How to Prepare for a Power Outage
The world as we know it now and the lifestyles that we live all revolve around electricity. We have become so used to just flicking a switch to run all of our electronics, that we freak out when that stops. In most cases, power outages are short term but following a major crisis, it could be for the long term. This guide will cover some basic steps that you can take to better prepare yourself for loss of electricity.
- 1 Fill the Bathtub
- 2 Use Your Car as a Generator
- 3 Light and Batteries
- 4 Don’t Spoil the Food
- 5 Unplug Appliances
- 6 Fill Your Car with Fuel
- 7 Bucket Flushing
- 8 Keep Fridges and Freezers Closed
- 9 Tune In
- 10 Emergency Fund
- 11 How to Keep Kids Entertained During a Power Outage
- 11.1 1. Lego
- 11.2 2. Board Games
- 11.3 3. Charades
- 11.4 4. Make Food Without Electricity
- 11.5 5. Build a Fort
- 11.6 6. Tell a Story
- 11.7 7. Shadow Puppets
- 11.8 8. Hide and Seek
- 11.9 9. Obstacle Course
- 11.10 10. Card Games
- 11.11 11. Arts and Crafts
- 11.12 12. Teach Them to Survive
- 11.13 13. Create a Band
- 11.14 14. Have a Hunt
- 11.15 15. Make Them the Movie Star
- 11.16 16. Balloon Volleyball
- 11.17 17. Puppet Show
- 11.18 18. Magic Tricks
- 11.19 19. Knot Tying
- 11.20 20. Go Out
- 12 How to Keep Food Cold When the Power Goes Out
- 13 20 Tips to Cool Your House During a Blackout
- 13.1 1. Keep Doors and Windows CLOSED During the Day
- 13.2 2. Close The Curtains
- 13.3 3. Have a Cold Bath
- 13.4 4. Close Off the Warmest Rooms
- 13.5 5. Hang Wet Sheets
- 13.6 6. Plant Some Trees
- 13.7 7. Correct Clothing
- 13.8 8. Light Colored, Cotton Bedding
- 13.9 9. Seal Any Leaks Around the Home
- 13.10 10. Battery Powered Fans
- 13.11 11. Stay Hydrated
- 13.12 12. Lower Level Rooms
- 13.13 13. Install Attic Vents
- 13.14 14. Spray Yourself Down
- 13.15 15. Evaporative Cooling Bandanas
- 13.16 16. Eat Small Meals, More Often
- 13.17 17. Try Spicy Food
- 13.18 18. Relax
- 13.19 19. Window Awnings
- 13.20 20. Open the Attic Hatch
Fill the Bathtub
When the grid goes down it is a real possibility that your water supply may soon follow. You should start by filling pots, pans, bottles, and even your bathtub with water. The water from the tub should be used only for sanitation purposes and never for drinking. Drink only from the clean containers that you have filled.
Use Your Car as a Generator
Not everybody can afford to own a generator but you can use your vehicle to run your electronics. I will say now though, that this is only a good idea when the engine is running. If it is not, power is drawn from the battery leading to it running down real fast. All you need is a car power inverter that will convert DC current from your car into AC current for electric gadgets.
Light and Batteries
If you know that there is a possibility of a power outage, stock up on any batteries that you need. LED flashlights and lanterns have a huge advantage over incandescent models: They allow batteries to last much longer (typically about six to 10 times as long).
Don’t Spoil the Food
A couple of days without power can cost you a lot of money as food spoils in fridges and freezers. Fill locking freezer bags with water and keep them in the freezer. During a blackout, they’ll help the freezer stay cold longer. Or you can transfer them to the fridge or a cooler. When they thaw, you’ve got drinking water.
Any time the power goes down and comes back to life, power surges can be created which can wreck your electronics. Make sure that you unplug all electronics from the wall sockets but leave one light switched on so that you know when the power is restored.
