On 03/12/2021 14:31, Graeme wrote:
> We live in rural Aberdeenshire, and like so many others, lost power for
> a few days. Off at 4pm Friday, back on 1pm Monday.
I'm in North Yorkshire. We were without power 3am Saturday to 9pm
Sunday. Part of the time spent being "on power" according to the
incompetents at Northern Power grid but not in reality. Correcting that
proved to be virtually impossible. Calls went to the Dalek which only
asked "have you checked you main breaker" then dropped every time before
you could actually speak to a human. My mate got through eventually.
> When the power went off we had one open fire plus a large supply of
> coal, kindling, logs, fire lighters and spills. Three portable gas
> fires, a Gaz lamp with two spare cylinders, a 'proper' kettle and a
> kitchen hob powered by 47kg Propane cylinders in the garden, candles,
> several torches and a small battery powered radio, plus spare batteries,
> several lighters and a utility lighter, plus spare gas. What we didn't
> have was any form of generator or inverter.
I thought we were reasonably well prepared and we fared OK considering.
Logs had just about run out (delivery was on the Sunday) almost no coal.
No gas mains or otherwise. Survived using a 1970's era fondue set with
spirit burner to boil water for tea and coffee and ate up Brexit pot
noodle emergency rations. Able to check neighbours had hot water too.
Couldn't quite boil water on top of the stove - hot enough for coffee.
I thought I had plenty of batteries but LED torches needed more and the
DAB radio ate them like there was no tomorrow 4x AA every 8 hours use.
My old Sony radio would last over a week per set of batteries.
We had to nip out on Sunday afternoon to get more meths and AA batteries
since it was very unclear when power would be restored.
> The open fire is in the largest room (two rooms knocked into one, years
> ago) and that was OK, supplemented by one of the portable gas fires. The
> other gas fire was in the kitchen, the third kept as spare in case
> either of the others ran out of gas. The Gaz lamp was great, burning
> from roughly 4pm to 11pm each evening, but used a cylinder per evening.
> Cold outside, snow on ground, dark by late afternoon.
We have a log burner in the main room with a back boiler, linked to the
CH, hot water and a radiator of last resort in the bedroom. I couldn't
run the fire too hard without the pump for fear of boiling the system
but it was more than adequate to keep the main living room warm and the
chill off the bedroom. Snow on the ground and a hard frost meant that
the rest of the house got dangerously cold. Fibre internet obviously
down - POTS line continued to work. Mobile masts began to drop out after
about 36h could just about reach next ones out but useless signal
strength unable to access internet without travelling closer to them.
We relied on candles in the main room for light and played Scrabble and
card games to pass the time. Torches everywhere else.
Wife's iPhone bricked itself by running out of power completely early on
and in that state it refused to charge from the car USB 5v. Needed an
Apple mains charger to get it back into the land of the living. It would
happily take charge in the car provided that it was running normally.
> We moved into the main room, wife sleeping on the three seater settee,
> me (and dog!) sleeping on a single mattress on the floor. Plenty of
> duvets, as we didn't run the gas stove when we were asleep, and the coal
> fire is not an overnighter. We have an oil boiler and proper hot and
> cold tanks. The hot water in the cylinder lasted well, although was
> cold by Monday morning. We don't think we lost water, although could
> just have been using what was in the tanks, but I didn't notice the tank
> suddenly filling when power was restored.
Slight advantage there in that the bedroom was still habitable thanks to
the radiator and putting the summer quilt on top of the winter one was
enough to make it cosy. Hot water became insanely hot (dangerously so) -
which was great for hot water bottles but exciting to wash with.
> Mobiles and laptops batteries expired, but no wi-fi of course, and no
> mobile signal as no power to the tower, so no great loss.
Mobile signals were still available to us at least for the first day. My
own phone signal is normally so weak here that voice is OK, txts can
take a very variable time to arrive and internet is impossible.
Being on FTTP I was very glad I went to BT and still had a copper POTS
landline to ring 105 from.
