Here’s another survival situation that hits close to home: Power Outages. Unless you’ve been able to get your home completely off grid, you’re pretty dependent on power from the local power company to keep your place running. Usually a power outage hits without much warning (except you know it’s snowing or windy or whatever might cause an outage), but sometimes we get warning like with the rolling blackouts recently enacted to conserve power during the severe winter storms.
So here’s the situation with some variations you can apply to your own circumstances: You’re home watching MASH reruns again when the power cuts out. It is winter (or summer for y’all in the hot south) when you most need power to heat (or cool) your home. You now have no power to keep your appliances (freezer, refrigerator, heater, etc.) running.
What if this lasts 8 hours? What about 2 days? What about a week? Are you in trouble yet?
We had a power outage due to some crazy wind storm last Saturday and it was 6+ hours during the day. It’s much nicer to sleep through a power outage! We didn’t want to go out as it was almost dangerous with all the wind (it knocked our swingset over then later flipped it again–not a good day for playing outside). Luckily the power came back on in the evening so we didn’t have to break out the kerosene heater and try to figure out how it works! The kids did pretty well at entertaining themselves building blanket forts in the living room, but I know of at least one friend who fired up her generator and hooked it to the TV so her kids would quit fighting!
So your main issues are heat/cooling, light, cooking food, keeping fridge/freezer food cold, entertainment, and what else?
As a side note, I have since resolved to do a bit better at keeping up with laundry as part of my preparedness efforts–I’d hate to have to start a week of no power with no clean clothes!
So what do you do? What preparations have you made or could you make for a power outage that lasts a day? A week? Longer?
Keep preparing! Angela
Subscribe to my email newsletter for updates and special deals.
Please be sure to follow Food Storage and Survival on Facebook which is updated every time there is a new article. You can also find me on Pinterest, and purchase my book, Food Storage for Self Sufficiency and Survival on Amazon.
Shop the Thrive Monthly Specials or my favorites, the freeze dried vegetables and yogurt bites!
Herb Clark says
In the past we had been without power for as long as 2 weeks. After that I purchased a 10KW gas generator converted it to propane, purchased a 250 gallon tank and filled it up, had electrician install proper switchover box (would not handle A/C though), and after that tested it every month like clock work. Did have to use it on a couple of other occasions and lots of people in my subdivision were envious that we had lights, water and TV! When we sold our house we gave the generator and the almost full propane tank to my father-in-law and have benefited from it a couple of times (most recently Hurricane Ike). When we build new house I will have a larger capacity generator to handle A/C as well.
Ok, I think I can handle this one.. Mostly. See.. I frequently lose power.. Not sure why that is exactly, but it’s annoying. We have a camp stove to cook on and our grill outside since everything in our house is electric. The water heather is gas, and will continue to work. The furnace may quit, since it is an electric ignitor, but we can light the fireplace in my bedroom and hang out there. We have lots of easy to cook/heat meals and tons of flashlights and lanterns. Just hang out and play board games/read/build forts etc. The food from the fridge could be put outside in the freezing weather and packed into the snow to keep it good. If all else fails.. Get in the car and go to G-ma’s :)
I don’t have a generator, and would honestly rather not have to depend on one in case of a long-term outage. It doesn’t hurt to make friends with neighbors who have them though :)
Where I’m at, we don’t have to worry about freezing temps but we do have to worry about extreme heat without AC after a hurricane. We stock up on hurricane lamps, candles, flashlights, and batteries. I always try to use the lamps & candles only at night, as they contribute an awful lot to the heat in the house. We have a plan to eat all the food we can in the fridge first. Then we move onto the food in the freezer so we can eat it before it goes bad. In most instances, it’s very difficult to find ice in a city-wide power outage. In my food storage, I try to dehydrate and can more than I freeze, because I anticipate 10-20 day power outages every couple of years and three freezers full of thawed food won’t do me much good, except to feed the neighbors. One of the worst parts of a hurricane is cleaning out the fridge/freezer and throwing out all the spoiled food afterward. :(
We have a portable butane stove, a fondue pot with gel fuel to warm soups, and a charcoal grill.
In the evenings we open up windows to get a cross-breeze and cool the house. It doesn’t normally work. We also spend a lot of time sitting on the tile floor where it’s coolest.
It’s REALLY important to get all the supplies before you are warned of a power outage. Once the whole city is buying batteries, fat chance of getting any. Same with gasoline for generators.
In Dec ’08 a massive Ice Storm hit the Midwest leaving thousands without power for several weeks. I had just had a Relief society class on making emergency heaters out of baby formula cans and toilet paper and then when needed you add a bottle of rubbing alcohol. the kids and I went through and made over 20 of these to add to our annual Christmas baskets we give our neighbors and friends. they never received them but we sure used them! We used tarps and blankets to seal up a 3 room area that we couldn’t shrink down any farther. We cleaned out each sink base and put one emergency heater in each one. I full bottle of alcohol lasted for 8 hours. We used the rest of the heaters in the section we choose to live in. Our temps ranged from -23 to +11 with 30 to 40 MPH winds. During the 3 weeks we were camped out it never got below 50 degrees in our 3 rooms. rubbing alcohol burns clean so no need to open windows to ventilate. We also used a couple cans of shortening and a wire rack to cook over one of them. since then we have made big changes and could handle it much better but we still have 22 of those little emergency heaters and many cases of rubbing alcohol in our storage just in case we ever need them again!
