As some of you may have heard, we had a huge blackout here in the San Diego area yesterday. It stretched from the Mexican border north to Orange County and east to Arizona. It was HUGE - 5 million people without power. Thankfully, we were back up in about 12 hours, so it wasn't too bad in the end.
But, when it first went out, we had no idea how long it would be. So, I put my usual "the power is out" plan into action and started thinking about what I would do if it went more than 24 hours. Growing up in rural New Hampshire, I've dealt with a lot of power outages. Some last 3-4 days (or more). So, this is old hat for me. I actually had a lot of fun last night sitting outside with my hubby, candles going, drinking wine and looking at the stars. So, I thought I'd share my general rules/strategies for dealing with power outages.
The first 24 hours:
-Gather all your candles, lighters and flashlights and keep them in a central location. Carefully use candles when possible (and safe) to save flashlight battery power. Don't forget to take advantage of any solar lights you may have outside your home. They make great backup flashlights!
-In summertime, keep windows and shades closed until it's cooler outside than inside. Then open everything up to cool the house down.
-Keep the fridge and freezer closed as much as possible. Try to save opening them for when you have several things to get out. For example, last night, I made a list of all the ingredients I needed for dinner and pulled them all out at once. We drank water (and, let's be honest, here - wine!) we had in the closet to avoid opening the fridge.
-Eat the most perishable items you have (milk, eggs, yogurt, etc.) first, if possible. After the first 4-5 hours, move them to the freezer. The freezer should keep things cold for 24-48 hours (though you should probably eat your ice cream ASAP. Not such a bad deal!)
-Use hand sanitizer in place of washing your hands when they're not very dirty. (If you have city water, it may still work during a power outage - but sewer systems may leak. I suggest not using the water unless you really have to. And if you have a well - your pump won't work anyway!)
24 hours and beyond:
-Start cooking/eating. Focus on using up as many of your perishables as you can first (after that, you can move on to your nonperishable items - canned goods, dry goods, etc.) While your microwave and electric stoves won't work, you can still use gas. This includes outdoor BBQs, which you can use your regular pots and pans on in a pinch, if needed.
-Continue to open the freezer as little as possible. While things won't stay frozen, they will stay safely cool longer than things in the fridge. Cook and eat meats as they defrost.
-For washing up, boil water on the BBQ or gas stove. Let it cool until it's comfortable to touch. Use a washcloth and the water to "freshen up" without a shower. You can also wash dishes this way.
-Do as much "fun" stuff during daylight hours as you can - read, play board games, go for walks, etc.
-Make nighttime special - not boring. Pretend you're camping. Look at the stars, tell family stories, etc.
What are your tips for coping with a power outage or blackout?