Power outages are normal. If you live in colder climates, you may have experienced an ice storm, or a hurricane in warmer climates, that knocked the power out. Ideally the power company can get you back up and running before you really miss any of the conveniences that we are so used to having. Often though, this is not the case. Perishable foods in the fridge can start to go bad quickly. And if you use any sort of heating or cooling systems, you will want to be prepared for outside temperatures to seep into your home.
It is important to plan for power outages. When outages happen, internet can go down, and stores get busy. You don’t want to find yourself without one or more of the following key necessities.
Clean water is essential for drinking and helpful for cooking and sanitation. The easiest way to stock up is to purchase large, sealed containers of bottled water. The 5-gallon jugs used with drinking water dispensers are good if you can stay in your home. In case of a natural disaster where you must leave your home, have smaller containers ready in a travel pack. Consider getting a water filter to add to your emergency kit. Modern technology water filters are small and powerful and can transform most any water into drinkable water.
Non-perishable foods need to be in your emergency kit. In a power outage, your refrigerator will “lose its cool.” With the doors kept shut, you have about 4 hours. To help monitor this, keep a thermometer inside your refrigerator. Food-safe temperatures for your fridge are 40 degrees Fahrenheit or cooler. Trail mixes and dried fruits and meats are good to stock up on. Canned goods, of course, will last a long time in your emergency kit. Keep a can opener handy for easy opening. Easy to prepare foods are best. You will want to limit clean up and water use. Add paper towels to your supplies. Avoid plastic disposable dishes and cutlery. There are eco-friendly options, or you can keep one multi-use dish for each person (and animal) that can be rinsed with limited water. A light alcohol solution wipe can help disinfect dishes without contaminating them. If you want to be able to cook, a fire pit, propane grill or stove top are ways to cook without electricity.
Keeping warm could be a challenge without a heater. Depending on your climate and the time of year, you will need items that keep you warm when your heating goes out with the power. Thick socks and warm hats keep your body heat in well. Check the camping section at your nearest department store for emergency thermal blankets. It’s important to read the instructions on these and know when and how to use them to stay warm and dry, but they can come in handy and even keep you alive in some cases. Keep a roll of duct tape handy because some of the cheap emergency blankets and ponchos tear easily.
Keeping cool may be important in a power outage. In extreme hot temperatures, it’s easy to overheat, get dehydrated or lose energy quickly. Keeping freezer bags of clean water as ice packs in your freezer will provide a cooling pack for a few hours, and more water as it starts to melt. Some other ideas are a battery-operated fan, light clothing and a wet fabric on your head. If you live in an especially hot climate, some planning ahead might be good. Find ways to create a shaded living space and check out how to build a solar powered air conditioning unit.
First aid kits are always good to have nearby for small injuries or emergencies. This is a good place to keep your thermal blanket(s) as well. Add additional items such as a sewing kit, utility knife, and a whistle. Other useful items to stock up on are batteries, rope, duct tape and of course flash lights.
Light sources are important for night time hours. Candles are useful, but can be a fire hazard. Battery operated or solar or crank lamps and flashlights are best. Keep these in easy to find places. If the power goes out in the middle of the night, you will want to be able to reach these in the dark.
Communication and sanity are important to prepare for as well. A battery powered or crank radio is good to have on hand, as is a battery powered clock. Throw in some games, puzzles, art supplies and writing equipment. A journal is a great way to pass your time, keep your mind sharp and record important notes from your experience. To keep your cell phone running, consider a solar powered charger, but remember that cell towers may be effected by extreme weather.