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When was the last time that your power went out? How long was it out for? Did the outage last a day or a week? I read a news article the other day that said months later, almost half of Puerto Rico, was still without power from the hurricanes of 2017 even though it is months later. To me, that is a terrifying prospect and it’s made worse by the fact that it is more than storms that could cause a power outage. Things like EMP, solar flare, or a hacking of our electrical grid could all cause the power to go down and in some cases; for years. Could I adapt to live without power? Absolutely. Would I want to live without power? Absolutely not. Finding ways to prepare for a power outage, means that while you might have to adapt a bit, you won’t have to adapt nearly as much as the guy next door who didn’t practice any emergency preparation at all.
When you’re first beginning to prepare for a power outage, you’ll want to make sure that you have the right preparation supplies on hand. No, that doesn’t mean that you need to go full on – hardcore prepper with it if you don’t want to. Having a simple supply of thing things that will make your life easier no matter if your world is dark for a few minutes, a few days or longer. Taking the time to do some emergency preparation and to prepare for a power outage will make sure that you and your family are taken care of if you suddenly find yourself in the dark. In fact, preparing for a power outage is one of the best ways to prepare for summer storms and ways to prepare for winter storms that you can do since it pretty well covers all topics that both would need covered. Being prepared is especially important if you’re a single parent and taking the time to prepare for a power outage is one of the best emergency preparation tips for single parents that I could give you.
23 Easy Ways to Prepare for a Power Outage…BEFORE it Happens
The thing about taking the time to prepare for a power outage is that you never know when one will happen. During the winter of 2004, I was pregnant with my daughter when snow, ice and bitter cold caused the power to go out not only at my home, but at my parents home and the entire elderly apartment complex they lived in. After 24 hours without the power being turned on, I visited my parents to find that none of the apartments in their complex had heat so I called the power company. Once I informed them that they had around 400 elderly people, some on oxygen plus the nursing home next door without power, it was restored for them within about 4 hours. Mine, however, wasn’t restored for days so I was really grateful that I had taken the time to prepare.
Prepare for a Power Outage with Emergency Candles and Flashlights
Light is necessary for us to do much of anything past a certain time of day. You’ll want to keep flashlights and candles in the emergency preparation supplies you store to prepare for a power outage. First, you’ll want to start with candles and I’m not talking about the Glade kind either. I’m talking about things like the 115+ hour emergency candles. We keep THESE on hand and they have never let us down. They’ve got the long burn time that you want and they actually put off a bit of heat so your family will benefit from that side as well if your outage is in the winter. Of course, make sure you sit them away from any curtains or blankets and keep them out of reach of tiny ones or pets to keep your fire risk down.
You’ll also want to have a couple of good quality flashlights too instead of cheaper made ones that may burn out on your just when you least expect it. If you have small ones running around, consider a kids flashlight for them to help them cope with being in the dark and of course, be 100% certain that you have at least 3 times the batteries that you will need for EACH flashlight stored or charged up. If one flashlight takes 4 batteries, you’ll want to have 12 batteries on hand for that one. If neither one of those tickle your fancy, you can also check local garage sales for oil lamps or look for a Coleman dual fuel lantern. I don’t personally recommend LED lanterns because they rely on batteries in a time when you may need them for your flashlights, but if that’s what you want to go with, go for it!
Prepare for a Power Outage by storing Drinking Water
Water is life and in a power outage, you may find yourself facing a situation where the water coming from the tap is no longer being filtered so that it is drinkable. This means that if you’re trying to prepare for a power outage that you need to store potable – or water that is safe to drink – for each member of your family and all pets. The general rule of thumb for storing emergency drinking water is 1 gallon, per person, per day that you’re storing for. For instance, if you were storing for 3 people for a 7 day period, you’d need a minimum of 21 gallons.
Storing water isn’t anything that is super difficult. You can buy gallons of water for around $1.00 each or if you would rather store 5 gallons at a time, you can pick up THESE 7 gallon water storage containers. If you have the room and would rather store very large amounts of water at once, a 55 gallon water storage barrel like THESE is your best option.
Prepare for a Power Outage by Storing Cleaning Only Water
In addition to storing potable drinking water, you’ll also want to consider learning how to store water for cleaning use only. If your power is out for more than a few days, you’ll need something to help keep messes down and using your own drinking water only means that you’ll have less to cook with and drink. Since this is water that you won’t be drinking or bathing in, you can use THIS very simple method for storing emergency water for cleaning. It won’t cost you anything other than what you’re already spending making it much easier on your personal budget to keep a stock handy.
For storing non-potable water, you could also use greywater storage. If you’re not familiar with greywater, I have a post right HERE answering the question what is greywater and why you should use it. With greywater, it really doesn’t cost you anything and can actually save you a bit of money while storing emergency water for cleaning purposes only.
Prepare for a Power Outage by Storing Heavy Blankets
No matter what type of climate you live in, it makes sense to store a few heavy blankets when you prepare for a power outage. The reason why you should store blankets in your emergency preps isn’t simply keeping warm in cold weather. Heavy blankets can be used to pad a floor for sleeping, create shelter and more. Ideally, having a couple of types of blankets on hand is the better idea. I keep a couple of USGI Wool Blankets like THESE on hand as well as a couple of moving blankets like THESE. The moving blanket idea might seem silly, but they are cheap and thick and sturdy enough for just about anything you would need to use them for.
