I know it seems early and I intended to write this post in about a month from now, but alas, Fall is here! It arrived early this morning with the first strong wind of the season. As I woke up this morning to the wind howling around the corners of the house and rushing through the trees, I started thinking about our “storm and power outage” kit and that it is time to check up on it!
It is also time to take in your umbrellas and button up the patio furniture, especially if there is wind in the forecast. Otherwise it might just “jump ship” and end up on your neighbor’s lawn or worse become flotsam and jetsam and wash up on a beach!
However, power outages are really our main concern during wind storms. While they can happen anytime due to circumstances beyond the power company’s control – like a car hitting pole or animal related events – they are quite common during windstorms, as trees can fall down on power lines. Living here in the islands we are expecting a couple of outages every fall and winter caused by weather.
Here are a few tips to keep things going smoothly even without any power:
Install and use surge protection for your electronics and computer and other sensitive equipment. Make sure you know where your utility shut offs are located for electricity, water and if applicable propane, and how to turn them on and off!
During the colder season keep an eye on the weather report. If you see a high wind warning, make sure you charge up your phones – and maybe your E-readers if you are an avid reader – fill up your gas tank and maybe get a two or three of drinking water and some non-perishable food to keep you over. We also fill up a 5 gallon bucket with water and keep it in the bathroom, for washing hands and such if the pump is out. If you have a back-up generator also check up on your generator fuel!
We are heating our house with wood and our wood stove has an area to put a pot to cook on, which has come in very handy at times (and yes, quesadilla never tasted better)!
If you don’t heat with wood and don’t have a back-up generator, make sure you have extra blankets and a nice thick sweater or two, as it can get quite cold, especially in the winter. A small camping propane stove can get you through some longer outages as well, being able to heat up water for tea and coffee or warm up some soup can go a long way.
Candles are a must in a power outage kit, nowadays you can also get solar lights that you can charge on a sunny day and will hold their charge for a long time. Make sure your flashlights and battery operated radio are working and have some extra batteries on hand. You can also get flashlights and radios that can be hand-cranked , which are a good and environmentally friendly alternative to batteries!
One thing a lot of people don’t think about is to have some extra cash on hand in case of a longer power outage. Our credit and debit cards might just not work at the store without power. We once had a week-long outage here in the San Juan Islands and lots of people really got a lesson on how valuable hard cash can be!
Here is a neat checklist from Orcas Power & Light Co-op, our local power company: