Confessions of an Emergency Planner

Jan 22, 2023

January 16, 2023.

It's 16:18 and the power has been out since 11 AM. I worked on my laptop until it shut itself down as the battery drained. The forecast from yesterday was freezing rain from midnight, to late this evening. Knowing that I should have made sure I have all my flashlights charged and extra batteries ready and accessible But I didn't. Tonight, I'll find out how much I will suffer for my lack of motivation or complacency. The real test is imminent.

Right now, I am enjoying the silence on our 4 acre paradise. No humming coming from the fridge, no whirs from the water pump. I am excused from doing laundry or vacuuming. Insert a long sigh of relief here. 

It's getting dark here, sunset happens around 17:00 and I look out the window to the east and see that dusk is beginning to envelop my entire view. A peaceful quiet. But somehow, I am feeling a sense of dread for the evening. We usually have two dusk to dawn street lights outside. I have often complained to my husband that its a waste of money to pay $35 per month to NB Power every month to light up the outside. Sure, its great when we walk the dogs at night, but that's $420 a year! Mama could be buying some nice shoes for that amount! kidding... not really. But today, will I miss the lights? I hope the flashlight is enough when we take the dogs outside for their nightly run. Can dogs see at night? 

A feeling of helplessness rushes through my mind and makes me want to call my kids and elderly neighbour. How are they doing? Our children are thousands of miles away and I miss them. Right now, I miss them the most. I call my neighbour to see how she is doing. She is fine. Before her husband passed away, they had just installed a back up generator that would kick in to power to their pellet stove, one kitchen counter plug in and the fridge. She said she is fine and is sipping on a nice warm cup of hot chocolate (that she water down quite a bit) and her pellet stove is keeping her warm. She invited us over, but I lied and told her we were fine. We have everything we need. After some neighbourly banter, I hung up and took inventory. Where are my candles? Extra batteries? Do we even have food for tonight? My cell phone is down to 48%. I better not be tempted to binge watch Moneyheist on Netflix tonight! Oh no, is season 5 of Yellowstone starting tonight? No, back to the inventory.

Flashlight, check. Batteries? Powerbank for our cell phones? No. Crackers. Check. Cheese, no. I guess it's peanut butter and jelly for dinner tonight. Don't get me wrong, I love peanut butter and jelly. How long will this outage be? Will I love peanut butter and jelly for breakfast and lunch tomorrow too? Ok, make a list of foods to stock up on that does not require cleaning and cooking. How does instant noodles score on the emergency food supply list? Bad right? But why do I want to add it to my list? For ease and yumminess, it scores about a 7 maybe? Nutrition score...2 or 3. Nostalgia..10! MSG headache, 10! Ok, I wont put in on the list. 

Canned foods, beans, tuna. How about that Chef Boyardee ravioli? Crackers, Cheese Whiz. Oh dear. I am listing all the things that I told myself that I would not eat. Maybe for emergency supply it's ok? 

We have a woodstove that we can put a pot on top to warm up food or water. So maybe ramen can be on the list? I am going to test it out. Put a pot of water on to see how long it takes to boil. It's 17:15, start the clock.

It's almost completely dark and I can barely see the lines on the paper. I cant even read what I wrote. Better get some lights on. I found a flashlight that you strap to your head in the junk drawer, push the on button and to my delight, it turned on. I popped it into a plastic jar to diffuse the light, totally worked. I am a genius. Add to list, more LED flashlights and always keep it charged. Extra batteries.

Back to my should have, could have checklist of emergency supplies. Water for drinking. Then my husband yells out, should we be doing number 2 outside? Why not use the toilet? Because we have to flush and the pump isn't working. Oh, ok, add water for washing and flushing to the list! Because this is New Brunswick and we live close to the North Cumberland Strait, instead of rain or snow, we are getting freezing rain instead! But there is a silver lining, earlier in the day, he noticed that we have a huge creek that formed from the rain in the back. He is going to collect some water for there to fill the tank on the toilet. At the time of writing this, we have a new rule in the house. When its brown, flush it down, when it yellow, let it mellow!

Tonight we will enjoy a quiet night by the woodstove, sip out full strength hot chocolate and savour our peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Who knows what going to bed early might lead to...