Recently we went through an ice storm here that knocked out the power to our homestead for five days – during freezing temperatures all week long.
Of course, we were prepared – or so we thought…
We had a generator, fuel, propane, numerous propane heaters, cases of bottled water, candles, flashlights, and lots of food. We also had a butane camp-type cookstove, numerous lighters, batteries, blankets, etc.
Had the power come back on in 24 hours or less – it would have been no sweat. But it didn’t. It stayed off for days.
At least we had propane heaters and small bottles of propane. They worked great and they kept us warm.
Then we began to get close to running out of the small bottles – but no problem, I had a larger tank under the carport ready and waiting and a brand new adapter hose – still in its packaging.
I went to hook it up – and guess what? It was the wrong hose!
There was no way to hook it to the tank. The next morning I got in my truck and made it past numerous downed trees and road debris all the way to Lowes… but they were already picked clean. Then I went to Tractor Supply – and they had a ton of hoses and adapter (and I bought a couple hoping I could make them work) but they were not the right ones either.
The next day we were almost totally out of propane in the small bottles (and there were no more available within 75 miles that I could find!) and concern was getting a little more intense. Finally, I found the right hose – and the store manager agreed to hold it for me until I could get there – which he did, and it worked beautifully.
So now we had heat and I had already found a place where I could get our larger tank refilled every couple of days if we need to – but there were no more tanks to be purchased – they were all gone!
It was also still raining between bouts of sleet and ice – and we have a basement that takes on water. Normally not an issue – when there is power as we have a sump pump that easily handles the water that gets in. But when the power is off for days and it is continuously putting more water into the ground and into our basement – well then we have a problem! The basement had a foot of freezing water – and it was getting deeper.
There are two things down there that could be damaged or destroyed by flooding – the electric water heater and the pressure tank for the well (which will float and break the fitting if the water gets high enough). A third problem was the pump itself – which was NOT a submersible pump!
The logical thing to do would be to start the generator and hook up the pump and pump it all out before the water gets high enough to damage everything.
Except I had neglected to start the generator for seven months or more – and now it would not start!
Great… the basement is flooding, and the big generator we have that could easily power the pump – and power the whole house won’t run. No problem. I will just go buy another one – and then I will have one that works now – and later two after I get the other one going again.
Except everybody in the region was after generators!
There were NONE unless you wanted to spend thousands – because all of the$500 to $1000 or so generators were gone! I did find one for almost $2000 and I almost bought it! But I regained my sanity and went home – took my generators carb float bowl apart and sprayed the hell out of all of it with carb clean (freezing my ass off the whole time!) and then finally got the contraption running again… and then the power finally came back on before I could hood up a cord to the thing.
Now I am starting my generator WEEKLY and letting it run. This summer I will also be buying TWO additional generators (one portable and one larger than the one I have now) and I will be running them all WEEKLY. I am also buying multiple propane tanks, having our fireplace/chimney inspected and cleaned (we had put that off since we bought our home and focused on other things and since it wasn’t used for a decade or so lighting a fire in it without cleaning it could be a serious mistake!) so I am looking for a local chimney sweep now – and I will get that thing operational long before next winter and get enough firewood on site to last an entire winter and then some.
Life is a never-ending learning experience – and even when you think you are ready – you may not be as ready as you think you are. I know I wasn’t. But I learned some new lessons and am already better off than before. Hopefully, you may learn a thing or two from my mistakes so you can do better easier too.