You never know when an unexpected power outage can occur but you can stay prepared. Here are a few ways that anyone can prepare for a power outage.
Anyone can be more prepared for a power outage. By doing simple things like keeping your freezers full, keeping lights where you can find them, and having a family plan, you can be better prepared in advance for the unknown.
Prepare for a Power Outage
A few years ago we arrived back home from visiting family to find out 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 farmer hit a power pole) so there were a few things different things that we needed to worry about. I was thankful that my little family is able to handle an outage with ease and calmness.
Power outages can be caused by natural disasters such as tornadoes or hurricanes. Or they can be caused by something much simpler like the farmer hitting the telephone pole in my story above. Last year we had an extended power outage during to lightening hitting our transformer box. It really can be anything!
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 when it happened, we were ready. Being able to get through a power outage, no matter if it is a few hours or a few days long, will help your family stay calm, stay warm (or cool), and stay happy.
13 Ways Anyone Can Prepare for a Power Outage
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.
1. Have a family plan.
If an outage was to occur while household 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 your power is out for many days this is going to be a major concern. However, for most smaller outages, as long as you have a full freezer and you keep the freezer doors closed, you should be able to keep the food chilled until the power is restored. I
f 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!)
Another tip would be to place a few of those frozen water jugs or bottles in your refrigerators once the power goes out if you think it may be a longer power outage. This will help keep your perishable foods good for longer.
Tip: Find more energy-saving tips with these Extreme Ways to Save Electricity
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’ve found that the best light for power outage is solar. 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 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 the 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.
You should also have a battery-powered radio (or solar-powered) so that you can get the news and forecast that way as well.
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 anyway!
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.
Tip: Learn How to Organize and Toys, Games, and Movies so you can easily find your games and toys during a power outage.
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 simple camp stoves. You can find them on Amazon or make sure to watch at rummage sales and thrift stores. I tend to see them quite often. You could also cook on a grill if it’s not too covered in snow.
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.
Tip: Get Meals Ideas for When the Power Is Out, plus tips to prep your pantry for power outages!
7. Be able to keep your body temperature regulated.
If it’s cold out you will need to stay warm. This may mean you will want to have an alternative heat source during a power outage. If not, layers of clothing and movement will go a long way. 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. 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.
Tip: Looking for ways to beat the heat? Check out this article on how to stay cool without AC. How to Beat the Summer Heat Without Air Conditioning
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, medications, first aid kit, emergency kit, 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.
9. Have a home phone.
Yes, it costs a little extra money each month, but do you know how many times we’ve used our home phone during a power outage? Every single time.
A landline or home phone will still work, even when the power is out. This is a great way to keep in touch with others that do not live in your home, or to call the electric company. We keep important numbers right next to the phone so that we can call in the outage and be in touch with others that matter to us every time the power goes out.
10. Always have water on hand.
You should always have some kind of stockpiled water in your home, whether that be bottled water or water in jugs.
When the power is out, your pressure tank/well pump/whatever brings water into your home will not work. We like to keep a big blue water storage container full at all times so that we can use that water in the sink. We also keep water bottles on hand for drinking. Our Berkey stays full all the time as well, giving us a couple more gallons of pure, filtered water for cooking or drinking.
11. Prepare your pets.
Most pets won’t be alarmed by the power going out, but don’t forget that they will need water as well. They also might get stressed if you are stressed about the situation so keep that in mind.
12. Think about the things that won’t be working.
There are many different things that you are used to working all of the time and most of these won’t be able to work during a power outage. Some of those things might be:
- Garage Doors
- Gas Stations
- Fireplaces (that use an electric ignitor)
If any of these things might effect you, think about them now and make a plan of what you will need to do if they won’t be working (ie: keep your car gas tanks filled with gasoline at all time and be able to manually open the garage)
13. Be cautious when using alternative fuels.
Since you might be using propane to cook with and heat part of your home during a power outage, please make sure to leave a window cracked to prevent the fumes from building up.
Also, make sure that your carbon monoxide detectors are working by checking them periodically. Carbon monoxide poisoning is no joke and shouldn’t be taken lightly. If you smell any unusual odor or if you are beginning to get headaches, seek fresh air and medical attention right away.
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!
More Articles on Preparedness
- How to Survive Temporarily With No Running Water
- Creating a Winter Emergency Survival Kit
- Prepping Supplies
- Preparing for Extreme Heat
- Disaster Preparedness for Children
- Survival Prepping
- 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?
This post on How to Be Prepared for a Power Outage was originally published in August 2014. It has been updated as of September 2022.