A Jolt that Shook Things Up

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We had a rain storm a few days ago which caused some flooding and a number of accidents on the roadways.  I delayed driving in to work, as I heard on the traffic report that a major freeway was shut down, and even the alternate routes were congested.  I was waiting until the storm abated before venturing out.

In the meantime, I thought I could get some work done by checking my work email remotely.  Just as I logged on, I heard a huge explosion that shook our entire building.  Whoa!  Then the electricity went down.  It was a stormy day so our home was pretty dark.  The “BOOM” came from behind our building so I peeked outside.  The wires connecting the transformer to some power lines had disconnected and were sticking out.  Luckily none of the power lines came down but the transformer had blown.

How our emergency plans came in handy:

  • I checked my cell phone and was glad I had charged it to full.
  • Next, I dug up my Emergency Contact List and found the power company’s phone number.  I called the power company and reported the damaged transformer and they treated it as an emergency.  I was the first in the area to call up, so they took down my information and told me the repairs were expected to be completed in about five hours.  Having that Emergency Contact List saved me some time and avoided me having to search.
  • The radio had backup battery power so it stayed on.
  • I was able to make fresh coffee by warming up water with the propane stove and using the French press
  • It was dark so I used some of the tap lights that run on AA batteries to light up the place.

What didn’t work so well:

  • I tried to lift the garage door manually to see if I can take the car out but it was stuck.
  • Not having electricity can get boring.

Plans to improve:

I need a back up way to open the garage door so this is now on the “To Do” list to call building maintenance about getting the manual lever unstuck.

One flaw in the power outage plan was lack of entertainment activities.  We have board games for when the family is together, but today I was all by myself.  I did have a book to read but I finished it quickly.  I was thinking about buying some used books, then I thought about Rourke’s article “My Thoughts on the Kindle Fire”  You can store multiple books AND your survival PDF files all in one place, and it can be charged with a solar charger.  Being somewhat of a minimalist, I thought I would not really want one, but sitting around for five hours waiting for the repair crew has changed my mind.  I may have to add the Kindle Fire to my Amazon wish list.

I also plan to add more of the following to our emergency stash:

  • Bic lighters (can never have too many ways to start a fire)
  • Batteries in various sizes, especially rechargeable ones
  • Will investigate those quiet generators to see if it was possible to keep one in the apartment

The power company crew did eventually arrive and make the repairs, but this experience has taught me these preps are never a waste of time or money, since you never know when they will come in handy.  This mini jolt also showed me there is always room for improvement.






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  1. Did you know you can go to amazon.com and download kindle for pc for free.They also have lots of free kindle books available.

  2. Glad everything was ok with you.

    A couple years ago we lost power in the middle of summer from 11:00am until 5:00am the next morning. It was HOT!!!! The kids were bored for the most part – espeically at night. I have a portable DVD player which I broke out and was able to watch a movie before bed.

    I also had a box fan hooked up while I sat in the garage with the door open trying to stay cool.

    Power for these two? Simple inverter hooked up to one of my 3 vehicles. I started it up once an hour and let it run for 10 minutes. Eventually the battery went dead – but it worked.

    Take care – Rourke

    1. Hi Rourke, Thanks, I was glad it wasn’t something worse. Losing A/C during a hot summer is miserable-being hot and bored! Not a bad idea using the inverter to power the fan and DVD player.

  3. You can get a Coby Kyros 8125 in Android 2.3 w/ a front facing camera for about $158. I think it to be equal or better than the Kindle Fire. The kiddos have Archos 70c’s that cost about $100 each. You get books, movies, music, and games for a small price. There are even some office-compatible programs that aren’t too bad.

    We do have a gas generator that gives us good temporary emergency power. As I mentioned the other day, we have that Duracell HD-600 battery system and 30-watt solar panel that makes for good light duty work.

    For recharging phones, MP3 players, and the ereaders, we have the XTG 1500mah portable solar charger. It is very small and works well. It even includes an LED light. It was about $24 on amazon.com.

    1. Hi Zoomer, I will have to look into that Archos 70cs for the kiddos. You’re pretty set up for any short term power outage!

  4. If you have an MP3 player or iPod, you can enjoy an audiobook while waiting for the power to come back on. Also, I find Sudoku a great distraction.

    As far as the e-book reader goes, I love my Sony PRS650 and think it is far more minimalist that stacks and stacks of books cluttering up my small home. Also, I can download the books for free from thlibraryry – their online collection is huge and often new releases are available in electronic format before the print format. Amazing.


    1. Hi Gaye, I too need to cut down on the stacks of books in the corner of my closet-I could use the free space. Now I can’t wait to get my e-book reader.

  5. I love my Kindle Fire and have already pushed all of my survival manuals to it, and to the other 4 four Kindles we have as well. Didn’t think about pushing my emergency contact list and “critical info” to them, but that makes a lot of sense! Thanks for the idea!

    1. Hey Karl, Good to hear from you. You are well stocked on Kindles! Good to know you really like the Kindle Fire, leaning toward that one.

  6. I’m always picking up crossword and puzzle books at Dollarstores. I got Yahtzee replacement pads and a set of 10 dice for under $10.00. After Xmas sales are a great time to pick up a lot of games on sale.

  7. We lived in an apartment community near Charleston, SC. Anyone who knows that area is aware that it is comprised of islands and swamp land and is 6ft. below sea-level. Power outages were common occurrences to the tune of about once per week and repairs came slow. I’m now a pro at resetting digital clocks on your favorite electronic entertainment device. Batteries, candles, fire-starting tools and dried foods became staples, as well as finding things to do without electricity.

    Board games and cards are fine as long as you have good and plentiful light sources. Even with enough light resources, night lighting is generally going to be much dimmer than what we are accustomed to and can be a strain for playing games, reading or writing. Radios are always great to have for updated news.

    If it’s meal time or close to it, I suggest trying to put something together before your lighting resources diminish. It will likely take you a bit longer since you are not used to doing things differently; although, hopefully you have food that don’t need to be cooked. Remember, if you have to open the fridge, do it as quickly as possible to keep things as cold as possible.

    What else can you do to keep occupied? Plan your next shopping trip by making a list of things you need for the next emergency. You’ll think of them quickly when the chips are down! You’ll also forget them just as quickly when the power comes back on, so do it while the opportunity presents itself. Also, when the lights are low, no time like then for intimacy.

    One thing I had trouble finding was a decent battery powered fan. Another emergency item I would like to find is water purification tablets. How good do they work and are they inexpensive? Please let me know what’s out there.

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