Power outage? Let's go camping!

Power outage? Let's go camping!

July 2016 is in the record books now, as the 3rd rainiest July in Chicago history.  More rain in a couple of  hours than in an entire month, according to Tom Skilling. and along with the rain comes flash flooding and power outages.

For me, every time it rained last month, there was static on the landline, and problems with the internet.  And yes, a power outage.  It wasn’t squirrels this time; although squirrels are responsible for more power outages than tree branches, birds or snakes.

You can read more about my problems with squirrels and power lines here.

There will be more thunderstorms, and more power outages. Are you prepared?  Pants with lots of pockets?  Radio, batteries, canned food?   Pet food, water?  Ice in a cooler?   Then you are ready for a power outage, or a camping trip.

In fact, a power outage is an excellent opportunity to get back to basics. Conserve phone batteries. forget the devices. Stove not working? Cook outside. No air conditioning? Camp outside.  When the lights are out, you can see the fireflies. When enough lights are out, you might be able to spot some of the Perseid meteors from your rooftop or backyard.

A power outage is almost  like a camping trip, except you can avoid the traffic, the expense, and the crowds. There will be mosquitos, just like camping out.  Flashlights and candles will come in handy.  A fire offers a chance to gather around and tell spooky stories, which in comparison to the latest news headlines, will seem refreshing.

Ah, but you want your campsite to be near the water? No problem. A cold shower is like a plunge in a  lake. Imagine a waterfall in the wilderness. Stairs can be like  hiking in the mountains.

Why is the dog growling?  And where did the cat come from, appearing as if from nowhere, eyes glowing like mirrors.  You are surrounded by wild creatures, a getaway  from  ordinary  life, without ever leaving home.

You can find out  more about the Perseid meteors at Space.com.



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  • Fortunately, the smart grid does work. I used to have power outages of 2 to 4 hour duration. Now they are about 10 seconds, not even enough to scramble digital clocks. I mentioned before that the tree that fell and fractured the gas line and knocked down the power pole resulted in a 5 minute power outage, The people on that block were out for 10 hours, but were told to evacuate, so a stockpile of canned beans wouldn't have made a difference.Someone wanted her fridge and air conditioner replaced, though.

    Now, if you were around about 30 years ago when I was in an ice storm in upstate NY with the power out for a week... At least the mall food court had power. I had the only house with an electric range.

  • In reply to jack:

    Thanks for reading, Jack. Yes, thanks to the smart grid, the power outages are not so bad. In 2011, power was out for 3 days, and many of my neighbors went to motels until it was fixed. I did use a lot of bagged ice from Walgreens. It was like camping, in a way. This time, the power was out for 4 hours total.

    Oh the ice storms are bad! We are fortunate not to get too many of them, here.

  • In reply to Weather Girl:

    Among the things ComEd did in my development as part of the "smart grid" project was recable all the underground wiring, which up to then kept failing and requiring digging up the grass.

    The ComEd guy on the scene said the reclosers (inage) allowed the dispatcher to reroute power around the broken pole.

    Smart meters (which were installed here about a month ago) are supposed to tell the control center that the power is off, not making it necessary to call 1*800-Edison1. One of the problems in the ice storm was that the utility did not know that it lost 80% of its load.

    As I mentioned above the people on that block lost power for 10 hours and ComEd had to break and close that circuit manually, but everyone else was up in 5 minutes.

    I don't know if any of what I describe was installed in your neighborhood (at a minimum you could see antennas on top of poles), but if it was, a 4 hour delay means the fault must have been within a block.

  • In reply to jack:

    Yes, Jack, it was on the south end of the block. Come Ed truck was in the alley, guys working on the problem for 3 hours.

  • In reply to Weather Girl:

    Somehow, even in the pre Smart Grid days I found it more reassuring to see the truck than "the whole village is down and a time for restoration has not been determined."

  • Great way of looking at a power outage. I tend to get antsy that my sewing machine isn't working! I like your view better.

  • In reply to Kathy Mathews:

    Thanks for reading, Kathy. I hear you about the sewing machine. Hand sewing is not the same! I have really been missing the internet connection...

  • In reply to Weather Girl:

    I'm with you about hand sewing -- not my favorite. But I'm with Kathy, too -- this is great perspective.

  • In reply to Margaret H. Laing:

    Ah, hand sewing by candlelight, now that's the pioneer spirit..thanks so much for reading!

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