Simple Tips and Tools for Making a Hurricane-Induced Power Outage More Bearable

     I meet up with two girlfriends at the pool yesterday.  It was the only place for them to be as they are still out of power almost a week after Hurricane Irene wrecked havoc through Central Virginia and other in-land locales to the north.  My friends are now seasoned pros at living without power, and as they wait for the lights to come back on, they have even turned down the offer of noisy generators from their family and friends who have been luckier than they and gotten power back.

     As we were catching up and acknowledging how grateful we were that Irene left us injury-free and without any significant damage, we started sharing tips for surviving without power.  While it definitely helps that the weather has been particularly lovely post-Irene, certain simple tools and ideas have made daily and nightly living a bit easier.

     First up, the most useful item that I discovered during Hurricane Isabelle in 2003 is a headlamp.  My friends agreed that you won’t have a good hair day, but being able to operate with two hands in the dark is often vital and who’s going to see your hair in the dark anyway.  This essential tool allowed me to cook dinner in the dark on my gas cooktop without a slowdown.  I still have my Brookstone model from 2003, but it appears to be discontinued.  No need to fear; REI has many models from which to choose.  Having one for each member of the family would be ideal, so I think that I will head over to our local outlet to stock up.

     A gas cooktop is definitely helpful.  Since Isabelle roared through, we have renovated the kitchen, and a Wolf gas rangetop was on the top of my list.  When the power is out, I just turn on the gas and use a Bic multi-purpose lighter to get the flame going.

     I remember coffee being way too difficult to make during Isabelle.  Getting the water boiling on a gas grill took forever, and instant coffee just wasn’t the same.  For Irene, I was inspired.  After boiling water on the gas cooktop, I simple removed the carafe and filter from my Braun coffeemaker.  I filled the plastic filter with my usual paper filter and coffee and slowly started pouring the hot water over it.  The trick was to rest the latch at the bottom of the plastic filter on the side of the pot to open up the drip hole.  While it took a little longer than usual to brew, the coffee tasted as good as always.  Being able to start the day with a fresh brewed cup of coffee can make all the difference in your attitude toward a power outage.

     Finally, my pre-Irene BJ’s find was the hit of the hurricane with the guys.  My brother-in-law, the survivalist, couldn’t get enough of it.  What, you ask, could get grown men excited during a hurricane, causing them to drool and thump their chests and even venture out for D batteries?

     This baby,

the Coleman LED Lantern,

 set their pulses racing.  It gives off a ton of light (actually 190 lumens) up to 26 feet out, and the sides are removable so everyone could take a light up to their bedroom when it was time to turn in.  It really would be an ideal camping lantern if you are into that.  The Hub thought it was one of my best purchases ever and lovingly stored it away for the next hurricane after our power was restored.

     Just talking to my girlfriends made me realize that we all have discovered survival tips to make these long power outages bearable.  Why not share yours in the comments section?   Let’s help each other be prepared for when the next hurricane (hopefully not named Katia) storms through and leaves us in the dark.

P.S.  As I was fixin’ to hit the “Publish” button for this post, my power went out.  Dominion Power was replacing a damaged transformer box up the street, so fortunately the outage was short-lived.  Just one more reminder to be prepared.



One Comment on “Simple Tips and Tools for Making a Hurricane-Induced Power Outage More Bearable”

  1. Sheelah Katz says:

    I love these ideas Alison. Marc uses a head lamp in the operating room routinely but it never occurred to me to have them at home. Another coffee idea is to get a Chemex coffee maker….the glass kind that look like something out of the chemistry lab. They work simply and make the best coffee. Just pour the water through. You can even keep the carafe on a low burner for warming.

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