Prepare for a power outage, everything you need to know to be ready.
No matter where you live there is always the possibility that the power could go out and it might even stay out for a few days or a couple of weeks depending on what caused it to go out in the first place.
You must prepare for a power outage or you could end up sitting in the dark, shivering in the cold (sweating in the heat), with an empty stomach. But, with just a little bit of forward-thinking, you can ensure that you and your family live comfortably when the power goes out.
How to Prepare for a Power Outage
Have a Power Outage Plan
Power outages can happen at any time, without warning. When a power outage occurs it is so important that your family has a plan and knows the plan in case of an emergency.
From downed power lines, rolling blackouts and possible grid failures, preparation for outages is really necessary.
You may want to have a secondary location for the family to meet up, in the case that the road home is blocked by downed powerlines or trees. This could be as simple as going to Grandma’s house or a close family friend.
Prepare for a Power Outage: Refrigerator and Freezer
Aside from medical concerns, which I discuss further down, one of the biggest concern you will have in how to prepare for a power outage is the food in your refrigerator and freezer. There are some things you can do to keep your food good for a little while.
- Re-organize your refrigerator to keep perishable foods good as long as possible. Move everything out of the door and onto the shelves then pack the shelves as tightly as possible.
- If you expect the power to be out for a few hours or more pack the empty spaces on the shelves with newspaper to hold in cold air. Also, move any foods that can be frozen like meat and milk to the freezer.
- Fill bottles and any plastic containers with lids with water to freeze as soon as a storm approaches. When the power goes out transfer some of the new giant blocks of ice into the fridge. Make sure to mark the bottles with a big X if they are in containers that aren’t clean, or the water isn’t safe to drink.
- If you’re expecting a storm that might make the power go out turn the fridge and freezer up to their coldest settings. This way if the power does go out it will take longer for them to heat up.
- Once the power goes out only open the door once to move anything you might want for the rest of the day into an ice chest or cooler with ice or with a frozen bottle of ice. This will keep you from opening the fridge door repeatedly.
Heat or Cool Just One Room
If the power goes out in the winter (summer here in Phoenix) or during a particularly bad storm one of the first things you will think of is trying to heat your house.
Remember that keeping your windows and doors closed will help.
But heating or cooling the whole house without electricity is difficult and expensive. Instead, just focus on being able to heat one room.
For many, this would be the living room as it is the largest room in the house and also is built to accommodate the whole family. Consider ways you might be able to heat or that room like a wood stove or a heater that runs on propane.
If the power ends up being out overnight you will want to move the whole family into that room to sleep. Also, have some spare blankets and towels to cover up the doors where the cold will be able to get in.
If you need to keep the room cool, close your curtains or blinds during daylight hours. Open windows if it cools down at night. Remember heat rises so sleep low and if you have tile that will probably be the coolest area.
Power Outage Learn to Cold Soak Foods
While the power is out you won’t be able to use traditional methods of cooking and gas for a camping stove might be hard to come by unless you act fast. Even if you use a gas stove you might not be able to use your stove if it is newer. This is because they are being designed with a safety switch that turns off the gas supply when the power is out.
Learning to cold soak your food will be what saves you from having to eat sandwiches for a week. Chances are you already know about cold soaking and you don’t even realize it!
Have you ever made overnight oats? That’s cold-soaking! It works for rice, beans, oats, lentils, couscous, and even dried mashed potatoes. It’s an incredibly simple way of cooking but it isn’t something you want to be learning how to do during an emergency.
Hand Washing Laundry During a Power Outage
I have an entire article on doing laundry without electricity see: Doing Laundry By Hand.
If the power goes out frequently or you’re worried about it being out for an extended amount of time then you will want to look into being able to hand wash your laundry. The importance of clean clothes cannot be stressed enough. Though you will find that they don’t need to be washed every time they’re worn unless you got something on them or were sweating a lot. There are a few different methods for handwashing but the cheapest and easiest is just doing it in the sink. The only thing you’ll need is water and a laundry soap that works with hand washing.
Prepare for a Power Outage Menu
First things first, you need some shelf ready emergency supplies. See how you can build a stockpile for only $10 a week.
While a menu plan isn’t strictly a necessity if you find yourself in a situation where the power is out you will thank yourself for doing this little bit of planning in advance.
Buying a bunch of food that you don’t have to cook, or is easy to cook on a camping stove is great but in the middle of all the stress of the power being out coming up with a meal might be a challenge. That’s where the menu plan comes in.
First you need to know how much you need per person per day.
Put together at least a week-long menu for your family made up of just foods you can cook on a camping stove or eat cold and that you have stored all the ingredients for.
Personally, I would recommend a hot breakfast, a cold lunch, and a hot dinner. After a long day of clearing snow out of the driveway, you will thank yourself for having taken the decision out of making dinner. You can just do it.
Power Outage and Medical Supplies
Be sure to read my tips for Stockpiling Medication!
There are many medical conditions where a lack of power suddenly becomes a medical crisis. These are people who rely on oxygen or regularly need to take a medicine that is kept in the fridge. For these people, I would say that a generator or solar charger is a necessity. They are expensive, but we are talking about a literal life or death situation. So having electricity isn’t optional.
Learning some basic first aid is also a good idea. During a power outage there are likely to be more people in hospitals as the number of car accidents and accidents around the home go up.
Emergency Supplies You Need for a Power Outage
There are a few things you should have in your house just in case the power does go out. These are things that will help you see, help you stay in communication, help you eat, and help you stay warm.
- Outdoor Solar Lights
- Flashlights and / or Battery Operated Lanterns
- Candles – I suggest making your own DIY Emergency Candles
- Gas Lantern
- Solar Cell Phone Charger
- Toys and Games
- If you don’t want to eat all your food cold you’ll want a Camp Stove or a grill you can cook on.
- Extra Propane or charcoal if you use charcoal grills
- Food You Don’t Have to Cook
- Disposable Plates, Forks, and Spoons
- Battery Operated Fan
- Hand Crank Radio
- First Aid Kit
- Extra Batteries
I hope these tips help you feel more secure as you prepare for a power outage. First and foremost prepare to stay safe and keep your family safe. I hope you feel you can be ready until the power returns.