> We always keep tins of soup for emergencies, so had soup and toasties
> twice. Made toasted sarnies using a wire barbecue fish cage thing, over
> the coals in the fire. Fried sausages another night. Plenty of hot tea
> from the gas hob. Dib dib dib :-)
A camping gas stove, power block and a generator are on my Xmas list. I
might yet get a UPS for my computer (which could be repurposed in an
emergency to run the CH pump for a while instead).
> We were lucky the power came on when it did. Just about exhausted
> whatever was still edible in the fridge, had the last of the soup but
> had managed without opening the freezer door. When I did open the
> freezer (upright) stuff like ice cream was binned, but all the meat was
> still solid, so hopefully safe. We were using the last of the spare
> batteries, and almost out of camping Gaz for the lamp.
Our freezer was kept closed throughout and the kitchen temperature was
probably about the same as inside the fridge (maybe colder in parts).
Freezer showed -3 and "too warm" alarm when power was restored. It had
in effect defrosted itself. Most stuff was still (just) hard frozen. A
ruthless cull of any old food with freezer burn was made and we are
eating up anything that was in there at the time.
> We have an old paraffin lamp. Tall brass affair with frosted glass
> shade and clear glass chimney. Monday morning, knowing we were almost
> out of Gaz, I found two wicks in the shed (don't know why it uses two
> wicks), and filled it using kerosene removed from the tank in the
> garden. Taped a stick to an empty soup tin to use as a scoop. Luckily,
> the power came on shortly afterwards, but would running the paraffin
> lamp using kerosene have been safe? How similar are paraffin and kerosene?
Although we do have a paraffin lamp I am not to keen to use it. They can
start impressive fires if they ever get knocked over. I found LED
torches of the 3W inspection type to be perfect for getting around with.
> We have had power cuts before, but nothing like this length of time. I
> think we did well, with our emergency kit coping. Yes, we could have
> been better prepared, but how much preparation is required for something
> that may never happen again, or not for many years?
It might be an idea in this group to make an exhaustive list of the
things that you might want to have handy in case of emergency
(particularly if you depend on pumped potable water). We actually don't
but I still have an emergency water container from my time in Japan.
In an absolute emergency I could have uncapped next doors well. My
garden water butt was no good because there was 4" of ice on the top!
> One final thought. When power came on, we found countless Facebook
> messages on local groups with plenty of information and offers of help,
> location of mobile hot food vans etc., but of course few without power
> saw any of it until power was resumed. Yes, a few people charged their
> phones via their cars, but I didn't bother. Lesson for next time. How
> did we cope pre Internet?
Local radio and classical POTS phone line back in the days when you
could speak to a human rather than a badly programmed Dalek.
One thing I found was that it was impossible to tell Northern Powergrid
that their "Information" was incorrect. The engineers who finally turned
up late Saturday night to my mates house insisted that he (and I) were
the only ones in the village without power (totally incorrect). They
insisted on taking his main fuse out and then checking the drop wire
from the pole to tick a box before they would do anything useful.
Otherwise the system would charge *him* for their callout!
He got his revenge though he made them walk the 33kV line in the pitch
dark until they found the downed pole about 3 miles away!
To cap it all when power was finally restored on the Sunday evening a
text arrived simultaneously to tell us that there was "no prospect of
getting power back tonight and we should if possible make alternative
arrangements". On the Monday night I got another call from a field
engineer sent to our village to restore power to those houses still
flagged as being "off power" by a system that was completely unfit for
Once back on power checking their website map showed our village as
neither being off grid nor having been fixed. Basically we didn't exist.
There were still loads of flags of all colours but nothing near us!
Start of list of stuff to have for emergencies:
1x box of kitchen matches
12x AA batteries (is that enough?)
Nx pot noodles/cupasoups
AM/FM radio *NOT* DAB
3W LED torch
10W LED torch
Solar charger or power block for charging Smart phone.
Fuel for whatever form(s) of heating you have.
5 gallons fresh water (changed monthly) if you are on pumped supply.
My emergency lights did me no good at all they had both run out by 7am
(run time is typically 4h from onset of power loss).