Fill Your Car with Fuel
During a power outage, you won’t be able to go fill your tank at the fuel station as the machines there rely on electricity to power them. If you are given advance warning of the outage, be sure to go and fill your fuel tank. If you have any gas cans in the garage, be sure to fill them to in case the outage lasts longer than expected.
If the power outage has also led to the main water supply being cut off you can still use your toilet without a problem. Fill a bucket from the bathtub water and dump it into the toilet or fill the tank behind. This won’t refill the bowl but will work great when needed.
Keep Fridges and Freezers Closed
The more that you open the doors of your fridge and freezer, the more warm air that you are allowing in and cold air out. Keep the doors closed to keep the food colder for longer and only open when you are sure of what you want.
A battery powered radio may be your only means of keeping up to date with what is going on once the grid goes down. If possible go for a hand crank radio so that you won’t even need to worry about batteries.
ATM’s won’t be working and stores won’t be able to process card payments but you don’t need electricity to accept cash. Some stores may be open for essentials so always keep some cash to the side for emergencies. Check out our post “Starting an Emergency Fund” for more information.
How to Keep Kids Entertained During a Power Outage
In todays society, we are going to see some very unhappy kids during a power outage. No more Xbox or PlayStation for them and when they get bored, you will know about it.
Power outages should be seen as a chance for you to get your kids off their computers and back to enjoying life. We didn’t have all these fancy computers growing up but I loved my childhood and very rarely remember going bored.
Below you will find some quick and easy tips for keeping the little ones entertained and all without the help of a screen.
When we’re not stepping on them, building stuff with lego is just awesome and make for the perfect toy. Consider purchasing The Lego Ideas book so that your kids are never without inspiration.
2. Board Games
Board games are not just for the ‘bored’ but they are fun at any time. With so many different ones available I am sure you can find some that your kids will love or better yet, have the kids design their own board game and then teach you to play it.
Everybody loves a game of charades and minds can soon be taken off the situation. One team or person acts out their favorite show or book, while the others try to guess what it is. The ones who get the title right in the shortest time are the winners; everyone wins by having a great time.
4. Make Food Without Electricity
There are plenty of recipes that can be found and downloaded online that don’t require the use of an oven or a refrigerator.
5. Build a Fort
What child doesn’t enjoy building an indoor fort or den? Turn it into an indoor camping trip.
6. Tell a Story
Kids love stories so tell a few or get a few books in for these occasions. Make it funny and act out what you say to keep the kids laughing.
7. Shadow Puppets
With the help of your trusty flashlight, gather the kids and create some shadow puppets, let the kids put on a show.
8. Hide and Seek
Every child knows how to play hide and seek and every child that I know, loves it.
9. Obstacle Course
Create an obstacle course around the home and time your children to see how quickly they can complete it. This is also great for burning off that extra energy.
10. Card Games
If you don’t already know some, learn a few card games that children can pick up easily.
11. Arts and Crafts
Get messy and enjoy some arts and crafts. Let their imagination run wild.
12. Teach Them to Survive
With no electricity it is a great chance to teach children survival skills and have their full attention.
13. Create a Band
If your child doesn’t have an instrument of their own, grab something that they can drum on and have fun making music.
14. Have a Hunt
Write down some clues on bits of paper and place them around the house. As your child finds one, it should be a clue as to where to find the next one until they get to the prize.
15. Make Them the Movie Star
Grab a box and some scissors and cut a hole out to make a pretend TV and let the children put on a show.
16. Balloon Volleyball
Stock up on some packs of balloons and play balloon volleyball in the house.
17. Puppet Show
Work together with your children to create a puppet show.
18. Magic Tricks
There are plenty of easy to learn magic tricks that you can entertain your children with. Make it colorful, make it fun!
19. Knot Tying
Grab a long bit of paracord and teach your children how to tie some useful knots. They will see it as a game without even realising that those skills will stay with them for a lifetime.
