8 Ways Anyone Can Prepare for a Power Outage

by Merissa on August 29, 2014

in Preparedness

8 Ways Anyone Can Prepare for a Power Outage - Little House Living

A few weeks ago we arrived back home from visiting family to find that we had no electricity and no running water. It was about 8 p.m. so it was beginning to get dark and we were a little disorientated anyway from just getting home after a long road trip with the little ones.

Luckily we were able to handle the outage smoothly until the power was restored. Generally we prepare for power outages to take place in the winter, but this was a rare summer outage (a nearby farm hit a power pole) so there was a few things that were different to worry about. I was thankful that my little family is able to handle an outage with ease and calmness.

How do we do it? Well, there are just a few things that anyone can do to prepare for something like this. You really never know when you may lose power or what might be the cause. I certainly didn't plan on a farmer hitting a power pole, (and neither did the farmer!) but it happened and we were ready. Being able to get through a power outage, no matter if it a few hours or a few days long, will help your family stay calm, stay warm (or cool), and stay happy. Although there are many more expensive ways to prepare for a power outage, from getting a generator to going off the grid entirely, here are a few things that anyone can do, even on a small budget, to be prepared for a power outage.

8 Ways Anyone Can Prepare for a Power Outage

1. Have a family plan. If an outage was to occur while family members are out and about and you are unable to reach each other, make sure each family member knows where they need to go and who they need to try to be in contact with. Also, make sure that everyone is able to receive emergency alerts on their cell phones.

2. Keep your freezers full. I always worry about my food thawing during a power outage and if you power is out for many days this is going to be a major concern. However, for most smaller outages, as long as you have your freezers full of food and you keep the door closed, you should be able to keep the food chilled until the power is restored. If you don't have enough food to fill your freezer, make sure you keep ice or milk jugs filled with frozen water to fill up the rest of the space in the freezer. (That will actually help with your energy bills, as well!)

3. Get some solar lights. Candles only give out so much light and I prefer to not have them around my little ones. Instead, we have a few of these inexpensive solar lanterns. The bonus with these is that they stay charged for a very long time so you can charge them on a sunny day, store them until you need them, and they will be nice and bright!

4. Have a solar cell phone charger. Although these cost a little bit more, (around $30 on Amazon) they can be very useful if you need to keep in touch with someone, need to call the power company, or just need to check weather or other media on your phone during an outage. During a long power outage last fall we needed one of these badly as the only way we could learn more about the storm and the current outage locations was through social media, which we checked on cell phones and laptops until the batteries died.

5. Keep calm and have a game plan (literally!). Your family will grow restless sitting in the dark with nothing to do during a power outage, so be prepared with a fun activity or project that can be done in the dark! A board game only needs a little light to be able to see to play, or if you have a laptop that you can charge, you could watch a family movie together since it's dark anyways! Of course there is always the option of heading to bed early, but I don't find that solution to be very popular in my house. πŸ™‚ There are also other fun things you can have on hand that are fun in a power outage such as glow sticks, puppets (flashlight puppet show!), and other activities that don't need much light.

6. Have an alternative cooking source. If you have a gas stove you may be able to use the burners by lighting them with a lighter. If you don't, you might want to look into a simple camp stove. You can find them for around $30 or make sure to watch at rummage sales and thrift stores. I tend to see them quite often. After a few days, sandwiches can get old fast! If you are dealing with a power outage during cold weather you will want some warm meals, so a camp stove or a propane burner is a great thing to have.

7. Be able to keep your body temperature regulated. If it's cold out you will need to stay warm. Layers of clothing and movement will go a long ways. Sitting under a blanket can actually make you feel colder, so do family jumping jacks or play an active game (if you have enough light!) to keep the blood flowing. In the summer there are many different methods for keeping cool without air conditioning. You can read a few on this article. Know what your plans are to deal with both hot and cold situations before the need arises and know where appropriate clothing is located so you don't have to search for it when you really need it.

8. Make sure all your emergency supplies are where you can find them in the dark. If it's dark outside and dark in your home, you may not be able to easily find your solar lights, games, cook stove, etc. Make sure you have everything where it can be easily accessed and found, even in the dark. I like to keep one of the solar lanterns in the mudroom so I will have a light right when I walk into the house so we can find anything else we need.

All of these ideas are simple and can be put together with very little money and resources, so you have no excuse not to be prepared!

Ready to learn more? Find out how to deal without running water, how to create a winter emergency survival kit, and get even more ideas for prepping on a budget!

