Last week we had one heck of a storm blow through (literally). Overnight wind gusts of 50 mph combined with waves of heavy rain caused about a dozen power poles in our area to blow down and we lost power for 21 hours.
Waking up to face a day with no lights, no way to cook meals, no water (the well pump won’t work with no electricity), and no internet made me think a little about being prepared for the unexpected and how the more prepared we are the better we can ride out the storm. Here are my thoughts on preparing for the unexpected power outage.
First, and probably most obvious, is flashlights. You need reliable flashlights that have fully charged batteries and YOU NEED TO KNOW WHERE THEY ARE! We have several handheld LED flashlights around that we use for various things but our favorite flashlights are our headlamps! There’s nothing more difficult than having to hold a flashlight just right while trying to complete a task. We love headlamps!
The Nitecore NU25, our hiking headlamps, are our go-to headlamps.
They are compact, comfortable to wear, have 3 brightness settings, a red lamp with two brightness settings, and are rechargeable so you never have to worry about having fresh batteries on hand. They hold their charge for a long time and re-charge via a USB cable so they can be topped off even if the power is out (more on how to do this later).
The next item that would make a lengthly power outage more manageable is an alternate way to cook. If you have natural gas or propane this does not apply, but anyone else will need to be able to at least have a way to boil some water and heat up leftovers. A gas BBQ grill is a perfect solution but if you don’t have that option, or if the weather does not permit you be outside tending to a grill, a camping stove would work. We have an old 2-burner Coleman camp stove that works great in this situation.
We have a couple of one pound propane bottles that will give us plenty of fuel to cook meals even if the power is out for a few days. This could come in handy if you need to do some quick cooking to try and save freezer food that may be starting to thaw! Gather friends from around the neighborhood and have a potluck feast.
If the power is our during the cold winter months and you rely on electric baseboard heat you need to figure out a way to stay warm. We have a Big Buddy propane heater that is rated for use indoors and works really well.
It also takes the one pound propane bottles (having extra on hand is always a good idea) and ours has a fan option that is run with D-cell batteries. It won’t heat your entire house but will take the chill off of a room or two and will make living through a few cold days and nights more pleasant. A little reminder about the Big Buddy heater, even though it is rated for indoor use, never leave it unattended and make sure you position it in an area that has good air exchange. A heat source that uses a flame will consume oxygen and produce carbon monoxide. Good air flow is needed for safety. Also, do not let it run overnight in a small room while you’re sleeping.
I have always lived in a city with city conveniences so there are a few things that I never thought about needing during a power outage while living in the country. The first thing that quickly became clear to me was that the well pump was not working and we needed to seriously conserve water. An easy way to remedy this would be to have a small portable generator on hand that can easily be hooked up to the pump to run enough water to refill the pressure tank when needed.
Bonus points if this generator and gas can are kept in the well house!
Another thing that I realized immediately was that we had no cell service. We are far enough from a cell tower that we do not have reliable service and rely on internet calling and texting, so when the power went out so did our means of communication.
There is a landline on the property but not in the house we are staying in, so getting information from friends in town was a little challenging. Because there was no way to tell how long the power would be out for, Shari’s dad figured out a way to hook up an old router and, after a while, had internet capabilities so we could send and receive texts to friends and family out of our immediate area.
One more item that we have that comes in handy on a regular basis, and is perfect to use in the case of a power outage, is our portable power banks. We have several Anker power banks that we use when we are hiking but we also use them around the house when we aren’t near an outlet to change phones and iPads as we use them.
These are always kept with at least 75% charge and, in the case of a power outage, will keep your mobile devices usable to play solitaire or write a blog post to be uploaded to your site when the internet is back on!
These are just a few basic things that came to mind last week that I thought I’d share. It’s always a good reminder to get a little emergency kit together for the unexpected. Most all of the items you would need to survive a power outage can be stored in a Rubbermaid tote and kept in the basement or the back of a spare closet. Just make it a point to check batteries and other consumable items twice a year – maybe when you change the batteries in your smoke detectors.
Thoughts shared by Kris.