Hopefully, you’re only dealing with a temporary power outage if you wake up one morning and find your home is without any electricity. While it may not be a life or death situation, having to go without electricity for extended periods has its major inconveniences. To help make your situation more manageable, you’ll want to be stocked up on a number of different emergency items. These are emergency supplies that you need to have if the power goes out.
Power outages can have a variety of causes. The challenge may be with your electric company itself, though that seldom seems to be the problem. You more often experience outages as a result of a severe storm with related high winds, ice storms that put additional weight on local power transmission lines, or often when with an automobile accident where a vehicle plows into a power station or power pole supporting a transformer.
In the event of an emergency, what caused it isn’t your immediate concern, but how to deal with the next few hours or days without the ever-present electrical power you often take for granted. We’ll try to help you prepare now so you are best equipped to make it safely through with the least amount of disruption. I highly recommend this Bushnell Lantern/Flashlight (I have one next to my bed 24/7).
If you haven’t read, “Lights Out”, you really need to, it is not fiction, it is fact-based.
What You Will Need If the Power Goes Out
1. Non-Perishable Food Products and Liquids
Having an emergency supply of food in your pantry will be a godsend that your family can fall back on because you never know if your local grocery store will be open or not. You should have at least a one to two-week supply of both food and water. Consider having the following:
- Canned fruits and veggies
- Canned meats
- Canned soups
- Dried fruit
- Protein bars
- Nuts, Trail mix, beef jerky
- Bottled water
Power outages aren’t necessarily weather or specific climate-related. It could happen in either hot or cold weather. Either way, canned and properly packaged foods will last a while as you adjust to the loss of power. You’ll want to try and maintain a semblance of your normal routines as best as possible, and that includes meal preparation.
Being able to heat foods is important, especially if the temperature in your home is cold. Part of your preparedness plan is to have propane or butane cooking devices. Yes, you can cook many things on your BBQ, but it certainly isn’t the most efficient cooking device. Those trusty camp stoves or tabletop butane units are great to boil water, heating soups, warming up meats, and more. Plan to have enough fuel to last a week or longer. (See Item #4 Below)
Meals also require paper supplies and plastic utensils since the dishwasher won’t be working. Consider paper plates, paper towels, paper or plastic cups, and napkins. Depending on what you’re preparing, sharp knives, serving spoons, and other kitchen tools may not be as important.
When it comes to food, don’t forget infant formula, pet food, and food items for those special needs members of your family like those with allergies or the elderly.
2. Water Purification
If your power outage turns into something that lasts for a couple of weeks, you may eventually run out of your supply of bottled water. There’s also the chance that the tap water that comes from your kitchen sink may not be safe to drink. You’ll want to invest in a water filter system that removes any particles that may be in your drinking water. You could also buy Purification Tablets from Amazon or one of your local stores.
I’ve been writing for years about the critical role that water plays in our lives every day. We not only need it for proper hydration, but also to cook, clean our clothes, and perform minimal personal hygiene. I suggest 4 gallons per person per day to take care of these needs, so having some larger water storage containers should be considered.
Having unscented bleach to “treat” the water is one way to protect your family from bacteria, but using a water filter can prove to be an easier option. I like both Big Burkey and PortaWell products. Big Burkey filtering systems are less expensive but can take longer to filter the water. PortaWell filtration systems are more costly, but can filter a much higher volume of water.
3. Sleeping bags
Getting a good night’s sleep without electricity during cold weather can be difficult to do unless you have enough good-quality sleeping bags for everyone. Look for a sleeping bag for each member of the family and ones that will deal with temperatures that you’ll find in the areas where you live.
It is also important to have extra blankets. Wrapping yourself or a loved one in a warm blanket can really change how you feel about things. You’ll need an extra change of clothes or more, particularly if you think you or others may get wet. Include some warm gloves, hats, socks, and other clothing items that could provide comfort and safety.
All these things will make a real difference if you have to shelter-in-place for any extended period of time. In cold weather, the prevention of hypothermia is so important.
