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Last Updated on September 27, 2022 by Diane Hoffmaster
Worried about a power outage? Natural disasters like hurricanes, blizzards, and tornadoes can leave you living without power for several days. Or weeks! Preparing for a power outage before a storm hits is key.
Knowing what to do if you lose power is one thing. Having emergency supplies on hand ahead of time is even more important! Hopefully these power outage tips and tricks will have you surviving natural disasters a little bit more enjoyably.
Power outages can be dangerous!
When my son was 6 weeks old, the Atlanta area was hit with a massive ice storm. We lost power for several days in the middle of January. The temperature in my house was in the 40s. Needless to say, we were cold and miserable for quite a while. Not to mentioned very worried for our newborn's health!
As soon as we recovered, we decided we would never end up unprepared for a power outage ever again. Preparing for a power outage is important to protect yourself, your family, and your belongings.
You will need different supplies for a winter power outage versus a summer power outage. Have a power outage emergency response plan ready now. From knowing where to check your local power outage map to figuring out what to do during a power outage for fun, don't leave disaster preparedness to the last minute.
Preparing for a Power Outage
Neighborhood power outages are becoming a common occurrence. These losses of power can occur in any weather but usually happen during the summer months, when electricity use is highest to cool homes and businesses.
However, power outages can occur in the middle of winter, cutting off heating systems and cooking appliances. You can be ready for these inconvenient outages by keeping a few supplies on hand.
Stock up on Non-Perishable Food and Water
Refrigerated food will stay cold for several hours. You should routinely keep a number of items in storage that do not require cooking or refrigeration.
Buy shelf stable food
Stock up on granola bars, peanut butter, crackers, canned food, boxed or dry milk, dry cereal and nuts for emergencies.
If you have natural gas for your cooking needs, you will still be able to ignite the burners with a match. However, those communities that only use electricity for cooking should have food on hand that requires no cooking or have a camp stove on hand for these emergencies.
Have water on hand
If you live on a well, you may not be able to run the pump. Stock up on jugs of water, fill the bathtub with water, and consider other water storage options.
Be able to purify water if necessary
If you want to prepare for a long term power outage, you may need to purify drinking water. Invest in an emergency water filtration system or water purification tablets for drinking in case your home power outage goes on longer than you expect.
Learn how to cook without power
Preparing for a power outage means stocking up on food. But, not just junk food! Cooking during a power outage can mean different things to different people. Roast hotdogs over an outdoor camp fire. Grill a gourmet feast on your outdoor grill. Invest in a solar oven or camp stove for emergency power outages.
Invest in easy to cook foods like boxed macaroni and cheese or pasta with a jarred sauce. Even canned soups are a healthy food for cooking without power.
Buy a food thermometer for food safety
One of the most important parts of your power outage emergency response plan should be how to feed yourself SAFELY.
That means stay out of the refrigerator as much as possible. However, you don't want what's in there to go to waste, right?
A food thermometer will let you know if that meat that WAS frozen is still safe to throw on the outdoor grill.
Buy Canned or Bottled Drinks
Keep canned fruit juice, bottled water, and instant coffee on hand for times when you can't depend on power for your refrigeration and cooking needs. Good hydration is especially important during hot weather when the power is out. You can also buy powdered electrolyte mix in case of illness.
Have enough flashlights and batteries!
Keep several flashlights or camping lights on hand for power outages and other types of emergencies. Make sure everyone has at least one, including the kids.
Store plenty of additional batteries for each type of device. Avoid depending on candles while the power is out, which are a fire hazard. They are fine if you are awake and can keep an eye on them, however, be cautious using them around kids and pets.
Consider getting an emergency flashlight that can be powered by a hand crank.
Buy an emergency weather radio
A battery powered radio is a necessity in any emergency. Weather conditions that cause power outages may also cut cell phone service, so a radio may be the only way to know what's going on in your community.
A number of different types of weather radios are available to help you stay informed of local conditions. Hand crank radios are great to have on hand for long term power outages.
Have a cooler on hand
A high-quality cooler is an important part of your emergency equipment and can be useful in a number of ways while you are waiting for power to return.
Fill some freezer bags full of ice to keep on hand when the power goes out. This additional ice will not only help to keep frozen items cold while the power is out, it can also be used to keep frequently used items chilled, so there's no need to keep opening the refrigerator, a strategy that will keep other items cold for a longer period of time.
If you have a small infant in the house, you may need to keep formula, medicines or other items at a low temperature. Some types of medication require refrigeration, such as insulin, liquid
By storing these drugs in a cooler filled with ice, you can keep your refrigerator closed as much as possible to retain cold temperatures until electrical power returns.
Stay warm with blankets and sleeping bags
In cold climates, keeping extra blankets and sleeping bags on hand to stay warm can be critical in preventing hypothermia, especially for small children and older family members.
Put on additional clothing until the heat returns. In our first home, my husband and I installed an indoor gas heater after the horrors of the ice storm. It was nice knowing we had a safe source of heat when the power went out.
Buy a portable generator
My parents live in rural Vermont and are used to winter power failures. My dad has a whole house generator that he swears by for his emergency preparedness plan. Make sure you are familiar with all the safety regulations. Generators do NOT get run while indoors!
The benefit of running a generator during a power outage is that you can keep electronic powered as well. Cell phones can be fun for games but are vital for calling for help in emergencies. Check out Popular Mechanics for tips on buy the best home generator.
Learn what to do during a power outage for fun
Preparing for a power outage? Make sure you plan a few non electronic things to do! How can you pass time without electricity? I promise, it can be done!
Go for a walk, read a book, do a puzzle, or break out the crayons and coloring books. Break out a deck of playing cards and play solitaire or go fish with the family. If you don't add 'fun' to your power outage checklist, you may seriously all strangle each other by the time the lights come back on again!
Keep Your Power Outage Supplies Ready!
You need to start preparing for a power outage now, before you actually lose power! Store your emergency power outage kit in a closet or basement so that you can quickly utilize it when needed.
By having these items where they are readily available, you can weather any power outage with the minimum of inconvenience. Have you put together an emergency power outage kit yet? If the power is out and you need current updates, just search online for your electric company and they should have a current power outage map that will help.
Like this post about preparing for a power outage? Read these emergency preparedness tips, too:
- How to Create a Winter Car Emergency Kit: Have a winter car emergency kit no matter what area of the country you live in. Here are key items to stock in it.
- Protecting Your Property From Flood Damage With heavy storms becoming a lot more common, everyone needs to start thinking about how to prevent flood damage.
- Severe Weather Emergency Preparedness Safety Tips If you live in an area prone to extreme weather, you really need to familiarize yourself with a few emergency preparedness safety tips.
Diane is a professional blogger and nationally certified pharmacy technician at Good Pill Pharmacy. She has two college aged kids, one husband and more pets than she will admit to. She earned her BS in Microbiology at the University of New Hampshire but left her career in science to become a stay at home mom. Years of playing with LEGO and coloring with crayons had her craving a more grown up purpose to her life and she began blogging and freelance writing full time. You can learn more about her HERE.
Oh really, I was under the impression that there is generator back up everywhere in US. I understand , Generators cannot suffice for longer duration though..
My dad has a generator because they live far north and in winter could freeze to death without one if the power goes out. But, generators are definitely not in every home!
This is a great post! I am currently living in a small town in China right now, and occasionally, I will experience a power outage, so this a great topic.
Best to be prepared just in case!