What happens when the power goes off?

I knew that I wouldn't be able to publish this week's blog as early as usual as there was going to be a planned power cut where I am staying.  I thought that I could at least write it, but of course I couldn't do this straight into the blog website, because without electricity, there's no internet.  I couldn't load photos either.  Then it got me thinking about the whole electricity power thing and how much we take so many things for granted.

Luckily, it is a beautifully sunny day and I am able to sit near a window facing the right way in warmth terms.  I also have the option of several more layers and in the evening, if needed, there is a woodburner here.  I'm an expert at lighting fires and getting woodburners to run at maximum capacity (lots of heat, using minimal fuel).  I gleaned the necessary skills when I was a guide and ranger and we were thrown into several deep ends in ways which sadly may not be possible today.  Although I hasten to add that we didn't have woodburners at camp!

There is gas here too which means that I can make hot drinks and have a hot meal as well.  Without these, it's manageable for a few days, but I wouldn't fancy it for the whole winter.

Today there is no radio, no internet, no 3G or 4G, no mobile signal and no landline.  It makes a particularly pleasant change, for a day, but how many of us could now manage long term if everything went down, if the power runs out or if there's a cyber attack?

The mechanical clock chimes every quarter of an hour and there is a battery clock in the kitchen too.  Whilst there is power remaining on various phones and laptops, the time can be accurately seen, but when these power down, without the non electrical powered clocks, I'd have to rely on daylight, my intuition and both mine and the dog's hunger clocks.  I had a watch for a year or so when I was ten, but otherwise I've never worn one and consequently, I'm pretty good at knowing what the time is.  Sometimes I'm teased if I'm five minutes out.  My point is that I am fairly self sufficient in this area at least.

Of course there are millions of people who live remotely or in areas where there are frequent power cuts, (or no power at all).  Many are able to manage in various ways and have systems in place, (generators, battery operated gadgets, camping equipment, bushcraft knowledge and skills etc), but how many of us are unprepared or would be completely useless?

Today, there is no hot water either - there is no tank here, therefore the usual pleasure of instantly gratifying hot water has no place today.  It's cold.

One other issue is that it's very remote here, (there are no immediate neighbours), in fact I cannot see another house.  The only way I can leave here is on foot if I climb over the gates.  These are electric gates which are useful as it's remote, but today the car is the wrong side of the gates.

If there is an emergency, I have no landline, no mobile, no internet and no vehicle.  It would mean a ten minute walk to the nearest house, (there are two) and then a) hoping that someone would be in and b) that the emergency would allow me to climb the gates and walk for ten minutes in the first place.

In 1987 I lived in Kent when the great storm hit.  We had no power for two weeks and I loved it.  We were again very lucky to have a gas cooker, grill and oven as well as an open fire.  I felt sorry for older, vulnerable people and those without gas, but at home I loved the candle light and the fact that we had no TV.

Energy is precious and perhaps we should think more about how often we use it and indeed what for. I like the fact that the energy we do use at home comes from renewables and I don't mind that this costs a bit more.  It makes me think and it makes me switch unnecessary things off.

Days without using computers, internet and phones are a good idea and help us to reflect on what we take for granted.  Today I am lucky, there is a beautiful view and except for the gently ticking clock, complete silence.

Comments

  1. I'm just going to come right out and say it, "this didn't work for me at any level". We're in the 21st Century and we've built a very good infrastructure that means we have an incredibly privileged way of life compared to millions all over the world. Being without power for an hour, a day, a week or even a month is in no way anyway near a hardship. Inconvenient, pain in the butt, frustrating, annoying, more work to get through my day? Yes, but let's be realistic and a little less self absorbed. Let's put it in context with what others actually have to deal with. No power at all. Are they more prepared than us? That's more than likely a nice big, yes. However, if we all had similar infrastructures the answer would be an inconvenient big, no, for them also.
    Our daily lives are built around what we have available and all the bi-products of what runs off them. There's very few people in the world that prepare for the ways of yesterday because they're living in the today. If you need that quantified then look at just how ill prepared we all are when we deal with natural disasters. Everything you mentioned in today's blog doesn't make me, personally reflect, and probably others feel the same way, because when it happens we know it will be back as soon as it possibly can be. Whereas in other parts of the world millions don't have that reassurance or luxury. Now, knowing that often makes me reflect on how fortunate and privileged we all are on a daily basis.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for taking the time to comment and I'm sorry that this week's blog didn't work for you. Perhaps the point was too subtle - that we are privileged and most of the time we don't even know it! Regarding others feelings on the blog, here are some comments that I received by email, "Hi Cate, I am not good about posting, but as always interested in your observations. A quick count has just shown we have at least 17 stand-by lights or digital clocks permanently on." (Jenny S) and "I liked everything after you mentioned about people not having electricity in the world. Like the first bit was a bit of white priviledge, but then it was turned into making a good point and nice conclusion too." (L Harriet)

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    2. There was no misunderstood subtlety, however, maybe my response failed to convey my thoughts in the best way. I do worry at the perception of the responses you have mentioned. Standby lights on clocks? White privilege? The latter of these two disturbed me a little.
      We live in interesting times and an open heart and open mind creates an acceptance of change. I do not believe in reinventing the wheel. I believe in enhancing the wheel and sharing it.

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