Location: Barquisimeto, Lara state, Venezuela
Occupation: Freelance digital marketer
During the past month in my country, Venezuela, we start having blackouts. This was something that no one was prepared for, it took us by surprise mostly in the capital because in other states they are used to it but not for long periods as this time.
I think people were not aware of how important electricity is in our lives. Basically we can’t do anything without it and its really frustrating. We don’t have water if there is no power because water pumps can’t work, no way to cook if you don’t have a gas kitchen, no signal because all the connections go down, food start to rot for lack of refrigeration and if you have any medical condition and you have to keep your medicines with special refrigeration as insulin you may lose it.
Hospitals are no prepared for this situation, besides all the issues they are dealing with like the lack of supplies, medicines, water, equipment, imagine having no power, there isn’t an official number of deaths but more than 20 kids died including newborns while the blackouts were happening, spent more than few hours took a lot of lives. People that had to do dialysis were truly affected by this situation too.
During the first blackout in Caracas we spent almost 4 days without power and I had to learnt how to deal with it, the most important thing is not losing your head overthinking it.
Since the blackouts started I’m prepared with candles but the thing is that we never know when the power is coming back, so there is a chance that we run out of candles besides the fact that people are selling candles over the price taking advantage of other people needs. We figured out some solutions in that case, you can make your own lighter using cotton, oil and a dish. Put a little bit of oil in the dish, soak the cotton and leave a little piece of the cotton dry, turn it on and you will have light for a long time. You need to be very careful with candles and with this DIY lighter in particular, because there have been cases of fires and people who have died choked by the smoke while sleeping, so before you go to bed make sure you blow out all the candles.
If you have an electric kitchen basically you have nothing to do, you can try to improvise a powerful lighter so you can cook or at least make coffee but it would be too dangerous, some restaurants that have power generators allowed people to bring their food so they can cook it, they lent their blender so people can do their babies formula in there. In this cases it is really important to be supportive with each other. A lot of bakeries, butchers have to give away the food they had because the will lose it anyways.
In case you are in the middle of a blackout and you have a lot of food in your refrigerator there are some things you can do: with meat and chicken you can cover them in salt until they have a thick coat and put them in the refrigerator without air and sun light, leave them there and rinse the salt before cook it, and it can last three days top. With sea food you can soak it in lemon juice and it could last at least two days. With vegetables you have two options: moist them in water and leave them where they have air constantly or in case you have a gas kitchen you can cook them and put them in a glass container with 50% water and 50% vinegar.
In case the power is back you can freeze plastic bags with water and salt, the salt doesn’t let the ice melt as fast as it would regular do. And you can use this bags to keep the temperature in the freezer. Another alternative to maintain the temperature is buying dry ice or the typical compresses to relief headaches also you can freeze bottles with water.
If the fridge or freezer aren’t full you can group the food to keep the temperature between them. A full freezer can keep the temperature for at least 48h while the refrigerator could last four hours. During the blackout I would recommend avoid open the refrigerator door as much as possible, that way it can keeps the temperature for much longer.
Another thing I would recommend is having power banks and charge them every time you can, in case the power doesn’t come back and my power back is off I usually go to my car to charge my cellphone and all the devices I can plug in.
It is important that during the blackouts you unplug all your devices from any source of power even if you do have outlet covers and plug protectors, because the power comes and goes and during those ups and downs your devices can explode. A lot of people lose their appliances during the blackouts.
An option you can start considering is buying a generator, they are quite expensive but under this situation it’s necessary, for us here in Venezuela it’s almost impossible get one, the prices rates over the $900 the cheapest one, and that one wouldn’t provide energy for the entire house, you will have to plug in the most important things like the refrigerator and lasts at least 8 hours. No matter what you have to keep calm and keep in mind that this situation is out of your hands, there is nothing you can do to change it. A lot of people have committed suicide because of the crisis we are living, the lack of power, water, food, medicines. I would recommend to stay focus on other things, try to do things during the day while there is sunlight, read a book if you can and avoid overthinking.