What are some things you do to prepare for a power outage? What is important for you to have on hand at all times?

merissabio

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6:00 am

{ 52 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Michelle Cusick August 29, 2014 at 6:44 am

Yes! Make sure you can get to your supplies in the dark! We’ve always considered ourselves pretty well prepared for these situations. We were in the middle of pressure canning when the power went out. No Problem. Gas stove. We were thinking of just how awesome we were at this point. Even more awesome was on the way because we have full oil lamps placed all around. Matches? Oh, yeah…..they were deep in long term storage. We instantly lost our awesome. lol. I stepped on the dog, fumbled around trying to find something to light my way (even a wooden chopstick to light from the stove would have been nice). What should have been a well orchestrated ballet turned out to be a 3 stooges routine. ha ha. We laughed the whole way through it and finally got the lamps all fired up. And now we have matches right in the front of the cupboard. We learn a lot from our (many) mistakes here on the ole homestead. I wouldn’t have it any other way!

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2 Merissa August 29, 2014 at 7:45 am

Mistakes are how we make it better in the long run! πŸ™‚

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3 Stephanie August 29, 2014 at 7:53 am

Great tips. I think I will be looking into a solar light and getting the little propane bottles for our camp stove just in case. Another way to charge your cell or laptop is in your car, provided you have plenty of gas. Our car has a plug and cigarette lighter plug so we could do a phone and kindle at the same time. Or if you have a hand crank emergency radio with a usb charger on the side. Winter sure feels close here in northeast PA. It was 50 when we got up this morning.

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4 Merissa August 29, 2014 at 8:11 am

Brrr! It’s been pretty chilly here all week, only in the 60’s during the day. It’s coming!

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5 Kathleen Anderson August 29, 2014 at 3:18 pm

Thank you for these ideas. I am looking into solar items. I am in the U.P. of MIchigan and our heat went on…42 yesterday am.

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6 Merissa August 29, 2014 at 3:27 pm

Oh wow. Now that’s getting cold!

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7 mdoe37 August 29, 2014 at 7:16 pm

It was chilly but I didn’t turn on the wall heater. I did get busy and haul this years heat yesterday —4 tons of wood pellets. I’m hoping troll land doesn’t get another harsh winter. (I’m in the lower peninsula. = troll under the bridge)

I keep a black out box readily available. Flashlights, matches, lighters candles, oil wicks, battery radio. I just took inventory the other day to make sure it was stocked.

8 Laura August 29, 2014 at 8:29 am

I keep small flashlights in various places throughout the house. That way if the power goes out unexpectedly, I’m never too far away from a small light source to use while we get our lanterns out of long term storage in the basement. If we suspect the power might go out due to a storm or heavy snow, I go get the lanterns before it gets dark and put them in a central location (usually the buffet in the living room or the middle of the dining room table). In the winter, I also get extra blankets out of storage, and bump the heat up a bit so it will take longer for the house to get cold. We don’t have a camp stove, but we do a lot of grilling, even in the winter, and I’m well versed on cooking over a campfire, so we always have firewood for the outdoor fire pit and charcoal for the grill. I also have a stash of food like canned tuna, peanut butter, and canned fruit that don’t need to be warmed to eat.

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9 Merissa August 29, 2014 at 8:30 am

It sounds like you are prepared and ready to go! I love the idea of keeping little flashlights around so you can find your way to the things you need.

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10 G. Leigh October 7, 2014 at 6:41 am

I also keep small flashlights stashed all over the house, and by the bedside. We also keep a large one in the living room (my daughter uses it every night to check on the chicken coops one last time before going to bed).

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11 Patricia August 29, 2014 at 9:13 am

Merissa-
All great tips!
Some of these apply to vehicles too. It is always time to prepared house and vehicle for winter. Some car preps are
extra blankets, flares, bottled water, non-perishable snacks, flash light, solar crank radio, extra pair of galoshes. just to name a few!
Love these posts…found this one helpful.
Pat

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12 Merissa August 29, 2014 at 9:56 am

Yes, we for sure can not forget our vehicles!

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13 Judy B November 8, 2014 at 11:47 pm

Re: vehicles … a bag of kitty litter thrown in the trunk really comes in handy if you find yourself stuck on a patch of ice / slick roads. Scoop a little front / back of your tires to get some traction to move. πŸ™‚

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14 Teresa August 29, 2014 at 9:40 am

Great article, thanks. We just bought some Luci Lights, an inflatable portable lantern. They are $14.95 and they store flat in a disk. You charge them up during the day, then blow them up like a beach ball (although they are cylinder shape). There is a high/low light and a blinking light option. We took one to the drive-in movie the other night and all the other people went crazy looking at it. They are really neat.

