2020 has been a tremendously odd year. I won't call it a bad year, but its definitely been a roller coaster. The last couple weeks alone have been going from being sick, to the birth of my second born, to having to help the second-born through photo therapy, before a major winter storm came in and knocked power out at my house for three days. Fortunately, I was semi-prepared. I had a generator (thankfully my grandfather gave me his old one allowing me to upgrade), I had some food, I had a few lights, but I definitely had some items short.
For starters, I definitely did not have enough lighting. A couple cheap lanterns that ran off triple-A's and a single headlamp made life pretty difficult on my wife in particular. We did have some candles, but the illumination front could have been much better. Don't underestimate the importance of decent illumination in the event of a power outage, if only for morale reasons.
Which brings me to my second point, morale. The week old infant was easy enough to entertain, a couple colorful toys and a dim light was enough to keep him occupied for the roughly hour-per-day that he was awake. My wife and my toddler were much more difficult to entertain, especially when I wasn't prepared. The first night was a bit boring. Without much light, and me desparately trying to preserve the batteries on my phone and such, eating and talking was more or less the entertainment method of choice. Needless to say, the wife was despondent.
The next day, we went to my grandparents' house (who not only had power, but a full-house automatic backup generator just in case), and I juiced up all of my devices while downloading as many movies and TV shows as possible. The second night was significantly more fun as we had some shows for the toddler, and the wife and I partook of a movie by firelight. Tres romantique.
Food was also an issue. The entire fridge was toast within a few hours, so we're limited to dry food. Most of it couldn't be heated up as we have an electric stove. Most nights it was ordering food in (key word for everything was lukewarm). The third day, I finally got my act together and was able to dip into our emergency food supply and got a hot breakfast of maple oatmeal with orange energy drink, banana chips, and hot coffee going. Never underestimate how good it feels to have a warm meal in your belly when everything kinda sucks.
Speaking of warmth, my generator plan was very lackluster. Sure I had a generator with plenty of fuel and extension cords, but running extension cords throughout the house with a toddler running around is very ill-advised. Plus I brought the unit into my garage (not running) during the night so it didn't freeze over or get stolen. After a few days of shlupping that 230lb generator around, I realized just how much fatigue it really caused.
In short, these past three days of no power have really exposed to me the shortcomings in my plan. The wife and I have already agreed upon our first major step, and that's to have planned power outages a couple times a year (one hot weather, one cold weather). This can help us continually improve our plan and show how we're lacking. It also shows us real conditions that we might encounter (like me realizing that without heat, my house would dip down to about 65 degrees at night). I'm also rectifying some of the quick challenges (such as installing a transfer switch with a permanent fixture for my generator, and converting it to natural gas, while also getting some better lighting implements and some stuff like JetBoils so we can have hot meals). If we don't have another outage due to a storm before the end of winter, I'll probably schedule one, just so we can try again and see how we've done.
I'll write some more articles going into the details of every step of our current plan, and how they turn out. Stay tuned for more.