For those of you that don’t live in the mid-Atlantic region, you may not know that last Friday Virginia, West Virginia, Tennessee, Ohio, and other areas were hit with what is know to the meteorological world as a derecho. According to our buddies at Wikipedia “A derecho ( /dəˈreɪtʃoʊ/; Spanish pronunciation: [deˈɾetʃo]; duh-RAY-cho) is a widespread, long-lived, straight-line windstorm that is associated with a fast-moving band of severe thunderstorms.”
I had never heard of this type of storm before, but boy does it scare the pants off of you! They are apparently characterized by quick, unexpected onset of very high speed winds. And unexpected it was. I was out Friday night at a church function, and a friend of mine dropped me at my car afterwards. While chatting for a few minutes she noticed what she said was red lightening. I thought it was more likely a fireworks show since the 4th of July wasn’t far off.
Well I was wrong.
A few seconds later wind gusts started picking up great speed, and we thought it best to say our goodbyes and head home quickly.
It took almost 30 minutes to drive what normally takes only 15 minutes, and because of the clouds and wind my cell phone was malfunctioning. Beard and Bitsy Girl were at home in this, and I couldn’t let them know I was on my way.
By what I can only call the grace of God I made it home safely to my, albeit eccentric, weather-fanatic husband who had since filled our bathtub with pillows and blankets and had our daughter laying in it. He had seen tornadoes before and worried one was on its way to us.
Luckily for us, there was no tornado, and through 70-90 mph winds our humble little home survived no significant damage.
Except we lost power.
We were very fortunate to have been welcomed into the home of friends on Saturday evening, with whom we stayed for two nights.
Bitsy Girl and I did have to survive Friday night and Saturday without power, and I’d like to share a few of the things we did to stay cool.
- We left our windows open Friday night after the wind had died down. The temperature dropped both outside and in the house to a comfortable 75ish (I had no way of knowing since our thermostat is electric). Once I felt the humidity kick in again in the morning (around 10 am) I shut all of the windows. I left all of the blinds shut to block the sunlight.
- We wore as little clothing as possible. This is obviously going to keep us cool. In addition, I kept splashing a little water on the backs of our necks, knees, and the insides of our elbows. Believe it or not, by splashing water on these spots you cool down the blood in your circulatory system fairly quickly, therefore cooling down your body quickly.
- We bought water. Again, obviously. We have well water here at the DP Home, so when the power goes out, we have no water. And when it’s going to be 101 degrees outside, pregnant ladies and babies need to drink a lot of water. And drink a lot of water we did.
- We sought shelter in cool places. Some places in a nearby city still had power, including, of course, the mall, and many other stores. Bitsy Girl and I stopped by to say hello to Beard at work (which also had A/C), then met my in-laws for lunch at the mall food court, then went to Sam’s, all of which were electrically cooled. 🙂
- We did not open the fridge or freezer. I had read on the US FDA website that food in a full freezer can stay safe for up to 48 hours if you do not open the door. Our freezer isn’t usually fully packed, but I did manage to make it to Sam’s club to buy about 20 pounds of frozen vegetables to quickly shove in my freezer. They were out of ice, and that was the cheapest and bulkiest thing I could find to stuff my freezer with.
- We planned to barbeque. By the time our power was turned back on Monday afternoon, Beard and I had some meat in the freezer that had defrosted. Although it was safe to cook and eat, it was not safe to refreeze. Having just turned the A/C back on after 4 days of 86 degree temperatures inside the house, I wasn’t about to turn on the stove. So we invited some friends over and grilled our chicken and bratwursts. Some of our friends had brought some sides and snacks that also would not have been able to be re-frozen. It was a fun way to celebrate the return of electricity.
What other tips do you guys have for surviving without air-conditioning and electricity in a heat wave?