A Moment in My Life – Tuesday, March 29, 2022
Jeannie Yee Davis
Yesterday I shared my power junkie/outage story with you, but there’s more. I wasn’t done talking. I know you’re not surprised. If it’s any consolation, I saved the best for today. Since Sunday’s blackout was the longest one I’ve experienced, it gave me a lot of ideas on surviving my next power outage. I admit it was not a good feeling to be in the dark for eleven hours. I felt vulnerable and a little panicky when the power wasn’t restored within a few hours like it always did.
This experience helped me realize how ill-prepared I was for a prolonged outage. Still, it was a fantastic opportunity to learn what I could do better to equip myself for a future power outage. If you feel ill-prepared like me, I want to share some ideas that I learned during this ordeal. It’s not comprehensive, but it’s a good starting point to reduce stress and panic and help you make the best of an uncomfortable situation.
Signing up for PG&E text alerts was a huge stress reliever, which I would suggest everyone do the same. Without power means no Wi-Fi, making it inconvenient to google the problem. PG&E’s alerts provide the cause of the problem, what they’re doing about it, the restoration ETA, and any available updates. A must-have if you asked me.
During the grass-fire months last year, we endured a slew of rolling brownouts, which prompted me to charge all my devices before going to bed just in case the power went out overnight. I also kept my backup chargers for my devices charged, but I found one of my two power packs deader than dead this Sunday. Luckily, the smaller power pack was half-charged, enough to charge my iPhone fully. I got sloppy and forgot to check my power packs periodically. When I needed them was not the time to discover that lapse. Routinely checking the power packs needs to be a high priority.
My backup lighting source was an assortment of candles, primarily gifts from yesteryear, to show how antiquated I am and how infrequent I needed to execute my backup plan. They worked. They provided ambiance, which was great if you don’t need much lighting. And also, it was essential to have some form of firestarter method. If you’re relying on a firestarter stick, I recommend routinely checking them to ensure it sparks. It’s not a bad idea to keep matches on hand.
However, after my ordeal, I learned about lanterns—a totally new concept, which I’m heading to the store and adding a few to my emergency collection. Lanterns sound like the perfect lighting solution as they run on batteries, give out bright light, are a non-fire hazard, and are portable. I highly recommend this option and some long-lasting, powerful flashlights to keep on hand. Stick-on the wall, battery-powered remote-controlled lights are an option for the bathroom or something like that if you’re interested.
Next up, let’s talk food. My first panic was, “what am I going to have for dinner?” I honestly had no idea. I had a meal planned for the night’s dinner, but it required cooking, which was not an option. Luckily, I am a survivor, and my brain kicked into survivor mode. I went with canned salmon and what I had on hand and turned it into a salmon salad sandwich. I had a satisfying dinner adding low sodium potato chips, an Envy apple, and Soda Stream Cola to complete the meal. I figured I could have a PB&J sandwich later if I got hungry, which I didn’t. Knowing that was an option relieved my panic. These food items kickstarted my brain to mentally scan my shelves and fridge for other food ideas that I could put into a meal if needed. Including if I had to, I could walk out to Round Table and buy a small pizza, which I could eat cold.
I’ve learned that we could eat many canned goods right out of the can without heating—they’re cooked and edible. This idea was another totally new concept because I’m a creature of habit who follows instructions and rules. The can says, “heat whatever way,” I heat whatever way. So, eating right out of the can is crazy, but it’s real. My older sister introduced me to Spaghetti O and Chef Boyardee ravioli as two items that I could eat without reheating. She spiraled me down this new path, and I discovered the same is true with a can of baked beans. It’s pretty delicious. She said that if I have a bag of ramen noodles, which I always do, I could eat it with my fingers for a quick meal. Really? Another totally new concept! Who woulda thunk dat?
I prepared a list at the end of this column with many suggestions, which I’m not discussing here. Still, all the food items I listed could be interchanged and customized, so let your imagination and creativity roam free. If you have ideas and suggestions, please feel free to share them with me, as I always love learning new things.
The last thing on my list is what you can do to pass the time. Once we take care of the backup lighting source, we should be able to do quite a few things. With our fully charged phones, we could watch a movie or do whatever we do on our phones. We could call someone and catch up. Or, play a game and have everybody come up with meal suggestions that y’all could make together, and then make those dishes. Afterward, you’ve got a small feast for a candlelit party. Does anybody play an instrument? Now sounds like a good time to show us what you got for Christmas. Learn dancing like line dancing, perhaps? Or, how about playing a get-to-know-who-you-are-now game? We’re all changing and growing, and we’re busy, so here’s an opportunity to catch up with each other. If you’re feeling anti-social, you have no excuse but to catch up on those projects that you never had time to do. If all else fails, take a nap.
Anyhoo, I always try to turn a situation around and make it the best that I can, and today I shared what transpired from my recent power outage ordeal. It made me stronger, more confident, and now with all these fun and yummy ideas, I no longer fear or dread a power outage because I will be prepared for next time. With everything I’ve learned, “mo pow’r to me.”
- Ways to Prepare for a Power Outage
- PG&E Alerts
- Sign up
- Jot down PG&E’s phone # in case they don’t update you
- Back up chargers
- Keep them charged and ready to perform
- Candles – long-lasting in secured glass holders
- Firestarter sticks – check sparks periodically
- Matches – keep them on hand
- Lanterns – available at Costco, Amazon, Target, etc.
- High-power long-range flashlights
- Battery-powered stick-on lights – available at Costco, Amazon, Target, etc.
- Can goodies that don’t require heating
- Baked beans
- Chef Boyardee raviolis
- Spaghetti O
- Assorted beans: black beans, pinto, garbanzo
- Fruit cocktail
- Tuna or Salmon salad sandwich
- Pizza can be eaten cold
- Ramen eaten like chips
- Tortilla wraps
- Precooked ground protein
- Leftover rice
- Cold cuts
- Throw together whatever you have except the kitchen sink
- Tuna salad
- Salmon salad
- Mixed bean Salad
- Spinach and can tangerine salad
- Waldorf salad with rotisserie chicken if you have the ingredients or make it up as you go
- Tea steeped in room temperature water
- Chocolate powder in milk instead of hot cocoa
- Pudding cups
- Fruit cups like cocktails or peaches
- Fresh fruits
- Yogurt parfaits
- PB&J sandwiches
- Trail mix
- Raw nuts
- Dried fruits
- Chex mix
- Cereal with milk or eaten like trail mix
- Crackers with cheese and apple
- Celery and carrot tray dipped in ranch dressing or hummus
- Potato chips dipped in ranch dressing
- Raw veggie and cold cuts Kababs
- Things to do
- Call someone to catch up
- Read on iPad, if you can
- Watch a movie online, if you can
- Play a game to see how many creative meals y’all can make together
- Make the meals together and have a mini-party in candlelight
- Play an instrument? Now’s a good time.
- Learn to line dance
- Talk – catch up
- Play a discover-who-you-are-now game
- Other projects you didn’t have time to work on but have no excuse to now