As a technology addict, when the power is out and electrons quit flowing, my world can lock up pretty quickly. Thanks to batteries, a short power outage goes unnoticed. However, if you live in an area beleaguered with storms, multiple car-into-a-pole vehicle accidents, or poor electrical service, you may often see a longer term power outage.
The first thing that happens when the power goes out is that the food in the refrigerator begins to thaw. The second thing is that the house begins to heat up (or get cold, depending upon where and when). These two things mean very little. Somewhere within driving range the power is on and food is available. As long as the car starts, heat or air conditioning is nearby.
During a long term power outage, you milk every electron for all it’s worth. You keep working on your computer, draining the battery, certain the power company workers will flip the right switch and you’ll be saved. As luck has it, you get the ‘Critical Battery Level’ warning and you curse the weather or the power company, or both. Oh well, your smart phone still has plenty of juice. Another hour playing with ring tones, free pre-loaded games, and sending emails, and you notice the dreaded red-rimmed battery indicator. You look for your charger only to realize the power is still off, and it will do you no good.
Before you end up on the verge of a nervous breakdown and you are found by the rescue squad cowering and crying in a corner with a flashlight in your hand, flicking it on and off; take heart. There is a world out there that is not hard wired to electricity. Here are the top ten power outage activities you can do to maintain your sanity.
- Take a walk, bike ride, or exercise at your desk. Your neck, back, and posture will be surprised, but will thank you. A power outage is probably a sign telling you to get off your chair and out into the open. One of my favorite wellness websites, WebMD has a great article discussing various office exercises you can do. Just be careful doing these in the dark.
- Take a nap. Your brain needs a break. If you are at home, no one will care. If you are at work, the boss won’t be able to see you in the dark. Just don’t snore.
- Play a game of solitaire with REAL cards. Dogmelon has a list of about fifty variations on solitaire, complete with rules and graphical explanations.
- Socialize. The computers may not work but phone lines do. Pick up the phone and call a loved one.
- Read a REAL book. Candles or flashlights can aid this effort. And contrary to popular belief, you won’t do permanent damage to your eyes.
- Raid the refrigerator. The food might go bad. Use it or lose it! How long can food last? Find out at the National Center for Home Food Preservation.
- Sit by a window and write a letter. It’s like an email only you use a PEN or PENCIL and PAPER and it’s a bit more formal. Someone may appreciate it.
- Make a shopping list. Do a stock-check around the house. Let’s see, batteries, flashlight, a deck of cards, a board game or two, candles, pencil, paper, more food…
- Drive to the nearest home improvement center that has electricity. Buy a generator. Check out this Honda power equipment website before the power is off to help determine the size you might need.
- Grab a pencil and paper and get in your car for a mini-expedition. Map out Wi-Fi hot spots outside your local area where the power might be on when yours is off. (You might also want to learn how to find free Wi-Fi hotspots near you.) When the power comes back on check out Zeemaps, a free online mapping service that makes use of Google Maps. A simple email/password registration allows you to save and share your maps.
What is unique about Zeemaps is that you can upload your CSV files and map them. If you want to map customers, suppliers, friends, or WiFi spots this site can do it simply by uploading the CSV file with the address. Of course, you can manually locate markers as well, or use GPS coordinates.
So get busy creating a list of your WiFi spots and mapping them before the power goes out again. You can color code markers or use special icons – basic hot spots get a green marker, ones that also have plenty of electrical outlets available get a yellow marker and hot spots with outlets, real books, java, and board games get a red marker!