20. Go Out
Just because there is no electricity, it does not mean that you can’t take the children and have a fun day out at the park or anywhere that the children want to go.
Spend your next power outage making great memories with your kids. You may discover that you actually prefer life without all of the bells and whistles.
It doesn’t take much to entertain children and all they want is quality time with you so do it, no matter what you are doing, include them and give them memories that won’t be forgotten.
How to Keep Food Cold When the Power Goes Out
There could be many reasons at this time of year that could cause power outages but by understanding a few easy tips, you can greatly reduce unnecessary food losses.
As a general rule of thumb, a full freezer will hold the temperature unopened for approximately 48 hours. This is reduced to 24 hours if it’s only half full.
It is not always easy to keep your food cold without power and we completely understand that you won’t always have time to prepare in advance of an emergency. If you hear of an incoming storm, the time to prepare is now!
Group Foods Together
By grouping your food together in the freezer you will help it to stay colder for longer as their will be less air able to circulate around each item.
Put the Food to the Bottom of the Freezer
Due to the fact that heat rises, you should place your food in the bottom of the freezer as it will be the coldest area.
Have Plenty of Ice
It doesn’t matter if you choose to purchase ice cubes, or make your own, as long as you have as much as possible to help keep the food cold/frozen longer. If you don’t have any ice trays, use tupperware to freeze containers of water instead. Remember, water expands when it freezes, so don’t overfill the containers.
Have a Thermometer
You have no solid way of knowing whether your food is still safe to eat unless you have a thermometer in your freezer. This will allow you to see exactly what temperature the food is when the power is restored and you open the freezer for the first time. The freezer should be set to 0 °F or below. If you open the freezer after a power outage and it has not risen above 40 degrees than your food is still cold and perfectly fine to eat. You can pick up a freezer thermometer on Amazon fairly cheap.
Freeze Refrigerated Items That You Don’t Immediately Need
A refrigerator will keep your food cold for about 4 hours if it is left unopened (as opposed to 24 – 48 hours in a freezer), so moving these items into a freezer will give them a better chance of surviving the power outage.
Get a Generator
If power outages are a common issue in your area, you may choose to purchase a generator. These can end up quite literally being a lifesaver.
Tips to Follow During an Outage
- Don’t keep opening and closing the freezer/refrigerator doors. Keep the colder air in and the warmer air out.
- If you lost power during a snowstorm, take advantage of the frigid outdoor temps! Put your food in a cooler and simply place it outside.
- Cover the fridge/freezer with blankets or quilts. This will help to insulate the appliance better to keep it cold longer.
Once the Power Has Been Restored
- If an appliance thermometer was kept in the freezer, check the temperature when the power comes back on. If the freezer thermometer reads 40° F or below, the food is safe and may be refrozen.
- If a thermometer has not been kept in the freezer, check each package of food to determine its safety. You can’t rely on appearance or odor. If the food still contains ice crystals or is 40° F or below, it is safe to refreeze or cook.
- Refrigerated food should be safe as long as the power was out for no more than 4 hours and the refrigerator door was kept shut. Discard any perishable food (such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs, or leftovers) that has been at temperatures above 40° F for 2 hours or more (or 1 hour if temperatures are above 90º F).
- Perishable food such as meat, poultry, seafood, milk, and eggs that are not kept adequately refrigerated or frozen may cause illness if consumed, even when they are thoroughly cooked.
Check out the video below from the FDA on food safety during a power outage.
20 Tips to Cool Your House During a Blackout
Trying to keep cool during a blackout can be a serious challenge. Power outages in high temperatures can be uncomfortable, inconvenient, and even dangerous, especially for children and the elderly. Though the majority of people will probably not face life threatening consequences during a power outage, it is still important that you understand how to keep your home cool during these times.
