Power Outage!

Posted :
September 22, 2015
Posted :
Jennifer B
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The recent wind storm and subsequent power outages were quite the wakeup call for most Lower Mainlanders.  Were you caught off guard?

Never in the history of the Greater Vancouver area has there been record of such a lengthy loss of power!  Climate change is making its presence known globally, and with recent events from the storm to this year’s unprecedented west coast drought, we can see it’s making its mark in British Columbia.  While we do hope for a future of low-impact, renewable green energy, we certainly need to prepare ourselves for future similar events.

Power outages can be challenging for everyone. In a senior home, those challenges can increase exponentially, particularly if you’re not ready for them.

So how did we handle the power outage at Earl Haig Retirement Residence?  Thanks to best staff ever, the best management ever, and of course, the best tenants ever, we made it through smooth sailing.  Camaraderie amongst tenants runs high at our retirement community, so it was a good opportunity for people to check in on each other and spend time together.

For some seniors, keeping a steady foot is a challenge in the best of times, what to speak of in the dark!  For this reason, we have supplied all of our suites with a great little invention of a chargeable flash/night light.  It stays in an electric socket at all times, and should power be lost, the light shines for 17 hours!  You can take it with you, or leave it in strategic places.

What about food? Of course, meals are included at Earl Haig as part of our senior care, and we certainly kept everyone well-nourished and well-fed!  One of the benefits of being a non-profit establishment owned by The Earl Haig Society is that volunteers from the Legion came with food for everyone!  Sandwiches, spaghetti, and tea were lovingly served to our residents, and for those who weren’t able to manage stairs to the dining room, meals and drinks were brought to the suites.

WE might have been well prepared, but what about YOU?  Does most of the food in your kitchen require cooking and/or refrigeration?  You certainly don’t want to eat raw spaghetti noodles for 3 days!  While some of the refrigerated items might be able to last you the first day if cooking is not required (ie. cheese, and certain vegetables), what to do moving forward?  Things like tomatoes, apples, avocadoes, etc. can certainly be eaten without keeping them refrigerated.  But are you likely to have them on hand if an unexpected storm hits?

So now, we’re going to give you some all-round pointers in your efforts to get prepared for next time!


  • Frozen Bread:  Keep some loaves of bread in the freezer.  If the power goes out, it will thaw, and you’ll have bread for several days.
  • Peanut or Other Nut Butters:  Look for ones that don’t require refrigeration.  Go for the more natural ingredients to optimize nutritional value.  It can be used with your thawed bread!
  • Salted Butter:  It can last for weeks unrefrigerated.
  • Jarred Salsa:  Salsa in a jar doesn’t require refrigeration while unopened.  You can eat it with bread or chips.
  • Dolmades:  Rice and herbs wrapped in grape leaves in olive oil.  This canned yummy Greek favourite can be found at most grocery stores, and fills you up with savoury goodness (dolmades got me through a hurricane in New Orleans!).
  • Couscous:  This tiny grain just needs water in order to puff up.  If it’s soaked long enough, it doesn’t require cooking, and will fluff up wonderfully.
  • Soy Sauce Packets:  These do not require refrigeration.  Some bottled soy sauces may not either, but everyone has their preferences, so packets are a safe bet.  You can pour them on couscous to add savory flavour.
  • Vitamin Water:  Plumbing should work, so water won’t be an issue, but you might want something a little different, but juice requires refrigeration, and soda is no fun to drink warm.  Vitamin Water is a great alternative, it comes in different tasty flavours, does not require refrigeration, and as says the name, carries lots of Vitamins!
  • Nuts/Trail Mix:  Your favourite nut, or mixed nuts in a can or jar are a great source of protein and can fill you up, and keep you energized.  Trail mix can include mixed nuts, dried fruits, chocolate chips, and pretzels.


  • Plug in chargeable emergency lights (last 17 hours)
  • Wind up flashlights (no batteries required)
  • Battery operated flashlights
  • Candles (tea lights are less dangerous than pillar or taper candles)


BUY A CORDED PHONE!  Have a cordless phone?  It won’t work in a power outage?  Have a cell phone?  When the battery runs out, you can’t charge it.  The good old-fashioned corded phone will work when there is no power, and you can purchase one for very little.  If you don’t have a landline, and only have a cell phone, then go to your cell phone provider’s store and buy an extra battery to keep charged and on hand in case of emergency.

Again, power outages can often create a warm community feeling in senior living facilities.  No iPads, no TV, no computers, simple living, and loving thinking.  It can go a long way!  And if another power outage should happen, stay positive!  We are SO fortunate it’s not the likes of Hurricane Katrina up here – imagine!  No running water, no plumbing, looting, violent crimes, no food of any kind, in 30 degree heat and humidity.  We are so very fortunate and must keep things in perspective.

So love yourself, love your neighbour, be prepared, and let’s count our blessings.

If you, or someone you know may be ready to join an INDEPENDENT LIVING community, please do come by our Earl Haig Retirement Residence in Coquitlam, and see first hand what has built our reputation as one of the best places for seniors to be in the Lower Mainland! Book your tour today! 

604 937 9790

Author – Jennifer, Administrator/Earl Haig Retirement Residence