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Alert Anglers Get Families Off The Hook

By Fenton Roskelley The Spokesman-R

Some of the region’s imaginative and innovative residents survived more than a week without electricity and still had light, television reception, hot water and warm living and dining rooms and kitchens. While most families stumbled around in near-freezing rooms lit by candles and flashlights, the innovators lived comfortably until the line crews finally turned on their electricity.

When his lights went out, Don Ostlund, one of the region’s most imaginative fishermen, knew exactly how he could provide emergency light for he and his wife, Karen. He used a system he and other anglers use when they fish at night for kokanee.

Ostlund said he believes thousands of Spokane area boaters and anglers didn’t realize that they could have had adequate light, instead of dim candle light, if they had rigged up the kind of system he used for seven days. The system is a simple one. The ingredients are a car or marine battery, a clamp light with a reflector, RV/marine light bulbs and a few extension cords. It’s similar to a system Ostlund rigged up for a hunting cabin he and friends use in Stevens County.

Ostlund, who owns two good-sized boats, always has four deep cycle batteries to start and operate the gas engines, electric motors and sonar units. He usually buys batteries that generate more than 100 amps.

It isn’t necessary, however, to use a deep cycle battery to get light. A standard car battery will work just as well as a marine battery.

Ostlund uses a 6-foot-long extension cord to make the connection between the battery and a longer cord. One end of the cord has several plug-in holes for adding extension cords and the other is the two-pronged plug-in. He cuts off the two-pronged plug-ins and pulls apart the two plastic-covered wires. Then he strips off an inch and a half of the plastic to expose the copper wire.

It’s necessary, he said, to pull the two plastic covered wires far enough apart so that the exposed metal can be attached to battery terminals. He attaches one wire to the positive terminal and the other to the negative terminal. He doesn’t use clamps to attach the wires to the battery, but admits some people would prefer to use them.

Only light bulbs that operate off a 12-volt battery can be used. They’re available at numerous stores in the Spokane area. The bulbs are expensive, costing $2.50 to $4 each, depending on the brand and a store’s pricing policy.

Ostlund used 50-watt bulbs at his home during the week that he was without electricity. They drew 4 amps per hour. Extension cords made it possible for he and Karen to provide lighting for the living-dining area, a bedroom and the bathroom.

Because he uses clamp light fixtures when he fishes at night, he used them when his electricity was off. Karen clamped the fixtures over the sink and in other areas when she cooked and washed dishes.

Clamp light fixtures, which focus light to a limited area, cost about $8 at Spokane stores. However, it isn’t necessary to have one. The RV/ marine lights are the same size as standard lights and screw into a standard socket.

Ostlund said that he provided light for much of his house and a small TV for two days on one battery charge. A 50-watt bulb doesn’t give much light, but it was much better than a candle or flashlight. When a battery’s power was exhausted, he replaced it with a fully charged battery and then took the power-drained battery to a friend’s house for recharging.

Because water is heated by gas at the Ostlund home, Karen always had hot water during the emergency.

Ostlund kept the living-dining area at about 70 degrees by burning wood in the fireplace. Karen even cooked a huckleberry cobler on a portion of the fireplace.

Even though the Ostlunds had light and hot water and their living/ dining area was about 70 degrees, something that thousands of Spokane area residents would have enjoyed, they were relieved when their electricity finally was restored.

“I kind of got used to Don’s lighting system,” Karen said.

Ostlund told friends who were without power how he used a battery, extension cords and RV/marine bulbs to keep his house brighter than most houses during the emergency. Some bought 50-watt RV/marine bulbs and screwed them into standard light sockets and provided light for their houses.

Even though WWP restored power to my house after five days, I invested in a couple of clamp lights with reflectors and two RV/marine bulbs and got ready to use the system in case my electricity failed again.

I’m still keeping my fingers crossed.

, DataTimes MEMO: You can contact Fenton Roskelley by voice mail at 459-5577, extension 3814.

The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = Fenton Roskelley The Spokesman-Review

You can contact Fenton Roskelley by voice mail at 459-5577, extension 3814.

The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = Fenton Roskelley The Spokesman-Review

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