1. Keep Doors and Windows CLOSED During the Day
Many people believe that if it is hot, they should open all windows and doors and this makes sense to hear it. But, in modern houses it is better to keep all windows and doors closed during the heat of the day to help keep the heat out. Then, throw open the windows from late afternoon onwards, as long as overnight temperatures are lower outside than inside. The only time you would want to open your house up during the day is if it is uninsulated as they may become too hot. Try not to let the outside air come in or the inside air go out. If you must leave, open and close the doors quickly.
2. Close The Curtains
You need to try and block the sun from coming in and heating up the home. You can do this easily by closing all curtains, blinds, and shades. This could even be taken a step further by hanging up a blanket over the window, or lining it with aluminum foil and newspaper.
3. Have a Cold Bath
Try taking a cold bath or shower to cool off. Air drying yourself and leaving your hair wet will help you to stay cool longer.
4. Close Off the Warmest Rooms
We all have rooms in our homes that seem to be warmer than others. If you have a room like this, close it off as best as you can to try and stop the warmer air from seeping into the rest of the property.
5. Hang Wet Sheets
Hanging wet sheets to cool down is nothing new. It is a method that dates all the way back to the ancient Egyptians. Damp sheets or towels hung throughout a home, or even placed on the bed for sleeping at night, cool through evaporation.
6. Plant Some Trees
You probably don’t want to be planting trees during a blackout so plan ahead or move into a property that has some large trees around it. These will help shield your home from the sun’s hot rays. Moreover, trees create shade around the house, which makes the house cooler during those really hot days.
7. Correct Clothing
Wear lightweight, light-coloured cotton clothes. Heat is trapped by synthetic fibres, but cotton absorbs perspiration and its evaporation causes you to feel cooler. The light colours reflect the sun’s radiation.
8. Light Colored, Cotton Bedding
Get rid of thick duvets and blankets – ideally use a cotton sheet, but if you have to have a duvet, go for the lowest tog rating you can find.
Opt for natural materials in your bed and bedding. Man-made polycotton, acrylic and viscose are essentially made of plastic, so they can’t absorb moisture or conduct heat away from your body. 100-per-cent cotton sheets are a gift for hot nights.
9. Seal Any Leaks Around the Home
The last thing you need is any precious cool air escaping your home so go around your property and seal any cracks that may be letting that air out.
10. Battery Powered Fans
Keeping a couple of good battery powered fans and spare batteries around the home can be an easy way to keep cool air circulating.
11. Stay Hydrated
Drink plenty of water and sports drinks with electrolytes, and avoid caffeine and alcohol, which can dehydrate you.
12. Lower Level Rooms
Hot air rises and as such your upper rooms will be warmer than the lower level rooms. Consider making up camp downstairs. If you have a basement, heading their during the day will make a big difference. Don’t forget your pets too!
13. Install Attic Vents
Proper attic ventilation cools temperatures by controlling the rise of heat through (and out of) your roof.
14. Spray Yourself Down
This one is a no-brainer but if you are getting too warm during the day, have a little spray bottle on hand so you can give yourself a nice cool spray.
15. Evaporative Cooling Bandanas
These not only look cool but a single soak can last for hours to ensure that you stay cool too. They are lined with a super evaporative PVA material to soak up moisture and provide instant cooling relief.
16. Eat Small Meals, More Often
Eat small meals and eat more often. The larger the meal, the more metabolic heat your body creates breaking down the food. Avoid foods that are high in protein, which increase metabolic heat.
17. Try Spicy Food
Although this may be the last thing you fancy in hot weather, curries and chillies can stimulate heat receptors in the mouth, enhance circulation and cause sweating, which cools the body down.
Sit back, close your eyes and picture snow. Research has shown that the body reacts to these daydreams, reducing its overall temperature.
19. Window Awnings
Awnings that shade the windows can be very effective at keeping any unwanted heat out.
20. Open the Attic Hatch
If you’ve got an attic, try opening the hatch. Hot air rises and this will give it somewhere to go.
Have any more tips to share with our readers? Let us hear about them below so we can get them added to the list.