4. Camping Stove
If your kitchen stove and range run on electricity, you will need a Butane Stove or camping stove (must be used outdoors) so that your family can continue eating hot meals. Make sure that you also have enough propane for your barbecue as well. Years ago we decided to change to a natural gas stove. I enjoy the “instant-on” feature of the flame, the lower utility bill, and the convenience of cooking with gas since I know I can make the stovetop work without the electric ignition by using a match or lighter.
If you want to make bread, bake some casseroles, cook grilled cheese sandwiches, or make pancakes, you may want one of the Camp Chef Stoves/Ovens. If you decide to buy one, check the adaptors because some come with a small adaptor for small propane canisters. I opted to use the BBQ-size propane tanks so I had to purchase a large propane tank adaptor. You may not have to buy one, but it’s critical you know BEFORE you use the stove after a disaster. This one must be used outdoors.
5. Weather Radio
Your emergency situation may already be bad enough as it is. Don’t allow things to get worse by not having a NOAA weather radio on hand. Your local news will keep you posted and updated on any other possible threats that may be coming your way. Emergency Radio (this one can charge your cell phone as well).
This will also help you stay in touch with the outside world so that you don’t start feeling fear of the unknown. Be sure that you have plenty of batteries to use, or go with a weather radio that is a hand crank radio or runs on solar power.
6. Car Cellphone Charger
Keep your cell phone charged by plugging your charger into your car. You can also purchase backup charging packs that work great. Being able to stay in touch with the outside world provides some comfort and confidence as you deal with the situation you find yourself in. Having communication capabilities is one of the basic items all families need as they plan their preparedness kits.
7. Baby Wipes
Unless you’re trying to stay cool, you probably know just how unpleasant a cold shower can be. Baby wipes are a way that you can keep clean in between showers. The next time you go to Sam’s Club or Costco, pick up some extra boxes. If they dry out, you can refill them with water and they will still work.
I always have extra moist towelettes available. Having these for personal sanitation makes sense. I always have extra diapers, not for me, but to share with a neighbor who may have run out. I also keep extra feminine supplies / personal hygiene items since you never know when the emergency will affect my family or how long it may last.
I also keep hand sanitizer and mild soap products in my emergency kit. Washing hands is important whether we have power or not.
If the weather is bad enough to take out your power, it may be a result of very heavy winds. That may prompt you to keep extra masks in your house, and if they are classified as a dust mask, all the better.
Other things to consider are toothpaste, deodorant, and hair care products you may be short of right now. You may be living in a “close quarters” situation for a while, try to make it as pleasant as possible. Don’t forget toilet paper, we never seem to have enough.
You may need a way to flush the toilet after the power has gone out if your local water district pumps don’t work. In case you missed this post, 29 Reasons To Save Buckets For Survival I also have written posts about portable toilets and clothes washing systems. Having multiple options for personal hygiene and sanitation also makes great sense. Your survival kit will include stuff you may not have thought about before.
9. Duct Tape
You may be scratching your head on this one, but duct tape has proven itself time and time again to be an effective tool for emergencies. It’s extremely versatile and durable and can be used to repair glass and temporarily mend clothing, etc. You may need it to install plastic sheeting over your windows to keep cold winds out.
10. Flashlights and Lanterns
Don’t be left feeling your way around in the dark without several flashlights strategically kept throughout your house. I have a bunch in my home, many I keep are solar units that are charged by the sunlight coming in my window. I love these solar flashlights! Lanterns and Flashlights
I really shy away from using candles in my home. They can come in handy when needed, but also pose a fire hazard I don’t want to risk dealing with.
You will be needing batteries for more than just your flashlights. Make sure that you stock up on all different types of extra batteries, including C’s and D’s that light up lanterns and flashlights. Sam’s Club and Costco have the best price on these, as far as I know. Since you don’t know when the lights and appliances go out how long you might be dealing with the outage, having backup power for those items is a good move when putting together your disaster supplies kit.
Cardboard works as a great insulator. You can use it to cover your windows so that cold air doesn’t creep in. Although not too comfortable or convenient to install, they can also come in handy as mats on the floor since concrete can be pretty cold to walk and sleep on. Cardboard boxes are also fairly light, so they can come in handy if you need a portable container to move things from one room to another.
