Saturday, June 17, 2023

Surviving a Power Outage

Surviving a power outage- 

Our area of east Texas was devastated with extreme storms this week. After the storm, with hurricane force winds, extreme lightning, and rain passed, our electrical provider had 97% of their service area without power equivalent to 47,000 meters. We are extremely thankful for their efforts to get electricity back as soon as possible, but in the meantime, we need to do things to stay comfortable and eat. 

As they were cooling off with us, I was showing our aunt and uncle a few of the things we have accumulated over the years that help us manage the outages. They had not thought about some of these items and she said  that I should share some of the ideas with others, so they could benefit from them, as well. Granted, some may not be available on the shelves at the moment, but are things that can be accumulated for future outages or ordered online. Considering we live in the Piney Woods of East Texas, trees falling on power lines will happen again. 

First and foremost a couple of battery powered fans. I have this first one that runs on 6 D batteries or electric. I keep it in my camper and we’ve used it on our checkout counter at shows. So far this week, it’s ran in the bedroom for two nights on the batteries I had in it and the dogs are using it to cool off some during the day. (Probably last used during the Yamboree in October.) It’s light weight, portable, and quiet. 

This small personal fan is something else I got while doing warm weather shows. It can hang around your neck or has a tripod to set on a table. It operates on 2 AA batteries. Both of these probably came from Walmart, but I’m sure you can find at many places. I can’t say for sure, but I’m thinking the black one was $20ish, while the small one was $5ish. 

Several years ago, Jeff bought a set of Ryobi 18V tools - weed eater, blower, and chainsaw. He also got this “work fan”. I questioned the purchase at the time, but it’s my favorite during an outage! It comes in very handy during power outages, as we bring it inside. We’ve had it in our bedroom, but can be easily moved anywhere. I think these can be purchased at Home Depot, but a Google search would provide more info. Jeff said it also runs on ac power. 

Jeff came in from working on the roof and held the fan up close to cool off. 

About ten years ago, we were going to be out of power during an ice storm for several days and we were able to buy a generator. I think at the time it was $300-350ish at Tractor Supply. (A search today shows a comparable model for $329 online). Best investment ever. Ours is 3500 watts, while some can be bought in many different sizes and capabilities  

Can we operate the whole house? No. 

Can we run a window unit or fans, make coffee, cook, run a few lights, plug in refrigerator? Yes! Just NOT all at the same time. You’ll want to check your generator operating capacity, but you can be comfortable at home and cook with it. Jeff is the knowledgeable one about all the specifics and what can operate together. I’ll just say, consult someone who knows and calculate your wattage to safely use it. I’m not the person to ask. 

This morning, Jeff had the coffee bar set up in the living room. He ran an extension cord in the front door and we had breakfast as usual. 

I got the camper not long after we got the generator and when I went camping, I used it. I bought a single burner and it can be used with the generator to boil water for coffee, dish washing, heating water for bathing/hair washing, or cooking anything you’d normally cook on a stove burner. I think it was about $10 at the grocery store. One summer, I had a baby calf that required a bottle and I heated water for his bottle in the camper at the farm. 

I also got a toaster oven for the camper and used it on the generator as well. If I recall correctly, I didn’t run both the toaster oven and burner at the same time. 

We had “hot turkey surprises” - grilled turkey, avocado, cheese, with home grown tomatoes last night.

I believe an air fryer can also be used with the generator. I’m currently pondering what kind of supper to fix tonight - I’m thinking my 20 minute skillet recipe with fresh squash, peppers, onions, and sausage. 

With the smaller generator, the refrigerator can be cycled at different times, when not using other appliances. Keep in mind, the less you open the ice box or freezer, the better. 

We’ve set up simple lamps and one time we even had the printers hooked up to it, so I could print orders and shipping labels. 

We’ve got a couple of oscillating fans plugged in now and are quite comfortable in the house. 

Yes, I understand a generator is an expense, although for the price of replacing a full refrigerator and freezer, you can get an alternative power source. Likewise, spending a few nights in a hotel would be the equivalent of one. It has definitely been a worthwhile investment for us. Our house is all electric and we don’t have a fireplace or propane, so getting a backup power source has been beneficial. 

Jeff hauls it in his farm truck, while working remotely, as he can use an air compressor to air up tractor or truck tires, among many other chores, where electricity isn’t available. He’ll charge the batteries for the cordless tools and all kinds of things, while out and about working. 

We’ve also invested in an electric heater that we know the generator can handle. We’ve used it in winter storms. While it won’t heat the whole house, we can use it to make a living room or bedroom comfortable. 

Jeff’s dad was dependent on oxygen and a generator allowed him to use his oxygen machine. 

Someone told me, they bought bags of ice and put it in metal pans in the refrigerator, as it helped keep it cool overnight and we discussed the old-timey hand held fans - you know the ones with a pretty pic on one side and advertising on the other. Jeff and I were broke down on the side of the road one time and let me tell ya, I was thankful for one that was in the truck! 

I know several places are opening cooling stations with water and places to charge phones. The Gilmer Civic Center is open today and I’m seeing other communities offering cooling stations. 

One friend is grilling outdoors, using food from the freezer, others are using Coleman stoves. 

Do you have any other tips and helpful ideas for surviving the power outages, that you can add to the list? 

This is not an affiliate post. I am not getting paid or compensated for mentioning any of these items. Just things that we have accumulated over the past 10+ years, that I thought might be helpful to someone else, especially after sharing these ideas with family and they appreciated the ideas we had.  They were putting battery powered fans on their list of things to find asap and found a generator yesterday. 

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