Power Outages and Frozen Pipes

Our recent cold snap with high winds caused some significant power outages around East Central Indiana. You’re probably already aware of that. You may also know someone that was affected – or maybe it was you. We live on a county road in rural Madison County and it is fairly common that we lose power with high winds. Losing power with an all-electric home can cause some major disruptions if we aren’t careful. Loss of power means no heat, water and lights. It happened recently to us and luckily didn’t last but a few hours.

A couple of days later as the temperature dropped to single digits, we had a frozen water pipe. I managed to catch it quick enough to get some heat applied and avoid a big issue, but what happens when you’re not so lucky? A frozen water pipe undetected overnight can cause some serious damage and can be very costly, beyond the plumbing bill. If I had to call in to work last week and tell the supervisor that I wasn’t able to come in because I didn’t have power, they might understand. If I had called in sick for 2 days 2 weeks ago, they might understand. If I had a sick child 3 weeks ago and had to stay home for a day, they might understand that. So now my frozen water pipe dilemma could have some very serious long term impact on my ability to pay my bills unless I have again caught my supervisor in an understanding mood. All of these circumstances are real and probably out of my control, but this doesn’t always have a happy ending.

Many people who are struggling have multiple challenges they wrestle with just to get through a normal day.

Financial struggles many times mean transportation issues, health issues, child care issues and food insecurity issues. It can be like a spin on the roulette wheel to see if you can land on a safe number that day or your number just came up for some unexpected life event that causes a train derailment, taking months or years for recovery. There are many people who appear to be self-sufficient and living paycheck to paycheck. Everything is just ok, not great, and then the washer goes out, the car battery quits and someone in the house just got the flu. Next week the rent is due, and utilities are the week after that.

I’ve come from a long background in the for-profit world. Absentee employees make for a long day when labor is tight, and labor is always tight. How can we expect to meet the demands of the job when employees aren’t dependable? I’ve come to realize over the years that many of the things that get in the way for others also get in the way for me as well. I also know that the lower someone is on the economic totem pole, the more challenging a $75 repair can be. It’s hard to appreciate how something like air temperature and some short term gusting wind can be a potential life changing event for someone, unless you’ve been there.

I hope the temperatures might return back to being moderate for this time of year. It might be less expensive for a business and it will ease some real pressure being felt by average people trying to live without a train wreck around the next corner.


Written By Tim Kean

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