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Preparing for a Power Outage

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Power Outage Supplies

Power outages are a periodic problem that we all need to deal with. Being prepared when it happens is the best way to make it easier to get through until the power comes back on. This is a guide about preparing for a power outage.


Solutions: Preparing for a Power Outage

Read and rate the best solutions below by giving them a "thumbs up".

Tip: Solar Lights for a Power Outage

photo of candles and flashlightsI live in northern Alabama, and after 150 some tornadoes recently touched down, I was without all utilities for 5 days. By the time my husband and I got out to buy some candles, batteries, and extra flashlights, everything was gone.

At night, I brought in our Solar Lights that we use in the front yard, placed them in drinking glasses, and had more than enough light to walk around without falling down and getting hurt. They glowed all night, and in the morning I popped them back outside, the sun recharged them, and they were once again ready to be used that night. It really made a HUGE difference!

I shared my idea with all my neighbors, and it really did make a difference for all of them as well.

The attached picture of what the lights looked like in the drinking glass, and I also laid another one down so you could see what the solar part looked like.

I also put pots out in the sun and filled them up with water, by late afternoon the water was warm enough to wash my hair with. I then discovered that the old gallon plastic Gatorade jugs I keep in the refrigerator for cold water for our dogs worked really well, if not better, because the caps kept the jug closed and no outside air came in touch with it. That water stayed warmer longer. It was really cool to see all my neighbors placing pots, empty milk gallons, and any other containers they had with water out in the front of their houses.

By CaroleeRose from Madison, AL

Tip: Preparing for a Power Outage

These tips are in addition to the American Red Cross tips for dealing with storms and power outages.

  • Keep a plastic jug or two of water in your freezer if you have space. If you lose power, the block of ice will aid in keeping things cold longer. When it melts, you can drink it too. That plastic jug of ice can also be placed in a cooler to keep additional items or medications cold. A one gallon plastic water jug yields about 8 lbs. of ice (with a handle).

  • Buy LED lanterns and flashlights. If possible, see if you can purchase the lights with the same sized batteries. Keep at least 1 complete replacement set of batteries handy for each device. D cell batteries last longer, and therefore, are better suited for lighting. Avoid C sized lights and devices - these batteries are harder to find in an emergency. I suggest having at least 1 light and spare batteries per person.

  • Chemical "snap" light sticks are also great. Some can last as long as 12 hours. These are great to place in a bathroom or hallway overnight to provide lighting when the battery powered lights are off. There are also high intensity 30 minute chemical lights available as well. The chemical lights are completely safe around gases and are cool to the touch. They do expire, so check dates periodically on them.

  • A battery powered radio with weather band is also a good choice. Like the lantern and flashlight suggestion above, try to get a radio that uses the same sized battery (preferably D) as everything else. Running the radio on low volume allows it to run much longer than with a higher volume.

  • If possible, also consider battery chargers that plug into a car's lighter. I don't know if there are any NiMH D sized ones out there, but I know (and own) there are ones for AA and AAA sized NiMH batteries. The one I have (from Wallmart) will charge the NiMH batteries in 15 minutes from a car lighter.

  • A car also has a radio so you can listen to that as well. Just be careful not to run down the car battery. Also be careful about running the car and creating Carbon Monoxide.

  • Keep a cell phone charger that allows the cell phone to charge from your car lighter.

  • ALWAYS have at least one wired telephone. Cordless phones don't work during power failures (the base requires power).

  • I suggest purchasing a pair of FRS/GMRS two way radios and splitting the cost with a nearby neighbor. Settle on one channel to talk on (CH 1 is suggested emergency channel) with no privacy codes set. During and after a crisis, you can contact the neighbor. Again, keep spare batteries for these radios and follow any license requirements if you choose to use the GMRS frequencies.

  • Keep a spare propane gas tank, secured and outside your home, for the gas grill. If there's a loss of power, and you are unable to cook indoors, you can use the gas grill to cook food. DO NOT use this, nor any other combustion device, inside your home!

  • If you live in a warmer climate, there are battery powered fans you can buy to keep the air moving. Again, try to be consistent with the battery choices. Though, for this device, D sizes will most likely be the best way to go,.
First and foremost, remain as calm as possible and think things through before acting.

By BMCCUE from Litchfield, NH

Tip: Solar Lights For Emergency Lights

If you use those little solar lights outside, they can come in handy during a power outage at night. Bring them inside and you have light, then take them back out in the morning to recharge. They may be safer than candles and won't provide heat in the summer.

