Best Items to Have During a Power Outage

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.

Basic Supplies

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.

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 Cash

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.

Charging Devices

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.

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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.

 

  1. 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.

 

  1. 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.

 

  1. 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.

Author Bio

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.

14 comments

  1. Kathy says:

    If you live in the country and have a well for water, don’t forget that the well pump can’t work without electricity, so you can’t flush the toilets or use water. Having some bottles of water on hand will help, but the toilet issue can’t be fixed without a generator. We have an automatic whole house generator which only added $6K to the cost of the house we built but you can get smaller ones that just operate 2-3 items for less than a thousand dollars. Just hook up essentials like well pump, sump pumps, freezer or furnace. It will keep you going until the power is restored.

    • Angelica says:

      That’s really good advice, Kathy! I’ll be moving to the country next year and I know I’ll be buying a generator as soon as I’ve picked out the house. It’s good to know there are some very affordable options.

  2. Brian says:

    The Northeast was impacted a few time over the last few years by major hurricanes and it was amazing how under prepared many people where. Just having the basic things like flashlights, candles, bottle water. It’s never a bad idea to have a plan. Thanks for the tips.

  3. So much yes to this! My dad always did the frozen water jugs trick and it saved our butts so many times. When the power would go off during a storm the jugs kept our food from spoiling–and wasting hundreds of dollars.

  4. Our last house had a whole-house generator – gas fed from a line to the house, so no tank to full or external power requirements. Living on the coast in the south, it’s comforting having that option knowing that hurricanes are always a possibility. That said – they’re big and expensive so we don’t have one now that we’ve downsized. And in the past three years we haven’t needed it, so that’s good. I’ll miss it the first time the power goes out for a couple days though. 🙂

    • Laurie says:

      Funny. 🙂 Yeah, those hurricanes look so freaky!! We “only” have tornadoes and thunderstorms here, along with blizzards I suppose, but whatever you’re used to. 🙂

  5. This is a post after my own heart 🙂 As an avid prepare-er (dare I say, prepper?), power outages is something that our family is prepped for to the best of our ability and knowledge. One item that I would add, especially if you have children, is some form of family entertainment. Most of us have a deck of cards or board games. Books, coloring books, or other games to keep your family calm and happy will be really important!

    • Angelica says:

      Oh, I own that prepper label! I grew up in Florida so I remember what it was like weathering some pretty serious hurricanes. Nature ain’t kidding around.

      You make a great point. Games and books are super important. It’s easy to forget how irritating it can be when the power is shut off and you have nothing to do!

  6. We have never had a serious power outage over here, although recent earthquakes in central Italy prove how important it is to always have a plan, just in case.

    We have most of the stuff mentioned already covered. Flash lights, emergency kit, bottled water, pen&paper. My significant other always insists on keeping the gas tank full.

    What we’re not prepared for is a game plan. I admit, I do feel safe here since the chances a natural disaster could occur are not that high, but then again, these things often happen without warning.

  7. James says:

    Laurie, these are the essentials during the power outage. These items should be ready at all times particularly flashlights and batteries as well as food.

  8. Josh says:

    We take some of the simple things for granted at times when we literally keep our entire lives on a smartphone with (hopefully) cloud backup.

    LED flashlights are awesome & their brightness & battery life keep getting better. For a little while I was buying a new flashlight each year because of the increased performance. I try to keep a pocket sized one in each of my winter coats & each vehicle as well.

    • Laurie says:

      That’s a good idea, Josh. We had a several hour power outage last spring, and as it got darker and darker I was happier and happier to have our flashlights and lanterns. 🙂

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