When You Lose Electricity For Days

When You Lose Electricity For Days

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We never really realize how much our lives depend upon electricity until after the power has gone out. Just about everything we do throughout the day requires electricity in some form.

What would you do if you were left in the dark for several days due to a power outage? When you lose electricity for days, would you know how to handle the situation?

You may be surprised that there are a number of things that you have done in the past during a power outage that you shouldn’t be doing. Here’s what you should and should not do when you lose electricity for a number of days. 

First Things First: When You Lose Electricity for Days

When your electricity first goes out, double-check to make sure that your circuit breaker wasn’t simply overloaded. If that isn’t the case, check with neighbors and closeby friends whether their power is still on.

Remember that electricity runs on a grid system, so it’s not uncommon for your side of the street to be without power while on the other side of the street everyone’s power is still on. 

Things You Shouldn’t Do

You may be surprised at the number of things that you’ve done in the past during a power outage that you shouldn’t have done. Take a look at a few of the following: 

Avoid Lighting Candles

Candles for Light

Growing up, you probably remember your mom and dad lighting candles to provide necessary lighting. But pets and kids could easily knock them over and take your situation from bad to worse.

I love the look of these candles above, but the chance of one of them getting bumped and tipped over is not worth the light they would provide. Keep several flashlights stowed away in several rooms of your house instead. I’ve often felt that candles can be a choice of last resort.

Keep Your Refrigerator Closed 

It doesn’t take long for food to go back in your refrigerator when your power has gone out. Avoid opening your refrigerator and freezer to keep your food from spoiling quicker.

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Food can last for about 4 hours in your refrigerator while a closed freezer can last for up to 2 days if it hasn’t been opened. 

Don’t Use Your Hot Water All at Once

Thank goodness you’ll still have the convenience of having working water even after the power has gone off, in most cases. That way you can still flush toilets, wash your hands, and even take showers.

But be sure to do this briefly and sparingly to ensure that you have running water in the long run. You never know how long the electricity may be out.  It could be that the power outage also affected the large pumps that provide the water to your community.

Also, if you happen to heat your water with electricity rather than gas you may have water, but it won’t be hot for long.

Keep Out of Pools of Water

You never know if there might be a downed powerline nearby. Stepping into water that’s pooling in areas can be extremely deadly and dangerous if this were to happen.

Don’t try and wade through a pool to remove large branches or debris off of your property, wait, please wait for work crews to do so.  

Don’t Drain Your Batteries

There’s no saying how many days it is until your power is restored. Using your phone’s battery to keep you entertained won’t be doing you any favors down the road.

Avoid using your electronics’ batteries right away and use them sparingly. 

Loss of Power During the Winter

Winter Storm Power Outage

There are a number of things for you to consider when you’re dealing with an extended power outage during the winter. First off, you need to think about your safety. You may need to find a different place to stay and also sleep in the meantime. 

Wear plenty of warm clothing. When your power is out for several days during the winter, you might want to consider putting snow in stockpots to keep your refrigerated foods chilled longer.

You should also keep your curtains closed throughout your house, except on the south side where plenty of sunlight can come in during the day. Close your draperies at night.  

If you live in an older home, it’s a good idea to leave a kitchen or bathroom sink faucet slightly running. Running water will ensure that your pipes don’t freeze and burst because of the cold.

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Insulating and covering your exposed pipes with foam or towels can also help keep them from freezing.

Think About Purchasing a Generator

We’ve all experienced power outages that have lasted for several hours, or a day or two. But what would you do if you were left without power for a week?

A small generator wouldn’t be able to keep your refrigerator running, but it would work great at keeping electronics, lights, and the tv working. That would help you retain some sanity. Plus, the small generators are usually fairly quiet too!

Here’s a chart that can help you pick out the right generator for your needs, and what you’re hoping to keep running during an extended power outage.

