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Power Outage

home emergency kit

About a quarter of my time in Carmel by the Sea has been spent without power for long periods of time (up to two days at one point). This isn’t something I’m used to so I’d just light every candle and wait it out. But after a few times, I realised this would be a reoccurring thing since storm after storm seems to be plummeting the west coast (and we’re getting hit with the hardest rains/winds).

A little research on the American Red Cross and Consumer Energy Center left me with a few helpful do’s and dont’s. I took a lot to heart and stocked up on some things which was good because upon my return home, the power was out. All day.

Here’s my survival guide:

1. Make sure to have a back up phone system. A cell or a land line if you have an electrical phone. You’re going to need this for number 2.

2. Call your service provider to let them know of the power outage. More often than not, they’re not aware that my building has no power since I live downtown above shops. Those shops close after a certain time so no one else is calling in.

3. Know your circuit breaker really well – even if you’re in a flat. If just your building has gone out, knowing how to flip it can make all the difference. Electrical companies will often say they can guide you to it – 99% of the time, however, they’ll be wrong. And that’s a bad thing when it’s dark and raining.

4. Have a battery powered flashlight (with an extra battery) and a self-powered flashlight in case the batteries are dead in the first.

5. Most places say not to use candles but I confess to doing so but only a couple in the room I’m in – I never leave them all over. I’m slightly paranoid about this.

6. Unplug everything. Even if you have surge protectors unplug everything. But keep one light on so you know when the power is back.

7. Make sure to have an extra gallon of water, drinks and raw foods you can eat. You’ll get the munchies and can’t cook. Also, you don’t want to keep opening the fridge so have things ready (like Larabars, fruit, chips – whatever floats your boat). I learned if your freezer is full, food can last up to 2 days, 1 if it’s half full. The fridge about 4 hours if you don’t open it. I’ve lost so much food the past month it’s not funny. So I’m packing those larabars for sure.

8.I try to keep my laptop and iPhone at full charge so if the power goes out, I can finish up what I’m doing or still surf for info online (with the iPhone). Or I can watch a movie.

9. If it’s cold, close all curtains, bundle up and stay warm. Letting your dog sleep on your bed for once can help.

10. Have things to do; read, play board games, write letters, nap, be lazy – enjoy the time “unplugged” and having a reason not to communicate or rush out (if there’s a storm).

I’m sure I’m missing more but I’m sure tomorrow will provide me with another learning opportunity!



  1. January 26, 2008 / 11:56 PM

    My mother lives nearby and was telling me the other day about the horrible windstorm that zapped the power for a while.

    I hope you continue to enjoy your stay, Alex! (and make sure you go to the Patisserie Boissiere if you haven’t yet)

  2. January 28, 2008 / 8:11 AM

    Did you get down to the coast to see the waves crashing. A friend was telling me about the awesome waves coming in at the 17 mile drive area.