Wednesday, July 10, 2013

ELECTRICITY OUTAGES - Be Prepared - What to do when the ELECTRICITY GOES OUT in Costa Rica (& it DOES!!) - HINTS

(with pre-notification)
I’ve found in my 8 years living in Costa Rica that it’s RARE to get notification ahead of time (especially so it can be planned out.  Heck, even the electric company’s website only seems to announce things a day or 2 in advance often!!) so one needs to BE PREPARED as MUCH as they can at ALL TIMES!!!  I’ve started a list of things one can do to be a bit more prepared & I welcome YOU to share other ideas•hints!!

For those in the CNFL power area, go to:
(NOTE you MUST have the www. in it as whomever created their website must have gone to the same school that teaches webmasters the IMPROPER way of naming them [if you don’t do the www. first you’ll get a note that says “This webpage is not available”]).  
Don’t speak much Español?  Open it in the Chrome browser & it will translate it for you - or go to 

•  Remember - if the power goes out - this means your Computer Modem•WiFi Router will NOT work also!!!  See my notes below on how to work with/around that.
Charge up your CELL and keep that ALWAYS charged as this is your MOST IMPORTANT tool!!  
•  Charge up your LAPTOP BUT - know that your Router!! 
•  Charge any/ALL electrical things that are important to you
•  No drying clothes in the dryer that the day (you get to do it the old fashioned way!!)
•  No ironing clothes so prepare your clothes the day before!
(living in a country where the electricity could go out at any given time [just because or earthquakes], I especially do MOST of the time & the rest I try to be somewhat prepared for)
•  Because often the water pumps in the area are run by electricity, that MAY mean your water will be off also so BE PREPARED for that also (see my blurb below on "

If you’re not prepared, you just might NOT be going anywhere!!!  So either open your gate or put it on manual otherwise you get to stay home!!

When I had the guest house I learned to be prepared at ALL times so I had a BIG 5 gallon bottle (of tap water) PLUS a 1 or 2 liter bottle that I kept under the bathroom sink (or I'd pull it out to next to the toilet in times of need/use) for whatever purpose I needed it for.

Plan what you want to eat/make for the day that does not require heating up or prepare it the day before (unless you have a gas stove or a camping stove)!!  

Most landlines these days are run by electricity which will NOT work of course if the electricity isn't working so you might want to have one of those old fashioned Princess phones (with a cord even) for times like this (these are also REALLY good to have when there’s a storm going on & you go & unplug everything).  •  WHERE TO GET ONE?  WalMart has the cheapest I’ve seen (under $20).  Radio Shack carries them (though they’re more expensive).  This is an item you can OFTEN find in a Garage Sale•Venta de Garaje for around $5!

If it's in the area, of course this means they may be effected (unless they have a backup generator so call ahead) so don't plan on going to lunch or some appointments in the area.  Call ahead.

This means Traffic Lights will be out in your area & if it’s typical of what I’ve seen in Costa Rica, chances are good there will NOT be Traffic Police helping out at intersections so be prepared for traffic jams!

How Can I Be Prepared for NIGHT TIME OUTAGES??:
•  If it happens during the evening - the #1 thing to do CANDLES!  CANDLES!  CANDLES!!  LOTS of CANDLES around the house & flashlights strategically near entrances and doors!!  
•  TEA CANDLES:  This is where a bag of 100 Tea Candles comes in handy BIG TIME.  Put 1-2 in EVERY ROOM (ESPECIALLY the Bathroom).  I find that Tea Candles last WAY longer than most regular candles.  Or, you can cut a hole INSIDE a candle and put a Tea Candle in it to help it last longer!!  (I’ve found them to be cheapest at PriceSmart).  Make sure to have a LIGHTER(S) as in the tropics, matches don’t always last long or work well with humidy•rainy season!!!
•  PUSH LIGHTS  (I’ve yet to find these in Costa Rica so you’ll have to get them from the U.S. but these are AWESOME!!  They’re battery operated and you can hang them from a nail on the wall.  In my former guest house I had them lined up above the wall switch so they’re easy to find and grab to go walking with them. 
•  EMERGENCY LIGHTS (these are the ones that plug into an outlet so when the power goes out, these Emergency Backup Lights kick on for a couple hours or so)
•  FLASHLIGHTS that plug into the wall and go off when power goes off
•  Candle Trees - things on walls
•  Put candles by/on each stairs

There’s always a RISK of a power surge when they turn the power back on, so to be safe, you MIGHT want to have key things UNplugged - or risk it being fried!