By Debby T. from Lee's Summit, Missouri

Tip: Touch Lights for Power Outages

Another idea for power outages: I buy those touch lights. You know the ones you stick on the wall. They are battery operated, and you press them to get a soft glow. Often they are used for night lights or inside closets.

I find if you place them around the house in each room (up high away from from little hands, who love to play with them). Then if the power goes out you just press them as you enter each room or hallway. It's safer then carrying around a lit flame or trying to find and/or share the only flashlight. I have found them for as cheap as 88 cents at Walmart (on sale) and always see them in different shapes and styles at dollar stores.

By Crazy Amy from Rochester, NY

Tip: Safety When The Lights Go Out

Everyone's electricity goes out now and then. Trying to maneuver through the house with a flashlight in one hand or with a candle can be tricky and/or dangerous. To keep safe and easily light my way, I keep one of those inexpensive hard hat lights near my bed. It's adjusted to fit my head (not a hard hat) and I can just slip it on and keep both hands free. No matter where I look or go, my pathway is well lit.

Hint: It's also great to use as a book light!

By luv from NJ

Tip: Use a Headlamp During Power Outages

Buy a couple of "headlamps". They are small flashlights attached to an elastic band to wear around your forehead - think miner's lamps. I bought mine at Home Depot. I don't remember exactly how much they cost, but I'm sure it was less than $10 for a pack of 3.

These leave your hands free and allow you to focus the light, for example, on a book that you're reading. It's very awkward to use a flashlight for this and a lantern or candle doesn't give you the light where you really need it. It would also come in handy for things like crocheting, working a crossword puzzle, etc.

Another bonus is that you can get up and move around the house without having to pick up a flashlight or lantern to see your way.

    By Jean [2]

    Tip: Store Water for Possible Power Outage

    If we are having threats of power loss, I place bottles of water in my freezer. I use 2 liter soda bottles, laundry detergent bottles, or any bottle that has a tight sealing cap. This keeps the items frozen for quite some time. My local weather is calling for 50-60 mph winds this week and power loss has occurred since last weekend. I have a well, so that means I don't have water during a power loss either.

    I fill up anything I can find with water to use for drinking, teeth brushing, flushing the toilet, water for my dogs, cooking, or any need for water. Fill your bath tub up with water. You can use this water for watering plants and flushing the toilet. You never know when the power may go out so I like to be ready in any way possible.

    By triciaminter from Ridgeway, VA

    Tip: Use Battery Lights Instead of Candles For Power Outages

    Whenever we have a power outage, instead of candles, I use battery powered lights. You can buy battery powered lanterns, flashlights of course, and battery powered push lights. I have a push light for every room in the house. I keep 6 battery powered lanterns, and I don't even know how many flashlights I have. Plus I have one of those 2 million candlewatt lanterns, too. I use that for reading.

    I put one push light in each room right next to the door. That way, upon entering a room, all we have to do is tap the light and we have just enough light to maneuver in the room.

    For normal battery use around the house, we use rechargeable batteries, but for the lanterns, push lights, and 2 million CW lantern, we use non-rechargeable. I keep 3 sets of batteries for each, and replace them once a year. This way I always know we have good batteries for power outages.

    I keep all these lights in one specific cabinet all together along with all the batteries. One flashlight is kept with these, and the others are all kept in a more handy place.

    I also have a battery powered DVD player, and a small battery powered TV. Also a battery powered radio. These are all kept with 3 sets of batteries in a specific cabinet of the entertainment center.

    For heat, I have a large round kerosene heater. I always keep foods on hand that need no heating or cooking,

    I don't use any flame type candles because I have pets and don't want to chance them getting too close or knocking them over. Even without the pets, it's real easy for people to accidentally knock one over too.

    Also, next to each chair, bed, and in the kitchen, I keep a small pen light. This way I have it handy to grab and it gives out just enough light so I don't trip over furniture or animals on the way to the lantern cabinet. Speaking of which, on the lantern cabinet I attached a glow-in-the-dark decal to the front of the cabinet. This way I can see it in the dark.

    With all these things though, I never have to worry if the lights go out.

    By Cricketnc from Parkton, NC

    Tip: Preparing For A Winter Power Outage

    Photo of an oil lampOur family recently survived a lengthy power outage after a major ice storm. We really did not find it that difficult to do, in part because we were prepared ahead of time. However, some of our neighbors who were not prepared ended up staying at a hotel for several nights, at the tune of $65 per night.

