I’m finally coming to terms with the fact that I’ve got to start looking at the weather report. The temperature is supposed to drop to -7 degrees here tomorrow night. I’m not sure I’ve ever felt that kind of cold. I remember one night in Vermont a few years ago when Laura and I hopped out of our friend’s truck, only to be presented with the coldest temperature we’ve ever felt. I don’t have an exact number for you, but I’ll tell you one thing – it was the coldest feeling I can remember. The kind of cold that makes the hairs in your nostrils freeze the minute you decide to breathe through your nose. Even colder than the days of my childhood when we’d huddle in the “sunny spot” up at the bus stop. And those days were cold.
A few months ago, as I was sitting there in Florida having dreams of getting back to my roots, I mostly thought of the community aspect of living up North. You know, neighbors helping neighbors cut ice and split wood on the weekends. We’d get to know one another rather quickly and one person would fill in the gaps of another. If we had an elderly neighbor who wasn’t able to exactly split wood anymore, I’d do it for them. For some home style cooking or course. I don’t work for free. But thinking back to where I was a few months ago, community was where it was at.
I’m having thoughts other than simple community now. I’m beginning to think more of preparedness and I’m realizing that the brunt of that preparedness falls on me. Sure, the people around here are friendly enough to help out if something bad happens, but I’d have to ask for it. And I don’t like asking. So it’s on my shoulders.
As I lay in bed at night, I think of some of the things that can wrong and how I would respond if they did. Those thoughts have been intensifying lately because Winter’s setting in. These aren’t negative thoughts by any measure of the word – they’re more “squirrely” in a way. I’ll give you a few examples of what I’ve been thinking of:
What if the power goes out?
Well, I guess it depends on how long it goes out for. If the outage only lasts for a few hours like it did last time, Laura and I, along with the cats could basically sit on the floor and not use the internet for the duration. That type of event wouldn’t necessarily be bad. But what if it goes out for seven days like it did when we were living in Connecticut? What if there was a huge ice storm that took power down across the entire state or region? Like the previous owner of the house said, “We’re last on the list to get it back.” That concerns me. Especially with sub-zero temperatures in the forecast all Winter long.
I have ten gallons of gas in the garage. My generator uses one gallon of gas every 13 hours. When the power went out last time, we used the generator to keep the pellet stove going. If there’s an extended power outage, how long with the gas last? Can I get more or will the gas stations be swarming with people like they were in Connecticut? What if the generator doesn’t start or what if it breaks? What if the pellet stove breaks? The last thing I’d like to do is to sit here listening to the sounds of pipes freezing in the house. One cat down. Another cat down. Finally, I see Voleman out of the corner of my eye, staring at me, licking his lips because he’s getting hungry.
What if there’s a fire?
This one has been on my mind since day one in Maine. If there were a house fire in August, we would all hopefully escape and stand on the front lawn in our underwear waiting for someone to see us. I’m sure the temperature would be manageable, so while there is obviously a concern, there isn’t as much of a concern as there would be if the fire were in mid-January. I’m not sure how long we’d last standing there half naked in the freezing cold. Could we warm up in a car? Is it too cold for the cars to start? Where are the car keys? Where are the cats? How did we get out of the house? Do either of our phones work? It’s these types of things that keep my mind going. No one’s going to come save us. It’s all up to me.
What if there’s a health emergency?
I wonder what we would do if something awful happened to one of us or to one of the cats. How would we get to a hospital or an emergency vet? What if we were in the middle of a snow storm and the driveway was covered with two feet of snow? What if the cars couldn’t move at all? What if we were able to call for help, but no one was able to get here?
I think the name of the game around here is thinking about all the terrible things that could happen and then preparing for them. Positivity won’t get you very far as you stand in the driveway at three in the morning wiping the snow off the top of your head.
I’ve already decided that a wood burning stove is a must. That alone answers many questions. All I need for that is wood. The generator doesn’t need to burn any gas and as long as our wood supply lasted, we’d all be warm. We also have two water sources – a stream and a river. If necessary, we could fetch water from either and boil it on top of the stove. With a wood stove, we could last indefinitely in relative comfort.
Just a few days ago, I brought our cat carriers inside from the garage. I stored them upstairs, just in case of fire. If something happens, we’ll be able to put the cats in the carriers and then escape through the window using the emergency ladder I picked up from Home Depot.
I also picked up two fire extinguishers and hooked up our emergency water hose in the laundry room. I just don’t want to be left with no options if something happens. You probably don’t know this about me, but I constantly go through scenarios in my mind. I even make sure to leave warm clothes and shoes near the bed at night – just in case.
If we need to get out of the driveway in a snowy emergency, the best I could do is offer up a 4×4 Ford F-250. This is the reason I bought the truck. It didn’t have much use as it sat in the driveway in Florida, but I wasn’t planning on staying in Florida for too long. I’m certain I could bust through some snow banks in that thing. I just need to be sure it’ll start. It’s a diesel and diesels don’t like the really cold weather.
I don’t know. These are just some of my thoughts for this morning. I know the wood stove is a priority, so I’m going to get going on that after I finish up a few other things. I don’t like to be left hoping that the power doesn’t go out and wondering how long we can last if it does. The first time we had an extended outage in Connecticut, Laura and I sat there for seven days reading by candle light. Good thing it wasn’t cold out. If it was, our lack of anything would have hurt us badly.
Do you have any thoughts on this topic? What do you do to prepare for somewhat common eventualities? Do you have any emergency contingency plans? Any thoughts or suggestions would certainly be welcome in the comment section below.