When we lived in norther BC, summer time was almost always accompanied by a number of power outages. Over time I learned that being prepared for power outages was so much better than finding myself wishing I had taken time to make sure we had x, y, and z. Below is a list of items that I feel are good to have on hand in case the lights go out.
Being Prepared for a Power Outage
A few staple items and some simple planning can go along way to helping you be prepared for a power outage.
Flashlights and Solar Powered Lamps
Flashlights are one of those must have items for navigating your way through a power outage. My recommendation is to invest in one or two heavy-duty quality flashlights, and supplement those smaller LED flashlights, and cheaper flashlights from the dollar store. Make sure there is at least one flashlight per person, and keep it in their room within easy reach of the bed for those middle of the night outages. This is what I use the LED ones for. I really like them because they don’t drain the battery power as quickly as non-led lights. Additionally, if you have dark rooms, like bathrooms with no windows, store a flashlight in the room. This is where I keep those cheap ones from the dollar store.
Solar powered lights are often found on decks, patios and in yards. If you already have some, consider bringing them inside when it gets dark. They’ll provide a nice light and allow you to conserve the batteries in the flashlights. When you get up in the morning, put the lights outside to recharge.
**If you live in an area where power outages are frequent events, consider investing in some camping lanterns.**
With all the new battery-powered lights out there, including battery-powered candles, it’s sometimes easy to over look keeping candles stocked for those time when the lights go out. But I think they’re still important to have on hand. When purchasing candles for use during a power outage, you want to look for long burning, low smoking candles.
If you live in a colder climate you need to be prepared for winter power outages. Ice storms, heavy snowfalls, freezing rain and high winds can all bring on a power outages. So, my recommendation is to throw out the organizing advice of the pros and gather a collection of blankets. When we lived in Northern BC I had almost double the amount of blankets we have now that we’re in a warmer climate. To keep them from taking over your linen closet, invest in some vacuüm pack bags and store them in those until needed. Losing a little storage space is better than ending up with no power for a whole day or more and not having enough blankets to keep warm.
Bucket or Pail and Pots, Pans, Water Jugs of all kinds
Sounds weird right? If you’re water comes into your home through a pump, you’ll want to have one on hand, because when the power is out the pump can’t work. Learn the warning signs of a possible outage, thunderstorms, heavy snow, high winds etc… and take precautions. Fill your tub and use the bucket to scoop water from the tub in order to flush the toilet.
In addition, fill up a few pots or jugs with water so that you have drinking water while the power is out. I used to fill one side of our kitchen sink to use it for washing hands and stuff. Sometimes a power outage only lasts an hour or two, other times it could be 12 hours to a day if not longer. Taking some precautions will ensure you have something to drink, and have a way to get the waste out of your home.
If it’s winter time, rolling towels and placing them at the bottom of doors and window can help to keep the drafts down. Even with great weather-stripping, taking this precaution can help a little bit to keep the heat in the house. If you have really drafty windows and doors, I strongly suggest making a trip to your local hardware (or window) store and talking to them about what you can do, within your budget, to help cut the drafts. Not only will that help in times of power outages, but it will help you on heating bills too.
BBQ or Camp Stove
There is nothing worse that having the power go out just before dinner time. Having a BBQ or Camp stove can take that worry away. While not a necessity, it’s always handy to have, just ask my parents!
When I was younger we moved to a new city. It was our very first (and last) Christmas away from family. I was sick with a tummy bug that Christmas, and I remember it being a very quiet and relaxed Christmas Day. About an hour before the turkey was done, the power went out. The electric crews were working on our road and my Dad was able to talk to them, and he found out it was going to be a few hours before the power came back on. So he and my mom piled my brother and me into the car and set out to find a restaurant we could have dinner at. Now, this was back in the day when most restaurants were closed on Christmas, even McDonald’s. The only places open were the really fancy restaurants and none of us were a)dressed for it, or b) wanting the fuss. We ended up back at home where my Dad pulled out the camp stove and made soup or dinner. To this day, that was the best Lipton Chicken Noodle soup I have ever had!
So you see, you never know when the power might go out, and you never know when you might need that camp stove, not only to eat something warm, but to make some wonderful memories.
This is one of things that is good to have if the power is going to be out for a while. It allows you to monitor what is going on and listen for updates as to when power might be restored.
I know you think that might be strange. But in this day and age more and more households have gone home phone free. Having a car charger that will allow you to charge your phone means you can keep in touch with the outside world.
Probably goes without saying, but having spare batteries on hand for your flashlights and radio is always a good idea. We try to use only rechargeable batteries, but for some of our flashlights I keep a pack of non-rechargeables on hand, just in case.
Usually power outages are more of a nuisance than anything else. But for those time when they drag on longer than normal making sure you have a few items on hand can go along way to making life a little more comfortable. For more information on being prepared for power outages, I urge you to contact your local power company or go to their website to see what recommendations they make.
Do you have any fond memories of a time when the power was out? Are there any items I missed in my list that you think are important to have on hand?