    I am passing on some of the ways that we stayed warm for our week without power. The most important factor is that we prepared. For 3 days, the weather forecast warned us of a major ice storm heading our way. We decided then to prepare for the worse case, and it paid off.

    • We brought up firewood from the barn. We laid out wood in the fireplace and filled the inside firebox. We also filled the wood holders on the front porch with wood, and also stacked it beside the holder.

    • We stocked up on lamp oil, and brought out the lamps and candles stored in the basement.

    • We made sure we had plenty of batteries on hand.

    • We charged our rechargeable lights, lanterns and radios.

    • I filled several containers with water in the event the water company also lost power. If they did, we would lose water pressure, then lose our water completely.

    • We all took a shower as the ice storm started. May seem silly, but knowing it may be awhile before we could bathe again, we opted to start out smelling sweet! I also made sure the laundry was all caught up and the house was clean.

    • I made sure we were stocked up on animal feed. We put extra straw in the rabbit hutches and chicken coup in the event they lost their heat lamps.

    • We stocked up on foods that we could prepare over the fireplace. This included s'mores, hot dogs, popcorn, hot cereals, soups, and stews. I bought some extra milk and put it in the freezer, and also bought more powered milk.

    • I washed and re-seasoned the cast iron.

    • We brought in the hot dog and hamburger holders from the camper, as well as sleeping bags.

    • We backed our vehicles into the garages and barn. My husband plugged in the tractors and made sure they were fueled.

    • We brought up the board games from the basement, and restocked ourselves with books from the library.

    • I made sure our cell phones were well charged.

    • I bought on clearance a power strip to plug into my car's cigarette lighter. In turn, I could plug an item into it to recharge, such as a lantern or cell phone, or even my laptop.

    Then we sat down to wait. The ice started falling around 10 in the morning. It was rather pretty as it coated the trees and fences. By evening, it was very slick to walk on. We still had power when we went to bed at 11 p.m. We did not turn down the thermostat before bed as normal. My rather wise husband said, we needed to keep as much heat in the house as possible, so instead we turned it up. At 3 a.m. I woke up to a chilling house. The inside temp was 65. It had been 70 when we went to bed. My nightlight was not on. The power was off. I woke up my husband and he immediately got a fire going in the fireplace.

    We kept the fire going, and managed to keep the house at a steady temperature of 65 to 67 degrees. It is much easier to maintain the temperature than it is to warm up the house had we not gotten up to light the fire.

    We let light in through the south windows, and blocked off the north ones with curtains, as their was a strong wind coming from the north.

    For entertainment, we played games and read. I had my children take a warm bath each day, as we still had hot water as we have a gas hot water heater. This helped keep them warm and they thought it fun to have a bubble bath by candle light. Our children slept in their sleeping bags in the living room by the fireplace. My husband and I stayed in our room, which is just off the living room as we could still get some heat from the fire. In addition, we have a heated water bed, and by keeping the bed made, and sleeping on top of an extra comforter, it held its heat and kept us warm.

    Since we still had hot water at this point, we had lots of hot tea and hot cocoa to drink and help keep us warm. I did the dishes by hand after every meal with warm water to help keep me warm in the kitchen. I did it in dishpans, and saved the water. It went into containers in the garage and one of the bathrooms. We kept the water at a very slight trickle to help prevent the pipes from freezing.

    We dressed in layers. Sweat pants are much warmer than jeans. We wore 2 pairs of socks and our long johns.

    After our water went out, we used the saved soapy dishwater to flush the toilets with as needed. The saved rinse water became water for our rabbits, dog and chickens to drink.

    We did not open the freezers or refrigerators except to remove and replace food. By day 3, our refrigerators were no longer at a safe temperature, so we removed food and placed it outside on the back porch, and some in the garage. Our freezers stayed below freezing, as they have more insulation. If need be, my husband would have gone to town to buy a couple blocks of dry ice for the freezers. However, he didn't need to this outage.

    As I said earlier, our biggest factor in being able to ride out the power outage was preparation. Had we waited to gather our supplies after the power had gone out, we would have been doing a lot of fumbling around in the dark basement, and opening and closing the doors to the outside a lot. We would have been having to drive on dangerous roads to town for supplies and risking having an accident.

    By April from NW Missouri

    Tip: Flashlight in Every Room for Power Outages

    I keep large flashlights in every room. The kind that take the great big batteries. When the lights go out, I turn one on in the room that I am in. I set it on its end so that it shines toward the ceiling. Since my ceiling is white, it reflects the light and lightens the whole room. It also helps to set it in front of a mirror. That way the light is doubled. I usually have enough light then to see into the next room I go into (bathroom or kitchen). I turn the light on in there until I leave to go back to the previous room that I was in before.

