We’ve all been there: we wake up thirsty in the middle of the night and try to go for a glass of water. We reach for the light switch and nothing happens. The lights don’t work. A quick glance at the clock to check the time, and that too is dark. More darkness when we look out the window to check on the neighbors. Now what? The utility company usually gets the power restored in a few hours. But what if the power outage lasts much longer than you ever expected? This article provides helpful tips for surviving a power outage.
DO YOU KNOW HOW TO SURVIVE A POWER OUTAGE?
Power outages can stem from a variety of causes like fallen trees, ice storms, hurricanes, transformers blowing, tornadoes and many other naturally occurring events. Regardless of how we lose power, we should all be adequately prepared to survive during a local power outage or even a national emergency, whether it be for two (2) hours, or two (2) weeks. But unfortunately, most of us aren’t. And it’s time to take charge of our own safety!
What you need depends on the type of outage and the season. With climate change unleashing its mayhem on us, weather events are becoming more frequent, and it’s not uncommon for people to be without power for a few days. This may be even more concerning if you are looking at winter power outage survival.
Read on to learn about the supplies that everyone should keep on hand if the power goes out for a few hours or a few days.
BASIC SUPPLIES FOR A POWER OUTAGE
- Means of Communication
It is so easy to forget about our dependency on water, but in the event of a power outage, we very quickly realize the importance having an emergency water supply on-hand. The average human body needs at least two quarts of water a day to function properly and you can’t really go more than three (3) days without it.
Don’t forget water for your furry family members either. The larger the dog, the more water they need. For example, a 50 lb. dog needs around 40 ounces of water, about five (5) cups, each day.
Fill the empty space in your freezer with containers of water. Frozen water will displace air and keep food cold longer if the power goes out. And you can drink the water as you make your way through long-term power outage survival.
Our bodies rely on a constant supply of nutrients to keep us operating functionally and our brains working at full capacity. Maintain food supplies that do not require refrigeration. Canned goods including fruit, meat and vegetables are helpful, but don’t forget the opener. Trail bars, peanut butter and trail mix are good energy sources.
Another source of sustenance is MREs, or Meals Ready-to-Eat. MREs are generally used by the military for non-perishable sources of food. They offer a little more variety and easy storage due to their small size. Check your local military surplus store, sporting goods shop, or local superstore to purchase.
Don’t underestimate the importance of food – it may be the difference between hunger and comfort as you wait for the electricity to return.
Having a good first-aid kit available is imperative. You never know when someone will get injured during trying times like a prolonged power outage. The 115-piece Deluxe Family First Aid Kit from the American Red Cross is an excellent choice. Also, if anyone in your family requires specific medication or care, keep an extra supply of the needed medication in your kit.
A radio is crucial to keeping you informed of what is going on and what to expect. Have either a battery-operated radio, solar radio or hand crank radio. Make sure your radio is in working condition by testing it at least once a year. The American Red Cross suggests a NOAA Weather Radio. Remember to preserve your battery power and only use the radio for weather updates and emergency broadcasts. Always have extra batteries on hand.
A telephone will keep you in contact with family, friends and emergency services. If you use a landline, keep a corded phone on hand as cordless phones may not work during a power outage. Keep your cell phones charged. Pick up a cell phone car charger so you can charge the phone in your car if it runs down.
Where should you keep your power outage survival kit?
People often use backpacks so they can easily grab them on the run. However, consider going the bucket route. A 5-gallon bucket with a cover is about the right size, and they are waterproof and stackable. You won’t have problems with them getting soaked through if you’re in the middle of rain, flooding or heavy snowfall. And the plastic buckets themselves can be used in multiple ways. You can buy them at most hardware or farm stores.
OTHER POWER OUTAGE SURVIVAL TIPS
After the big four (4) above, think about adding the rest of the following skills and items to your power outage survival kit.
- Have emergency lighting such as flashlights or propane lanterns. Consider using power outage light bulbs.
