Facing an extended power outage can be a daunting thing. Electricity is something that most of us rely on almost every waking minute of our lives.
While the conveniences electricity brings are wonderful, we’ve all had them for so long that we might take this small miracle for granted at times. Could you survive for three days without power? Okay, you’d likely survive. But would you live well during a three day power outage?
You Will Likely Face a Power Outage in Your Lifetime
Most natural disasters can cause a power outage of days to weeks long. Winter storms, car accidents, and more can all cause shorter term power outages. Most everyone will face a power outage at some point in their lives–likely multiple power outages.
Being prepared in six simple ways for such events will bring peace of mind and confidence. In fact, power outages can actually be fun when you are well prepared for them!
1- Food and Water in a Power Outage
I remember one of the first power outages I faced as a new mom. The power flipped off and I thought,
“Oh, we’ll just go out to eat tonight.”
WRONG! The power wasn’t just off at my house! Restaurants didn’t have power, and neither did grocery stores. The food at the grocery stores was gone quickly, and I was glad we had food in our home.
Storing at least three days worth of nutrient dense food in your home is smart for many reasons, but one reason is in case of a power outage.
Choose food that your family is familiar with and enjoys. Stress levels can be higher during emergencies, and you want food that decreases, not increases that stress.
In addition, you should have at least three gallons of water per person stored in your home. This is enough for drinking and basic sanitation needs. Yes, I know that not all power outages come with your water being shut off, but many do. Water is essential to life, and you should have some extra stored in your home.
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2 – Powerless Cooking Method
Storing food that doesn’t need to be cooked is one option–and that can be a great option if you are just getting started and funds are tight.
But if you want to be able to make “regular” meals for your family, meals that you know they enjoy, you will need a way to cook those meals.
Many people have gas stovetops in their home (I do), and for some (not all) power outages, you will still have gas to your home and should be able to use your stovetop. Just make sure you know how to light it without power as many of them have electric starts.
One very simple–and relatively inexpensive–method that many people already have is a propane camping stove (affiliate). If you don’t already have one, I actually like the single burner butane stoves (affiliate) better as they can be used indoors (with a window cracked), which is great for winter time power outages. These are both easy to use and work very similarly to your regular stove-top.
In addition, many people already own outdoor (charcoal or propane) grills. If that is you, just make sure you know how to use it and that the food you store can be cooked on it.
Baking in a Power Outage
Baking without power gets a bit more complicated. You can use an outdoor dutch oven (affiliate) which is relatively inexpensive, but takes some practice and skill. Or, you can use a Sun Oven, but it is expensive, has a learning curve, and you need a mostly sunny day. Last, you can use a Herc tealight candle oven (affiliate) indoors anytime without a huge learning curve, but it is quite expensive.
If you are just starting out with emergency preparedness, I suggest beginning with a simple way to replace your stovetop. Then, once you are prepared for the basics, you can come back and look at your options for baking in a power outage.
No matter what option you choose, be sure you calculate how much fuel you will need for three days of cooking and store it as well!
3 – Light During a Power Outage
You will need a way to see at night when your power is out.
The most basic option is a few flashlights. I suggest you keep one by everyone’s bed. This is my favorite small flashlight (affiliate) that we use in our home for this purpose (it gets down to $10ish on Amazon every so often). The downside of flashlights is that you have to store batteries as well. Batteries do have a shelf life, so if you don’t use them regularly, you might want to consider rechargeable batteries and a solar charger (affiliate).
We also keep “flashlights” plugged into numerous outlets in various rooms of our home. Red Cross Blackout Buddies (affiliate) automatically switch on when the power goes out giving you immediate light. But you can also unplug them and use them as a flashlight.
Another inexpensive option is candles. Candles (obviously) don’t require batteries. But make sure that if you have small children you keep the candles out of reach. You might also consider an oil lamp. These will burn bright for a long amount of time and are somewhat safer than an open candle.
One additional option is to use solar lights (affiliate). You’d put them outside during the day, and then bring them into your house at night.
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4 – Warmth During a Power Outage
If you face a power outage during the winter, you will need a way to stay warm. Here are a few tips:
- Make sure you have extra blankets
- Dress in layers
- Sleep with multiple people in each bed
- Eat! This will increase your internal body temperature
- Stay dry–change your clothes immediately if they get wet
- Put towels at the bottoms of doors and cover drafty windows with blankets
- Keep doors closed to all rooms you are not using, and try to keep family members together in 1-2 rooms
- Consider purchasing a kerosene heater (affiliate) or make a few homemade space heaters.
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5 – Communication in a Power Outage
Communication can be difficult in any emergency situation. One reason for this is that many people pick up the phone to call loved ones. For this reason, your cell phone may fail when trying to make local calls.
But there are other ways you may still be able to use your phone:
- Texting takes less bandwidth, so try communicating with those in the affected area via text.
- Email relies on the internet which runs on different networks than calls. It is possible you will be able to send an email with your smartphone even if you can’t call or text.
- Social Media. Similar to email, oftentimes Facebook or Twitter apps will still work even when texting won’t. Social media can also allow you to communicate with many friends and family at once.
- Long Distance Calls. Oftentimes, you will still be able to make long distance calls with your cell phone. Have a set out-of-area person that everyone in your family knows to call immediately following a disaster.
I have experienced this before. We had a large scale power outage in Southern California years ago. This was before my husband and I had social media accounts. I could not call or text my husband who was at work 30 minutes away. But I could call my mom in Utah. I would call her and tell her what I needed my husband to know. She would then call me back and communicate what he needed to tell me.
In addition, you may want to consider having a way to charge your phones using solar power. (affiliate)
6 – Entertainment in a Power Outage
If you are prepared with all of the above, then a power outage can actually be FUN! It forces you to turn off all those screens and spend time together as a family. Make sure you have games and books ready to go!
Have you ever faced a three day power outage? Tell us about it! What did you learn? What would you add to the tips here?
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