It happens when you least expect it. You’re watching your favorite TV show with your family, enjoying some laughs, and bam, the power goes out. An outage can occur due to weather, equipment failures or other unexplainable reasons, and when the power goes out, all you can do is wait until it comes back on. Don’t worry. People survived without electricity for thousands of years, and so can you. If you plan ahead and prepare your home, you won’t be left in the dark the next time there’s a power outage. Being left without electricity for a few minutes is one thing. However, when the power’s out for a few days or even weeks, well, it can be a drag and more than an inconvenience. Be ready for the next one. Here’s how.
Build an emergency supplies kit. A basic emergency kit should have extra batteries for flashlights and radios, manual can opener, first aid kit, battery-powered or hand crank radio, a whistle so you can signal for help and tools like a wrench or pliers to help you turn off utilities. Be sure to have a package of baby wipes and garbage bags with ties for your personal sanitation. You’ll also need water for drinking, and at least a 3-day supply of non-perishable food.
Stock up on Essentials
Preparing for a power outage is similar to preparing for natural disasters. For one thing, you need water. Every person in your family is going to need at least one gallon of water per day. Now, some of us don’t drink that much water, even on regular days, but we should. You’ll want to be sure to have enough water for pets, too. You can start stocking up on water. Every time you go grocery shopping, buy a few gallons of water. Before you know it, you’ll be surprised by how many gallons of water you’ll have saved. You’ll need water to cook food, too. Consider collecting rainwater. You can use water purification tablets, and you can always boil collected water so it’s safe to drink.
You’ll want to stock your pantry up with food. Canned goods like meats and vegetables are a good option. You can store them for a long time. Be sure to check the expiration date. Consider adding rice, peanut butter, dried fruit, cereals and pasta, too. It’s also a good idea to have things like cookies and chocolate on hand to elevate the mood.
Invest in Chargers
A 12-volt charger for your phone or an inverter that you can plug into your car, then plug a 110 plug into it can be a lifeline during a power outage. When you can charge your phone, laptop or other electronics you can keep connected to any important news about the power outage. Electronic devices can also help alleviate boredom and keep your children occupied so they’re not too scared. Use the power of the sun and invest in a solar power charger for your emergency kit.
When it goes dark, the first thing you will want is light. Make sure you have plenty of emergency lighting to get you through a night (or nights) in the dark. Flashlights (don’t forget the batteries!), rechargeable lanterns, oil lamps and solar-powered lights are all good options to keep on hand and in an emergency kit for when the power goes out. Don’t forget about candles, so be sure to stock up on matchboxes. Know where you’ve put flashlights, candles and your other lighting alternatives, so you’re not fiddling around in the dark.
Know the Breaker Box Location
Do you know where to find your breaker box? You should. When a power outage occurs, throwing the main breaker in your home is highly recommended, especially if it’s a prolonged power outage. Doing this keeps the power from surging suddenly and damaging appliances or electronic items when the power comes back on. Keep electronics like TVs and computers plugged into surge protector power strips.
Reuse those empty milk jugs. You can fill empty milk jugs three-quarters full of water then place them in the freezer. In the event of an extended power outage, you can transfer frozen jugs into a cooler to keep food cool. Try to keep a full freezer. According to the USDA, you’ve got about 4 hours before your food becomes unsafe. If you want to keep the refrigerator and freezer at the right temperature, limit opening the door.
When a power outage occurs during winter, one of the significant challenges is keeping warm. If you have a fireplace in your home, be sure to have a collection of firewood on hand. You’ll also want to be sure you have a sleeping bag for everyone in your family. Sweaters, like fleece or wool, are great for keeping warm, too. If you know the outage is going to last well into the chilly night, gather your family and huddle up to stay warm.
Summertime power outages can be miserable — especially if you love your AC. You can purchase battery-powered handheld fans. They’re an inexpensive way to keep a little cooler until the power and AC turns back on. Staying comfortable also means keeping yourself occupied — this is an excellent time to bust out the board games and card deck. Plus, they don’t use batteries or electricity.
Living without power for an extended period is a reality we may have to face. With the proper planning, you and your family can weather the storm.
The Transmission Distribution Utility (TDU) maintains the power lines and respond to outages. You don’t get to choose your TDU. However, you can select your electricity retail energy provider. Compare stable companies and find the best plans and electricity rates at Vault Electricity.