Question: What strikes without warning, throws us into crisis mode then leaves just as suddenly and without explanation? No, it is not an unannounced visit from the IRS or extraterrestrial kidnappers.
It is the dreaded power outage. And unless you are a survivalist, being without electricity is flummoxing because, in an instant, we transported back to a time before Thomas Edison and his thousand-plus patents that harness electric energy in as many ways.
The candles and flashlights are never where you put them the last time the lights went out and you hope your computer automatically saved the report you were writing when the darkness came.
Then the worry and self-reprisals start.
How long will it take for that side of freezer beef to thaw? Don’t let the dog out, the invisible fence is not working, why didn’t we buy that whole house generator when they were on sale last year and why did we give up the landline.
Recently, a representative from First Energy (aka the Cleveland Electric Illuminating Co.) paid a visit to a Chagrin Falls Village Council meeting to offer himself as a resource for all things having to do with electricity generated by the utility.
I didn’t catch his name, but he left a stack of booklets, “Tips for Managing Through a Power Outage.” Let us share a few along with some editorial comment.
► It’s antithetical, but do not call the police. They are in emergency alert posture and don’t have time nor do they know when “when the lights will come back on.” Besides, your call to police will go to the dispatch center in Bedford which is 10 miles away and where there is no outage.
► Instead of the police, notify CEI/First Energy at 888-LIGHTSS or text 544487. Do not assume someone else has already reported your outage. How this is done when your mobile phone does not work (due to the outage) we do not know.
► Do not become a human sacrifice to the gods of electricity. Do not touch downed wires. Call police to report these. They are likely on the scene already diverting traffic and looky-loos until the official “hazard responders” arrive. They can’t fix the problem either, but they can take over from police and are therefore the official human sacrifices until repair crews arrive which you will recognize by their Superman capes.
► Believe it or not, the electric company prioritizes reports starting with repair to lines and transmission systems affecting hospitals and police and fire departments followed by the largest outage areas because “this is the fastest way to restore all customers.” No, we don’t understand or buy this reasoning.
► Those of you with electrically operated wells should fill bathtubs with water and stock up on drinking water. Do not bathe in the bathtub water; use it for flushing toilets. Use a bucket.
► What is a “brown out? Your house is only half as dark as during a blackout. Or you are having a flashback to the pre-EPA years when you lived in Pittsburgh.
► The most shocking kinds of power outages are the ones that happen on the windless blue sky days with no forecast of an approaching storm. Why? Stuff happens.
The storm has past and electricity has been restored, what have we learned from our time spent in the dark?
We should keep a handy list of phone and text numbers to report a power outage and think about reinstalling your land line so you can use them.
Dedicate a place for flashlights, lanterns, batteries, bottled water and wine. Run a full tub of water and do not bathe in it. Do not touch downed wires especially those that are on fire, sparking or thrashing around on the ground.
Consider buying a whole house generator.