Other Essentials to Have Ready

When You Lose Electricity For Days

Scrambling around in a dark house can be a challenge when you’re trying to find particular items. You should think about storing an emergency supply you’ll need in a designated area so you know right where to go for all your needs during a power outage. Here’s a brief list of some of them:

  • Flashlights
  • Plenty of batteries
  • Battery Operated fans 
  • Fuel for your generator
  • Car charger for your electronics
  • Crank radio
  • First-aid supplies 
  • Canned and non-perishable foods
  • Drinking water supply (at least 2 gallons per person, for a 3 day period minimum)
  • Extra blankets 
  • Warm clothing (winter) or light clothing (summer) 

Other Things to think about During an Extended Power Outage

  • Unplug everything and turn off breakers. This could save sensitive items when the power comes back on. Also, have the more expensive items plugged into a good quality surge protector or UPS. 
  • Use dry ice to keep your refrigerator and freezer colder for a longer period of time.
  • You may need to empty out your refrigerator and freezer and take them to a neighbor or friend’s house where they still have power.
  • Go ahead and leave the refrigerator and freezer doors open once emptied. They will have a fresher smell once you get power. 

Final Word

Not too often does anyone die during a short-term power outage, but when your power has been out for a long period of time, your survival can be a more critical situation when you’re dealing with extreme hot or cold temperatures. Not being able to leave your home also could make matters worse.  

It becomes imperative that you know what the do’s and don’ts are to keep you and your family safe. Planning ahead of time is really the key.

What are some other important tips that would prove important if you lose your electricity for a longer period of time? When you lose electricity for days, what would you do? May God bless this world, Linda

Copyright Images: Power Outage Deposit photos_158057734_s-2019, Emergency Supplies AdobeStock_270035341 by Roger, Winter Storm Depositphotos_34337399_s-2019, Candles Depositphotos_19025551_s-2019

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  1. Linda, I love your blog! I live in Maine. The worst thing I have lived through here to date, is the ice storm of 1998. The town I lived in with my parents went 2 weeks without power. One of the things we did to conserve heat was to block off half of the trailer we lived in. To this day I am still thankful for the fireplace we had. You can bet we used that to cook our meals and stay warm. Lol. We also put our freezer and fridge items outside to prevent them from going bad. Also if possible check on your neighbors to see if they are going to be okay. No matter what situation you are trying to survive. The ice storm and nasty winters we have here in Maine is what turned me into a prepper. Even though I now live in the city, I still stock up like my parents did in 1998.

    1. Hi Audrey, I’m glad you love my blog, thank you! Those ice storms are brutal! I’m glad you had a fireplace!!! I live in the desert now so blankets would be fine for us. But there is nothing as awesome as a fireplace or woodstove! I’m glad you thought to put your freezer and frig outside. I became a prepper because of an ice storm when I was 16 years old. I was a prepper before that word became a word! LOL! We will survive, one can at a time. Stay safe, stay well, Linda

      1. I love your blog….right now your tips are keeping me sane and I am using alot of the knowledge I have retained from them…in April we have our house destroyed by a tornado…so right now we are fighting through the destruction to get back on our feet..pray for us…and thank you for keeping me sane.

        1. Oh Julie, I’m so sorry to hear this about your home. I’m glad my tips are keeping you sane. I can’t imagine having your house hit by a tornado any day, but during the COVID, oh my gosh. I will pray for you and the carpenters that they will stay well so they can come and repair your home. Please stay well, and I will be praying for you and your family. May God bless you, Linda

    2. Having lived thru hurricane Audrey and every hurricane since on the gulf coast, I believe in generators. Keep 15 gallons of gasoline on hand at all times and 4 extra cans to fill when needed. Been following your site for many years and I Thank You for teaching me so many things and although I feel you had something to do with my weight gain, I know that it’s my fault. Like You, Mom taught me to be self reliant and how to cook. Love You, Jim

      1. Hi Jim, oh now I have the giggles. My husband announced this morning since this COVID started he’s gained 7 pounds. LOL! We have eaten more homemade treats and ice cream in 2 months than we have in a year!! LOL! I had to Google Hurricane Audrey, was that in 1957??!! I can see why you got a generator!! Wow! Love you too, my friend, Linda

    3. MORNING FROM EVANS,WA. NORTH EAST! LIVING HERE since OCT. LAST year we lost power now 4 times “YAHOO” the first week here we bought a GEN. that can run “MOST” of everything !