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15 Merissa August 29, 2014 at 9:55 am

Very interesting, I’ve never heard of those but now I will have to look them up! Thanks for sharing!

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16 Mari August 29, 2014 at 9:59 am

These are some great tips. Outages in our area typically last 2 – 6 hours, but you never know when disaster will strike. Thank you!

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17 Debbie S August 29, 2014 at 11:31 am

Great info on the power outages I keep most everything at the ready but I do need the solar lights so thanks for the tips and keep on doing a great job at the homestead and keeping us informed on living frugally thanks Debbie

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18 Heather @ My Overflowing Cup August 29, 2014 at 2:00 pm

These are such great tips. Thank you for the post. The priorities for my family are light sources, water, food, and heat, if needed.

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19 Cole August 29, 2014 at 2:28 pm

I have the $15 Solar Cell Charger from farther down that page on Amazon and I absolutely LOVE it! It’s compact, charges easily using USB and even has a, LED light!

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20 Merissa August 29, 2014 at 3:26 pm

That’s great to know! I still need to pick up one of those for the winter here, I’ll go add that to my wish list now.

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21 Cole August 29, 2014 at 4:57 pm

The NICEST thing about this one, in my opinion, is it has a “Check” button on the back with 4 green lights that will tell you with a push of the button, exactly how much charge it has. 20,50, 80 and 100%.
I carry this to craft fairs and have used it to charge both my tablet as well as my cell on different occasions. Laying in full sun, it holds its own well!

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22 Merissa August 29, 2014 at 4:59 pm

Very cool!

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23 Laura August 29, 2014 at 5:33 pm

Super useful! Just wanted to let you know, I linked to this post from my blog…

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24 Tracy August 30, 2014 at 8:13 am

2 years ago in Mid-Missouri we had a doozy of winter storm system (one on Saturday and then another one on Sunday night) that drooped a total of 36 inches of heavy snow. The shear weight on the electric lines when the snow fell off was snapping the poles like match sticks! We were out of power for a week and this really tested our emergency kit. Our strengths were the foresight to rewrite our electric panel so we could plug a genny right into it and choose what we gave power to….heat – one room w/electricity. This made it so we could have a room to charge laptops and phones and a small TV. No using any high wattage appliances including my coffee maker. Ummmm….this isn’t going to work!! No coffee??? So I called my closest neighbor and walked thru thigh deep snow for a cup of joe. Soooooo….now I have a perk coffee maker for my grill and we are set for the next outage!! Oh and I’m going to add those solar light to my list of emergency items so we can use them all over the house. Thanx for great article!

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25 Merissa August 30, 2014 at 9:37 am

Coffee Maker for the grill….great idea! We will also be hooking a generator up to our power grid in a few months. We were very excited to find that our main box is already wired for it!

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26 karen July 20, 2015 at 6:47 am

I can (put fresh coffee in canning jars) coffee when I hear there is going to be bad weather. The coffee taste fresh and a quart size jar is enough for me and my mom for a morning. I normally do this when every I hear there could be a big snow or ice. I live in SC and we don’t get a lot of snow here, but if I hear about it I have my coffee ready and a lot of canned soups at the ready just have to worm them up. Plus I over plan and make corn bread, and biscuits. I store cooked breakfast items in the frig. I also have canned fruit that I can each summer so we are normally good to go. A good Coleman stove is always a great things to have and also lamps with matches within reach. We gave a gas stove for heating and make sure it has enough at all times to last for a power outage.

I also have lots of blankets (find them all the time at yard sales). I have loads of water saved and fill up the tub for flushing toilets. I also make lots of tea and hot chocolate (I can this).

My family say I over think things but you can never over do planning for the power going out.

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27 Mikki September 1, 2014 at 6:16 pm

My husband and I have always been pretty prepared for whatever may come, around here power outages usually happen often in the wintertime (appalachia) because of the forestation. We never have trouble in the winter because we have two alternate heat sources, and in the winter we can always put our food outside in a building near our home to stay cold. However, the derecho that came through here a few years back really opened our eyes. While we were fine ourselves– we didn’t really have much of a plan for our food during a summer outage like this, we were looking at days on end without power. It was over 100 degrees for days and days, with an even worse heat index due to humidity. People were without power for weeks. We have great neighbors and one alternated with us using his generator to keep our freezer cold. Thank goodness. After that, we invested in a generator ourselves and we have had to use it several times already. Just last week actually! I highly suggest anyone who lives in an area that has FREQUENT outages invest in a generator. Watch your ad bulletins and store ads to see if they go on sale. I collect oil lamps too, so when our power is out, we’re lit up like the 4th of july! (although, they can make it even more hot in the summer!)

