Don’t Get Locked out at the Next Blackout

This is a true story that shows how the simplest thing can derail you. It was one of the hottest weeks of the summer, with temperatures getting up to the 105 degrees and there were rolling blackouts throughout the city. We lost power in our office building, and without air conditioning, staying inside would become unbearable. Not knowing when the power would come back on, I opted to leave right away. I took my laptop and backpack with me.

I drove home and got to the apartment building in 45 minutes. I live in a semi-secure building where you need a remote control device to get in. I tried to open the gate but it did not work. I had to find parking outside and walked to the leasing office. Turns out that by the time I arrived home, the rolling blackout had spread to my area. The leasing office had no power either, and it was hot inside. The building manager told me the electric gates were not working and they had no way to open it. You can only get in through the front of the building if you have a key. The building staff was closing up as well, so the manager suggested I enter through the front.

Just one problem: I left my front door key at home. I am so used to getting in through the back gate and never bothered to bring the front door keys with me. I had all my emergency supplies – water, food bars, flashlight, mini first aid kit etc in my backpack, but no keys to the front door. I waited in the hot car a couple of hours until power was restored and tenants were able to get in through the gate again. The food and water helped me during my two hour wait to get into my house, but had I had the keys, I would have been much more comfortable at home.

I learned a few lessons that day:

• You need to evaluate every single thing and activity that relies on electricity. For example, if you come in through the garage every night, you will not be able to open your garage door when the power is out, unless you know how to operate it manually.

• Bring ALL your keys with you always!

• You might think you are prepared for something but the most minor detail that you had overlooked could mess you up.

Have you seen that Twilight Zone episode Time Enough at Last where one small detail sealed the character’s fate?  Now would be a good time to determine what are minor flaws in your own emergency plans:

  • How to get out of your high rise office building when the elevators are not working. Solution: Locate the stairwells and practice taking them to the ground floor See Don’t Get Trapped in Your Office Building http://apartmentprepper.com/?p=1012
  • How you will get home in your dress shoes or high heels if you had to walk home. Solution: Bring athletic or other comfortable shoes.
  • How to get the kids home from school if there is some kind of emergency. Solution: make a get home plan
  • How to protect your home if your alarm system is out. Solution: Find out about your alarm systems backup power, replace batteries if you had to, and find other manual devices that can protect your home. See Making Your Apartment Doors and Windows more Secure
  • What to do if you could not use your credit or debit card due to machines going offline or banks closing early. Solution: The Emergency Cash Stash  Keep extra cash in various locations: your car, your desk at work, a hidden pocket of your purse but don’t be tempted to spend it.
  • How you would manage without your prescription glasses if they broke, and how you would be without your medications if the stores were all closed. Solution: Keep back up glasses or contacts and have extra refills of your prescription medicines in easily accessible locations.

This list is not all inclusive but hopefully gets you thinking about the “little things” that can turn on you if you overlook them.

What have YOU left out of your plans?

 

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11 thoughts on “Don’t Get Locked out at the Next Blackout

  1. Definitely something to consider. My complex management recently installed an electric-powered gate at my complex. It should be operating just in time for peak hurricane season. Then there’s the wind-driven autumn rainstorms and the brutal winter storms that my part of the country is known for. We lost power last year for a week straight in August, and again for a week in October due to storms. Entering the property or buildings won’t be an issue as much as where to park the car, safely, legally, and close by. I highly doubt most of the tenants have thought about ANY of these things. Perhaps I should make a concerted effort to meet with management to discuss a posted contingency plan. Though judging by the way the live-in superintendent and leasing agents jumped ship during last year’s outages (leaving the tenants, many of whom are elderly and disabled, to completely fend for themselves without electricity/heat), I’m not very hopeful. Thanks.

    • I should have clarified my last post by stating that entering the property ON FOOT should not be so much of a problem, nor will access to the buildings. But driving into the lot will be if the gate won’t open.

    • The electric gate gives the perception of safety, it can be both good and bad, as ours has sometimes remains open for days due to some electrical glitch. I am sure no one really thinks about it until something happens.

  2. Another good “test” would be to hide every single remote control you own for a few days and try to get along without. This includes garage door openers, keys to cars, access to alarm systems and more. (Ever have the car alarm go off because you did not have the remote? Learn how to disable it now or you will drive the neighbors bonkers as the alarm blares for 10 minutes while you try to figure it out.)

    My backpack has a fob for keys where I also keep a whistle, a small canister of pepper spray and a mini flashlight.

    Wonderful post, Bernie. I am going to share it over on Backdoor Survival.

    Gaye

    • Hi Gaye, That’s a good idea – I bet that going without remote control sounds easier than it really is. I know how much the family grumbles when the TV remote is missing, let alone having the car alarm go off! That’ll be interesting! Glad you like the post-thanks Gaye!

  3. I’ve never run into that problem but could have a very similar experience. I use my garage door to come and go and keep all of my other doors secured with a Door Club. Basically with the Door Club in place you cannot open the door, period. So if I ever came home to a power outage Id’ be stuck outside if the electricity to open the garage door is not there.

    My solution was to remove one of the Door Clubs from my back, upstairs french doors. I believe these doors are the least likely to be attacked by a Burglar and I need some way to get inside in the event of a power outage.

    I went a couple of months with the house buttoned up tight before I thought about this problem and fixed it.

    • Hi KoryN, We use something similar to the door club as well, which is fine unless you’re trying to get in. Good thing you’ve taken care of the problem before anything happened.

  4. Great article. Im pretty forgetful and have locked myself out too many times to count. A solution I found a few years ago was to keep a spare key in my wallet. Its saved me so many times

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