What to Do When Your Power Goes Out in 2020

After some record-setting high temperatures yesterday, the surprise lightning storms that ripped through the Bay Area featuring hundreds of lightning strikes and wind gusts of up to 75 miles per hour have sparked fires throughout the region and left thousands without power.

If you’re a Bay Area resident, last night was probably one of the scariest nights of your life. Yes, it’s true that Californians are wimps. But we are also not trained to handle this type of extreme weather! Earthquakes? No problem. But we don’t even know how to drive in the rain, let alone deal with thunderstorms. 

Even before these storms hit, many Bay Area residents were already experiencing loss of power due to PG&E blackouts. Oh, you ask, you mean those planned power outages started last year to prevent wildfires? No, although I’m guessing those aren’t too far behind. Due to the heatwave sweeping the Bay Area, starting Friday evening PG&E instituted a series of rolling blackouts to prevent straining the power grid.

So let’s face it. Even if you have power at this present moment, living in California means there’s a pretty decent chance your power will be shut off at some point this year. If it weren’t bad enough that many of us are still stuck inside (thanks COVID), now we are faced with being stuck inside and no Netflix (thanks 2020). And although people outside of California don’t face quite the same type of power loss we experience here, losing access to electricity during a global pandemic is a lot more difficult than it is under normal circumstances.

However, one of my personal life philosophies is to look on the bright side of things. There are actually a lot of unique opportunities available to you without power! So I’ve put together a few tips for what to do when your power goes out in 2020.

1. Don’t panic

Sometimes we forget that electricity is a relatively new invention! While losing power is certainly inconvenient and can have serious consequences for some people, for many of us it’s just an annoyance. If the only part of your life that’s affected is your lack of internet access and your 14-day supply of frozen food, take a deep breath and remember that throughout most of history people have managed to survive (and even lead fulfilling, enjoyable lives) without any form of power, let alone WiFi. Just keep calm and try to identify some of the positive elements of a power outage. That brings me to my next point…

2. Eat some quality cheese

One of my family’s 2020 rituals has been sitting outside on our deck, enjoying sunsets together, and consuming inordinate amounts of cheese. It’s definitely added to our quality of life and I highly recommend it. Additionally, cheese is a great dietary option for a power outage! It is delicious, has many health benefits, and requires no power to prepare! It does need to be refrigerated, and as you know you’re not supposed to be opening and closing your fridge during power outages. But never fear, once you take that cheese out there will be no need to put it back. It’s 2020 and you should #treatyoself.

3. Read a real book

Even with our pandemic-mandated slower pace of life, reading is one of those things that always seems to get pushed to the back burner. Reading news articles or even ebooks on your phone or device doesn’t count! Studies show that reading printed books is scientifically beneficial. And do you really want to use up your precious battery life reading on your devices? Pick up the hard copy of that book you’ve been meaning to read and enjoy stepping back from technology, which brings me to my next point…

4. Take a digital detox

Most of us know that technology messes with our brains, but we generally don’t like to think about it. However, taking regular digital detoxes is really healthy, and what better time to start than when you don’t have access to electricity? Use the power outage to kickstart a healthier lifestyle and build in regular times to unplug from your devices. 

5. Explore the great outdoors

Ok, one caveat to that — don’t get struck by lightning. But if it’s safe to be outside, a power outage is a great time to take advantage of all nature has to offer. The Environmental Protection Agency reports that on average, Americans only spend 7% of our lives outdoors. But it’s scientifically proven that being outdoors is good for your health! While it shouldn’t take a power outage to get us outdoors, that’s the reality of living in the digital age and you should capitalize on these opportunities.

6. Do something creative

As wonderful as technology is, research shows that it can negatively impact our creativity. When the power goes out, it forces us to get creative — and that is actually really good for our brains! Here are a few ideas for some creative endeavors that don’t require electricity:

  1. Take up calligraphy
  2. Learn how to BBQ (extremely valuable culinary skill under current circumstances)
  3. Discover your inner Picasso
  4. Pick up a musical instrument
  5. Teach yourself a crafty skill
  6. Start learning a new language
  7. Take up gardening
  8. Build something
  9. Write something

7. Count your blessings

As challenging as 2020 has been, it’s important to let difficult times serve as perspective checks. Power outages are incredibly frustrating, but if they’re nothing more than a frustration, we’re truly fortunate. We have so much to be grateful for, and events like blackouts can remind us that things could be so much worse. Count your blessings and make an effort to find the good and beauty in even the hardest things coming at us this crazy year. As J.K. Rowling writes, “Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.” And she wasn’t talking about electricity.

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