Some things in life are simply unavoidable: taxes, and yes, even power outages. But unlike taxes, you won’t know when a power outage is about to hit. Luckily, there are plenty of things you can do to plan for one just in case. By following our seven tips to prepare for a prolonged power outage, you can make your return to the pre-electricity era just a bit more bearable.
1 - Let There be Light
If your power cuts out at night, you’ll be lucky if you can see your own hand in front of your face. Make sure to have some alternate light sources on hand and have multiple flashlights at the ready, preferably in multiple rooms. Or, if multiple flashlights aren’t an option, one really powerful one should suffice. Just make sure you have plenty of fresh, spare batteries; you don’t want to grab your flashlight only to find it’s out.
Emergency candles, an oil lamp, or a propane lantern are also great to have on hand. If you have a fireplace, be sure to have appropriate matches or a butane wand available.
2 - Stay Connected
Losing power for prolonged periods of time can feel very isolating, so you’ll want to make sure you stay connected with the outside world as much as possible. Take it back to the olden days with a battery-operated radio so you can stay in the know. But don’t just assume that because you have a radio, you have a working radio. You should test your radio at least once a year, and again, make sure you have fresh batteries on hand.
3 - Don’t go Hungry
Preventing hunger during an outage doesn’t just mean raiding your local supermarket and stocking up on bread and milk like it’s the end of the world. Because three days of a sardine and raisin-dominated diet can get old fast.
First off, make sure you have a manual can opener available, because as much as you love your electric version, you’ll be staring at a lifeless plug while your stomach is rumbling. It’s also a great idea to learn how to cook over an open fire using charcoal or wood. The heated food will warm you up and keep your spirits high as well.
4 - Preserve Your Freezer
If your power is out for more than four hours, you’ll probably need to discard the majority of your fridge’s contents. You’ll definitely want to rid your fridge of any perishables (such as meat or dairy), however, there may be certain items you can salvage (such as juice or jams) by keeping them in a cool dry spot such as in your garage.
Your freezer contents, on the other hand, can probably stay intact by following one simple rule: don’t open it. Your freezer can actually maintain its temperature for 24-48 hours, but only if left unopened. If your power outage surpasses the 48-hour mark, it’s advisable to remove the contents of your freezer and store them in a cooler filled with ice (or snow, if available).
5 - Keep Busy
It may sound silly, but you’d be surprised how restless you’ll feel after just a few hours without power, let alone a few days. And if you’ve already made it through War and Peace by candlelight and you can’t bear to buckle down for a new novel, it’s not a bad idea to have some other forms of entertainment available, especially if you have kids. Board games and playing cards are a great way to pass the time, and you may even enjoy some bonding time with your family that doesn’t involve Netflix and Candy Crush Saga.
6 - Have a Plan B
It never hurts to have a back-up plan. Even with all of the preparation in the world and the best of intentions, you may not be able to stay in your home during the duration of a long power outage, especially if it’s the dead of winter and your kids have the flu. But if you don’t have the convenience of a nearby friend or relative to call on, and your cell phone still has charge, call 2-1-1, a free and confidential service that helps people across North America find the local resources they need. You don’t have to go it alone!
7 - Stay Ahead of the Game
One of the best ways to be proactive when anticipating a power outage is to consider purchasing a generator. A generator can reduce or even eliminate the impact of a prolonged power outage. If you decide to go down this road, you’ll want to discuss the generator installation process as well as your home’s unique needs with a trained professional.
With just a bit of advance planning, a generator can provide the protection you and your family needs to make it through the worst of outages and storms.
Now that’s thinking ahead!