Saturday, June 18, 2016

Let this be a lesson

We had another major storm blow through our region Wednesday night. Several thousand people experienced power loss, including us. Ours was due to downed power lines. We think lightening struck a tree, caught it on fire and the limbs fell on the lines.  

This time we were prepared to deal with the power outage---or so we thought. Once the torrential downpour subsided, the hubbs wheeled out our generator that we purchased 4 years ago after the epic storm which resulted in a total loss of all of our perishable foods.  Gas generators are incredibly noisy. We have a Troybilt 8250/6000. We decided to enjoy the peace and quiet after the storm before cranking on the generator.
We had unfettered access to the sights and sounds of nature, normally masked by the visual and auditory pollution of modern civilization.We stood in back yard and breathed deep the smell of damp soil and rain. Did you know, there is a term for this specific smell? It is called Petrichor. We admired the beauty of a double rainbow. And we smiled as we watched the antics of wildlife spraying arcs of water droplets in their wake of hopping to and fro from wet branches.

Our sojourn into nature ended much too soon and the demands of modern life beckoned. So we set about running the lines to various appliances and fired up the generator. We cycled running both refrigerators, the chest freezer and charging our small electronics (phones, tablet and laptop). We didn't run our generator all night because it is very loud, smelly and honestly there was enough of a cool breeze we  thought we would enjoy having the windows open overnight.

What really happened... one of our neighbors ran their generator ALL night.  The echoing roar of a combustion engine several yards from our house. So that was lovely-not! By 4:15 am the power had not been restored, so I grudgingly forced myself out of bed. After getting ready to work, I went to the garage to wheel out the generator and quite nearly suffocated from the smell of gas fumes. I had to run outside to breathe from coughing and gagging. It took me several minutes and a few deep breaths then I ran into the big bay of the garage and flung open the garage door. I made such a clatter the hubbs really did look to see what was the matter. Hahaha, not the night before Christmas.

The hubbs in his hastiness (and fatigue) FAILED to shut the valve to the gas on the generator.

All night, while we slept, the gas leaked out of the tank puddling into a pool on the concrete and built up fumes in the garage. Think about that for a minute. IF the cat been in the garage he would have been asphyxiated.  IF the power surged back on, a spark could have detonated our garage into a explosive fireball.   

Oh.My. God!!!  

We are truly lucky, blessed and perhaps even charmed to have averted such a PREVENTABLE, POTENTIAL tragedy.

Always, ALWAYS, ALWAYS, be careful and think about your sequence of actions.

 Safety is of the utmost importance.

Once we managed to get over our shock of WHAT MIGHT HAVE HAPPENED, we sprang into action. The hubbs poured kitty litter on the gas puddle. Not sawdust,  because no additional combustible materials were needed. I made a quick trip to Kroger's and bought lots and lots of ice (and a new coleman cooler).

Upon returning home, I used the principles of thermal mass--err... I shoved all the frozen junk into the chest freezer and placed bags of ice on top. All the refrigerated items were sorted into the ice filled coolers to keep and things deemed not necessary were pitched. I had one 22 bag of ice remaining, I placed the non perishable beverages in the now empty refrigerator freezer with the bag of ice, utilizing it as a cooler.

Power was restored midday Thursday and life is "normal" again. We didn't lose our food supply, a pet didn't die, and our garage didn't explode. But we most definitely learned a very, VERY important lesson in safety.


  1. It's amazing --all the things that can go wrong. Glad the leaking gas didn't give you a bigger problem.
    We lose power quite a bit around here. Our longest outage was 4 days--at Christmas....of course. I'm like you-can't stand the noise. We ran it every 4 hours for about a 1/2 hour--just to keep the house toasty , get the fridge back up to the proper temp, or brew coffee---you know--IMPORTANT stuff.
    We have a lot of neighbors that NEVER shut theirs off. Ugh. Do you REALLY need power ALL night????
    Anyways, end of novel. Have a great weekend

    1. We lose power maybe 1 or 2 x per year. The generator is loud but caffeine is a necessity! I think I would rather lose power in winter than summer. I hate being hot. We can always add layers, use the wood stove for heat and the generator to power space heaters. Although no power at Christmas would be sucky! Glad you survived! Thanks for stopping by :)

  2. Wow, that is SO scary. Glad y'all are ALL ok. We've thought about a generator at the farm. That's something we need to put on our list. I've thought about propane, need to just read up on all the pros and cons of everything.

    1. Hey FM! The hubbs beat himself up emotionally over this. He felt so bad. No need for me to lecture him. ugh! I REALLY wanted a propane generator but was impatient and bought the gas. There are pros/cons to both. There is another generator I learned about recently called an inverter generator. They are smaller, more lightweight, more efficient, cleaner, closer to "line power" but also more expensive.


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