Archives for posts with tag: emergency preparedness

I’m sipping my coffee, and starting my work day. It’s pretty ordinary in most respects. The rain continues to fall. By itself, the fact of rain falling is insignificant on a winter morning in the Pacific Northwest. Rain falls. It’s a thing people know about. 🙂 We are powerless to stop the rain falling. (I’m sure there’s a metaphor there, somewhere…)

It’s actually been raining, specifically here, where I am, for days. There are flood warnings. It’s a legitimate concern.

The “creek” beyond the retaining wall is generally just a trickle.

Rain. Floods. Storms. Weather exists. It comes and goes. I sip my coffee grateful that I’m not also dealing with a major power outage, as some colleagues just a few miles north happen to be, this morning.

…Few experiences define “feeling powerless” the way being without power can… I mean… for obvious reasons.

An anxious younger colleague reaches out for suggestions on coping with the lack of electricity. I share tips, practices, and perspective gained over years. Most of those are fairly practical, some of them are not helpful unless available in advance… still, it’s often helpful simply to “be there” for someone feeling anxious, so I did my best. 🙂 Then, I found myself reflecting on my own general “preparedness” for such emergencies in life…

  1. Big bag of tea lights for lighting the darkness? Yep. I’ve got those.
  2. A supply of safe drinking water? Yep. Just in case.
  3. Non-perishable snacks and camping food that can be prepared without cooking (or just boiling water)? Definitely; I try to stay “ready to camp”.
  4. Some way to boil water safely? Yep. Jet-Boil is handy. There are others. (And it won’t matter, anyway, if there’s no fuel for that stove…)
  5. Adequate canned fuel for the camping stove. (I’ve got that, too.)
  6. A lighter can be very handy. I have a couple around. (Matches, too.)
  7. Something to do besides doomscrolling and feed-checking? Books, board games, decks of cards… yep. On hand, always. 😀 (And it’s a good thing, too, since batteries have a finite charge!)
  8. Back up power? This one is tricky… an assortment of power bricks, charged, are available, so we’re good for sufficient power to check email, make phone calls, and provide limited connectivity for a short while. Better than nothing. Having a small generator would be cool… that’s a very different level of preparedness, and I’m not there yet. lol

Now… all that is well and good and super helpful… but only if I can find it in the dark. Can I? Hmmm… generally, yes. We moved recently, though, and I realize when I think it over as a potential crisis scenario; I can’t find the camping food/gear in my head with the specificity I’d need to go directly to it in the darkness. I know it is “in the garage” – which is my Traveling Partner’s wood shop, also (and which has an ever-changing purpose-driven arrangement of tools and work space, by design). Daylight means I would not need to stress over this detail; I can just open the garage door and see what I’m doing… but if I had to find my Jet-Boil stove in the darkness? I don’t think I could, right now. It’s a small detail, but one that reminds me that moving in, for me, is a fairly lasting process of many weeks – and I’m not “there” yet. I can’t find everything in the dark, yet.

I sip my coffee and think about power, powerlessness, and feeling prepared for life, generally. I could do better, I can see that. 🙂 I make some notes to myself.

It’s time to begin again. 😀

I heard some of the news stories about the wind and power outages, as the day went on. I didn’t think much about it besides feeling sympathetic for the people going through it, and hoping that it would be quickly resolved.

On my way home, signs that this was not an abstract circumstance happening elsewhere in the world.

I arrived home feeling merry on a Friday evening, thinking about dinner, a hot shower, maybe some Rick and Morty…  I arrived home to darkness. Everything dark. Even the aquarium. The stillness and quiet were… quite still, and very quiet; even the hums and buzzes of the appliances were silenced. I did the obvious thing; I flipped a switch. No change. I did what makes sense as a next step (for a human primate)… I flipped another switch. Then checked the fuse box. Finally, used my device to determine that, yes, I was participating in a power outage, no estimated time for a resolution (later cheerily updated to sometime the following morning, around 11:30 am).

The apartment was quite chilly. The aquarium much less so; the small battery back up my Traveling Partner got for me after a brief interruption in power last year did what it could. I got my tender heart ready to deal with the heartache of losing my fish by morning, as best I could. I lit candles in cute votive holders (I have a literal drawer full of tea light candles that just wait for such occasions as this). I recharged my device using a power brick that I take on camping trips. I ordered firewood; a fire in fireplace would definitely take the chill off. I had a quick bite of dinner while I waited for firewood to arrive. I wore my coat – and an extra sweater.

This whole time, the biggest active stressor was the ancient Verizon FiOS box in a back closet beeping at me every couple of minutes to alert me there is no power. Well, damn it, I know that; it isn’t my doing! My Traveling Partner, seeing an irritated Facebook post on the subject of beeping and power outages sends me a message suggesting there is probably a reset button or something of that kind that will silence the alarm. That seems… too obvious. How did I not see that when I looked the first time? Why didn’t any of the online forums mention that? I grab my flashlight, a foot stool, and go looking for a button, which I do find – and tiny lettering clearly indicates this wee blue button is to “silence alarm”. I push it. Silence, as agreed. Nice.

Making the best of circumstances, beautifully.

As power outages go, and aside from the concern about my fish likely being mortal (which I was frankly very much aware of), and my fridge now being plentifully filled with things no longer safe to consume (which although aggravating doesn’t have to be “a thing” of noteworthy importance right now), it was simply an evening of candlelight, without television, without streaming media, and by itself that didn’t have to be unpleasant at all. I invited friends over, we chilled together, talked, laughed, and made the best of things while the apartment slowly warmed up again. It was, actually, quite a lovely evening, spent with good friends.

Meditation by fire light.

After things wound down, and I began to consider sleep, I sat by the fire awhile on my meditation cushion, enjoying the stillness, the utter calm and quiet. I set aside worries about the fish surviving or not surviving; the outcome was not yet decided. Schrödinger’s fish.  I set aside aggravation over having to toss out groceries wastefully; the outcome had not yet occurred and did not require action. I set aside concern that the apartment would feel too cold for comfortable sleep; the notion was actually foolish, since I go camping in colder conditions now and then, and sleep just fine, or… as well as I generally do. I sat by the fire, enjoying the stillness instead. Sitting quietly became meditation. Meditation became a gentle moment while time passed in spite of my lack of involvement in the passage of time.

Just as I began to reconnect with a more obvious awareness of the actual time, and considered going to bed, the power came on. I noted the lateness of the hour, let my Traveling Partner know the power had come on, and that I was well, and checked on things around the apartment to ensure that everything was working as expected, before going to bed. The apartment still felt chilly, in rooms away from the fireplace. I wrapped myself in blankets and drifted to sleep listening to the sounds of the apartment fully powered once again, knowing that in the morning I would need to begin again.

Today is a good day to recall a pleasant evening. It’s a good day to check on the fish and see which ones didn’t make it, and take care of general tank health. It’s a good day to dispose of freezer goods that thawed the day before, while the power was out. It’s a good day to carefully check everything in the fridge and similarly dispose of anything that could be a health risk if not continuously fully refrigerated. It’s a good day for a sunrise, for a pleasant walk, and for doing laundry. It’s a good day to support the woman in the mirror with more than promises; she’s worked hard this week, and some quality time for/with her will feel really good. It’s a good day to begin again. I have that power. 🙂