A few years ago, Washington State had a severe ice storm. It had been raining, and suddenly the rain turned to snow. After about 3-10″ of snow accumulation (depending on where you lived) the temperatures rose and it started to rain again. As night began to settle, the temperatures once again dropped and ice started to form on top of the snow loads. Trees, which could barely handle the snow, started to collapse under the additional ice weight. Over 200,000 people experienced power outages all over the Puget Sound area. My family went without power for seven days.

Not knowing how long the power was going to be out, we were treating it as a day-to-day event. Up until this point we hadn’t experienced a power outage that lasted longer than a single day; we had no idea how unprepared we were. Being an Army veteran, I knew I could suck it up, but it wasn’t just me—it was also my wife and two small kids. We had all the standard things: flashlightssleeping bagscandles, etc. It turned out these items just weren’t good enough.

On the second day, I heard my neighbor fire up his generator. Generously, he offered me half of his wattage if I would share refueling duty with him. I quickly agreed. Running extension cords from the generator into the house, I was able to power a few small heaters and lights. After calling my dad, I decided to unwire the furnace from its power source (line that feeds from the power company) and rig it to its own extension cord (only do this if you know how). A furnace actually uses an extremely small amount of power; just enough to run the blower fan. At this point, we had heat, and we only needed to worry about the small things.

When an event takes place that makes you realize you need something, it’s already too late to purchase it. Generators flew off the shelves. Some people even bought them just to sell them at a scalper’s rate. I decided once things settled down, I was going to purchase a generator of my own. After shopping around, I decided to purchase a generator from Costco—a Champion Power Dual Fuel generator (shown above).