Are you prepared for an emergency? 

I found out how pathetically unprepared my family is the other week when our electricity went out. We’ve had outages before, but they have occurred during the day and have lasted only a few minutes. It was 11 o’clock at night. Haley and I were alone, and we had just finished watching a movie. Truth be told, Maury was home but already in bed and fast asleep. Over the years, I have learned that Maury’s deep sleep is what others might refer to as a coma. It made more sense to figure out this emergency on our own.

The outage hit as I went outside to grab a couple bottles of water. We have a refrigerator on the patio and keep it stocked with beverages and leftovers. Haley was chatting about the movie when suddenly we were thrown into complete darkness. 

I struggled to get back in the house through the sliding door, tripping on the small step I have been able to navigate for years. I felt around in the dark using our dining room table as a guide and knocked over a bowl of pretzels. Haley, who has her phone in her hand at all times, tried to turn on her flashlight and discovered, to her horror, that her phone was dead. That’s when Haley’s panic really set in. She wouldn’t be able to Snapchat the whole event! 

Our home alarm system beeped continuously, alerting us that the power was out. I heard a loud crunching sound. The dog had discovered the pretzels scattered on the floor. I made my way into the garage trying to remember where we stored the emergency flashlights and lanterns. I grabbed a lantern and switched it on. The light was dim and weak. Reminder to self: keep fresh batteries nearby, or preferably in, the lantern or flashlight. Still, the dim light was better than nothing. The alarm kept beeping eerily, and Haley wanted to go outside to see if all the houses were dark. They were.

“Wow, is this what it would be like if Russia blew up our grid?” she asked.

I guess she listens to the news after all. We stood there for a moment. It was oddly quiet.

“Let’s get back inside,” I said. “It’s creepy out here.”

I found my phone, and by the light of its flashlight and our dim lantern, we looked at each other.

“What did people do in the old days when there was no electricity?” she asked.

 “Maybe sit around and look at each other,” I said. 

The electricity had been out for 30 minutes, though it felt like a lot more. We went into the kitchen. I heard a fly buzzing around loudly. Normally, we probably wouldn’t have noticed, but against the backdrop of complete silence and the security alarm beeping, the fly sounded like a B-52 dive-bombing the kitchen. Flies are gross. Why did God make flies? What purpose do they serve other than to ruin picnics and appetites? I grabbed a couple fly swatters and handed one to Haley. We made a few futile attempts at assassinating the fly by the dim lantern light. It was a lot like camping, which I hate. 

Then it occurred to me. “I think this is what people must have done for fun back when there was no electricity.”

“That’s just sad, Mom,” Haley said. 

I agreed. We decided to spare the fly and go upstairs. I attempted to take a shower by candlelight, which was rather pleasant, until I realized the fly had followed me upstairs and into the shower stall with me. Its loud buzzing was amplified by the tile walls. If you think eating corn on the cob with a fly buzzing around is disgusting, try being naked in the shower with one. It’s downright horrifying! I couldn’t help but shriek as I swatted at it with my soapy hands. YUCK!

I cut the shower short, threw on some pajamas and locked the fly in the bathroom. Haley had fallen asleep due to the lack of blue-light stimulation from her phone. Her brain probably didn’t know what to do with itself, so it shut down. She probably had the best night’s sleep of her life.

 I was alone now. The power had been out for a total of 90 minutes. I began to wonder if the Russians really had attacked our grid, or maybe aliens were invading. And then, praise be to God, the lights came back on! Suddenly, our home was filled with noise. The TV blared. A clock radio alarm went off. The refrigerator started noisily making ice. It was music to my ears. Our streetlights came back on, and the homes around us all glowed with warm light from within. Peace and normality were restored.

 I am now determined more than ever to put together a survival kit. It was shocking and sad just how quickly we were reduced to helpless boobs because of one small power outage. My survival kit will include all the necessities: bottled water, canned goods and a can opener, plenty of flashlights with fresh batteries conveniently located in every room, a portable phone charger, a few bottles of wine, chocolate and, most importantly, a large supply of fly swatters…