Monday, September 27, 2010

Emergencies, and why we aren't as prepared as we think we are...

This weekend was a big eye opener for my family and I.  Friday night we lost power, due to the unusually high winds sending an unusually high number of trees into the power lines.  No big deal, right?  We've weathered lots of power outages before!  They never last more than a few hours, and we have lots of candles and blankets.

Saturday morning came, and we were still without power.  Hmm.  We don't own a generator.  The 6 year old keeps forgetting to NOT flush the toilet, and now we have no water.  Should we try to find a generator?  Nah, the power will surely be back on in a few hours!

Saturday night, still no power.  DON"T OPEN THE FREEZER!!!  I have hundreds of dollars worth of food in the freezer, and if it thaws out, we're in trouble.  And its getting really cold in here.  Its 36 degrees outside.

Sunday morning, still no power.  The house is very cold, and everything in the refrigerator is spoiled, including all the green beans I just harvested from the garden and hadn't had a chance to process yet.  Husband decided that we have to get a generator NOW.  Off to town we go, and had to look at 6 stores to find one.  Imagine that, we weren't the only ones who decided we should get one!  $800.00 later, we're on our way home, sure that the power will be on now that we spent all that money.  Thank God we aren't burdened by credit cards any longer and had money in savings to pay cash.

What the Hell?!  Now its SNOWING!!!

Back at home, the power still isn't on, so we get the generator running, and get the fridge, freezer and furnace plugged in by running extension cords through the kitchen window..  No well pump, as we aren't wired to switch it easily to generator power.  If it was colder out, the well lines would all be frozen by now.  We all took baby-wipe baths and snuggled in to watch a movie on the little TV that we plugged into the generator.  If we hadn't gotten the generator, the freezers would be thawing by now. 

We ran the generator all night last night.  At 5:15 the alarm went off.  Time for Rob to get ready for work.  UGH.  But then, a flash and a buzz, and on came the power!  Yahoo!!!  It was off for a total of 60 hours.  If we hadn't left early Sunday to get the generator, they would have been all sold out and we would have been out of luck.

Top 5 things I learned from this ordeal...

1. Canning my produce, and even as much meat as I can, is a very good idea.  The freezer is not a dependable food storage solution.

2. This is ALASKA.  You need backup power.  Dependable back up power.  And you need the house wired for that backup power.

3. Kids get scared when the power goes off, even if they say they are fine.

4. Have emergency funds.  Since we don't have credit cards (thank God) we would have been in a much worse situation if we had no way to buy the generator and emergency food and fuel.

5. I want a woodstove.  You can heat with it AND cook with it.


  1. *smiles*

    Jamie... this is the reason I prep. Other than I hate earthquakes. Would you mind helping me with canning down the raod. I admit it, i am scared to death to can and it go bad!

    It wasn't just the Valley and Anchorage, Talkeetna, Trapper Creek and that way up there was hit hard too. Trees all over.

    How big is your generator?

  2. I am actually very interested in getting involved with the prepper network. I'd love to help with your canning adventures! I've not ventured into the pressure canning area, but anything to do with water bath canning I am very comfortable with. We could learn the other stuff together!

    We got a 5000/6500 generator. Should be enough to run the well pump by itself, and it handled the fridge, deep freeze, and monitor heater with power to spare.

  3. No problems. That is a great generator. Hubby and i bought one a while ago... little guy but I have a feeling it should work well for the new house.

    We were suppose to sign tomorrow. And the selling agent screwed up the whole thing. We now don't know when we are going to sign on the house. :(

  4. Hi Jamie. We did not lose power but my sister did for three days! We are guilty of having no backup generator. It's sad you lost all that food. You've seen our insert stove - worthless POS when the power is out. Don't know what the people that we bought the house from were thinking!!

  5. upinak - There isn't much of anything more stressful than buying a house. We were in the middle of buying this one when the housing and financial markets did their nose dive. It took months extra just because the lenders were so nervous about the market.

    Faith - We have a propane fireplace in the bedroom. Doesn't do much good when you can't run the fan!

  6. Jamie, Hubby has a special battery system set up for our cabin. Since we have city water and sewer and the darn electricity goes out all the time, we do NOT need the lines to freeze. So what he did was hook up two RV batteries (like marine batteries) and put them into the marine battery tubs with a trip switch that if the electicity goes out, it trips the batties on and makes the Toyo keep going. When the electricity comes back, it trips off and the batteries hold until the next outage. it has been a life saver! I can ask if Hubby has a diagram to send to you and your hubby for the future?

    Oh, I used your blog entry about being needing to be prepared at the Alaska Preppers blog. Hope you don't mind.

  7. A diagram would be great, and no, I don't mind. :)

  8. We learned that lesson the hard way a couple of years ago. I had faithfully stored away a season's harvest in the freezer. Then along came the big ice storm and the electricity was off for a week. Of course it got nice and warm the next day. Everything had to be thrown out. Now I keep the bare minimum in the freezer and I can everything possible. A pressure canner is a great investment. We put up lots of chicken/veggie and beef/veggie soup last year. No more store bought soup for us.

  9. Jamie, that is a very sad story, and I totally sympathize. Glad you were able to get a generator and at least save wht was in your freezer. We had to get a generator because, like you, we are on a well and without power we have no water in addition to no power. One thing about the generator if you're on the grid is make sure that it's correctly wired so that it doesn't backfeed and potentially kill or injure linemen trying to get power back on to your house. I know Chugach Electric in Anch has instructions for how to install to avoid this from happening, and I suspect MEA has similar instructions for out in the valley.


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