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10 Easy Ways to Prepare for a Power Outage
When is the last time your power went out? Did it stay out for a few hours? A day? A week? While it can seem rare, extended power outages actually happen a lot more than you think. Hurricanes, tornadoes, flooding and winter weather can all cause a power outage that could last longer than you might expect. I very vividly remember that in January 2005, I was 9 months pregnant with Emma and our power went out. Not only did ours go, but my parents lost theirs too. Neither of us were prepared, but lucky for them, I was able to call the electric company to let them know that they had an elderly complex with folks that relied on oxygen having an outage and thankfully, theirs was only off for a few hours. Mine however was off for almost 4 days, but we made due. It could have been much, much worse. That winter was especially cold for that area of Ohio and had it been off for much longer, I fear there would have been a lot of elderly people in their complex not make it.
The biggest thing about power outages is that while you can’t prevent them, they typically don’t leave a big trail of damage in their wake and you can 100% prepare for them. You may not be the most comfortable family on the block, but you’ll certainly be a lot better off than if you didn’t do anything at all. These 10 easy ways to prepare for a power outage are a great place to start.
1. Emergency Candles and Flashlights – Light is necessary for us to do much of anything past a certain time of day. You’ll want to have both flashlights and emergency candles on hand. I’m not talking about the Glade kind either. I’m talking about things like the 100 hour emergency candles. We keep THESE on hand and they have never let us down. They’ve got the long burn time that you want and they actually put off a bit of heat so your family will benefit from that side as well if your outage is in the winter. Of course, make sure you sit them away from any curtains or blankets and keep them out of reach of tiny ones or pets to keep your fire risk down. You’ll also want to have a couple of good quality flashlights too instead of cheaper made ones that may burn out on your just when you least expect it. If you have small ones running around, consider a kids flashlight for them to help them cope with being in the dark and of course, be 100% certain that you have at least 3 times the batteries that you will need for EACH flashlight stored or charged up. If one flashlight takes 4 batteries, you’ll want to have 12 batteries on hand for that one. If neither one of those tickle your fancy, you can check Ebay for old oil lamps or look for a Coleman lantern. I don’t personally recommend LED lanterns because they rely on batteries in a time when you may not have them to spare, but if thats what you want to go with, go for it!
2. Water – If your water relies on an electrical pump, you’ll need to make certain that you have plenty of water stored in case you can’t use your pump. The basic formula for storing water is 3 gallons, per person, per day. So for a 3 days supply, you’re looking at 12 gallons per person MINIMUM. For pets, you can figure on 1 ounce, per pound, per day. A 12lb dog would need a BARE MINIMUM of 12 ounces per day, but honestly? I would just store a gallon per day for them to be safe and even more if it was a larger pet. You can buy gallons of bottled water for under $1.00 each at the store, or you can use tap water and store it in 2-Liter soda bottles that have been rinsed out really well. If your water does not have chlorine added, you’ll want to add a drop or two of bleach to each 2-Liter bottle to help it stay bacteria free. Even if your water doesn’t rely on a pump, it still isn’t a bad idea to have some stored. A lot of the time, power outages accompany another disaster that may take your fresh water source away at the same time it does your power.
3. Propane Heater – If you lose power in the middle of winter and you don’t live in a warm climate? You’re going to be awfully cold without a way to heat at the very least, one room in your home. Picking up a good propane heater and the propane canisters to go with it, can save you from freezing. Don’t try to heat your whole home with it. Use it in one room and shut that room off from the rest of the house with blankets or doors (if you can). If you’re unsure about using a propane version, you can look for a good quality kerosene heater as well, but make sure you vent your home correctly if using kerosene and make sure you have enough kerosene stored on hand BEFORE the power goes out and prices get gauged. (Take a look at gas prices during Hurricane Sandy if you don’t understand what I mean by that last statement.)
4. Heavy Blankets – We keep these USGI Wool Blankets on hand just for nights when the power is out. They’re rough and tough, but they are WARM and they’re worth every single penny. I have enough faith in these blankets that I know we would be fine without heat as long as we each had one or two. For a cheaper alternative, checkout Harbor Freight and you can pick up moving blankets for $5.00 each. They’re not the prettiest things in the world, but they do the job. I actually use a moving blanket and nothing else when we camp because it keeps me so warm.
5. Quick Foods – Having the ability to feed your family quickly, without cooking will save you a headache if the power is out long term. Keeping things like granola bars, fruit cups, beef jerky and other shelf stable foods on hand will allow you to keep your kiddos fed without too much trouble. Ready to eat freeze dried foods such as what Thrive Life sells is a great option too.
6. Coleman Propane Stove – Speaking of foods, at some point, you’re going to want to try and cook a meal. Having a propane camp stove on hand will allow you to do just that. They’re super easy to set up and use the small propane cansiters that you buy at Walmart. Use them in a well ventilated area and you can cook almost anything on them that you would on a stove.
7. Ice bottles – If the power goes out, you stand a chance at losing A LOT of meat and other items in your freezer. To help, take bottles of water, whatever size will fit and stick them into any empty spaces you have in your freezer. The water will freeze and if your power goes out, you’ll have an extra step helping to keep your frozen items frozen. We leave them in our freezer and add or take away as needed to keep it filled up. This is also a great tip to do when you go on vacation!
8. Prepaid Phone – Even if you already have one cell phone, it never hurts to have another. Keeping a prepaid cell phone, with service on hand just in case of an emergency is hugely important. For a budget friendly option, check out Republic Wireless. Their plans start at just $5.00 per month.
9. Solar Charger – Speaking of phones…having a solar charger on hand will allow you to charge your cell if the power is out without running down your car battery. You can also use them to charge tablets to keep the kids entertained and more.
10. Generator – Finally, if you want to go all out, consider buying a generator for your home. Having one on hand will allow you to power all of the things you need to power, even if only for a short time. You just need to make sure that you choose the right size for your home. Off Grid Survival has a really awesome post on how to choose one complete with a free printable worksheet to help you figure it out!
There you have it! Do you see anything that I missed?
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