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Monday, October 31, 2011

Be Prepared!

Peak oil and the zombie apocalypse aside, there are plenty of reasons to think about what you would do if the power went out.

During a heavy wet snow, we had a 37 hour power outage last week. The front range of Colorado was hit with this storm after having just had a gorgeous summer-like beginning to fall. The weather fooled the trees into keeping their leaves too long which meant that there was serious damage from overburdened tree branches breaking off - which meant power outages. At it's peak there were over 8000 homes without power in our area. (That's northern Colorado, the Denver area had more of course.) This is nothing compared to the more than 6 million people without power in the north east that I read about in this mornings paper.

How'd we do? Just fine. We certainly didn't need to use the Red Cross shelters that were made available. I canceled our FLL practice that first morning, Without electricity we couldn't power the computers to program the robots. Also, I wanted to play in the snow. ;-) We didn't miss the lights. Having lived on a boat for 10 weeks back when, and being a camping family, we had plenty of flash lights, lanterns and candles - not to mention a great excuse to go to bed earlier than usual. Our house, while big and airy, is well insulated, so even waking up to 9 degrees F outside, our house was in the mid 50's. We had plenty of food on hand. I missed being able to bake on a cold day, but we have a gas stove in the kitchen, so cooking hot food wasn't an issue. The deep freeze was packed, so just by leaving it alone out in the garage it did fine. The fridge was ok too, since we opened it minimally.

By the 2nd day we had our regular FLL practice, wearing sweaters and doing the project instead of the robots. Then, talking, we realized that we had enough battery power in our collective laptops to have a robot practice the next day. All in all, it was a little eerie how easily life went on with out power. I'm sure that's in part because most of the muncipalities near us had power, so essential services were available. Also, the water and gas lines weren't affected, which gave us less to worry about.

It was a good trial run for us. We lost some trees, and more tree branches. We realized that in an extended freeze we needed an alternative power source for heat. If we lost power when it was warmer our freezer and fridge need an alternative power supply. On our to do list now (as the budget allows) is to get a back up generator that runs on natural gas and/or propane, replace the wood fireplace with a wood burning stove, look into solar panels for electrical power, and into geothermal for heat. If the water ever goes,, we'd be hurting. I wonder if there's water under us and if we'd be allowed to dig a well for home use?

So are you ready for the next time the power goes out?