Hey friends!! Today we have a guest post from Angelica, who blogs over at Tactical Guru. Enjoy!
For most individuals, power outages are a given. While many homesteaders and homeowners have the option of relying on alternative power sources, most of us are simply less equipped to deal with downed lines or grid failures. Usually, these events are brief—more of an inconvenience than a danger. However, in extreme situations, power outages last much longer. They can quickly become a crisis if you’re unprepared, especially for the young and the elderly.
In this article, we’ll discuss some items you should have with you in case the power goes out for an extended period of time. Having a few essential items on hand will make dealing with a major outage much easier. In some cases, they could even save your life.
When it Comes to Preparedness, Sooner is Better than Later
Severe power outages are not isolated incidents. A major outage is usually caused by some other event, such as inclement weather or a natural disaster. Such occurrences are often a serious problem in of themselves, even if the lights stay on.
That makes it even more important to be prepared. For example, if a major blizzard or hurricane hits your area, it may not be possible to leave your home. Finding critical supplies could very well become impossible at the last minute. Most people don’t prepare, so even if stores are open during an emergency, they often run out of important items when the crowds show up. In an extreme situation, a store can be completely cleared out within days.
If you keep a bug out bag or emergency kit ready, you can keep many of these items in it. If not, keep a list of these items handy and know where they all are so you can quickly access them when you need them.
At the top of the list are any medications, medical supplies or devices you or your immediate family use on a daily basis.
If there are babies or toddlers in the household, then stockpiling food and other supplies for them should be the next highest priority.
A few more basics that come in handy, even for brief power outages:
- An LED flashlight and extra batteries (LEDs have longer battery life)
- candles, lighter, or matches
- manual can opener
- snacks with a long shelf life, like trail mix, hard candy, protein bars, jerky, gum, etc.
- bottled water
- first-aid kit
In the event of a long-term situation, you may want to ensure you have your 30-day emergency food supply ready to go. Putting together such a kit is a great activity to get your little ones involved in prepping.
As the old saying goes, cash is king. Have cash on hand, including small bills and coins. If a power outage is widespread, you might not be able to use an ATM, and the computerized cash registers most stores use to process credit cards will be out of service. Having cash with you—especially small bills like ones and fives—means you can pay for things directly.
Another advantage of having small bills is that it looks to others like you don’t have lots of cash on you. If someone sees you with a wallet full of twenties, that makes you more of a target for robbery.
Get a money belt and put your bigger bills in it. This is a belt with a hidden compartment, usually accessed by a zipper, where you can hide money. The compartment is on the inner side of the belt that touches your clothing, so it looks just like a regular belt. If you ever get robbed of your bags or wallet, you’ll still have the cash in your money belt.
Keep your mobile phone and other battery-powered devices fully charged, and don’t forget to take the chargers with you when you leave home. This includes car chargers. If your phone has a removable battery, get a spare and keep it topped up. For other phones, you can buy an external battery that you plug your phone into when your battery runs low.
For devices that don’t have a car charger, you can get a power inverter or even build a DIY solar generator. It plugs into your car’s cigarette lighter and turns it into an AC outlet, which you can use to charge those other devices.
Many of us rely on our smartphones to remember important information, like phone numbers, addresses, and other contact details. Of course, you can only access your data when your phone has power. Even if your phone runs out of juice, you can often find a land line to make important calls. Land lines are sometimes still in service even when the cellular system is down.
Next time you’re driving around, make a note of any coin-operated pay phones in your area, especially if you don’t have a landline at home.
Pen and Paper
Get a pocket-sized paper notebook so you can write down your power outage checklist and other important information, such as the contact information stored on your phone. It’s always handy to have pen and paper with you, especially in an emergency.
A Game Plan
This essential item is more behavioral than physical. Develop a plan early and keep it updated as circumstances change. You might also want to run practice drills to prepare for weather events, such as tornadoes or hurricanes. Doing this now will make dealing with a power outage much less stressful when one does hit.
Here are a few things you can do to be ready before the weather starts to go south.
- Fill plastic containers with water and keep them in the freezer to keep food cold when the power goes out. If you’re staying home, don’t open the freezer unless absolutely necessary. Every time you do that, warm air enters, reducing the amount of time the food inside will last without power. The same is true of your fridge.
- Think about what important items you use that require electricity, and what can you substitute for those items when the power is out. For example, candles and a manual can opener replace electric lights and an electric can opener.
If you have an electric garage door opener, check the owner’s manual for instructions on how to open the door manually. There is usually a release lever for this purpose. Now is the time to learn how to use it—not when the power is out, your car is in the garage, and you want to leave in a hurry.
- Keep your car’s gas tank filled, especially if extreme weather is expected in your area. During a major power outage, gas pumps may be out of service, or stations may run out of fuel.
Taking a Few Simple Steps Can Make All the Difference
Power outages can be a major hassle—even a safety issue. However, with a little bit of preparation, such as having the aforementioned items on hand, you can save yourself a lot of trouble. Plan early and give yourself, and your family, the peace of mind of knowing you’re ready for an emergency.
Angelica is a contributor to The Tactical Guru, a website dedicated to finding and reviewing the best tactical supplies for outdoor activities and survival situations.