Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Lessons Learned from the Recent Storm

The recent storm that plowed through Columbus gave us a chance to learn some very valuable lessons.  Some of which we had plans to prepare for but had yet to get around it.  More importantly, if gave us some very definitive areas of weakness that need to be addressed.

The storm rolled in pretty quick, and while I left work in what I thought would have been enough time to get home, it wasn't.  I was barely a mile from work when it hit.  First lesson: driving on a freeway in rush hour traffic in a chaotic storm was not a fantastic place to be.  This is pretty obvious for anyone in a city, but will now make me reassess the my departure times when a storm like that comes through.  On the plus side, I was already taking an alternate route home, which got be off the freeway, and away from the human idiocy side of the danger equation.  This is a huge recommendation of mine for anyone - figure out at least 3 ways home.  This has great advantages on an everyday basis as many times there are accidents, events, etc. that will significantly delay a "typical" route.  

I already knew we didn't have power because I called Lynette and let her know the route I was taking home.  I waited to call when I was at a light and was able to pay attention to what was going on, but I felt that letting her know which way I was taking home was important just in case I got delayed, had to ditch the car, or got in an accident.  That way, if I wasn't able to be reached by phone, once the storm blew over she could have come looking for me.  I digress....so once I got home, we started evaluating the situation of being without power for the first time in our new house.  Almost immediately, I got out a sheet of paper, and started a list.

This list included pretty much everything we could think of or encountered during our 3 days without power. Everything from knowing where the flashlights and lanterns were, to minor issues with the float valve on our back-up sump pump.  On the back of this page, I also started a list of things to put into a procedural manual for the house.  These procedures are basically all the little things that we never really think about proactively. For example, when the power is out and the fridge is off, the ice in the door of the freezer starts to melt and puddles on the floor.  This will be especially good to remember once we get the hardwood installed in the kitchen.  The procedure manual is a simple reminder that if the power is off for a few hours, go a head and just empty the ice bin to keep it from melting.  This manual will also come in very handy once we get a generator and need the procedure to set that up and get it running to be laid and straight forward.

This leads us to our big lack of being prepared.  No generator.  We bought this place because it got us away from the city and away from the big population of people.  In doing so, we know that while we are not remote, we are far enough out to make things like power outages last a bit longer.  This was our big weak spot.  We had planned to get one eventually, but put it off for other things.  Once the power was out, and we had 3 neighbors around us running generators we knew that we had better correct this problem next time.  

Also, while we were out looking for items that we lacked we realized there are quite a few things that come in short supply during situations like this (D batteries, ice, gas, coolers, generators, etc.).  Luckily our small chest freezer was fairly empty and our fridge was too, so we were able to stuff everything in the freezer, and throw some ice on it.  That kept it cold enough to salvage all the important/expensive stuff.  We now know however to not only make sure we have these things stored for when it happens again, but to also test and make sure we know how to work something. 

Example - we got a Coleman camp stove for Christmas so I broke it out and fired it up to make some coffee on Saturday morning, just to quickly run out of fuel....oops.  The gas grill ended up and worked good for it, but used way more fuel than necessary.  We bought some fuel on Saturday, but then apparently overfilled the tank.  Again, a lesson better learned when you're not in need of something.

Finally, and sadly it seems that this society has an extremely short attention span.  When the power went out, people panicked, and spent sometimes hours finding a generator, just to get home and apparently have power.  You would think they'd be happy that they had a generator for next but, but you'd be wrong.  Instead, it was immediately posted on craigslist.  I saw many ads indicating that the generator had been run, yet they still wanted full price for it....?!  Really people.  Moral of the story is, it's better to prepare for it now, then rush around in a panic with a bunch of other crazy panicked people.  

Did you learn any lessons from the weekend storms?  Are there a bunch of little things or some big things that really made things worse than they had to be?  I'd be interested to know because it may be something we didn't even think about or hadn't experienced.

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