How to Prepare Your Home for a Power Outage
Everyone experiences it at some point in their lives. One moment you’re enjoying a movie or dinner, and suddenly everything goes black and quiet. Your first instinct is to look out the window and see if the lights are out everywhere else. If the whole neighborhood is black, the next thing on your mind is, “How long is this going to last?”
Blackouts are a fact of modern life. No, the power grid is not invincible. Most of us are lucky and only have to deal with power outages for a few hours. But every year there are places that get struck with massive blackouts lasting for days or even weeks. As a smart homeowner, the best you can do is make sure you’re prepared for the worst.
In this article, we’ll give you 11 tips to prepare for and navigate a power outage.
1. Report the power outage right away.
You might think that with a massive blackout the utility companies will already be well aware of the situation. But the more calls they get, the easier it is for providers to narrow down the source of the outage. Reporting the incident could help them get your power back up sooner.
2. Have a well-stocked emergency kit.
You never know when a power outage or other disaster will strike your home. Having an emergency kit will help you get through the hours or days without running out of the essentials. A good emergency kit will fill a large plastic bin. You’ll need the following:
- Enough water for three days (three gallons per family member).
- Enough non-perishable food for three days.
- A first-aid kit.
- Spare batteries.
- Manual can opener.
- Hand sanitizer.
3. Stock up on water.
We already went over emergency kits, but water is so important that it merits its own section. You never know how long a power outage will last, and clean drinking water is something you can’t live without. Supermarkets have periodic sales on large quantities of bottled water. Next time you’re out and see some on sale, grab a bunch and save it for a rainy day.
4. Find ways to pass the time.
You and your family will be a lot better off if you can find ways to occupy yourselves and keep the stress to a minimum. There are plenty of things you can do for fun during a power outage. Board games, books and card games will all help make the blackout a little more bearable. You can even take turns telling scary stories with a flashlight. Just don’t use all your batteries.
5. Invest in a generator.
Power outages can happen anywhere. If you’re a homeowner, you should without a doubt look into buying a generator. There are two basic kinds of generators – standby and portable.
Standby generators are permanent fixtures, capable of powering your entire home. They detect the voltage coming into your home and will automatically switch on if you lose power. They’re also much more expensive than portable generators.
Portable generators are gas-powered generators that you start up manually. They don’t have the output of standby generators, but they’re a fraction of the price. They do let out carbon monoxide, so it’s important to keep them outdoors and away from any windows or vents. If you decide to use a portable generator, make sure you have working carbon monoxide detectors in your home.
6. Get a portable charger.
If you’re facing a lengthy outage, chances are your phones and other devices are going to run out of juice. Luckily, there are plenty of portable charger options available on the market at a wide range of price points. You can go as low as a single-use, disposable charger or a massive power bank with multiple ports.
7. Get a portable toilet.
A what? If your home is connected to a municipal sewer system, you might not be able to use your actual toilet during a blackout. And if your family is hunkered down at home for a few days, someone is eventually going to have to go. You can pick up a portable toilet for as little as $20. Basic options pretty much look like a bucket with a toilet seat on top.
8. How long-term is the power outage?
If you’re looking at an extended amount of time without power, and conditions aren’t too dangerous outside, you might want to think about seeking accommodations until your power is restored. Look into hotels in the area or call friends and relatives to see if there’s somewhere safe to stay.
9. Be prepared for winter power outages.
A power outage in the dead of winter can be a scary experience, especially if the roads are too hazardous to leave your home. Even if your family isn’t the type to go camping, having a cold-weather sleeping bag for every member of the household will be a big help during an outage.
10. Learn how to cook without power.
Ideally, you have some ready-to-eat food stocked up to get you through the blackout. But if you’re really craving some hot food, there are ways to cook without power. You can use charcoal or propane grills to do some outdoor cooking if the weather isn’t prohibitive.
For indoor cooking, you could invest in small butane stove. They are safe for indoor use and can be used just like a stovetop. Safety tip: Never use a propane or charcoal grill indoors. Carbon monoxide poisoning can kill.
11. Protect your Flo by Moen device.
A smart leak detector does no good if it doesn’t have any power to operate. And during winter power outages, keeping tabs on the state of your plumbing network is a top priority. The Battery Backup will keep your Smart Water Shutoff running for up to three days without power. And it’s totally weatherproof and outdoor rated.
Power outages can make us feel helpless and impatient as we put our lives on hold. But a little preparation beforehand keeps you and your family impervious, capable of carrying on without skipping a beat.