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What A Wonderful Day

My day started at 3:30AM with a knock on my door from a neighbor telling me the power was out. He was playing computer games after getting off work, so he was awake. As I woke up I noticed the beeping from the UPSs confirming the problem, and walking outside showed it to be widespread. The neighbor knows about my Mother’s oxygen system, so he felt I should be told.

I went to my Mother’s house and hauled out a large tank of O2 and swapped the necessary connections to restart the flow. Then I called the power company’s outage line to get an estimate of the duration of the outage. They said that the power would be restored at 4:30AM, so I sat down to wait.

When the power wasn’t back at a quarter to 5, I checked again, and they said 7:30AM. That was too long, so I decided to bring the generator on-line to power the oxygen concentrator and some other equipment.

It had been a while since the generator had been used, so I checked with our lawn guy who had two gallons of fresh gas, and then went over to prepare the generator while he went after the gas. Amazingly the generator started right up the second time the starter rope was pulled, and we began running cable.

As I came around the corner, I saw the outside light by the kitchen door burning brightly, so I went back to the generator and shut it down.

Given the time this happened I would assume someone given the choice of 7 lanes to drive in, decided to drive in lane eight, where the utility poles rise.

11 comments

1 Steve Bates { 04.06.14 at 11:39 am }

When a loved one depends on oxygen tanks, sometimes the most ordinary inconvenience turns into a life-threatening problem. Stella’s father needed oxygen his last couple of years, and during Hurricane Ike, his supplier, who usually swapped out tanks at his doorstep, couldn’t make it through. To make matters worse, phones were out around the area. Fortunately, though cell phone calls were unavailable, text messages worked; Stella’s stepmother was able to text someone with a working phone, who called the hospital her father usually used, where someone was able to find someone who could in fact make it through the storm with a fresh oxygen tank.

I am very glad you have some options. Your mother is very fortunate to have a son who, so to speak, specializes in options!

2 Bryan { 04.06.14 at 4:34 pm }

In addition to the generator that provides two 20-amp 110 volt circuits, I have a 12 volt inverter for the car to charge cell phones and lap tops. The generator was sized to provide power for the refrigerator and a small AC unit, as well as some lights, so the oxygen concentrator isn’t a problem.

When you live on the Gulf Coast, you have to assume electrical outages, and make provisions for them. The tanks are fine for short term outages, but you need a long term solution as well. Always have a back-up plan ready to go.

3 hipparchia { 04.06.14 at 8:17 pm }

someone given the choice of 7 lanes to drive in, decided to drive in lane eight, where the utility poles rise.

my present abode, like my previous one, is just a hop-skip-jump from a major road, but at least on this road the big old oak trees got there before the power lines did. the power outages since I’ve moved are still annoyingly frequent but maybe half what they were in the old place. at least now the lightning strikes outnumber the car strikes.

keeping my fingers crossed for your mom.

4 Kryten42 { 04.06.14 at 9:46 pm }

There is a curve near where I live that has a power pole on the curve (an ode to typically moronic planners) that get’s hit now and then by some young moron driving home from the local pub in the wee hours. The power company finally had enough and erected a reinforced concrete pole with steel curb barriers. Next time some drunken idiot hit’s that, it will most likely be fatal (for the driver, not the pole). Of course, it would never occur to them to move the pole a couple meter’s, it would cost too much. Still, at least I won’t have to worry about the occasional blackout from that source 2-3 times a year, so that’s a bonus. ;) *shrug*

As said before Bryan, our training does have some benefits. Especially in disaster planning. When Mom had cancer and I had to deal with everything, I went into a kind of *paranoid* mode and planned for just about everything (just short of such things as an alien spacecraft crashing into the house, though I could have gotten some black-market stingers to cover that! :twisted: ;) yeah, where a loved one is concerned, we do tend to go a bit farther than would be considered normal (or *sane* by many, until something that could have been prevented happens to them of course. Then you get the “Why didn’t you tell me?!”) Which is the point when I walk away (generally thinking “Serves you right, idiot”). Another *benefit* of our backgrounds is a low tolerance for fools. ;)

Well done, but not surprising. :) I’m sure you have other trials ahead, and you will handle them equally well. Again, I wish I could be of some use.

Cheers m8. :)

5 Bryan { 04.06.14 at 9:58 pm }

Mother slept through most of it, until I hit her with a flashlight moving the oxygen tank around. We need a louder power failure alarm to notify her when it happens so she can alert me.