13. Garbage Bags
Garbage bags aren’t just for taking out the trash. During an emergency, they can be used as a cover for a shelter, and also insulate your doors and windows. You may even need some heavy-duty garbage bags for body bags, I learned this in my C.E.R.T. certification class. Hopefully, we will never need to use them for covering bodies, but it’s a good idea to have some of those super-strong ones.
If the power is out for an extended period, trash may build up in your home or apartment. Bags can not only keep you organized, but also cut down on odor and the spread of germs, keep bugs away, and limit the spread of disease.
14. Manual Can Opener
Be sure to have a manual can opener set aside to handle your canned goods because most of them don’t come with an easy-open tab. Please stock more than one can opener, one is none and two is one, if your experience of them not always working is like mine. I’m not sure if I said that right, but you get the drift. Can Openers
15. First Aid Kit
It’s common for injuries to happen during an emergency. You will need a First Aid Kit that has bandages, dressings, disinfectant ointments, and a pain reliever like aspirin or Tylenol. If you don’t have time to put one together, the one above is brought to you by the Red Cross, which comes with an instruction booklet. In case you missed this post, First Aid Kits-What You Need To Survive
Be sure to also have some quality scissors, tweezers, gauze pads, a thermometer, and any prescriptions you or members of your family use on a consistent prescribed basis. I have some antibiotics and over-the-counter med products for upset stomach and other common challenges (see item #17 below). It wouldn’t hurt to also have a whistle in the kit, just in case you need to alert first responders where you are in your home.
16. Hand/Feet Warmers
Keep your hands and feet warm if the power goes out during the wintertime. You can pick them up at places like Walmart and Home Depot. You can also buy them online, Hand Warmers.
17. Prescription Medicine and OTC
For those of you who take prescription medication, ask your doctor if you can have a week’s worth of your prescription that they might have on hand as patient “samples”. If you tell your doctor it’s for emergency purposes, this shouldn’t be an issue. I try to get my prescriptions filled in 90-day doses so I never run out. I’ve heard some doctors are willing to prescribe in one-year doses. It doesn’t hurt to ask. You should also have enough OTC pain relievers, stomach relief, and cold and flu medicine on hand. In case you missed this post, 35 OTC Medications You Should Store
Having plenty of snacks tucked away will help your family’s mental state immensely during an emergency. For situations such as this, it’s okay to indulge your sweet or salty tooth a little, whether it’s cookies, chips, or chocolate that does it for you.
19. Board Games
There are a lot fewer ways to entertain your family following a power outage. Teach your children some of your favorite board games that you enjoyed playing with your family when you were a young child. Having their favorite toys available is important too. They will be upset enough just having the power out, so having things that bring them joy is a necessary part of preparation.
The businesses in your area may not take debit or credit cards during this time, but they may be accepting cash. So it’s a good idea to keep a small stash of money somewhere safely hidden in your home. (Just don’t forget that you put it there.) Make sure you store ones, fives, and tens.
21. Gas-Powered Generator
If you can afford to do so, I’d recommend that you get yourself a generator. That way you can keep your lights, refrigerator, and a few other appliances functioning as normal. If you get a really high-powered one, you can even have it hooked up to where it keeps your furnace and AC unit working. Keep in mind that there are fuel storage issues, and you’ll need room outside your home for the installation.
22. Other Items to Consider
- Important family documents – If you have to evacuate, you want to have handy things like insurance policies, bank account records, some medical records, personal identification, and contact lists of doctors, accountants, insurance agents, and others. Local maps may also come in handy if you have to evacuate.
- A journal so you can document what you’ve been through, how you managed, and what you’d do differently next time. You’ll need a good quality pen or pencil. Having family members make notes, including your kids, will help them learn from the experience.
- A leash, coat, and other supplies to make the experience as easy to deal with as possible by your dog or other pet.
- A toolbox with any tools you feel may really come in handy during the outage. Include some plastic ties and rope or twine since you may need to tie things down so they don’t fly away.
What You Will Need If the Power Goes Out
Candles and matches are other items that you could certainly use, but you have to be extra careful with them. This is why I’d recommend that you stick with flashlights or battery-powered lanterns, especially if you have children or pets. What are some other items that you think may be needed following a power outage? I’d love to hear from you. You need to think about this question right now and not later: What will you need if the power goes out? May God Bless this world, Linda.