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28 Mikki September 1, 2014 at 6:31 pm

oh, I wanted to add, it’s always good to keep an emergency fund of cash too in your blackout/prepper bag. If your power is out, the store’s power is out too. Many of our local stores will stay open during an outage for cash purchases.

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29 Pat September 4, 2014 at 7:12 am

Hi, I came across this ingenious method for creating a space heater, for when the power goes out in the winter. Not only does it work, it’s incredibly economical, so I thought I would share
http://www.trueactivist.com/how-to-easily-heat-your-home-using-flower-pots-tea-lights/

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30 Maria September 4, 2014 at 12:01 pm

The tea light thing SOUNDS great, but only works in like a closet. It will NOT

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31 Maria September 4, 2014 at 12:03 pm

Sorry – somehow I hit enter. Anyway, the tea lights will not heat a room unless you have like a hundred of them. Just saying . . .

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32 Precision Electrical Contractor September 7, 2014 at 10:23 am

Emergency lights are helpful too. Yet indeed, early preparation is very crucial during these times.

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33 John Green September 7, 2014 at 5:06 pm

Good read, glad I stumbled on your website. I’m interested in the same type of lifestyle that you write about here.

My wife and I haven’t used an air conditioner in a couple years because of the massive power usage and cost associated with it. Little things like that are what separate us from the consumer driven economy. Keep on saving, not spending!

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34 karen July 20, 2015 at 7:19 am

In the summer our family planned in advance and planted trees around the house for shade. In the mornings just fans (you can get small solar fans online). It will still be warm when the power is out but the shade trees block most of the sun and with both door open and fans a blowing it is do able and not to hot ( warm but not too hot).

Plus shade trees around help keeps the electric bills lower. Only need the AC part of the day and during early morning and evening keeps the house cool on its on with doors and windows open and fans going.

This is something you have to do when you move into the house, but a good shade tree is always a plus.

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35 Stacy September 11, 2014 at 9:58 am

Hand-crank cell-phone chargers/radios are also available, but I’m not sure how well the work.

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36 anna September 12, 2014 at 9:00 am

Thanks,would like some more information on summer power outage please. I live in the southwest so as luck would have it the power goes out almost every summer. Here’s a few things I do, I bring in the solar lights from yard , just the tops not the stake for extra lights in addition to battery lights. To stay cool put wet rung out sheets over open windows and l sleep under one too. It’s cooler outside at night then in house. I have even jumped in shower with clothes on to dampin them to keep cool. I also use battery powered fans with spray bottle attached that help; sold in camping and sports sections of stores. I keep at least. 1/2 tank of gas in car cause gas pumps won’t work without electric. If power is on in near by city( 2 1/2 hours away) I send family there. I stay home to care for pets. I don’t stock freezer with much food in summer and fill empty space with water in washed out soda bottles giving me extra water to if well pumps go out too. Cook on gas grill. Generator is on my wishlist. Any suggestion keeping pets cool would be appreciated.

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37 Jem September 12, 2014 at 10:49 pm

We live in Zimbabwe where power cuts as we call them are a daily thing! So obviously we are prepared with generators and inverters and the like- very normal in our lives. Water cuts too. We go through periods- generally the dry season just before the rains- of scheduled water cuts. Hence wager tanks and water pumps- that can also run on generator haha. Great articles though- just the title amused me, I had to mutter “First World Problems huh..” aha.

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38 Anita T September 15, 2014 at 1:01 am

When the power is out we use the solar lamps that people use to line their hedgerow or driveway indoors. We take the “stake” part off the bottom and put the lamp on a candlestick holder. Once the sun comes out the next day we recharge them again!

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39 Helen September 16, 2014 at 2:46 pm

I keep small battery powered LED puck lights mounted under my cabinets and plenty of batteries in the drawers.

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40 Tanya Hagerty October 10, 2014 at 10:27 pm

You might also try the sensor lights that come on when they sense movement. They also have emergency nightlights that come on when the power goes out, they unplug to become flashlights when needed. Those will help with the dark until you get the lanterns on.

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41 Mary Andrikidis October 11, 2014 at 2:28 pm

You don’t need to worry about food UNthawing, you need to worry about it thawing!! Thanks for the tips.

