Surviving power outages

A couple of weeks after I wrote an editorial saying that Burns Lake doesn’t see much rain and thunderstorms, a storm brought gusty winds, causing power outages across northern B.C. In fact, the winds caused a tree to knock down a power line right in front of my building.

Fine, nature, I get the message. And I no longer miss the rain.

What was interesting to realize during this power outage, which lasted for about four hours for people living in the downtown core, is how helpless we can become without electricity.

When I got home I was immediately taken aback by the fact that I could not do any cooking on my electric stove. I simply stood there brainstorming how I could feed myself. After about 15 minutes, I realized that my only option was eating bread and peanut butter.

So I drove around town searching for a place to eat, but most of the restaurants were closed. A restaurant on the west end of town, however, was lucky enough to still have electricity.

Once I got there, I realized that basically half of the town’s residents had had the same thought, and they were all there waiting for their orders (I guess I wasn’t the only one with no supplies at home). So I decided to return home and eat bread and peanut butter. I think it’s safe to say I learned my lesson.

The River Forecast Centre issued a flood advisory for the Skeena River and tributaries including the Bulkley River last week. The Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako advised residents to prepare an emergency kit for each family member, with enough supplies for up to one week.

This power outage only lasted four hours, but emergency situations can arise at any time during the year, and it’s not enough to think that our local governments and institutions will be able to protect us. It’s also up to us to ensure that we are prepared for any type of emergency.

But other than struggling to feed myself, I also realized how hard it is to entertain yourself without electricity. Most of us are used to being connected all the time, so not having Wi-Fi all of a sudden felt as if I was stranded on a desert island.

It was still daylight and so I was able to read a book. And for a while I was really proud of myself for making good use of the power outage. When the power finally came back, I was just getting ready to go to bed; but instead of going to bed, my reaction was to spend the next two hours online catching up on what I had missed during the power outrage.

But I had no emails. The world was still there. And I was starving.