  2. I used a marine battery and an inverter first the wife’s CPAT and a fan the other night. If it’s gonna last I use the dollar tree solar lights to mark the hallways, toilet and such. The tops come off and you can just set them on the floor. Word of note on that bring them in before the snowstorm. I “lost” them in the 4ft snow bank once lol.
    I’ve got a stand alone fireplace with a fan that keeps the front half at bout 68-72 easily When I run the fan on the generator. I store fuel with PRI-G which keeps it for years.
    Dollar tree also has chemlights that are not only light but fun for the kids. You never have to wonder where they are cause you see them bouncing around.

    1. Hi Matt, I love your dollar tree solar lights idea for halls, etc. Great idea! Oh my gosh, I can just see my grandkids with those chemlights bouncing around! Great reminder on the fuel storage. LOVE this! Linda

  3. We purchased several solar flashlight, and they work very well. The ones we purchased can also be used to charge phones and my Kindle. I keep a flashlight on the right side of all the windows in my home. YETI coolers can keep things cold, if you want to empty our your refrigerator, I have empty sports drink bottles filled with ice as big ice cubes. We would cover our freezer and not open it unless we had too. Generators cannot be found, so if we had a long spell without power we would have a big barbeque – and invited friends that self isolate and wear masks.

    1. Hi Linda, I love your comment on the empty sport drinks bottles. Brilliant! I made PVC tubes, but those would work the same way and they’re free. I have pictured having a huge barbecue from my freezer if the power goes out for weeks. Great comment, Linda

  4. Even though we are in our sixties, my husband and I like to camp and reenact the 1700s so we have the hidden luxuries to take camping with us which we also use during power outages at home..

    I live in rural south Georgia where the co-op electricity is often affected by storms, including hurricanes that move inland. I am the last on my line in a sparsely populated area, so I am in the last 4% to get power back on. The longest I have gone without power is six days, but, as I said, the frequency of being without power is great. I bought those light switch LED lights and put them up all over my house at strategic points, most adjacent to the house light switch and some at other advantageous points. When my power goes out, I can have light in my house to move from one room to the next. I learned to keep flashlights everywhere also – candles are pretty, but they warm up the room. South Georgia is a subtropical humid climate, and it gets hot here. I have battery-powered fans, a solar-charging device (Goal Zero), a propane gas stove, primitive camping equipment such as a propane-heating shower using a water tank of five gallons, and a battery-storage unit for charging small things. I am on a well so I keep water stored at all times in the house since we lose water also when the power goes. We do not have to worry about keeping warm, rather we worry about getting too hot. All this means that when we lose power, it is simply a minor inconvenience rather than a major trauma.

    1. Hi Patricia, I love your comment! I live in the desert so I know what you mean about candles. I love Goal Zero products, a lot! I’m really impressed with how prepared you are!!! You are both my heroes!!! You are rocking with preparedness! Great comment! Linda

  5. Thank you for the info. One thing that we have purchased to help when the power goes out was to get a HercOven. It runs on tea candles and uses radient heat from the candles. Here in WA we have to look at what we can use without going outside or using the sun to cook with. It works great and is manufactured in OR at Titan Ready USA. You can bake anything in it and comes with a booklet of recipes. Since tea light candles are inexpensive it is well worth lookiing into for emergencies. I have the items that I can use outside, but in the PNW we hve to adapt and use other methods.

