79.6 F
Cruz Bay
Sunday, July 3, 2022


When I heard that even ‘The Force' was done in by WAPA, I decided that a serious defense plan was needed. Life doesn't have to come to a stand still when the power goes out. With a little preparation this, too, can be taken in stride.
Unlike during and after a hurricane, these recent power outages (which we can expect to continue until late fall) don't give any warning. We can't fight it, so we have to learn to live with the idiosyncrasies of the Virgin Islands' power supply. It can happen at any time without warning, so the preparation has to be ongoing.
WATER is crucial. We are spoiled, can't live without it, like to be clean, don't like nasty odors and get thirsty frequently. If you're among the many recently caught in the shower covered with soap, you've probably figured out my first defense without any help.
Fill at least a dozen, gallon jugs with water and distribute them in the bathrooms near the tub, under the kitchen sink, and even store a few extras in a closet or on the patio. This is not drinking water so you need to put a tablespoon of Clorox into each gallon so it doesn't get moldy. This is water to bathe, to flush toilets (pour two into a bucket and pour it in fast) and for washing dishes. Drinking water you already have stored, don't you!
LIGHT is another commodity we've grown accustomed to. Next time you're in K Mart,check out the camping supply area. They have a wide selection of butane lanterns, fancy battery table lamps, one burner butane cooking stoves, the trusty old Coleman stove and a lot of other gadgets to make your WAPA defense easier.
One powerful, battery-operated torch, always kept in the same place, is most important. The matchbox or lighters should be kept next to it. I keep at least one candle in each room all the time. The small jelly-glass candles are the most utilitarian: cheap, easy to light and protected from the wind. Those are lit first and then I can see to go around and light the oil lamps that I now keep in each room. Plaza Extra and Cost U Lesshave medium sized green oil lanterns for about $10. each. Pick up some extra wicks at K Mart.
You should be concerned about the FOOD in the freezer. When the food thaws partially and then refreezes a few times it is not good. Now is the time to clean out the freezer. Make a pot of soup, a stew, anything that uses up the supply. Then don't keep more than a week's supply of food in the freezer until after the hurricane season. You also might want to put a couple of those gallons of water in the freezer so that when the power goes off the freezer maintains a more even temperature. (Don't fill more than three quarters full or they will break and leak as they thaw.)
Get out the gas cooking stove and keep it handy, have the little cooler accessible for perishables, stock up on paper plates and cups, buy your batteries, butane tanks, candles and lamp oil now. The island seems to be short on lamp oil but True Value at Time Plaza across from Fort Mylner assures me that they have plenty at $2.19 a bottle. Torch oil can also be used for lamps but it's smokier.
COMPUTERS are a big concern to many of us. During this period of WAPA repairs it is suggested that we should turn our computers off when we are not using them so that they don't shut down incorrectly when the power goes off. I do hate that chiding I get when Windows ‘has not been properly shut down," as if it was all my fault!
Surge protectors are valuable to protect equipment from electric spikes when there are thunder and lightening storms or when a power pole breaks but not of much import during these outages.
Clarence, at The Computer Place at Nisky Center, tells me that it is brown outs we should be concerned about. He recommends an UPS (Uninterrupted Power Supply) which they sell, of course, for $149. This gives you 5-8 minutes of power to shut down your programs after the main power source goes out. It also maintains the full power needed by your hard drive at all times.
As usual it's your ATTITUDE which will make or break you during these mini-crises. When you have to sit around a dark hot office waiting for the power to come on or go home and come back later it can be most irritating. Try taking the work outside or using the time for lunch and errands and come back in two hours.
Some persons are happy with romantic candlelight, reasons not to cook, time to sit back, and enjoy the night sky and take a deep relaxing breath. Others feel they have been robbed of time to do all the things they planned and they get downright testy. I waver between these moods depending on just how many times it happens in a week.
To overcome my frustration at not being able to use the computer, the stove, the vacuum, etc., I now have posted a list of things that I can do without power – things I don't regularly find time for. A long walk with the dog, replanting plants, cleaning out the car, reading a good book, taking a swim, writing letters or visiting an elderly neighbor don't require power and can certainly make the day complete.
The sun at this time of year is brutal. Move your plants to more shaded areas and remember to water each evening so they have time to absorb it before they get hot again.
Mosquito time is upon us. Check for items sitting around outside your house that collect water and empty them. Try some of those donuts you can pick up at Sea Chest to keep standing water from becoming a breeding ground. Do not use them in drinking water storage. A good spray of your own body every morning with Cutters Backwoods with Deet should deter the bites.
For screen repair, Louis at The VI Mobile Screen Shop (715-3288) will pick them up, repair them with nylon screen and reinstall them.
Cistern water is particularly dirty with these first rains of the season. Your cistern could use some extra treatment, maybe a good cleaning before it fills up again, certainly a new filter. Plug the overflows and seal spaces around the down spouts to keep out mosquitoes, frogs and lizards. E.D. Plumbing 774-1150 can help you take care of it.
Unless you prefer to live dangerously it might be beneficial to your health to have your water tested at Caribbean Safe Water Lab 776-5222. You can take a sample to them and you get the results in 24 hours.
Toilet bowls get brown and hard to clean with the Sahara dust we collect. I find that a good scrub of the inside of the storage tank and an occasional addition of a splash of Clorox into that tank makes the job easier.
WAPA water needs to be boiled before using it for drinking or cooking or brushing teeth according to a recent notice from WAPA. You might want to check your favorite restaurants to see if they are serving bottled or WAPA water when you ask for ‘regular water'. I was surprised to find one of our most expensive restaurants serving WAPA tap water. They said they were unaware of the warnings. I wonder if that effects the food they prepare?
If you are planning to buy a generator this season, start shopping now. They are in very short supply.
K Mart has the big Rubbermaid containers on sale now – stock early.
Unlike Heloise, we don't have all the solutions, so we'd welcome your suggestions about hurricane preparation for the next column.

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