Prepare for a Power Outage by store easy to eat meals
When you’re doing what you can to prepare for a power outage, you need to think about how you will eat. If you have an electric cook stove, you won’t be able to heat meals without a bit of work. If you’ve got kids, that bit of work could mean the difference between a meltdown and a happy child. By storing easy to eat meals, you give yourself a quick way to feed yourself and your family without the risk of that meltdown. You’ll want to keep a minimum of 3 days’ of food on hand, but ideally it is better to have more than that just in case. To start, store snack foods that your family already eats such as granola bars, snack crackers, PopTarts and Meat Sticks. These will give you a way to quickly get something in your belly without having to worry about heat.
Secondly, you’ll want to do what you can to learn how to build a stockpile on a budget. This stockpile should include canned and boxed foods that won’t spoil without refrigeration and can be eaten without too much work. Learning how to can your own food is a great option too since most home canned food can be eaten straight from the jar without the need to heat. Finally, having a few freeze dried food meals such as THESE on hand will make sure that you can feed your entire family a hot meal that will both fill their bellies and lift their spirits with not much more than water.
Prepare for a Power Outage by Storing a Camp Stove
While you may be storing quick and easy meals, you’ll also want a way to heat meals if needed. Buying a propane camp stove like THIS one is a great way to help you prepare for a power outage. Not only will it allow you to cook hot meals, but it will also give you a way to boil water if it happens to be unsafe. In 2008, my family and I were caught in the 500-year flood that hit the entire state of Iowa. While we kept our power, our city’s water supply was contaminated by river and flood water. In a situation such as this, having a way to boil or purify water would have been a huge help so we wouldn’t have needed to wait for FEMA to bring in bottled water once we ran out of clean water in our 7-gallon water storage containers.
Prepare for a Power Outage with Frozen Water Bottles
No one expects a long power outage, so you’ll want to do what you can to prepare for the short term when it comes to the food in your fridge and freezer. A very simple way to do this is by taking ordinary water bottles and re-filling them with water once your family has emptied them. Then place them in the freezer to fill any gaps that your food might be creating. Not only will the frozen water bottles help keep your food frozen longer, but it will also help your freezer run more efficiently and lower the costs of running it.
Prepare for a Power Outage with a prepaid Cell Phone
HIt never hurts to have a back up and when it comes to communication with your family, it is a must-have. Not only will it give you a backup in case your regular phone dies, but since they’re usually cheap, it won’t matter much if it gets broken or lost. A good option is to check out Tracfone since the phones are usually cheap and so are the minutes for it. Make sure that every member of your family has a back up. If you’re looking for something a bit more hardy that can be used everyday, I suggest checking out Republic Wireless HERE since their phone plans are no-contract and start at $15.00 per month. Once you have your spare phones and plans purchased, make sure to pick up extra charging cords and even a battery bank like THIS one so you’re fully prepared if the power goes out.
Prepare for a Power Outage with a Solar Charger
Having the extra cell phones, flashlights, battery back ups and so on won’t do you any good if you have no way to charge them. Picking up a solar charger like THIS one is the answer to that problem. Personally, I keep the larger solar charger on hand as well as a solar battery charger like THIS for AA/AAA batteries. Having both means I can charge whatever I need to whenever I need to. The larger solar charger will charge phones, tablets and even my laptop while the smaller one charges the smaller batteries that I might need for flashlights and other small items.
Prepare for a Power Outage with a Generator
If the power outage is going to last more than a day or so, you’ll want a way to get some form of power to your home; even if it is just to run a fridge and freezer. For a more budget friendly option, go with a gas powered generator such as THIS one. However, if you want to run power without the need for gasoline, you’ll want to opt for a solar powered generator such as THIS one. Solar powered generators are far more expensive, but well worth it in my opinion.
Prepare for a Power Outage with Manual Kitchen Tools
I mentioned earlier that you want to make meals easier for yourself in the event of a power outage. One way to do that is to make certain that you have the kitchen tools that you’ll need to fully prepare that meal. Things such as a manual can opener, manual masher, manual egg beaters and even a coffee percolator like THIS one for the mornings without power. Buying them now will save yourself a lot of grief once the power is out.
Related: How to Build a 72-hour Emergency Kit
Prepare for a Power Outage by Keeping Copies of Your Identification
These days, it seems as if evening, including our identifying documents are digitized. While that is perfectly fine for day to day use, in the event of a power outage, you’ll want to have paper copies on hand just in case. This includes your birth certificate, driver’s license or state ID, social security card and even a copy of your passport. Ideally, the copies that you keep will be duplicate copies that you keep handy in your emergency bag or a fireproof safe.