    1. Hi Cheryl, great comment! I just looked it up! WA is one state I do not recommend a SunOven, you need lots of sunshine. I always believe we need more than one option for heat, cooking, and lights at the very least. Thanks for the tip, Linda

  6. I am fortunate in that I live within 3 blocks of a major hospital and my apartment complex is on the same grid. That means that in a power outage, we will be one of the first areas to have power restored.

    That being said, I am prepped for a longer power outage in that I have a butane stove and plenty of butane to cook, heat water, etc. I do use candles but I don’t have pets or children to upset them. I don’t use them for my main lighting but use flashlights and a couple of battery operated camping lanterns with lots of batteries! I also have a solar charger for my cell phone. As for heat, I have 2 hot water bottles – I recommend everyone get a couple per person in their household!! One for their feet and one for their core area; with blankets wrapped around, I can stay pretty toasty! I use them when I go camping to warm up my sleeping bag before going to bed!

    For eating, have plenty of canned goods (and a manual opener or two) that can be eaten straight out of the can or heated up if you have a way to do that safely.

    If you don’t have propane or butane to heat food, use 2-3 large 2-3 wick candles in a sink lined with foil (just in case to prevent any wax from going down the drain). Use the rack from your oven to go over your sink and candles – light the candles and place your pot over them with your soup or water. Takes a bit of time to warm things up but it is better than always having cold foods to eat especially in the winter when you want to warm up with hot soup or hot coffee/tea, etc.

    If you are a coffee drinker (or tea for that matter) have instant coffee so you can heat water, make your coffee and tea or hot chocolate.

  7. As you know, I live in Florida and so fuel, batteries, solar chargers, solar panels, etc., are important because we have to cook, keep our cell phones and radios working and sometimes run a window mounted A/C unit to cool off a room or even a tent. And you can never be sure if roads will be open and travel allowed. And stores will MOST LIKELY be closed for a day or so because the owners and employees need to bunker down and be safe just like the rest of us.

    And our cars need to be fully fueled to use their radios, air conditioners and to get around or evacuate if necessary. That’s a common preparation task (Tank always kept at least half to 3/4 full), but it serves multiple purposes besides leaving town. With the lousy heat and humidity you can feeling beaten down on as it truly tires you out even just sitting quietly. Even a fan and a cool drink, however you accomplish keeping a drink cool, is welcome relief. Next time we get a hurricane I may test those cooling scarves or towels that you wet, shake or snap and wear around your neck.

    Let me add here that you can use a small cooler or fridge and super insulate it. You can learn how from YouTube by people who are preppers or live in Rv’s and such. You can even build something.

    You’re eventually going to be fighting off boredom. Crossword puzzle books or coloring books and a radio playing helped us get through the last hurricane power outage. Hand held games, boom boxes, MP3 players, a portable DVD player, a Walkman ( I know they’re vintage now) or even a computer is nice, but you’ll need to recharge them or have a lot of batteries at home. We had a solar powered, hand crank radio playing practically around the clock.

    It’s a universal strategy to have a generator of some kind (Gas, diesel or propane) or a battery bank with a solar panel to recharge it, also called a solar generator. Then we can have some electricity to run or charge devices, we can run a small A/C unit, a small cooler or heater. We made do without one, but it’s nice to have the capability to power up devices.

    1. Hi Frank, great tips as always. Let me ask you, I keep sending back radios that companies ask me to do a review on. I didn’t like how they worked. I just ordered 2 hats and 4 neck deals, that you wet and they stay cool for two hours. Re-wet and you get two more hours. I have several Frog Toggs that you can wet and re-wet and stay cool. But I will let you know about these: https://www.mission.com/products/cooling-neck-gaiter-mask?variant=32332374573149 I want several ways to stay cool. As you know I live in Southern Utah (desert), I remember Florida being quite hot and humid. I’m too old now to suffer in the heat!! LOL! I need all the “chill” items I can get if the A/C goes out. I do have a solar generator, thank goodness. I hope people read your comment because it has a lot of good information. Thanks my friend, Linda

