Every Family Needs a Good, Old-Fashioned Blackout Now and Then

There was a big-time Blackout in Southern California a couple of weeks ago.  It happened suddenly, as Blackouts tend to do. We were all just going about our afternoons as usual when everything went dead.  And I mean everything… everywhere.  I was able to find out rather quickly through Twitter via my iPhone that this was a county-wide problem affecting millions.  The whole power grid for SoCal and part of Arizona was out.  Traffic jams ensued as everyone scrambled to get home on the roads and freeways.  And what was the cause of all of this?


Most people thought that since it was such a warm day that maybe the power grid couldn’t take all of the air conditioning units blasting at once.  And since it was just a couple of days before 9/11, rumors were circulating that it could be part of some kind of a terrorist plot.  It was none of that though.  Turns out that a worker at the main plant made an error when he was fixing something, and the entire grid failed at once.  Wonder if that guy still has a job?

We’ve had blackouts before- mostly because of that “hot day air conditioning excess” reason.  The power usually comes back on within a couple of hours. But by 7 o’clock, we started searching for candles.  My son finished up his homework by candlelight, and I made boxed macaroni and cheese for dinner on my gas stove.  I was afraid to open the refrigerator since this blackout had no end in sight.


My husband got out the flashlights and the camping lanterns.  We played board games by candlelight and talked as a family.  At 9 o’clock we grabbed a few flashlights and went for a long walk.  A full moon was lighting up the neighborhood.  A few generators were going, but other than that it was peaceful and quiet.  You could hear families talking and laughing and enjoying their time together.  It was all very exciting and unusual, and we loved it!

Word got out that school had been canceled for the following day.  We made plans to go to the beach with friends and enjoy our unexpected day off.

At 2am, we were startled from our sleep when the burst of power came back on.  Although I was happy that all of the things in our freezer and refrigerator would now be safe and not go to waste, I admit feeling a tinge of disappointment.  With the power off, we were seemingly in another world… where we were forced to relax and spend time together as a family.  Soon we’d be returning to our computers and video games and TV shows.  I think every family needs a good, old-fashioned blackout now and then.

Do you have a blackout story?  Ours was so short-lived and uneventful, but I’m sure there are others out there that may not have had such a happy ending…

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18 Responses to “Every Family Needs a Good, Old-Fashioned Blackout Now and Then”

  1. 1

    LiztheChef — September 19, 2011 @ 3:31 PM

    Guess who picked that afternoon to have a snazzy new fridge delivered? LOL – by supper, we were stuffing bags of ice into it, drinking wine and grilling chicken on the back patio…

  2. 2

    Allison — September 19, 2011 @ 3:31 PM

    Love this! We live a couple blocks from the beach in Carlsbad, and it was like a party here. Everyone was outside on their decks, out for walks…drinking and being merry. The amount of people on the beach was actually a little startling, like, what are all of these people usually doing at this time of day? (watching TV…etc!) We enjoyed sitting and watching the waves and the people until the sun went down and then lighting the candles when we got home. It was so nice to be unplugged for a little while, and I too was so bummed when the power came back on!

  3. 3

    Janelle — September 20, 2011 @ 8:35 AM

    I know it’s always a big deal when it’s happening to you, but I had to laugh when I heard about this blackout. It was a few hours. It came on the heels of Irene, on the East Coast. My dad was blacked out for 10 days.

  4. 4

    Lori Lange — September 20, 2011 @ 2:26 PM

    Yeah, I know… we tend to get excited around here when it rains too! 75 and sunny all year… not a lot else going on otherwise. The Blackout was a big deal and actually fun. It wouldn’t be so fun for 10 days!!

  5. 5

    Maia at Sweet Alchemies — September 21, 2011 @ 8:13 AM

    I’m embarrassed to admit that I had no idea the blackout was such a widespread problem. I live in Glendale (a suburb of Los Angeles), and when our power went off, I called my mom on her cell, who told me that everything was normal for them in LA proper; so I just assumed our neighborhood was the only one affected! Little did I know!

    I always relish getting to light loads of candles, and the relief from the constant buzz of electronic gadgets. I’ve finally come to stand behind the Kindle, but it felt wrong to read from one by candlelight. I opted for a hardback copy of Jane Austen instead!

  6. 6

    Mari @ Mari's Cakes — September 21, 2011 @ 11:59 AM

    I agree with you. Although I have to say that I never experience a blackout in the US while I was living there, except for a few minutes when I lived in MA due to snow. On the other hand, where I live now, Dominican Republic, blackouts of several hours happen daily here. Some of us are lucky to have our electrical generators or power inverters and we can continue to live as usual, but for those nights when even those don’t work, it becomes a family night. We share stories, go out to the yard and stare at the stars or full moon if it the case. It is time away from all the technology that keeps us apart. I am glad you made the best out of the blackout. Have a great week :)

  7. 7

    Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga — September 21, 2011 @ 1:02 PM

    My blackout story here in the city was not anything like this one
    “A few generators were going, but other than that it was peaceful and quiet. You could hear families talking and laughing and enjoying their time together.”

    My husband was traveling, I was alone with my child, I live near Mercy Hospital, the doctors were walking the streets begging for ice from the grocery stores and convenience stores for their patients, ambulances and sirens were going full force; there was true chaos and pandemonium here! It was anything but calm and I was beyond grateful for the return of power! If I knew it was only going to be a 12 hour event, that would have been one thing but I had seen tweets saying…days….which had me nervous.

    Glad we all made it :)

  8. 8

    Lori Lange — September 21, 2011 @ 4:22 PM

    Oh My! I had no idea! I was sort of wondering what the hospitals were doing though. That has to be complete chaos when power goes out.

