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