  8. Once again, Linda, amazing article! We don’t lose power as much as we used to but it still happens. If it were to happen long-term, in the winter, we have a woodstove and start each winter season with 6 cords of hardwood. Many a time we’ve needed that woodstove and it’s wonderful to supplement the outrageous power bills we get here. I’ve always wanted a generator but we’ve never gotten around to it. I worry about storing gas but others do it so I’m sure it’s doable. One thing I might suggest people store is battery bars for cells phones and electronics. We switched over to cable phones so now when the power goes out, so do our phones. That’s the only thing I miss from traditional landlines, certainly not their bill! We use battery bars for travel and keep them always charged for here at home. Additionally, we have solar powered cell phone chargers. We’ll be relying on them alot when the power goes out.

    1. Hi Robbie, what battery bars did you buy, I’ve been thinking I want a couple of those? Let me know what brand. I’m not going to get a generator because of the cost, permits, etc. Our friends spent like $20,000 and the propane tank is below grade, which is nice. But it’s out of our budget range. I know of people who have gas-powered generators and store gas, but it’s too dangerous where I live with the high temperatures here. I always had a landline, then we switched to cable phones, not the best idea but it did save us a lot of money. We had two lines. We dropped one. I want to drop the other one. We use our cell phones more than anything. I love the idea of a wood stove and the fact of the security of heat and cooking and saving money. Stay well my friend, Linda

      1. We’ve bought several battery bars at Costco, in a three-pack? Tylt? There are tons out there but we use Costco alot…and I do mean alot! The larger the number of the milliamp hours (mAh), the longer it runs. They do get hot to touch which alarms people but it’s fine. We use them on planes alot but you can’t check them; they’re carry-on only.

        I just looked at Costco.com but didn’t see any. Check out the electronics dept the next time you’re there. They also come in “bricks” which are heavier. Amazon has them…https://www.amazon.com/Upgraded-POWERADD-Compact-External-Portable/dp/B00KG45W08/ref=sr_1_8?crid=2E377NEV2SRPF&dchild=1&keywords=portable+battery+charger+for+cell+phones&qid=1589739977&sprefix=portable+battery%2Caps%2C249&sr=8-8
        Hope it’s ok to send that link. They come in all sorts of colors, too. It’s all personal preference. They will go dead if just left for a long period of time so we periodically check them and charge them.

  9. We now have an on-demand generator, but only the last 10 years or so… For most of the 60 years in this house, we were the last on the electric line, so it the power was out, that included us! Two full weeks during the Blizzard of ’78, 12 days after the Ice Storm of ’08. Three or four days was no major problem

    We did use candles, but mostly up on mantelpieces (usually with a metal tray or piece of tin foil on the wall behind to reflect the light). I still keep a kerosene lantern hanging in the kitchen (several more stored elsewhere). Favorite flashlight is from Lehman’s, a crank/solar combo (unfortunately made in Red China)–never have to worry about batteries. I haven’t gotten round to doing it, but I loved someone’s idea of placing a clip with a flashlight over every door–so no matter where you were in the house, you’d have a flashlight within a few feet.

    If there was any threat of losing power, we always turned the temp down on both refrigerator and freezers, and had old blankets ready to put over the freezers. Also we keep plastic jugs of water handy to put in the freezer to fill any empty spaces–a full freezer stays cold longer. You can also set jugs outside to freeze in the winter, then put them in the refrigerator.

    We still had an outhouse on the back of the house until the 1980s, and used it if we lost power (so didn’t have to flush). Now we use “humanure toilets” all the time anyway, so no change needed.

    Having livestock can make water problematic. Several large, clean trash cans will allow for a couple days’ water. We used to have a well with a gravity feed line to the house, but sadly one plumber disconnected it without checking first… Planning to install hand pumps on the two old wells, so at least the critters will have a better source!

    We’ve always had a gas stove–no way I’d go for anything else out here. Also planning on digging a stone-lined “bean hole” which will work for any Dutch oven meal!

