What to do When the Lights Go Off

IMG_0262The bright light in the picture is one of my newest purchases, a reaction to a power outage we had last week. The power went out in the part of town I live in around 3pm on a weekday. It happened to be the hottest day of the year so far, with temperatures over 100f accompanied by relatively high humidity. In this case the outage wasn’t due to the storms that have been hitting much of the U.S. in recent weeks, but was the result of a fire in a power station.

I was far luckier than the people in many parts of the country who have had their power go out for days as a result of storms the past few weeks, days of soaring temperatures and humidity. This time, I was barely inconvenienced. I was at work in air conditioned comfort when I heard about the outage. Rather than heading home after work, I went to a nearby air conditioned restaurant, where I stayed until time for a book group (again, in air conditioned comfort). The power came back on a few minutes before I got home. Yes, my home was a bit hot, but I could turn the lights on and my home became cool over the course of the evening.

A day later several friends in Eastern states experienced power outages that lasted much longer. They had no power all night, and no power the next day. After hearing about their experiences I decided to get a bit more prepared.

So far I’ve made just two purchases. I now have a key chain with a tiny light on it (thanks to a friend for suggesting it). The hallway outside of my apartment can be very dark when the power goes off, and this will allow me to see to put my key in the lock.

More critically, I now have my new battery operated LED Coleman lantern in the picture above. I’ve tried it at night and it can be very bright. According to the directions, at it’s lowest setting (which is still bright) the power can last up to 155 hours. I’m a bit skeptical about that estimate, so have bought extra packs of batteries just in case.

Nothing is going to help with the heat in an extended outage, but at least I’ll have light. I have done some investigating of hand-crank chargers for cell phones, but most of the reviews are rather underwhelming. But I’m still looking.

Do you have any special lights or chargers tucked away in case of power outages? And if you’ve experienced an extended outage this summer, you have my true sympathy.

–LinnieGayl

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6 Responses to “What to do When the Lights Go Off”

  1. LeeB. says:

    I have a high powered flashlight but that’s about it. Fortunately, there are back up lights that turn on in the hallways/stairwells of my apartment building when there is a loss of power, which generally doesn’t last long (knock on/touch wood).

    At work we have lots of bottled water and canned food in case of earthquakes. And we also have a whistle on a cord taped under our desks.

  2. I wish the lights in my hallways were on backup power, but they’re not. What is the whistle for?

  3. LeeB. says:

    The whistle is to call for help if there’s an earthquake and someone gets buried beneath debris.

  4. Victoria S says:

    We had a 26 hour power outage last summer.My sister and I took the 8 yr old nephew and 20 yr old niece to the beach for an overnight stay. We had a great time.

    But that battery operated Coleman lantern sounds like a good investment. I may have to get one of those.

  5. Missie says:

    When it’s hot and there’s no AC and no breeze, a dip or soak in a cool tub of water helps, as will just wiping yourself down with a damp, cool cloth. (That’s what I’ve done when I’ve been without power in the heat for any extended period.)

    Also, wetting your hair and head in cool water will cool you off much more than you might think.

    Placing something cool/cold (cold cloth, ice wrapped in a wash cloth, or a cold beverage can or bottle) against your pulse points (wrist, inside fold of your elbow, carotid artery in your neck, back bend of your knee) will help you feel cooler, as well.

    Dampening your skin with isopropyl (sp?) alcohol (rubbing alcohol) will help cool you, too, but can also dry or irritate your skin if you have sensitive skin or skin irritations. Witch hazel can offer you a temporary cooling feeling, as well, but without drying/irritating your skin as alcohol might.

  6. Thanks, Lee. I wondered about the whistle.

    VictoriaS, a beach overnight during a power outage sounds perfect. And I discovered just how handy the Coleman lantern is. My power went off Saturday night for four hours, on a day when it had been over 100f. The lantern allowed me to read at night. I’ve ordered a second one so I can have a light in another room, and I’ve also ordered a battery-operated radio so I can hopefully get news of what’s happening.

    Missie, I like the idea of the witch hazel. i think I’ll pick up a bottle of it.