Monday, October 21, 2013

Atlas – part 2 when the power goes out

Lois Zens “I have oil lamps, had them for years, for when the power goes out summer or winter. I found out you really cannot read by them, they are too dim. You can get around in the dark and see what's going on, but you cannot read. I had seen someone gift someone else LED lanterns and at the time thought they were a great idea then forgot about them. I remembered them Friday night and am going to look for them when we can get around again. They are bright and would really serve a purpose.  They would be great to have next time....and there will be a next time.
  Also I will make sure I have batteries for my radio. I listened to KOTA AM radio for updates and stories during the storm. I was alone and that was my company.  My daughter has a gas furnace so I assumed she and her family were warm. They have an electronic ignition on the furnace and therefore when the electricity went out so did their heat, for 24 hours. I do not have a fix for that.  They cooked on the grill and bundled up.”

It is amazing how dark it gets when the power is out, and how long the night lasts isn’t it?  I also heard from people who burned candles, used camping lanterns, and who just went to bed because they were cold and dark. At our house, I’ve avoided oil lamps and candles because I worry that they are fire hazards.  The last thing I need is something my dogs could knock over to burn the house down.  So what about these LED lanterns Lois mentions? Well there are dozens of options on the market; the one we picked up has a light that’s quite adequate for reading, cooking or cross stitching. While I was researching lanterns, I stumbled on many other items that the storm bound might find useful.   See:
Also the lanterns come in solar powered, I don’t know how well they work, but it might be worth looking into.

And of course when your power is out, your water is probably going to be cold as is your food.  It’s probably worth investing in some baby wipes and maybe one of those little pots that can heat water with DC power. Something like a: Smart car pot or slow cooker or beverage heater or even a portable stove.  Use of these items implies you have plenty of gas in your car so you can keep your battery charged up and that you can safely get to your car and run it without fear of carbon dioxide fumes.  After Atlas I’m even thinking about a battery based generator.  They are quiet and can be operated inside the house with no fear of noxious fumes. Maybe an Xpower Powerpack 1500 “a portable system on wheels that can supply up to 1,500 watts of continuous AC power. The product is capable of producing AC household power from a battery source to run TVs, power tools, computers, stereos, lights and home appliances. The Powerpack, unlike a fuel-operated generator, is quiet, creates no exhaust or fumes, has no moving parts and requires no maintenance other than occasional recharging. It incorporates a 12-volt battery pack and an inverter to produce AC power. “(Power headaches? take a xantrex. (2002). Channel Business, 15(13), 33. Retrieved from ) or a similar system: CSA Mr. Emergency 1500 Watt  

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Brainstorming Atlas, part 1

In the aftermath of the October 2013 Blizzard “Atlas” I asked for your thoughts on what worked, and what did not work. The response, not unlike the blizzard was overwhelming.  So instead of the one summary blog post I had planned, I’m going to break the responses into a series of posts for our Blog and Facebook.

The first response I received was from Dr. Boysen.
Alfred Boysen “We live in an apartment complex--Carriage Green Estates--and we were without power for two hours on Friday evening. So, otherwise, reading and watching movies were the main activities. We did "get out" yesterday day for an evening mean at the Windmill Truck Stop where many other folks were also "having an evening out."  However, the greatest adventure happened at Herberger's when I came to get Judy on early Friday afternoon. The snow was deep and my 2001 Taurus which handles snow well almost "spent the weekend" in the parking lot. Obviously, Judy will not be working during such winter warnings in the future. If corporate American can't make an intelligent decision, I will! That is our story and we are "sticking to it." Oh, by the way, we will relax this morning with caramel rolls from the truck stop! See you at the library!”

Several good points here.  First, have some books and movies on hand.  Do you know that in addition to our popular reading collection, the library has a great collection of classic movies on DVD thanks to the efforts of the Friends of the Devereaux Library? We also have a number of databases (accessible via VPN) full of journals and eBooks so that your research need not suffer, just because you can’t make it to the library.

Second, know what the forecast is and pay attention to it. There are several great apps for your electronic device that can help you get the warning you need.  Here is a review of some of the apps that are available.  If your phone is new enough it may automatically give you severe weather warnings, or you can sign up to receive warning by text message.  

If you must travel, make sure that you know what the road conditions are. Call 511 or visit Safe Travel USA information.  Put together a winter survival kit for your car. And check out  this app from NDSU.

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Monday, October 07, 2013

What a way to start the winter, eh?  Hope everyone is safe and warm!  We live in Rapid Valley, and got our power back last night about 7:00 (OK it was 7:14, but who’s counting?)  We spent 55 hours without power (which meant no water, as we have a well with an electric pump) that was the toughest part for us as we have a natural gas fireplace that can be lit with a match and a 30 year old gas range with burners that can also be lit manually.  I hear that newer natural gas appliances won’t let you light them with a match?  Anybody know if that’s true? The fireplace kept the living room and kitchen nice and toasty (even a little too warm in this storm’s mild temperatures) bedrooms were chilly, but bearable. We could cook the food that was most in need of being eaten… We had enough bottled water to carry us through for drinking and cooking, but I’ll want more on hand just in case next time is longer.
Next time.  I hope that’s years from now, but I have to admit, after the wacky, hail filled summer we had, I’m worried about what this winter may bring.  I hope this was winter’s one big blast, but I’m afraid that Atlas might be a warning shot.  
So I’d like to brainstorm.  I’d love to hear your comments (even if you didn’t lose power, lucky bums) I know you had a bunch of snow if you live in the Rapid City area…  What worked?  Is there some gadget you’d recommend? Did your snow blower actually work with this wet snow? 
I’ll start by saying that in addition to my obsolete natural gas devices. I have a PowerGen Mobile that charged my cell phone twice during the storm.  I was down to about 25% on my battery when the power came back, and had charged my PowerGen in the car so it has another 3 days or so in the tank.  That and a stack of books, both on my kindle and the ones you can borrow from the library, kept me entertained…  What was your lifeline?  Respond here on the blog, or directly to me at cindy. davies @ sdsmt. edu (no spaces) and I'll compile a storm tips post.