A snow storm of historic proportions was forecast to begin Friday, February 5, 2010 in the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan area. As predicted, the snow began just before noon and continued through the day and evening. At some point in the middle of the night, the electric power to our neighborhood went out. We woke to a house that was 64 degrees and dropping. My first thought was how to keep my family warm. Fortunately our home has a natural gas fireplace.
Typically we start our fireplace with a remote control. With the power out, the remote control and the wall switch, which both run on electricity, were both inoperable. After a quick review of the manual, I opened the access panel and manually started the fireplace. Within minutes, the temperature of our family room rose to 65 degrees and by late morning it even reached 70 degrees which was very comfortable. This temperature was maintained for the rest of the day. Our home has an open first floor design which meant that the heat from the fireplace also kept our kitchen warm. In order to contain the heat we hung a sheet over the opening to our dining room and hall. During this time the temperature kept dropping in the second floor and reached as low as 50 degrees late in the afternoon.
Not only did natural gas keep us warm but we also enjoyed hot food. We manually lit the burners on our gas stove and cooked pancakes for breakfast. We grilled sandwiches for lunch, and we cooked green beans, pierogies and steak for dinner. And, we had plenty of hot water for washing dishes in the sink and hot showers all thanks to our natural gas hot water heater.
During this power outage many friends and neighbors headed to local hotels for safety. Unfortunately our neighborhood had not been plowed and getting out would have been difficult if not impossible. Without our natural gas service and appliances we would have had a quite cold and challenging experience. Instead, we enjoyed the warmth of our home and family while enjoying the comfort of cooked food and hot water.