But I NEED my Computer•Internet Fix!!!
You actually DO have a few options!!  
Find someone with an iPhone 4S with WiFi and ask if you can get their code•clave and that can share their WiFi
Get a Datacard Gizmo and a PrePaid plan!  I have this combo for those “just in case” moments and have the card in Daily mode (this would be ICE•Kolbi or C
Plan on visiting a friend or going to the next city over & hanging out at a place with WiFi (usually restaurants - especially the chains like McDonald’s & things [of course buy something!!  Don’t just be a moocher!!]).

YIKES!!  What do I do with myself???  A WHOLE DAY without electricity??
Other than the standard read (sorry - not on the Kindle/computer since you’ll be wasting that charge), take a walk, sleep, talk in person with your friends, go on a picnic, go in nature, etc.


(especially if it comes back on early)??
I like to keep a ceiling light on in the main room I’d notice it in PLUS turn your stereo on or something that will generate noise when it comes back on (& I like to turn it on FULL BLAST in case I’m not in the room).


(with pre-notification)
•  Turn the freezer & fridge up ALL THE WAY the night before so the cold lasts longer.  
•  Set aside water ahead of time for what you want to eat/make for the day.  
•  Set aside bottles of water for drinking.

When I had the guest house I learned to be prepared at ALL times so I had a BIG 5 gallon bottle (of tap water) PLUS a 1 or 2 liter bottle that I kept under the bathroom sink (or I'd pull it out to next to the toilet in times of need/use) for whatever purpose I needed it for
•  If the water went out - I'd pull out the 5 gallon bottle and put it next to the toilet and I bring in a smaller/medium pot with a handle to use for scooping water out for the "When it's Brown - flush it down" times (vs the "When it's Yellow - be Mellow" [do you get that concept??  I've had many friends not hear of that before - meaning - if it's just pee/urine - to show your love for Mother Earth by not flushing every time - but when it's "brown" - poop - flush [it down]).
•  I have it if I need a quick wash of the bod.
•  I put the 1-2 liter bottles on the sink for brushing my teeth, face and hands.

•  In the Kitchen I had one of those 3 gallon bottles I'd put on the counter by the sink and put a big container in the sink to soak dirty dishes, etc. to wash later. 
•  I always had two 5 gallon bottles for "just in case" - one had good drinkable water (and I changed that every few months - just in case) and one that had tap water that I used for whatever I needed.

•  I also had bottles of hand anti-bacterial gel I'd pull out and put by the sinks for those times!!!
•  Set aside a tub of water to have by the kitchen sink to do dishes
•  Set aside a big bottle of water to have by the bathroom sink - for washing hands & brushing teeth.
•  Get the Baby “Wipes” out for emergencies.
•  No washing clothes that the day!
•  Make sure to have water set out for your animals!
•  Be forewarned that this will effect your housekeepers job (especially if she's the type that mops the floors 3-4+ times a day).

(especially if it comes back on early)??
•  I leave a faucet turned on so I’ll hear it when it comes back on!

Having things ready for sudden outages/emergencies sure helped me keep calm when it happened (and it DID QUITE a few times!!  ESPECIALLY during Dry Season when we had some variation of Water Rationing/Droughts going on) as I was PREPARED - EVEN the day I had a workshop with over 40 attendees for 4 hours!!

What HINTS do YOU DO to be Prepared for loss of Electricity or Water - 
or to Show YOUR Love for Mother Earth???

Please "Share" your hints/thoughts/experiences on what does/does not work for you in the "Comments" below AND email me at so I can add it to this article!!

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(heck - EVERYONE could use these hints since it seems that electricity and water rationing are happening more and more around the world!!)


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