Well, he wasn’t in the dark, because this blackout started at 9 AM. Somebody hit a pole near us. The power went off, came back on and then went out. The Intertubz followed it a few minutes later.
Have I mentioned that the Grandthings are addicted to Hey Bear? Do you know what happens when an addict suddenly can’t get their fix? About 15 minutes of screaming, until you can manage to distract them with toys and food.
Normally, when the lights go out, I sort of cringe and check my phone to make sure it’s still powered up. I’ve read too many stories about EMP events, so it’s become a deep-set thing. The concept that 90% of us would be dead in a year if the grid went down and stayed down doesn’t do much for my inner peace, I’m tellin’ ya.
But when the power goes in and out before going out almost always means that someone has hit a pole, a tree has fallen or something similar. The Intertubz taking a few minutes to die is also a good indicator of that, as was the big TV playing on, running off the UPS. We have a lot of UPSes because we have rather crappy power out here in energy membership corporation land. Not knocking the EMC, those folks do a great job. It’s just that the area has grown a lot since we moved here, and capital is sort of a problem for them, so things are getting stretched.
So the power was out for five hours on a nice, warm end of July day. How did we deal with that? A combination of luck and being prepared.
The luck is that it was mostly cloudy for those 5 hours. Yes, the house warmed up, but not intolerably. But another hour or two and it would have been a different subject. I think we peaked at 79 or 80o.
My big thing is the refrigerators and the freezer. I have monitors on them, so I don’t have to open them to check a thermometer or worse yet, guess. I watched them as they indicated slowly warming internal temps for the first 2 1/2 hours. It was the freezer that finally told me that I needed to put some power on things.
Out came the trusty Honda EU2000. We’ve had this thing since a day after dirt, and it’s as deadly reliable as a generator can be. Always starts, although if you haven’t started it in a while you’re going to be pulling a bit. I try to run it every couple of weeks, so it only takes two or three pulls. Then it’s running the extension cords. Not a big deal.
Well, it wasn’t the last time I had to do this 9 years ago. The generator has gotten considerably heavier since then. I got it up on the deck, but it was unpleasant. My back is complaining about it still.
The next time this happens, the generator will stay under the deck, chained to a post. We’ll run the extension cords a different way. One Yellowjacket plus a three-way plug and a couple of short cords will go into the basement for the refrigerator and freezer and a shorter 14 gauge up and through the end window to serve the refrigerator upstairs.
That’s it, nice and simple. Much less strenuous on my back. Probably safer if we have to refuel, too.
I don’t worry about lights and such. We have a plethora of flashlights and other battery-powered lights that will see us through if needed.
We did have one problem that I haven’t been able to figure out. The freezer would not run on generator power. I had a 100′ 14 gauge cord for power, and the most I heard from it was something that I take to have been a relay click. But the refrigerator ran just fine on the same setup. I can’t find anything in the manual about some safety in the freezer that would prevent it from running if the voltage is low, and frankly, I’ve never seen that sort of thing in any refrigerator or freezer we’ve ever owned. As soon as the power came back on, it started running. No harm, no foul though. The internal temp didn’t get past 19o.
I think the next experiment is to try the freezer on the big battery pack and see if it will run. If that doesn’t work, I’m not sure what I’ll try after that.
Having these minor emergencies gives you a good chance to check out your preps and your plans under actual conditions. It also lets you find those holes in your preps and plans in a more benign environment than after the SHTF. Let’s hope that something like this is the worst reason we need our preps.
I did take this opportunity to mention to Mrs. Freeholder, again, that it sure would be nice to have a solar-powered whole-house backup system, or failing that, a natural gas whole-house generator. No dice. “This doesn’t happen often enough.” *sigh* I guess we’ll wait until the power is unstable enough we have to have one, and then go on a 3-year waiting list.