  9. 9

    Lori Lange — September 21, 2011 @ 4:23 PM

    Daily? Wow! That must be frustrating to live with.

  10. 10

    Lori Lange — September 21, 2011 @ 4:23 PM

    Sounds wonderful!

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    Laura — September 21, 2011 @ 7:26 PM

    Glad your blackout was short-lived! There was one time a nasty storm knocked a tree onto a power line and our whole street was out of power for a week as a result! Luckily, we had friends in the neighborhood to store some of our food and let us take hot showers at their house. It was fun at first living by candlelight, but it got old really fast!

  12. 12

    TessaS — September 21, 2011 @ 8:32 PM

    I was at work when the lights went out. I happen to work at a “unique” grocery store (rhymes with raider moes). Our store was full of shoppeers and we tried to quickly get them rung up and on their way. Most people were understanding, except for the woman who was irate that she couldn’t finish her shopping and wondered out loud why we did not pay our electric bill!
    Sadly we, along with hundreds of other grocery stores and restaurants had to throw away tens of thousands of dollars worth of food. And the next day was sheer chaos as we tried to restock shelves as people were desperate to refill their fridges. Most people were amazingly understanding and patient. Thank you to our great customers!

  13. 13

    Lori Lange — September 21, 2011 @ 9:14 PM

    Oh gosh, I didn’t even mention the stores. That’s awful. I did head to Albertson’s the next morning, and it was so sad hearing them talk about all of the things that they had to throw out. I guess the stores back East are probably more set up w/ generators since they are used to outages due to storms. Bummer.

  14. 14

    Jackie Theisen — September 24, 2011 @ 10:49 AM

    I went thru the Ice storm of 98′. Had to live w/ parent’s 4 a week w/ 3 dog’s & little heat from wood stove, out side was unreal & the sound’s of all the tree’s falling from the heavy ice was scary & never ending. After 1 week( Living w/ my parent’s is something i never want to do again) no heat or light’s i went back home, just as i pulled in drive way, The elec. crew was there & fixed the line & i was so happy, Hubby worked w/ the same elec co. & did’nt hardly see him 4 6 mth’s. So Thankful i had my 3 doggy friend’s. Now, am so ready just in case, have gas fire place & stove & now generator. I will be Alway’s Thankful i have many Blessing’s.

  15. 15

    Nancy Norris — October 1, 2011 @ 10:55 PM

    I asked my facebook friends as I had grown up in Southern Ca.
    They were mostly stories of loving the absence of humming.
    HOWEVER,the first week I moved into my house in Hawaii,we had one of the worst storms of the last 20 years. Of course,no electricity. I ,on top of it all had no furniture,dishes or anything that makes a house a home. My container had not arrived yet. I was so happy I did bring one of those wind up flashlight/radio/alarm things. I was able to acertain what was going on and when it was leaving.. There is nothing worse than “being in the dark” as in no information,while you are really in the dark! No husband,children,nothing but me and that radio. I really reccomend them

  16. 16

    Jackie Theisen (Educated) — December 11, 2011 @ 6:30 PM

    I went thru the Ice storm of ’98. I had to live with my parents for a week with 3 dogs and little heat from our wood stove. Outside was unreal, and the sounds of all the trees falling from the heavy ice was scary and never-ending. After one week (living with my parents is something I never want to do again) without heat or lights, I went back home. Just as I pulled in the driveway, the electric crew was there and fixed the line. I was so happy. My husband worked with the same electric company and I didn’t hardly see him for six months. It turns out he was cheating on me. I am so thankful that I had my three doggy friends. Now, I am ready just in case. I have a gas fireplace, a gas stove, and now a generator. I will always be thankful that I have many blessings.

  17. 17

    Carol Ann — January 4, 2012 @ 6:35 PM

    I thought I was the only one in the world that loved black outs or the lights going out because of storms.
    Isn’t it a sad shame that it takes something like this to cause families to spend time together??? But whatever it takes, right?
    I live on the east coast in Maryland and love the times in the spring and summer when the electric goes out and you have to rough it by cooking EVERYTHING on the grill. I became quite the master of the grill making my own pans from foil. My kids really seemed to enjoy acting like Little House on the Prairie for a week. My kids are now grown with families of their own and we still reminisce sometimes about all the fun we had laughing and playing games and eating fun meals on the grill during power outages.
    God Bless and thanks for your blog page, it is awesome!
    Carol Ann

  18. 18

    Mike Weiner — August 21, 2012 @ 5:59 AM

    Interesting that just two weekends ago, there was an accident near my apartment complex which knocked out power to the entire site. It was Daddy Day and I was at the movies with my kids when it happened, so it wasn’t until we returned to my place that we discovered we had no electricity.

    While we often spend Daddy Day, particularly in the hot Las Vegas summer, playing video games, watching movies, etc., with no electricity the kids didn’t miss a beat as we set up some TV trays in a cluster in the living room to serve as a table where we set up Monopoly and played with the light streaming in from outside. I had food and drinks for the kids, so we played and snacked.

    After a couple of hours, with the temperature rising slightly, we took a break and went out for ice cream. We came back, the power was still out, so we finished our Monopoly game. By then it was time for dinner, so we hopped out to Taco Bell. From there the kids went home.

    My oldest and my daughter returned to pick up something they’d left at my place, and just as they were leaving the power came back on throughout the complex.

    I was very pleased to see that, while much of our activities usually center around electricity, and though I had given them the option of going bowling, going to the mall, or doing something else away from the powerless apartment, they were happy to make due as long as we were together.

    Its time like that when you realize, as a parent, you raised them well.