- Learn how to use the manual release to open your garage door manually if you have an electric garage door opener.
- Keep your automobile’s fuel tank at least half full and fill up your tank if a major storm is predicted. Many gas stations are not open during a power outage.
- Learn how to cook over an open fire, using charcoal or wood.
- Be sure to include some longer, fireplace type matches or a butane wand for lighting fires in your fireplace or outdoors in a fire pit.
- Always have plenty of working smoke detectors. Household are particularly vulnerable when the power goes out.
- Watch for the possibility of carbon monoxide poisoning. Never, ever burn charcoal or use gasoline or propane-powered equipment inside your home, garage or porch. Use generators only outdoors and away from windows.
- Unplug sensitive electrical equipment such as computers, printers, televisions, and audio equipment to avoid damage from electrical surges. Keeping them plugged in to a surge protector helps but it is still best to unplug these items from the wall completely.
- Notify your power company in advance if you use special healthcare equipment that requires power. Most power companies note this in their records and will prioritize the response to your home.
- Keep freezers and refrigerators closed.
- Think sanitary and keep a decent stock of antiseptic hand soap and antibacterial wipes to prevent contaminating your food and water sources and making yourself sick.
- Check on neighbors.
- Keep a supply of books, board games, playing cards and games and puzzles available to keep you and your young ones entertained during a power outage. A bit of chocolate may also help.
- Cash is important to keep on hand. Most businesses are capable of making cash transactions and you can purchase anything you may have forgotten to restock. Cash will also ensure you’re able to check into a hotel room in a safe region in the case of an evacuation.
- A credit card used exclusively for emergencies is also helpful.
WHAT IF HEAT OR COLD IS EXTREME WHEN THE POWER GOES OUT?
Power outages remind us just how dark it can get, and if it’s winter, just how brutal the cold can be. And keep in mind, summer can be as hot as winter is cold.
Seasonal Specific Clothing
Like any disaster, power outages can happen at any time. It’s important to have clothing prepared to face whatever the elements might be. The clothing that you’ve set aside for an emergency such as an outage should be just that – set aside. Don’t be digging through dressers, hampers, or closets when time is of the essence.
Bitter weather means that it may be time to layer up to conserve energy and heat. And don’t forget your cap and gloves. Insulated clothing, wool socks and boots built for snowy conditions are a must-have in case you have to get out in the dangerous wintertime. Always use wool, not cotton.
Spring and summer hurricanes and floods often cause long-term power failures, leaving us to beat the heat without air conditioners. An outage in extreme heat brings the need for moisture/sweat-wicking fabrics that are also fast-drying. In addition, keep light colored, loose and flowing clothes with your power outage emergency kit.
More Ideas for Coping
The name of the game here is emergency preparedness. If you are stuck without power, do what you can to survive.
- Battery operated fans will help prevent heat stroke, particularly if you place them in open windows to help circulate the air.
- Do not use a gas stove to heat your home. The chances of carbon monoxide poisoning are too great.
- Check on your neighbors. Older adults and young children are especially vulnerable to extreme temperatures.
- Go to a community location with power if heat or cold is extreme.
FIRST THINGS FIRST
Hunting for much-needed items in the dark makes an unpleasant situation even worse. For a quick start to power outage survival, depend on your Safelumin power outage light bulbs. When the electricity goes out, the bulb automatically switches to power provided by an internal, rechargeable backup battery. Safelumin will automatically handle short term power outages of up to three (3) hours with the flip of your regular switch. When power is restored, the self-contained battery automatically recharges so it’s ready for the next outage. They even have a test button to assure you that the battery is charged and ready to go.
Set all light switches in the off position except for the one you are using at the time. Have at least one Safelumin light bulb in each area of your home. As you move throughout, flip the switches on and off as normal and you will have light!
Safelumin is a high quality, great value, easy to use product for the unpredictable blackout event. Power outage light bulbs can be easily installed in lamps and fixtures and used normally as an efficient, every day LED light source.