First Storm – Aftermath

Do you ever find yourself doing something then think, “I should write this down!”? That’s how the previous blog post happened. The storm was coming in. It probably wouldn’t knock out power, but it could. As I was preparing I realized “I should write this down!”; so I did. I wrote it. I posted it. I shared it on social media. And then the power went out. Unfortunately, I had only finished half of my chores. My power was out for 16 hours. Most of the island lost power. Over 100,000 people lost power, particularly north to Canada. A day or two later, almost everyone had power restored. Now, it is time to share stories.

The storm hit, and the forecast had a tough time keeping up with it. Instead of 40 mph gusts, the island had 60 mph gusts. That’s bad enough, but happening in September meant the trees hadn’t shed their leaves, which meant more trees were vulnerable. So, power was out, and trees blocked some roads. A good reason to be prepared to clear a driveway or access – But Make Sure No Wires Are Involved!. And yet, safety equipment (gloves, eyewear, hat, etc.) plus a saw or ax can be handy.

Even just a few years ago, a power outage could mean no internet, basically no news until things were hooked up, again. Now, smartphones and hot spots mean social media had lots of others’ lists posted even before the grid was re-energized. One list was far better than the quick one I posted. It was posted on reddit, and generated some discussions about improvements. FEMA and other authorities have official lists, but sometimes it is handy to see what others add to unofficial, personal lists. Kids need games. Adults may need a corkscrew. Candles are reliable and romantic, but they can also be dangerous – especially if too much wine is consumed.

So, here’s TEG24601’s list from the Whidbey subreddit. (Used with permission, thanks to TEG24601.) Edit, add, and discuss as necessary. Click through for the discussion.

Welcome to Winter on Whidbey

Just a friendly reminder…

  • It will too soon be dark by 4PM, and overcast skies will make it seem darker earlier.
  • So that you can be seen by others, it is highly advised that you always drive with your headlights on, if you don’t have white daytime running lights.
  • When walking along the streets and roads, please have something on that is bright and reflective.
  • Now is the time to replace your Surge Protectors. They have likely been damaged by this storm, and will not protect your precious equipment as well as they were once rated for. Remember, Surge Protector, not Power Strip. Unless it has a reset button, it will not protect you.
  • Make sure you have candles, and an easily accessible way to light them. Candles in your bathroom are a godsend when the power goes out.
  • Remember that every intersection controlled by a traffic signal becomes a 4-way stop, when the lights go dark.
  • Generators are nice, but often do not have enough output for what you want (without spending too much money), so keep some icepacks in your freezer, and if the power is out for more than 4 hours, transfer them to your fridge to keep it cooler, longer.
  • Power Outages are frequent, so you should have the PSE App installed on your phone and know their contact number – 888-225-5773
  • If you want to maintain reliable Internet Service, ensure your Modem and Wireless Router are on a UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply), otherwise, every time we have a tiny brownout, you will likely need to restart both units. Know where they are and how to perform the action.
  • If you see an obstruction on the road or a tree leaning over the road, call the Non-emergency Dispatch number at 360-321-4400 or 360-679-9567.
  • Be prepared to have no cell coverage when the power goes out. Landlines are still quite valuable in winter for that reason. Cell coverage also may not restore for several days after power restores.
  • Remember that when the power goes out, most of our grocery stores will close, both because they cannot run their registers, but also to try to preserve what perishable food they have.
  • Remember to keep some food, not snacks, on hand that do not require to be cooked. MREs can be quite handy. A manual can opener would be handy, too.
  • Only use propane or butane cook stoves indoors, and only if they are properly ventilated. Never use a BBQ, even a propane one, indoors.
  • Now would be a good time to check your smoke detectors and CO detectors to ensure they are working. If you have an alarm system, be aware that you may need to replace your system battery before the winter it over.
  • Now would be a good time to get an insulated cover for your outside faucets. While we haven’t reached freezing, we will soon, and better to have them on hand, rather than scrambling with everyone else.
  • Make sure you have an AM/FM radio that runs on batteries, so you can listen to news updates regarding storms and outages when the power goes out, and your cell service dies.

Hopefully, this first storm is a fluke and not taste of this winter’s weather. Such storms are an incentive to install a generator, or for some to install solar power and house batteries. Neighbors helping neighbors become much more valuable than any emergency kit. It is also a time to remember Whidbey is an island, so drop into Island Time.

Power Outage Song” – The Rural Characters

If everyone is safe enough and all you are doing is waiting for the power to come back on, then settle in, slow down, and enjoy the excuse for a mini-staycation. Just don’t open the fridge for a while.

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