Are you prepared?

What would you do if your power went out? We had assessed out situation had the power gone out in the middle of winter and thought we would be okay.  We have a woodstove so we would stay warm, we could melt snow and cook on it.  For short periods, we would be fine.  BUT we never imagined what we would do if the power went out during a rain storm. 

In the basement there is a hole in the floor that drains the water from the weaping tile around the house.  There is a sump pump that pumps out the water regularly and during the spring thaw then rains, it is running almost constantly!  Without electricity, the pump cannot run, the water can’t be pumped out and our basement would flood.

Well, one spring day during a rainstorm, the power went out.  You kind of go into panic mode.  My husband found a guzzler pump he had out in the garage and he set it up in the sump hole.  We pumped and pumped as it was coming in as fast as we could pump it out.  We ran 5 gallon buckets up the stairs and outside all night long, from around 6 pm the night before until Sunday morning, when we decided dh would go into the city as soon as the stores opened (noon) to purchase a generator.  No one really slept.  We took turns running buckets and operating the hand pump.

For some reason, our neighbors didn’t have to worry about their basements?  When I asked them, they didn’t have water coming in like we did.  Are we lower? Or situated on an undergroud stream?  It peeved me a bit to think we were in crisis mode alone, but as difficult as it was I am thankful for the experience.  We pulled together as a family and did what needed to be done.  And learned a valuable lesson.

Since recovering from that ordeal, we’ve made some changes in the event we are faced with such an outage again.  We have a generator now and dh has adapted a few things in the house to be able to run off the generator.  The main thing, obviously is to be able to plug in the sump pump.  Also he adapted the water pump and transfer pump (in the septic tank) to run off the generator so we can continue to have water and flush the toilet.  I can run a cord from the kitchen that will give us limited power there.  It would allow us to have lights and I could plug in a hot plate to cook on (which I have recently purchased for this purpose).  The only thing we would not have is hot running water but we can heat water on the hot plate or the woodstove.  We can cook on the BBQ as well.  And in case it’s needed, we also have a well with a hand pump.

What if the power goes out when we’re sleeping?  Suddenly the house gets quieter… the fridge stops running, etc which would send me only deeper into sleep.  Our answer was to rig up an alarm system on the sump pump.  There is a separate float that when it rises beyond the level we set it at, it will trigger an alarm, which is simply a smoke detector alarm dh adapted for this!  (He’s so inventive) It has gone off a couple times since he put it in and it wasn’t because the power went out.  Something was blocking the sump pump from turning on properly and the alarm went off.  Amazing to me how it never seemed to be needed before we actually installed it but afterwards it has saved us a few times!

It’s okay to pray the power doesn’t go out or for bad things to happen, but it is better to be prepared first.  Do what you can and pray for the things that you cannot do.


2 responses

  1. good post. could be applied to many situations.
    We were without power for 4 days when we had bad flooding here in western NC. We then had well water, so we were without water also. Which we would have been anyway becuase of flood damage to the town water source. Thankfully it was in Sept and wasnt’ cold. We cooked on a camp stove, used oil lamps, got water from the creek to flush the toilets. My son still talks about doing that, he enjoyed it.

  2. I like that you put an alarm on the pump!

    My sister-in-law was the only one in her neighborhood whose basement didn’t flood because she had a generator on her sump pump. I’ll have to tell her about your idea for an alarm!

    Basements are really unusual here, and so is rain, but on the 2 days a year we get rain, some people get instantly flooded!

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