Skip to main content

When the Lights go Down in the City…

September 2, 2011

I’m sure that when Journey wrote this song, they weren’t referring to a massive power outage in southern California.  But, the “sun [was also shining] on the bay,” as luck would have it.  And let’s face it – barring the traffic jams, the power outage really wasn’t that bad, right?  Here’s an incomplete list of the bright side (get it?) :

• Unexpected cancelation of classes
• Bonding opportunity with classmates, roommates, or neighbors
• Excuse to light candles
• Excuse to finish off the ice cream in your freezer
• Forced us to do something other than watch TV or use the internet
• Unusual ability to see all the stars in the city
• Big drop in airplane traffic
• Opportunity to find out how prepared we are for this situation or an actual disaster

I list this last one as a positive, even though what you might have been missing could have caused some discomfort or even stress during the power outage.  Had this been a longer stretch of no power, or a more severe emergency, what would you have been missing? 

Having been a volunteer on the American Red Cross Disaster Team for many years, I’m a bit of a fanatic about this, I’ll admit.  My husband and I have two emergency kits; one in the house, and one in the car.  They contain the usual prescribed items such as water, food, battery powered transistor radio, flashlights, first aid, etc.  You can find great disaster preparedness information on  Target® also sells kits that are excellent and reasonably priced.  But even I learned there were some things I hadn’t thought of, and perhaps there are some you haven’t either:

• Cash.  No power, no credit.
• Battery powered cell phone charger.
• Extra battery for your cell phone.
• Plenty of replacement batteries in all sizes.
• Headlamps – very helpful!! (can find these at REI or other sports stores)
• Hand crank powered transistor radio and/or flashlight – in case batteries sell out at the stores.
• Keeping an extra set of comfy shoes in the trunk of your car.  When faced with the prospect of having to walk home from school last week, I realized that the shoes I had on were going to be mighty uncomfortable!
• Enough unscented candles.  (Girls?  You know what I’m talking about, don’t you?)
• Hand sanitizer.  I realize most people carry this around with them these days.  But if you tried to wash your hands in the school bathrooms on

Thursday after the power went out, you realized that the sinks wouldn’t work without power.  And yet there was no hand sanitizer in the bathrooms.  Lesson learned!

I’m sure there’s more that I’ve missed.  But again, I think that one of the good things that came out of this power outage was the awareness we hopefully gained about where we are in terms of emergency preparedness.  Now go shopping!