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42 Carole Coffman November 2, 2014 at 2:45 pm

We also keep flashlights by both of our beds in our nightstands.. We have gas logs so that is a source of heat and you can cook a few foods like potatoes and warm things in an iron skillet.. We have a grill and have 3 propane tanks that we fill if bad weather is coming. Plus we have a small camp grill…When the ice storm came about 15 years ago and then Isabel Hurricane about 11 years ago we were without electricity both times for over a week.. It is worst when it is cold weather outside.. Learned a lot from each of those times.. One time in the list was having cash at home–that is true.. We had to go almost 50 miles just to get gas for our car and had to have cash..
There is a lot of good advise here..

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43 elaine abernathy November 16, 2014 at 1:43 pm

Great article! We’ve kept bottles of frozen water in our freezer for many years just in case the power goes out. We lost power several years during an ice storm, but we were prepared by stocking up on wood. We were able to use our fireplace insert-it has a flat wide top-to cook our meals and heat water, as well as keeping warm. People were amazed at what we did when we shared “survival” stories. It’s all a matter of common sense and being prepared!

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44 Cait January 4, 2015 at 5:45 pm

Getting ready for the next polar vortex and super low temps…loved your article and it reminded me to get ready just in case. We also store water in empty cat litter plastic jugs for use in flushing our commodes. We use those inexpensive snap lights and put them in empty water bottles to carry around the house to be able to see. Fuel AND the oil for our generator in case of long outages. Plenty of firewood! An alternate way to make morning coffee besides our Keurig!

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45 Michael July 3, 2015 at 9:54 am

Better make sure you have access to your well water without power as well! This was one of our biggest weaknesses. http://www.emergencywelltube.com

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46 Roger Mose August 28, 2015 at 10:40 am

These are all really great tips to help be prepared. Another great way to avoid issues is to outfit your home with a generator. There are so many affordable options these days and it seems our power supplies are getting more and more overloaded!

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47 Emily December 15, 2015 at 3:37 pm

Each and every blog I read about emergency preparedness always includes the tip of practicing your plan, which also seems to be the one tip most people brush over! If you don’t practice it, you don’t know where the flaws are in the plan. Thanks for mentioning. Maybe if we say it enough, people will catch on.

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48 alvan williams atkinson June 30, 2016 at 10:16 pm

Experienced 4 major outages in Raleigh, NC. in 30yrs. Most recent about 24hr(ice), previous over week at times. Key points, have reliable generator. Run well-pump- indoor plumbing, unlimited water, fridge freezers ok. Great place to store food if you have generator. Cycle gas through mowers, cars as many note. Buddy Heaters great in winter, safe, can heat several rooms, for 2 1/2 days on 20lb tank. No sign of CO toxicity. Coleman propane stove for cooking, simply put on top of electric stove, two burners. Something recently I learned, bake on gas grill by putting pan at end away from burner, watch temp on top. Low gas heat probably cook well. Frozen gallons of water good to keep fridge or coolers cold. Used this winter to help a neighbor with no power. Block of ice with handle. If you have warning cook ahead-hurricane, ice storm-cook chili, sphagetti, lasagna boiled eggs- freeze or keep with ice and eat for several days just by heating up with gas grill or microwave. Make egg salad three or four days into outage. Suspect eggs keep a week or more if kept cool. Would get up in morning, check oil in gen, gas start, take cool shower, eat breakfast with hot coffee, go to work- return about 3 generator about out of gas. Check oil re-fuel, repeat, do a bedtime or leave it off to am. Maybe used 20-30gals in a week with Fran. Maybe 1/2qt oil. Older 16hp B-S overhead valve electric start contractor generator. Still works, 20yrs later use it for backup my daughters house. One carburator overhaul. Always run out when done. Another new pearl no ethanol gas in chain saws.

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49 Margarita August 26, 2016 at 7:18 am

Having something like board games to distract you during black outs will surely help you settle down during the long boring duration, but with a generator, you won’t even be feel the power outage. That’s if you have a powerful generator or only have a few appliances to power up.

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50 Jason Roland December 9, 2016 at 3:13 pm

It’s so smart to be prepared, especially with the winter season quickly approaching. I really like the idea that things stay colder in a fully packed fridge – bring on the food!

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51 Merissa August 29, 2014 at 8:22 pm

Yes, it’s a good idea to stock up on fuel now too. We just got our propane tank filled before the prices go up. We have a propane wall heater.

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52 John Green September 7, 2014 at 5:09 pm

Some companies will let you lock in your price early before winter. My local fuel distributor does, but I heat with natural gas so it’s fairly cheap. Check it out though, you may be able to lock in a good price for the entire winter!

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