When the Lights Go Down in the City…


Reading to our youngest sister. Reading is the greatest- even when the lights are on!

Many residents along the east coast are left in the dark after Irene. Though we haven’t felt the effects of the tropical storm this far inland, we are no strangers to the headache of power outages. With severe thunderstorms, high winds, tornadoes, and winter storms, Ohians have the potential to lose power year-round.  Here are some interesting tips from NPR’s Linda Holmes for keeping spirits up while the lights are down.

Reading. Of course, the most obvious and substantive of suggestions is to read a book. It’s absolutely true that this is a great time to rediscover your bookshelf, particularly if you have a nice window with some natural light and a comfy chair. Books! Comic books! A big fat magazine!

Puzzles. If you’re anything like me, you have a veritable forest’s worth of uncompleted crossword puzzles in your house. If you’re slightly less like me, maybe it’s Sudoku. You’ll have fun, you’ll stay sharp, and you’ll remember what you did before Angry Birds.

Reading to someone. Reading for pleasure is one thing, but I feel at times like reading to each other — other than reading to little kids — has been lost a little. When I was a middle-school-aged and we would go camping, my family would read books out loud at night. Sometimes it was a family story like Sounder, and sometimes it was a scary story like “The Most Dangerous Game,” “The Telltale Heart,” or “Leinengen Versus The Ants.” (That makes me wonder whether someone — probably my dad — owned a book of stories called That’s Okay; You Didn’t Want Your Ten-Year-Old To Sleep Anyway.)

Reading to each other is fun. Everybody can lie down, relax, and listen. It’s like your iPod, only a person! (Kidding, kidding. Your family may like each other even more than iPods.) Be ambitious; try a novel. (Not Moby-Dick or anything.) It’s a good time to get kids to try things they might refuse when they had the choice of playing the XBox or watching television. See what they do; they might surprise you. I loved it when my family read together, even when I was older.

Jigsaw puzzles. Another one we used to do in my family when we weren’t plugged in. Have a big table? That’s the entire list of supplies.

Board games. Pop Culture Happy Hour covered board games recently while I was on vacation (it was a pretty wonderful discussion, and I can say that because I wasn’t there). They talked about the evils of Monopoly and the difference between Scrabble People and Boggle People, but my experiences go far beyond those basics. There are so many games — Life, Payday, checkers … Careers! Holy cow, I forgot all about Careers.

If you’re really ambitious or you’re really going to be without power for a long time, let your kids make up their own game. If you have an old board they’re not using anymore and some construction paper, they can make their own “-opoly” game where they sell off the rooms in your house and the stores you visit.

Battery-powered radios. I’ve had a lot of conversations with people in the last couple of days that go something like this: “Do you even have a battery-powered radio anymore that can run on replaceable batteries?” “Uh … wait, do I?”

Remember to think about safety before entertainment. Red Cross has some good tips for how to handle food storage during a power outage. Make sure that you have a well-stocked and easy to locate emergency kit (tips for building one) and a first aid kit as well.

Thanks to NPR’s Monkey See blog for the content of this article.

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