    1. Hi Rhonda, I love hearing you have a generator!! Plus, having it on-demand is awesome! YOU really need one. Talk about sleeping at night knowing you have it is wonderful. Wow, that’s sad the plumber disconnected your gravity feed line. I have heard about those “humanure toilets”. The livestock does need water, glad you have that worked out. You have done some things I haven’t done. I called Lehman’s when I wrote my book and asked about the oil/kerosene lamps. I knew nothing about them and they walked me through it. I the bean hole idea. Great comment, Linda

  10. A couple of years ago, it was the hottest day of the year…114 degrees…and the power went out. No A/C, no ceiling fan, no TV…We had a gasoline generator in the workshop and my husband ran large diameter power cords (small extension cords that are too long can overheat and catch fire) to the refrigerator and freezer in the workshop and refrigerator in the house. We had a crank radio for news. To sleep comfortably, we lay on top of the bed in our underwear with a wet towel on top of each of us – wet, but not dripping. They evaporated and after a while we got cold! The temperature that night never went below 95 degrees. The power finally came back on after 22 hours.

    1. Hi Kathleen, oh my gosh, 114 degrees is a killer without air! Thanks for sharing how you survived the heat for 22 hours!!!! It’s wonderful that you were able to keep your frig and freezer going. WOW! Thank you, Linda

  11. So sorry about the loss of your home, Julie. We’ve been very fortunate that tornadoes missed our area this time. Hugs and prayers.

    Like Frank, we live in Florida, so being prepared is a necessity, especially during hurricane season. Being older, we’ve had to look at keeping things as simple as possible…. we just don’t have the strength or stamina for massive projects anymore. And Frank is so right….the humid heat after a hurricane is just so mind numbingly energy sapping! Cool drinks and a battery operated fan are such a blessing after the storm passes.

    My husband bought a kit and changed our gasoline powered generator into a dual fuel model that can run on either gas or propane. Through the years we have built up a supply of gas and propane so we should be good for the 14-28 days of no electricity typical in our area after a major disruption to service.

    For those readers storing gas, remember to leave space for the gas ro expand during hot weather. We put 4 1/2 gallons of gas in a 5 gallon gas can. No more leaks! Highly recommend Pri-G as a much better gas preservative than Stabil. Don’t forget to periodically run your generators and do the upkeep on them.

    Today we are enjoying our first rain in over a month and only the second since early March. Hoping my rainbarrels get topped off so I can continue watering the gardens as needed! Have potatoes blooming like crazy, cukes starting to set fruit, all the tomatoes have fruit and my mixed lettuces and spinaches are doing well. Blueberry bushes are loaded, so hoping I beat the birds to the berries this spring!

    The baby chicks are just over 3 weeks old. Their mom is doing a great job of raising them. They will begin free ranging part of the day this week. They have provided a lot of entertainment as they learned to chase bugs, dig for grubs and seeds and began wing flapping lessons. I call them the Little Dinosaurs! They swarm me just like that scene from Jurassic Park when I bring supper to them and put them in their shelter for the night!

    Stay safe everyone!

    1. Hi BDN, oh I love it when you share what’s going on at your home! It reminded me to keep rain barrels on my “need list”. Isn’t it wonderful to watch our gardens grow and now those little dinosaurs, I mean little chicks!! great comment, Linda

  12. Everyone should have a generator, when Erma hit Florida, some people in my County [Highlands] were out of power for as much as 10 weeks. I lost power for 15 days, my generator was a life saver for me and some neighbors. I had 50 gallons of gas stored that lasted the 15 days. The generator powered the entire house as well as the well pump, but not the central air, but fans were used.
    I know generators can be expensive, but they can be a life saver, for food storage, cooking. heating and so on. I purchased a used one for half the price of a new one, there are many used ones for sale, keep your eyes open and you will find a bargain.
    Great article Linda as usual, hope all is well with you, stay safe….

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