Don’t Prepare? Get Ready for Despair!

Posted on April 29, 2014

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As we go about our everyday life it is very easy to forget about the little convinces our modern day life has to offer. From electricity to indoor plumbing to remote start in the winter. Things many of us take for granted because they’re always just a flick or flush away.

It’s cold outside we turn up the thermostat. We need to use the restroom we sit do our business flush and wash our hands. It’s dark no problem we flick the switch. What if it were gone? What happens whether it’s a few hours, days or even longer?

The area we live in for whatever reason the power goes out too often. Whether it was the kid who stole his parents car and took out a pole, a now crispy squirrel or 8″ of snow built up on the lines. No matter how easily accessible our flashlights and candles are there is always something that hinders everyday living when the power goes out for a few hours or over night.

For me a big one is my fan. I need it to sleep. No electricity no fan. Another one is my phone. Smart phone equals dead phone real quick. Winters here are COLD so that stupid kid or stupid snow now means we have no heat. And that’s just a bummer for a few hours over night or most of the day.

How about we extend that 2 weeks in winter? A freak snow storm blows through you can’t get out of your driveway and everything close to you is also down. What happens then? You have no heat because electricity is now considered a “primary” heat source and wood stoves and fireplaces are either being ripped out or not even put in homes. Even most fireplaces and stove tops that use natural gas need some sort of electricity to function.

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Even just 10 years ago if the power went out you still may have phone service. Our family has gone to just individual cell phones no land line. I’m guessing that’s a normal thing today. So you have no phone because day 1 maybe 2 if your lucky your phone died. Whether it was almost dead or you figured the power will return soon, the snow will melt fast and played Words with Friends. Communication for your area is pretty well down.

At some point during this time period your hot water was gone so it’s been a few days since you showered. Water pumps are no longer working so water is probably unsafe to drink without boiling. (Doesn’t a wood stove sound nice about now? A hot bath and clean drinking water you boiled on top of the stove?) You are going stir crazy, freezing, and dirty. Probably eaten all the snack food too. If you have kids you are worried about their warmth and hunger levels. They’re probably getting on your nerves with no way to entertain themselves. And thus far you have heard nothing from anyone about whether or not power will be restored or the weather will give in.

What do you do? Are you prepared? Could you ride out even a week? Or is something as simple as a place to build a fire not even an option for you? Do you even know how to build a fire? If you do can you do it while the ground is a blanket of snow?

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Do you keep enough food in the house that you could get through a few days or even a few weeks and comfortably feed the people in your home? Or are you a grocery store every few days person? Are there extra batteries for that flash light in the junk drawer? Are you wondering if the batteries in the flash light even work anymore? Candles are great but where are your matches or lighter?

I know when the power goes out and I walk into a room I am so conditioned by modern convinces that even though the house is dark and maybe I’m even carrying a flash light I reach for that light switch. When I want a hot shower I expect there to be hot water running from my tap. I’m hungry there’s nothing here I order a pizza or drive down the street. Simple things we take for granted are so easily taken away and so quickly but mother nature or otherwise.

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Back in 2004 we lived in Florida and hurricane Charlie came through Ft. Myers Florida where we lived. Our first thought is awesome!!! Being from Oregon that’s not something we ever experienced. My now husband went to work that day and finally came home when things started flying in the wind, we watched the rain pour down the wind rip signs and trees from the ground around us. The power goes out and we take some pictures and occupy our time while we wait for the storm to pass.

Not knowing what we are in for we just keep occupied thinking the power will come on soon and life as we know it will be back to normal. Day 2, no such luck. At the time we had a land line which was still up and running we called the power company. Estimated time unknown. One of our bedrooms is now flooded.

By the second day mother nature is back to normal. It’s August, it’s Florida and it’s HOT. Cool shower in the windowless bathroom no biggy. Go for a drive see the damage, the streets look abandoned but a vast majority of the population stayed put. National Guard is on hand to direct traffic for whatever reason. ( Armed National Guard, or at first glance. They had no magazine in their weapons?? Um ok.)

Day 3 flooded room is getting smelly, tired with little to no sleep hot and hungry because we can’t cook food. I call hotels all around and across Florida. All booked. We head to a local box store we hear has a generator so they’re open. Shelves are bare. We find one lantern left on the shelf. Our only purchase. Head to a local chain store we hear is giving out ice. Looking back we probably looked like the people you see on the news desperate and dirty waiting for our ice. We get our ice which in this area of the country may last you a day. We have no coolers. So we use a plastic tote. Which leaks everywhere.

We’ve been advised not to drink the water because it is not safe. Our water pressure barely exists we are running out of clean clothes. The power company still doesn’t know when they may make it to our area let alone have it restored. It’s only been a few days and it feels like forever. There is no time frame when life may go back to normal. Money is being lost each day since no one is working. After just a few days if you were as unprepared as we were you really start to feel hopeless and helpless. It doesn’t take long.

We went on a search for somewhere to get some food. We came across a fast food restaurant that was packed with cars and people in line wrapped around the building. So we decided to go there and grab a few things to hold us over a few days. Fast food doesn’t go bad after all right… 4 hours and numerous freak out sessions about the heat and jerks cutting in line later we leave with some burgers. Tummies feeling better we head home and store the rest and call the power company again. Same recording no real time frame.

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By the time the power came back on it felt like the longest 7 days in our lives. We had watched the boom trucks pull in a knew finally we would have some normalcy soon. As the harmonious hum of the electricity came on and the lights came to life people all around us cheered and clapped thankfully to the workers as they left.

It was by no means the awesome thing we first thought it would be. It was hot and miserable. We had to seek sources for food, light water and the ability to keep food good. No light, hot water, flushing toilets, television, video games.

Being so unprepared has given us a strong drive not to be in that position again. We live in a less populated area with property we can utilize. We have food to keep us going for a while. We have candles and flash lights, heck more than one lantern now. We have back ups for our back ups. It’s much easier to keep going when it’s warm but now we live where it’s cold more often than not and it has more hardships but offers fresh water sources something that for sticking it out cannot be beat.

It’s easy to think you will be okay because usually the power is back on in an hour or so. Or because the store is right down the road. You may think that your having a 72 hour kit will get you by long enough. If you don’t want to be a victim, if you don’t want to be that desperate dirty person on the news at the back of an ice truck the time is now. Don’t put off some of the simplest things. Grab an extra can of food at the grocery store, pick up a latern. Store some fresh water. Make sure if you are in a cold climate you have a plan to stay warm. Make sure you have a way of communication other than your cell phone. Even keep cards or a board game handy to pass time.

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