With the state of our electrical grids, weather and rolling black outs, knowing how to handle power outages is a big deal. If you live in an area prone to outages, you may be a little more well versed in this. If you deal with winter storms that take out the power, you are probably okay. But what happens if you aren’t equipped to handle power outages? Today, I want to show you what we do to prepare for those outages and some things you can do too.
Preparing For Power Outages
When the power goes out, it causes massive issues. Not just on a local or state level, but inside your home can turn to complete chaos if you are not prepared. We know that a power outage doesn’t have to be storm related. Sometimes it’s rolling blackouts or the power grid became overwhelmed. Or you simply forgot to pay the bill…. guilty.
By no means is this an exhaustive list. You need to make sure that you’re prepared. This means getting whatever medications you need, food, and more. But there are somethings you can do to prepare for when you lose power.
I am a big believer in being prepared. Food is a big one for me. You should have two weeks per person of food stored in cases of emergency. There’s a ton of different options for this. For us, we choose to can, dehydrate, and freeze our food. But there are really great emergency food companies that have freeze dried food that will last for 25+ years.
We will get a freeze dryer at some point, but today is not that day.
There is nothing worse than thinking you are prepared to handle power outages, only to realize that the only can opener you have, is electric. So do yourself a favor and make sure that you have manual tools and know how to use them! I am a big fan of learning out to do things manually and then introducing the electric version later when I know how to do something.
I’m not talking about regular blankets here, either. Blankets not only come in handy during winter outages, they can also be used to insulate.
We have these blankets after a move from Texas back to Georgia. These are great to have on hand for many reasons. We use them to wrap up freezers. They are a little pricey but if they keep my freezers from defrosting? I’m game.
They are also great to hang on entry ways and windows. This will help keep warm air where it needs to be.
I’m not talking about the itty bitty coolers here, but they will definitely work. You really want to keep your freezers closed and insulated as much as you can during an outage. But if you are on day 5 of a power outage? That top layer of food is going to go bad.
You’ve got a couple options. You can either plan to eat that food first, can it (not always possible), or throw it in a cooler with ice. You can then wrap that cooler in blankets to try and keep it insulated. This can buy you a little more time depending on how thawed, cold, or hot everything is.
Always, and I repeat, ALWAYS have a way to heat your home if you have no power. If the temperatures dip too low for too long, you will freeze to death. No amount of blankets will save you when it’s -20 and you are without heat. In fact, in a lot of places, if the temperatures drop to freezing, communities will set up warming shelters. These shelters are not just for the homeless, but for anyone without heat.
That being said, you should have at least a fireplace in your home. Regardless of whether you have ever used it, you should be keeping it at least maintained. Finding out at last minute that you have a chimney full of bats? Not great.
That being sad, make sure you have about a cord of firewood off the ground and dry every winter. I wrote a couple posts about firewood here and here. Since we heat with wood only, we try to make sure that we start winter with at least 5 cords of wood and then we continue to chop as we go throughout winter. We may not be able to use that wood that winter, but we can at least get started for next year.
If the power goes out, you aren’t going to be able to heat unless you have a wood stove. BUT if your stove relies on a blower to move that warm air around? It’s not going to keep your house warm. My suggestion is a propane heater like this one. We also have one like this, it works pretty well but not great in large spaces.
Some words of warning. You need to have a working carbon monoxide/ smoke detector and good air flow. You don’t want to be one of those people that catch their house on fire because these things can be dangerous if not used correctly. Or worse, die from carbon monoxide poisoning because you didn’t let vent properly.
Whether your power goes out in summer or winter, having fans actually helps a lot. Yes, I know it’s weird. But in the winter, if you are using a fireplace, wood stove, etc, you need to get the air from the heat source to the rest of the house. We don’t want to move it quickly, just enough to get air moving.
We like these fans because they are rechargeable and are not that expensive. AND it’s got a lamp, so it’s a two birds, one stone thing which I really like. It will last from 6-36hrs. Of course, if you’ve got it on high with the highest setting lamp, it’s only going to last the 6 hours but still that’s a lot.
I feel like I don’t need to explain the need for a fan in the middle of summer when the power goes out.
While some of you may not have this problem, having water is vital to all living things. If your house runs on a well, having a way to pump that water is a must if your power goes out. This manual hand pump is great for emergency situations where you must have water, and you can’t get it.
There are many, many different ones you can get but my suggestion is to get one that is manual and not solar powered. If you run into a situation where you can’t get power for many days, and it’s raining? Your solar powered pump isn’t going to work, either.
Water Jug Dispenser
When it comes to water, you can never, ever have enough. The general rule of thumb is 1 gallon per person per day for drinking. Or about 5 gallons for daily use. Livestock need about 5 gallons a day depending on the size of your livestock, obviously. For us, that would mean 20 gallons of water per day for our family and another 70 gallons for all of our animals per day.
That’s a lot of water and if you don’t have IBC’s or other water retention devices, you could be in trouble.
We have a bunch of 5gal jugs that we keep filled and in rotation. Then we use this dispenser to get the water out. It’s a great little pump that works pretty well.
One of the other ways we make sure that we have enough water stored is to fill our canning jars with water when not in use. The way I see it is this, empty jars take up as much space as a jar filled with water. So why not fill that empty jar with water and store it?
Another great way to ensure that you can handle power outages is to have power banks. There are a ton of different options to get and any of them will work well. I do recommend making sure that you have a couple that are solar like these. You want to make sure that you have the ability to recharge them if you run out of power.
Handling Power Outages
A power outage is usually more mentally draining than physically, as long as nothing goes wrong. Make sure you’ve got some relaxing things to do to keep your mind off being without power. Take care of your animals and enjoy being unplugged.