Preparing for winter power outages
One late December morning, my wife Adrienne and I woke up to find the power had gone out. A nasty, over-night windstorm was the culprit. Ours is a log home, and takes a while to cool down. Still, within minutes, I was firing up the wood stove – something I’d be doing anyway – only without my morning coffee.
Fortunately, we had cell service and a quick glance at the power company’s website indicated the power would be back on in about 90 minutes. We decided to ride it out, that is until 90 minutes started to look more like five hours.
As soon as daylight cracked in the eastern sky I was out in my garage, firing up the generator, which back-feeds to the house and is a real life-saver in such instances, even though it’s seldom needed. In fact, the last time we had to use the generator during a power outage was February, 2020.
With the generator cranking, all was right with the world. That is, with the exception of internet service, where again, the cell-phone saved the day as it served as a hot-spot and I was able get some work accomplished.
Still, as I pondered my situation that morning I realized I could’ve been caught flat-footed. What if the generator had broke down? I’m usually much better prepared for these situations simply by keeping at hand the same gear I use for camping and at our remote hunting camp as a security blanket around the home.
The first item on the list is water. We regularly keep plenty of drinking water in the refrigerator, but keeping the 5-gallon water jug we use for camping full, and stored in the basement sure comes in handy. And when I know a big storm is approaching I’ll add a 5-gallon bucket of water to the mix.
The next items are light and emergency power, albeit at a lower level. Years ago we invested in a small, 75-watt solar power system for camping. In the end, it turned out to be cumbersome and the panels are now at deer camp. But the solar controller/regulator and a pair of LED 12-volt lights are easily transported back and forth. Therefore, I keep two, 12-volt marine/RV batteries charged and also store them in the basement during the winter. The controller has a cigarette lighter and a USB outlet, which is handy, and in a pinch a smaller solar panel that now accompanies the RV can be used to provide a trickle charge.
Other camping gear is at the ready as well, including a rechargeable lantern, two Coleman lanterns and stoves, propane cylinders and even a little jet stove. Of course, flashlights and candles round out the gear list.
Power outages are not a regular occurrence where we live, but you never know how severe each one will be. Although the aforementioned gear was available to me that December morning, it is now much more organized just for this purpose. If anything, it provides a little peace of mind to go along with the wood stove and generator.