August 31, 2015
3.5 Minute Read
At roughly 10am on Saturday my weekend changed forever. I was spending some time online, lost in a wiki-hole. Just when I was about to find out the dietary habits of the Platypus, my apartment went dark.
No power. No internet. I was struck with panic, then clarity.
I spent the next two and a half days learning quickly how prepare and survive a storm as an Internet addicted nerd.
How I survived the largest Vancouver power outage in over a decade.
A note before we begin: DO NOT CALL 911 UNLESS YOU ARE IN DANGER.
Sadly, the phone lines to Vancouver emergency services were plugged up and busy with people asking questions about the power outage.
Take care of the practical things first:
Time is precious in the first hour of a power outage. First thing, take a shower. Unless you just got out, you should light a candle, jump in and soak up what could be the last of the hot water for a while. This is really important if you live in an apartment, there might be 100 other people racing you to it, and your hot water could be heated by electricity.
Next, drive to the store and buy candles and ice. Ice might sound a bit weird, but whatever is in your fridge might not be so delicious in three days. It’s an extra few dollars that could save you a hundred or more in the long run.
Plan the next few days.
You might assume that the power will be on in the morning, you could be right and that will feel nice, but if you are wrong you will wake up, and realize you have to get to work and panic.
If you assume it will be out in the morning and plan you will be streets ahead.
Community centres with a pool will help with keeping you clean for the duration and knowing which areas of the city have power will keep you entertained and connected.
Think outside of the cafe.
If you want to go online, do not go to a cafe. I found this out the hard way. After visiting the fourth cafe with powerless savages like myself huddled around the outlets surrounded by a few laptop wielding vultures circling around the pack, I decided this wasn’t going to work for me.
I ended up taking refuge in a Japanese restaurant. I found an empty outlet by the Coke-a-Cola cooler and happily ordered roll after roll with plenty of Internets at my finger tips.
Take care of each other.
Power outages are a really great opportunity to get involved in your community. For me that meant offering my USB outlets to anyone looking sad pacing around the restaurant in the way I had only minutes before them.
People really appreciated it. I got more smiles and small conversations with new people in an hour or two than I had in Vancouver in months. It honestly felt great.
Next time, I’m considering monetizing the idea and bringing a power bar.
Kidding! Although, a power bar will make you a lot of friends.
Connecting to the Internet.
Many home Internet providers actually offer Wi-Fi in major cities. I used Shaw Go Wi-Fi this weekend, but other providers have similar services.
Other options include tethering to your phone (this will get pricy very fast) which is more of an emergency protocol.
Finally, invite some friends over, pull out a board game and relax. It may take a while, but it’s only temporary. Some great board and card games include:
- Settlers of Catan – A game more about diplomacy than trading resources.
- Munchkin – A light hearted dungeon crawling card game.
- Werewolves – A great group game built on deception and murder.
- Can’t Stop – An exciting, high risk, high reward dice rolling game.
- Uno – A classic for any power outage.
… and if it becomes too much?
Look for cheap hotels and hostels in areas of the city that do have power, but don’t rely on their Wi-Fi or power source, they could go out too! If you do end up with less screen time think of it as nature’s way of giving your eyes a break.