Power outages can happen for a variety of reasons, including storms, accidents, and equipment failures. While they may be inconvenient, they can also be dangerous if you’re not prepared.
Here are some tips for surviving a power outage.
1. Stay informed
Know what’s happening with the power outage and how long it’s expected to last. Keep a battery-powered or hand-crank radio on hand to get updates from local authorities and emergency services.
Also, HAM radio or CB radio can be considered a useful source of information.
2. Stay safe
If you’re using a generator, make sure it’s set up correctly and used in a well-ventilated area to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.
Keep flashlights and batteries handy, and use them instead of candles to prevent fires. A flashlight in your cellphone is more then enough to light up the entire room. There will not be enough light to assembly a jigsaw puzzle, but more than enough to keep your toe from hitting the cupboard.
Avoid using open flames, such as matches or lighters, and be cautious when using any appliances that may have come into contact with water.
3. Stay cool
If it’s hot outside, try to stay in a cool, air-conditioned space if possible (applicable only if you have an emergency power source powerful enough to provide energy to the air conditioner). A single-room devices, especially the ones installed in the windows, are the most suitable choice to be powered using a generator or other off-grid power source (e.g. solar panels + inverter), because they consume much less energy and require much less power than the central air conditioning.
If you don’t have air conditioning, try to stay in the lowest level of your home or seek shelter elsewhere. Drink plenty of water, and avoid strenuous activity. Move air around you, using a small battery-powered fan. Also, using air conditioning in your car may be available, if you have some fuel stored for this purpose. Blackout means that the fuel pumps on the gas stations won’t be working.
4. Stay fed
You will probably not perish of hunger after even a week-long power outage. Still, you should keep a supply of non-perishable, easy-to-prepare food on hand. Good examples are
- canned goods, e.g. beans, meatballs, canned fruit,
- rice and pasta,
- energy bars, chocolate,
- honey and peanut butter.
If you have a gas stove, you can still cook food as long as you have a gas supply. If not, consider buying a portable stove. They use either gas in replaceable canisters or liquid fuel like white gas, kerosene, gasoline or even diesel fuel. They will not only provide you with a heat source for cooking in a power outage, but can be also used while traveling.
Avoid opening your fridge or freezer too often, as this will help keep food cold for longer. In a prolonged outage gradually move food from freezer to the fridge. It will thaw there, absorbing some of the heat and keeping the temperature lower.
It’s also important to stock up on water, as the water supply may be disabled. The first thing one needs to do in a power outage is to fill up the bathtub with water. For some time there should be enough pressure in the water mains to make this emergency water supply. It will definitely come in handy later.
5. Stay connected
This advice is closely related to the first one. Being informed means you know what to do. Being connected means knowing what your close ones are doing, if they need help, or if they might assist you in any way.
If you have a charged cell phone, keep it with you and use it to stay in touch with family and friends, as well as to get updates on the power outage. One of the best power sources for that purpose is your car, you don’t need to buy solar system for your home or any portable solar charger.
If the mobile phone network is down, a traditional landline phone might still be helpful, as these often work even during a power outage.
6. Stay comfortable
Have blankets and warm clothing available in case it gets cold.
If you have a fireplace or wood stove, you can use these for warmth as long as you have a supply of dry wood.
7. Stay prepared
Having a well-stocked emergency kit can make a power outage much more bearable. It might also make it possible for you to assist others, like your neighbors.
Some items to include are:
- flashlight and extra batteries,
- a battery-powered or hand-crank radio,
- non-perishable food and water,
- first aid kit,
- wet wipes,
- bucket and garbage bags to use as an emergency toilet.
By following these tips, you can stay safe and comfortable during a power outage. Remember to always be prepared, as you never know when an emergency might occur.