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Q: Power Blackouts ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   10 Comments )
Subject: Power Blackouts
Category: Science > Technology
Asked by: probonopublico-ga
List Price: $2.00
Posted: 14 Aug 2003 21:32 PDT
Expires: 13 Sep 2003 21:32 PDT
Question ID: 244975
I always keep a torch and some spare fuses near my fuse box.

Doesn't everyone?
Subject: Re: Power Blackouts
Answered By: missy-ga on 14 Aug 2003 23:00 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hi Bryan!

Would you believe we were affected by the blackout all the way in
Toledo??  We were!  Fortunately, my neighborhood quickly regained
power.  Not so fortunately, my (local) cable ISP did not, so I was


In a techie household, there is indeed usually a flashlight near the
fuse box.  My household is no exception - a small, purple chrome
MagLite lives in the fuse box, which doesn't hold fuses at all! 
Instead, we have circuit breakers, and those all performed their
function quite nicely, which, along with our surge protectors, saved
our home network from a destructive power surge.

The problem with such a blackout in a techie household is the problem
of regaining internet access (especially when one's only connection to
the internet is a local company that is DOWN!).  There's also the
small matter of said techie household being the domicile of a Google
Answers Researcher who has a question locked and stand to see all of
her work be wasted if she can't get back online.

Step one:  grab the cell phone, call Aceresearcher, and ask her to
babysit your lock.  She's awesome!

Step two:  regain internet access by any means necessary. 

There's a special kit in the techie household for just such an
emergency.  It's called "The Bits Box", and is known to hold leftover
bits from previous computers that the junk junkie can't bear to throw
away.  In this Bits Box, one can typically find at least one modem, a
length of telephone wire, an AOL disc, and various assorted bits of

My Bits Box is no exception.  I yanked out one of the four modems
living in there, plunked it into an open PCI slot, connected the phone
line to it and the jack, fired up my computer, and away I went.

Except...AOL wouldn't connect.  

Horrors!  (Not quite as horrifying as being forced to use AOL, mind,
but when you've got work on the line...)

Quick, what does the techie do next??  She fishes out her Windows
disc, installs Online Services, and vows to sign up with whoever she
can connect to first.

Turned out to be AT&T.  I hate them.  But I have internet access

Next, grab the tiny little MagLite, and wander out to help the
neighbor, who can't see her circuit breakers.  Flip her breakers, let
there be light!  We repeated this for two other neighbors, none of
whom had flashlights anywhere near their fuse boxes.

So, no, while you and I sensibly keep such an essential tool close to
hand, not everyone does.  Even though they should.

It would seem the Big Apple could do with a large shipment of these
tiny little miracle tools, to keep her inhabitants illuminated until
the power grid is brought back online.  In the meantime, if anyone
knows where one can fetch a new transformer on the cheap, I'm sure
ConEd would appreciate it.

That's one fuse I'm glad I'm not responsible for replacing!

probonopublico-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars

Just how much can we believe of the stuff we read in the media?

And how do I know if you have been a victim or if you a part of the cover up.

Anyhow, I am glad that you are back on line.

It's not the same without you.



Subject: Re: Power Blackouts
From: jem-ga on 15 Aug 2003 05:04 PDT
<<I always keep a torch and some spare fuses near my fuse box. Doesn't

err...I would if I knew where my fuse box was! LOL.  There are
currently two locations vying for position of fuse box centre on my

1. The aerie (no, I didn't check the spelling but you know the bit I
mean ;)) or
2. Right behind the front door of the house

In order to compensate, I have a flashlight, candles and matches
stashed just about everywhere in the house!  I reckon there's some
sort of duality/split-electricity function thing going via the aerie
and behind the front door so I chose not to disturb the magic!

:) jem-ga
Subject: Re: Power Blackouts
From: probonopublico-ga on 15 Aug 2003 07:32 PDT
Hi, Jem

I have just read your Answer to my other question and now this ...

I had thought that you of all people were perfect.

Another illusion shattered.


Subject: Re: Power Blackouts
From: jem-ga on 15 Aug 2003 09:28 PDT
<<Another illusion shattered.>>

I'm sure another question will come up that will allow me to redeem
myself and your faith will be restored :)

Me and electricity have a history.....we go way back....another story
for another time.  Let's just say we have an understanding now and
both respect each other - LOL.

jem-ga :)
Subject: Re: Power Blackouts
From: pinkfreud-ga on 15 Aug 2003 17:47 PDT
<<I had thought that you of all people were perfect.>>

My mother has told me many times that I am a perfect idiot. I doubt
this, however. I believe I have not yet hit my stride in the idiocy
department. ;-)
Subject: Re: Power Blackouts
From: owain-ga on 16 Aug 2003 12:14 PDT
I do have a torch and candles handy, but even more importantly I have
a mains-powered rechargeable emergency lighting unit wired in
permanently (in my lounge-kitchen). If the power fails, that cuts in
with a moderate light in under a second - a pretty useful safety
feature to have when juggling hot pans. It also provides enough light
to find the torch and candles by!

Another good place to have an ELU is over the stairs - if the
electricity trips for any reason whilst someone is on the stairs they
could easily lose their footing. Many houses here in the UK have
whole-house Residual Current Devices (earth leakage circuit breakers)
and some informal research suggests there may be a higher loss of life
through falls related to sudden loss of power/light - especially in
the elderly - than would be caused by electrocuction. In other words,
the RCD removes one risk and replaces it with a higher one.

It's also possible to get smoke alarms with built-in emergency lights.

Subject: Re: Power Blackouts
From: probonopublico-ga on 16 Aug 2003 21:56 PDT
Hi, Owain

Many thanks for your comment on ELU.

Now, I want to learn more. Hence my question 245566.

Pity that you are not a researcher but I would appreciate any further
comments that you would like to make, as you seem very knowledgeable.


Subject: Re: Power Blackouts
From: stressedmum-ga on 17 Aug 2003 00:21 PDT
I keep a little halogen bike lamp in my handbag. Doesn't everyone?
Subject: Re: Power Blackouts
From: probonopublico-ga on 17 Aug 2003 00:27 PDT
G'day, Stressed Mum

I don't even have a handbag.

However, I always carry an umbrella that is really a swordstick.

Just in case ...


Subject: Re: Power Blackouts
From: kemlo-ga on 17 Aug 2003 03:59 PDT
To All
You could also try this.
Rgds Kemlo
Subject: Re: Power Blackouts
From: politicalguru-ga on 28 Aug 2003 10:30 PDT
Oh, ye careful Brits! 

" Over 14 million torches are sold each year in the UK and 84% of
households own at least one." (Checkout Ireland - Market Profile on:

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