Like Chickens With Their Heads Cut Off

Wednesday was not a great day at our house or thousands of other homes here in Texas. We had a double whammy of loss of electricity and loss of gas. Apparently, about 50 places that supply electricity to Texas went off line early Wednesday morning. Many of them, because they were not properly winterized. Some commission in charge of power for the state decided to do rolling blackouts to deal with this. To top it off, the need for natural gas for heating was too high because we can’t seem to get above freezing and we’re wimps, and our homes are not well insulated. This caused the gas companies not to be able to keep enough pressure in the lines.

What this meant for us was that we were awakened sometime after 6:00 AM by every single fire alarm in our house going off at the same time. It’s not a good way to wake up. We realize that we are very lucky that it was not due to fire, but to the power outage. We also realize that we are completely unprepared for that type of emergency. I have already posted about this post at Young House Love. It got us thinking about fire preparedness and Wednesday morning drove home the point quite well that we don’t have a plan. We really were running around like chickens with their heads cut off.

What about emergency preparedness in general? Are you prepared for emergencies? I bought this book a few months ago and am three quarters of the way through it:
It’s called, “Just In Case: How To Be Self-Sufficient When The Unexpected Happens” by Kathy Harrison and illustrated by Alison Kolesar. You can buy it here. The author lives in a different part of the country than I do, and therefore has different experiences with weather situations, etc… But I still think you can read this book and apply her thoughts and techniques to whatever situations are possible in your area. Also,she brings up some uncomfortable topics like war and computer shut downs that we all avoid. Even after September 11th, I think we all feel a little too secure about war not coming to our shore. This is probably very naive. One of our closest neighbors is basically in a state of war inside their country right now. What about our reliance on computers to buy necessities? Would you have any cash on hand if no computers were working in stores? Would you have any food on hand, if stores weren’t open for a week or two? What if stores weren’t getting shipments because trucks couldn’t get through? Would you have a way to heat your house if services shut down? How would you cook?

I must admit that the only thing that has changed for me since I started reading this book, is that I do buy a lot more food most of the time when I go to the store. But I really need a better plan for what meal staples I will always have on hand. I found out yesterday that we do not have a way to heat our house if services are down. The heaters are gas and the thermostats are electric. The lack of gas also meant that the fireplaces did not work. We have to investigate further to see if we can also burn wood in our gas fireplaces. It seems as though you should be able to, but if your flue is not set up to handle the ash, etc… that comes with wood you could be in big trouble. I do actually have enough storage space in my home to do a lot of what Kathy recommends. I must admit that I haven’t done so because I started to feel very overwhelmed. Kathy herself does not live in a very large home, and has lots of great ideas for storage in small spaces.

Reading this book also made me think of the issue of self-reliance quite a bit. Those of you living quite near your families of origin have a safety net that those of us who have moved far away do not. Our closest family is about 4 hours away. We do have friends here, but most of them have many children. We really wouldn’t feel comfortable asking for help when they already have so many to be responsible for. I do think that people are mostly kind and that we would receive help if we asked. But wouldn’t it be better to be prepared just in case?

Have you thought about this stuff? Is your family prepared for emergencies? Am I stressing you out? 🙂

PS On a funny/pathetic note, Mr. Bingley and Mr. Darcy were so freaked out by all the loud noises from the alarms and from everything in our house beeping every 45 minutes when the power cam back on that by 9:00 AM they were outside by the back fence line shivering in the cold. They had to be bribed to get them to come inside. Such big weinie dogs!

3 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Sherry Brown on February 3, 2011 at 12:10 pm

    Nichole, omg!!! I totally agree with you…we’re completely unprepared! Our water has been frozen for 2 days now on the outside and if not for Amy & Dion living so close by, we would be in a world of hurt! Thankfully, we have had electricity except for one small period of time yesterday during a rolling blackout. Water is available at the nearby Neighborhood Walmart. Has given me thought about heating the house and cooking food though. We’re all electric but have covered up the woodburning fireplace with an entertainment center and have no wood for it anyway – would have to start pitching in furniture – which wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing anyway since I’m tired of all I have! =o)


    • Sherry, that’s awful! We didn’t have the water problem, but if the gas had stayed off there would have only been cold water. Just the thought of a cold shower in this weather is enough to make me feel cold right now! My friend who lives a few blocks away had one of her two water heaters freeze up as well. Really scary to be without one of the biggest things we need to live! I hope you get your water back soon. Have a great day!


  2. Hey, Nichole!

    I can’t believe it! That’s so crazy!

    This winter is just being really weird. We’re getting so much snow that people are cleaning their roofs because they’re scared that could collapse! Awful… but Spring will not take too long to come. I hope!

    I need to go sleep. 🙂 Looong day!


    Luciane at


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