I forgot to tell you that over 70% of our county residents had ruptured water lines when the power came back on but we didn’t have a single problem with ours! this event made me a true believer in those little emergency heaters!
Practical Parsimony says
Ask anyone in Alabama where tornadoes ALWAYS hit, and you will know the town in which I live. However, I live right near police,fire dept, and municipal buildings. Plus, lots of movers and shakers live in my neighborhood. Good for me!
The electricity went off for a week in the county and part of the city in 1993 when a blizzard hit our area the hardest. However, the lights flickered once where I live.
I thought I was the only one to want the laundry done if I lost electricity. I am a washing and drying maniac before we have a prediction of possible tornadoes. I have several flashlight, batteries, many candles but no way to cook food. If the food is going to spoil in the freezer, I suppose I could get gas in the grill and feed the neighborhood.
If the electricity goes off for three minutes, I am washing my hair and taking a bath, no matter when I last bathed. Being grimy would be the worst part of no electricity.
Practical Parsimony says
Hmmm, I meant to say that the city buildings always get power restored quickly to our area.Never losing electricity long term is a perk of my neighborhood. I need to know more about the baby formula/alcohol heaters.
A woodstove seems to handle most of the problems… Heat, some light, a cooktop on it for cooking and hotwater for cleaning.
Emergency lights, hurricane lanterns (in Oregon even), and camping lights, flashlights, etc.
The frig kept shut is good for a day, sometimes 2.
The freezer for 3 or 4 if sealed and covered with blankets.
More than that, my son has a portable generator that he would bring in to run the freezer only for just long enough to keep it cold enough. The freezer is the only reason I would need a generator. I am trying to go to more canning, even meats, so that there is less risk of losing stuff cuz it’s in the freezer.
I have plenty of games and cards and books and scrapbooking to do, and as I don’t have TV at all, that is not even a thought :) The phone is a basic non-electric kind so works even when the power is off.
So… except for the freezer, I’d be ok for a long time. Just like camping :)
We have outages a lot – sometimes 4-7 days even – so we get pretty used to this. The woodstove with a cooktop makes it basically worry free :)
As I am prone to say, electricity is a luxury, not a necessity :) But I do enjoy the convenience of it!
We just had a whopper of a storm in OK with record cold temps and record snowfalls. Thankfully, we did not lose heat this time, but believe me…I thought about it a lot. I always do all the laundry I can before a storm and generally we know they are coming at least 24 hours in advance. I also run the dishwasher and do anything else that requires electricity, vacuuming, especially. And I clean all the pet beds, as well. We lost power in Dec. 2007 with out big ice storm. I did fine for 7 days without it, but truthfully, the temps were not as low as they were this time. I had emergency alcohol heaters ready in case, but never had to use them. This last storm, I would have had to if we had lost power.
When we had the ice storm, I also lost most of my food in the freezer. I tried to keep the freezer and fridge closed as much as I could. There was no way I could eat all the food I had. I lost some after the storm was over, but most of it I made into big pots of soups or stews. It was easy to share food with others, who appreciated it, as well.
Well we have routinely had power issues where I live over the years. We have a wood stove for heat. Propane for hot water, and cooking (we also have a propane furnace but if the power is out then the fan won’t come on so no use to us there). And if there is no propane either, my wood stove has a nice flat topped surface that I can cook on as well.
We have oil lamps and candles for light.
My biggest concern is the water. No power means the pump won’t operate and no water. We are searching for a solar or wind powered back up and trying to decide between one of them or a generator. The problem with generators is that you also have to have the fuel to go along with it and your length of time with out electric then only lasts as long as your fuel lasts. That is why I’m searching for renewable alternatives instead.
If you’re the only one in the neighborhood with lights expect the entire powerless community to be knocking on your door. After a week they won’t knock they’ll just break the door down. Use blackout curtains/black plastic sheeting. Make sure your generator is well muffled. Don’t run it in the dead of night. Entitlement mindset: How come you have power and we don’t? Give back (I really hate that phrase) to those that are less fortunate.
We could probably make it through an extended power outtage. We’ve got a woodstove that we could use for heat, and we could rig it for cooking if necessary (or use the charcoal grill, though I could use a bigger stockpile of charcoal). Water might be a bit of a problem (we’re on a well) and would require making a 1/4 mile walk to a spring on a relative’s property… but it would be doable. I have enough stored water for 3-5 days to start, and then we’d have to go to the spring. I should probably store a little extra water, too, come to think of it.
I love it when the electricity goes out! Of course, I wouldn’t like it for an extended period of time, but I enjoy the peace that comes with no electricity.
We have a gas grill to cook outside with, and a fireplace inside. Solar yard lights work as nightlights in the house when the sun goes down. We do have a generator, but we shut EVERYTHING down so conserve as much fuel as possible to extend the use of the generator. The power has been out at my home for 30+ days during a severe ice storm because we live 5 miles past where anyone would drive to visit you. I like it that way. During the ice storm, I converted my enclosed back porch into a walk in fridge. The temps remained very cold outside, so instead of losing my food, I just put in on the shelves. Did not lose a bit of food! In the summertime that would be a different matter, but I am looking at a fridge that goes in a camper that runs off batteries as a back up. I can do without a lot of things, but the luxury of a fridge, freezer and water are why I have a generator.