Get used to it. Those should be the words of advice for New Hampshire residents as winter approaches. With the falling leaves and the falling temperatures come the falling power lines, and with seemingly more frequency, major power outages.
While a state whose nickname is the Granite State would understandably find it difficult to bury power lines on ledge, the trees are another story. We’re far from advocates of rampant tree cutting, but power outages in sub-freezing temperatures, or in the summer when temperatures skyrocket, are serious threats to public safety And trees fall on power lines.
We may be approaching a time when new house construction should include a whole-house generator as well as a furnace and water heater. That’s not meant as a joke.
Lucky households rely on portable generators to keep their systems working – heat on, water flowing, food refrigerated and frozen – while power companies work to restore electricity, a process, as we’ve seen more and more often, that takes days, not hours.
But many of those generators are not wired in safely, and it’s a matter of time before generator-caused fires or carbon monoxide poisoning turn into a casualty of the outages as well.
Meanwhile, residents use their cell phone minutes in futile attempts to reach their electricity provider’s recorded message, with the lucky ones getting a non-specific estimate of when power will be restored. Full voicemail boxes are not what we should expect to reach with today’s cost of electricity.
Yes, we’re complaining. While generators provide a modicum of the good life, their use is often accompanied by an underlying tension – what if the generator doesn’t start, what if we run out of gas and the gas stations are also out of power?
We urge you to consider this early snowfall as a wake-up call. It may have disrupted Thanksgiving dinner, but that’s minor compared to being without heat in 10-degree temperatures. Stock up on batteries and flashlights, buy some candles or oil lamps, line your shelves with food you can prepare without power, and if you can afford a generator, give it serious thought.
Because it doesn’t look like anything is changing anytime soon. Power lines will remain susceptible to snow and wind and trees, drivers will still crash into power poles, and it will take hours before weather and distance make it possible for crews to begin their restoration work.
So get used to it. That may be the best advice – and the new slogan – for New Hampshire.