Prepare for a Power Outage by Keeping Cash in Your Emergency Bag
ATM machines and credit/debit card scanners don’t work without power so what happens if the power goes out and all your money is in the bank? You can’t get to it which means you may not be able to buy your family what they need. To prevent that from happening, simply keep a bit of cash on hand in your 72-hour emergency kit. $100 is a great starting amount, but eventually you’ll want to keep up to $1,000 cash on hand. $100 is enough to buy a tank of gas or two. $1,000 is enough to cover your family for an extended time period should you need to.
Prepare for a Power Outage by Storing Batteries
I’ve mentioned this before, but it is important enough that I think it bears repeating. Make sure you have enough AA, AAA and D cell batteries on hand ro run flashlights and other battery operated items. Rechargeable batteries are the best option since you get more bang for your buck in the long run. They may be more expensive to purchase up front, but their life cycles last considerably longer meaning you pay less over time.
Prepare for a Power Outage by Storing Clothing for all Seasons
Not only should you have blankets on hand, but you should also keep clothing for all seasons on hand. You don’t need to go all out and keep entire wardrobes for your family, but having a few pieces for each season is a good idea. If you have kids, you’ll also want to store a size or two up as well since kids grow so quickly. Don’t forget to store socks and shoes too. Thrift stores and online consignment stores are a great place to start picking these items up since you can save money over buying them retail. I like to shop Schoola and shop ThredUp for my family. I get very nice clothing that can be worn regularly if needed without paying retail prices.
Prepare for a Power Outage by Keeping Your First Aid Kit Stocked
Accidents happen especially if you’re stumbling around in the dark. That’s why having a well stocked first aid kit when you’re preparing for a power outage is super important. Keeping things like Bandaids, antibacterial ointment, – make your own homemade antibacterial ointment with THIS recipe – rubbing alcohol and so on for emergencies is a great place to start. Later on, you may want to consider adding things such as ACE Bandages and gauze wraps for more series injuries that don’t need emergency care. I also keep essential oils from Plant Therapy in my emergency kit since a lot of EO’s have healing benefits and are antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral and so on.
Prepare for a Power Outage by Keeping Lighters and Matches
Obviously if you’re storing candles, you’ll need a way to light them. This is why having a few lighters and books of strike anywhere matches like THESE in your power outage preps is a good idea. They’ll also give you the ability to light a grill or firepit a camp stove if yours doesn’t auto ignite.
Prepare for a Power Outage with a Charcoal Grill
If you don’t want to buy a camp stove, a charcoal grill and a few bags of charcoal will go a long way. You can cook almost anything on a charcoal grill if you’re determined enough and have a cast iron skillet and a cast iron dutch oven. If you want to go for an even cheaper option, an over the fire grill such as THIS one is a good option, but keep in mind that you won’t be able to use it if you don’t have a fire pit and firewood handy.
Prepare for a Power Outage with Disposable Eating Utensils
When the power is out, washing dishes can be a pain. Instead, keep disposable eating utensils and plates on hand so that you have one less thing to worry about. The cheapest way to go about this is to buy a bulk, mixed pack of silverware and to buy paper plates in bulk. Keep them in a storage closet and only use them if the power is out so that they last.
Prepare for a Power Outage by having a NOAA Emergency Radio
If the power is out, chances are it was due to storms or cold weather which means that having a way to hear the weather reports and any other emergency alerts is so incredibly important to keeping your family safe during a power outage. Ideally, you’ll want to pick up a hand crank NOAA emergency weather radio like the one I have HERE since it will allow you to have a working radio without batteries if you need, but any radio that gets the NOAA stations and alerts will work. NOAA stands for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and is where all weather reports and weather alerts in the US originate from.
Prepare for a Power Outage by Keeping Extra Cleaning Supplies
Cleanliness is never more important than in an emergency which means you’ll want to keep extra cleaning supplies on hand. Illness and disease breed very quickly in unclean environments and in an emergency; normally harmless bacteria can become deadly very quickly. Items like trash bags, a homemade all-purpose cleaner that disinfects, cleaning sponges, white vinegar, baking soda and even bleach if you use it are super important. I personally keep a stockpile of my own homemade cleaning supplies on hand as well as things like homemade liquid Castile soap and Borax on hand to make more if I need.
This doesn’t just apply to cleaning your home either; having the ability to keep your body clean is super important as well; especially if your power is off more than a day or so. In this case, liquid Castile soap, a homemade shampoo recipe like THIS one and thick baby wipes will usually do the trick.
Prepare for a Power Outage with Your Chosen Method of Security
I have saved this one for last for a reason; security isn’t something everyone likes to talk about, but it is an absolute necessity when you’re learning how to prepare for a power outage. Whether you want to admit it to yourself or not; if the power is out, unsavory people are out and about as well. You only need to look at events such as the looting that happened during Hurricane Katrina to know that I’m correct on this. i’m not here to give you advice on security though so you will have to decide for yourself which method you prefer. If that happens to be a firearm, go for it. If that is a baseball bat, good on you. If it happens to be martial arts lessons that you picked up through Groupon, more power to you. Whatever it is though, make sure you’ve got it stashed in your back pocket in case you need it.
*This article originally appeared on our sister site; Six Dollar Family. It has been updated 10/2018 and moved to this site.
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