We were subject to a 5 day power outage along with a million other people in the DC / Baltimore area due to a Derecho storm on June 29, 2012. I love a good storm and this was up there with the best I have ever experienced. I was watching out the window in a quiet room in order to enjoy the storm's strength. Heard the "crash" out front of the house but was not going out to check on it until things calmed down.
The power went out, not unexpected up here. Turned off a few breakers to a few key components and we went to bed with the storm still in full swing. It was beautiful.
The next morning checked things out. A large tree of ours was across our fence & the road but did not damage the power lines. With our chain saw and a neighbor's help, got the road cleared pretty quick. Went to his house next and helped him clear his driveway of large branches. The power is still out, so walked the street to check on the neighbors. The elderly folks with medical issues have their generator running. A few neighbors are headed to friends/family with power or to a hotel. Most are staying put. A block away, up toward the main power line, found a break. Going down the hill, a neighbor had a large cherry tree uprooted in their yard and across their power lines. More damages to the main line as you walked down the street. OK, it may be a bit before they get to us w/ power.
This is not the first time we have lost power, so lets get to work and get set up. Rather like when you are going camping, you first arrive and you assess the situation, find the facilities, then get to work and set up camp!
Best to start with making breakfast. It's easier to work on a full stomach! Fired up the grill and broke out the "outside" equipment. Put on a percolator of coffee. Used the cast iron for bacon, eggs & hashbrowns on the grill.
1) We are on a well, so no power means no water. I have a few gallons set aside for times like this but will need to make arrangements for more in a day or two. Start pulling out the gallon jugs for flushing toilets and distributing them to key locations. Set up the jug of potable water (Amazon) next to the kitchen sink for refilling water bottles as they were consumed. Each person keeps a reusable water bottle with them and fills it from the potable water jug. I really hate wasting "disposable water bottles". This way we don't have trash AND we don't have dishes.
2) The fridge and freezer are the only things we use the small generator for - it's not even big enough to run the well. Set up the generator and it starts easy because we keep it serviced. Our appliances hold their temps pretty well, so we just run the generator every couple of hours to cycle things and keep them cold. Save on gas!
3) For lighting after dark we keep a stash of Solar Yard Lights like these (Amazon). We bought ours at Target in the fall, when they were on clearance. Put them in the sun to charge and place them around the home after dark and the corners will be lit up!! These will keep you and your kids from stumbling around. My favorite place is 2 or 3 to light up the stairs. If you have just one box of these (pack of 8 or 10) everyone will be so much happier. Our daughter was very upset by not having light, just one of these calmed her greatly (and she is not normally afraid of the dark).
4) Have a few other solar charger type items, like this for the Cell Phones (Amazon). You can't put this in the sun for an hour and then expect to get a full charge on your cell phone, but it works in a pinch. The phones & computers were charged from the generator when it is running, otherwise, have this for back up.
5) Because this was July it was hot and humid. Fans like these (Amazon) helped us to keep cool! Sweetie found ours at K-Mart and thought it would work well. Plugged in when we have electricity and battery when we are camping or otherwise out of power. When the heat was at it's worst, we placed this to blow over a ice chest with some ice in it. An old fashioned but effective form of Air Conditioning! That and we stayed in the basement where it's always cooler.
For entertainment, there was always work to do, otherwise, we caught up on our reading and had some great conversations. Visited with the neighbors and had them over for meals. Checked in that folks were doing OK. The elderly folks had their generator give out for a bit, so we helped them out until it could be serviced.
The local gas station was on generator to run their gas pumps. They didn't run out of gas, but then not everyone was out of power and living on generators. The grocery stores were tapped for food and were cleared out of several items - bottled water and soda. Ice was not available anywhere in the county.
A few blocks away still had power, so when the water jugs were getting low I headed over to a neighbor to refill. It was hit or miss as to who was out of power, our few streets just happened to take a hard hit and we were without power for 5 days almost to the hour.
Once power came back on there was a celebratory mood in the neighborhood. As folks were driving past my house on their way home, I called out to them that the power was back on!! Sweetie went down the street to let the elderly neighbors know that power had been restored and they could cut out the generator.
Over the next few days Sweetie and I reviewed what had worked and what did not. We cleaned up, put away equipment, serviced the generator and made ready for the next storm. Also made a shopping list for a few items that were needed/wanted and we did not have. Mostly comfort items. So far, only one (a major purchase) has not been acquired.