Our problem is that these are major lines that don’t lend themselves to being buried. They tend to caused explosions when they get flooded in conduits by vaporizing the water. They are also a major problem to repair.

6 Bryan { 04.06.14 at 10:08 pm }

It is a matter of looking for obvious weak points in the infrastructure and having a plan in place so you don’t waste time wondering what to do. That comes with training and years flying on alert. We used to go 15 minutes from the alarm to wheels up during the middle of the night. The biggest delay was pushing the aircraft out of the hangar.

As you know, once you’re on the mission, you had better be ready for whatever happens.

7 Steve Bates { 04.07.14 at 11:50 am }

I know our military is ready for anything at a moment’s notice; I just wish the rest of the freakin’ country could do the same!

I’m afraid that in the next few decades, the opportunities for emergency responders to prove themselves are only going to become more and more frequent. As for coast dwellers, we’d better get good at dog-paddling around the house as it sinks beneath the waves…

Thinking positive thoughts toward your mother.

8 Kryten42 { 04.07.14 at 12:52 pm }

Amen to that Steve. Here also. I used to think Aussies were pretty smart, and we were. I truly don’t know what happened. *shrug*

I remember my teams first assignment, an island somewhere in Oceania. I had to attend several planning sessions with my 2nd, and several briefings. Updates on the trouble spot, which I could see changed daily. And not in good ways. I was pretty nervous I can assure you! As it happened, it all went quite smoothly. We were well trained, and once on mission, all that training took over. We rounded up the local troublemakers without a shot being fired (and they had a reasonable assortment of nasty weapons, though mostly old AK’s and the like. We did it by the numbers at night. We only used a single round for the mission. A bullet to the thigh of the lead troublemaker to get the message across, to make sure he knew I wasn’t messing about and he’d better do what I said! ;) :D

Then, we were sent to Cambodia. And all the planning was well-and-truly out the window on day one. I am still not entirely sure how most of my small team survived a year there, even with an extra SAS security force (if not for which, I would surly be dead.) When we were not on a mission, we were constantly training and running possible scenarios (war games). It saved us. I learned that I NEVER ever wanted to go on another UN *Peacekeeping* mission again! The rules changed often, and sometimes contradicted our standing orders and even RoE (rules of engagement) a common problem with a multinational force that is hurriedly thrown together, as well as the language problems! Several times when I was on target and had to call for confirmation, I’d be told to stand down. After weeks of planning, and usually several days scouting and getting to the target zone, we’d get called off. Twice that happened, and a week or so later we were told to find that same target, which was much more difficult the 2nd time around! When you have to watch out for foe’s & *friends* causing problems, planning for *whatever happens* get’s pretty difficult.
/rant

Anyway, I’m sure you know how it is m8. *shrug*

Good luck, and best wishes to your Mom and family. :) I know you’ll handle things OK. :)

9 hipparchia { 04.07.14 at 9:48 pm }

We need a louder power failure alarm to notify her when it happens so she can alert me.

sounds like a raspberry pi project to me! wire up your raspberry pi to some kind of listening gadget that will hear when the alarm goes off, then have it text you or call your cell phone. see, easy as pie! :D

10 Bryan { 04.07.14 at 10:07 pm }

Serving on alert is certainly a useful bit of training, and I have communications in hand, so I’m feeling better about it. I’m going to deplay some of my back-up UPS’s to cover certain areas, and am still looking for a solid power loss alarm wasn’t wasn’t designed for a factory. If I don’t see something soon, I’ll buy the parts and build one. A battery powered signalling device connected to a normally closed AC relay will do it, but someone must sell a compact unit that won’t take up a lot of room.

I will deal with it because I have to – it is that simple.

If you work and train long enough, you accumulate solutions that will work for almost any problem with reasonable modifications.

The military trains in conditions as close as to real as possible so people don’t panic when faced with the real thing. Some forms of training are actually worse than what you may face, which is why some of the exercises are called ‘confidence courses”. Back in the 18th century Russian General Suvorov established the maxim: ‘Train hard to fight easy’, and it is still true.

Most people avoid thinking about the worst, so they can’t even deal with mildly annoying. It’s amazing, especially down here in hurricane country. People who can’t be trusted with a butter knife are out and about with chainsaws. It’s nature’s way of improving the species.

11 Bryan { 04.07.14 at 10:12 pm }

I have an encrypted communications link between houses, but I need something that will wake her up. The alarm on the oxygen concentrator is wimpy. The noise when you turn it on is loud and clear, but the power loss alarm is too weak to wake a cat sleeping on it.

I might end up involving the Pi, but someone must make one that works.