the wood stove), so we definitely need a generator for basic necessities like water, especially with all the animals we have.