    By Nightsong from Hay Capitol of the World!

    Tip: Be Ready for a Nighttime Power Outage

    We just had an hour long power outage (unexpected as it is 9 pm on a cold winter night). I learned three things tonight that I want to share (common sense but we all know that is not the way it works, LOL)

    1. Make sure you KNOW where the candles ARE! it is easy to think "oh sure, I know exactly where they are" (want to bet?) and, during the day or when there is power by flipping the switch, it is easy to find them. It is not so easy when there are no lights (and damn it is BLACK) in here!
    2. Make sure if you have pets (cats especially) that candles are not a novelty when they are lit. I had 2 out of three tonight who were determined that they had to stick their noses into the flame (or thought that they should)
    3. In a pinch, a small tin can makes a good candle snuffer (something else I DO HAVE, but couldn't find it)

    Have a good night.

    Article: Storm Preparation for Emergency Power Outage

    If I see a big storm coming in the spring or summer, when power is most likely to go out, I do these things.

    - Fill 5 gallon bucket with water, leave in tub. Also fill tub full of water. Both are used to flush toilet.

    - Fill 4-5 pitchers with water. Leave on kitchen counter.

    - Get out candles and matches and flashlights. Some of my flashlights turn on when the power goes out.

    During winter, much heat is lost through the head and feet. Therefore if you are cold, wear socks and a hat, even to bed. A thick knit hat is uncomfortable to sleep on so I found a cheap, thin knit hat.

    Using a tent in the middle of the living room keeps the warmth from your bodies close by. Pitch a tent in a large room and have everyone sleep in it to conserve heat. Use a tent that can be set up without hammering stakes in the ground. Most dome tents can do this.

    If you have a gas fireplace, you can turn it on to keep the pipes from freezing. Fan won't work in a power outage though.

    I also have a solar charged, battery powered flashlight, and one where you charge the battery by pumping it. One uses a regular light bulb, one uses an LED. LEDs use much less battery power.

    I also bought a water filter from a camping store since I used to live in the country with a well. The well won't pump if there is no power and I wanted to be ready to get drinking water from a stream. Get a gravity powered filter so you can fill it up at night and have a pot full of water in the morning.

    For cooking I found a German army alcohol stove with stove, alcohol bottle, pot and stand, all for about $6 (shipping extra). It boils a pot full of water in 10 minutes! You cannot use rubbing alcohol because that is 30% water. Try to get methanol in the paint section of your hardware store. It is used to clean up and thin paints.

    Chuck R. from Grand Rapids, MI

    Tip: Use Solar Lights For Power Outages

    This tip is for hurricane season. Use the solar lights that you have in your yard or garden for light at night if you are with out electricity after the storm.

    By AUNTIFRANCES from Haines City, FL

    Tip: Battery Operated Clock for Power Outages

    Power Outage Tip: Keep at least one battery operated clock in running condition. That way you'll still be on time for work and appointments if the power goes out.

    By Marie from West Dundee, IL

    Tip: Are You Prepared for a Power Outage?

    Are You Prepared for a Power Outage?During the winter months, storms can bring power outages, especially in the northern part of the US. Think about what you would need if the power went out for more than an hour or two. This not only can help you feel more comfortable but can save you money by keeping you out of the stores when people are panic buying their supplies.

    No Lights

    Have some candles and/or oil lamps handy so you can light each room. Candles in glass containers are safest with little ones around. Make sure if you have oil lamps that you have a bottle or two of lamp oil with your supplies. Flashlights and camping lanterns are also great. Make sure you have extra batteries.

    No Electricity

    Your refrigerator will not work. Try not to open it to keep the food cool. Put two soda bottles filled with water or refreezable ice packs in the freezer space. You can then redistribute them, one for the freezer space, one for the refrigerator. It will help keep the food cool for longer. If you have a large freezer, keep extra soda bottles filled with water in it. When the power goes off it will keep frozen for longer.

    If you have an electric stove or microwave, they will not work. Gas stoves may continue to work but you may have to light them by hand. Have matches ready and procedures for lighting your stove. Also have food available that you don't need to cook.


    Many furnaces whether gas, oil, or electric have an electric starter and electric fan that blows the heat. None of these work in a power outage. Extra blankets are helpful. If you have a fireplace or wood stove, make sure you have a supply of wood or fire logs to last a few days.

    Think ahead. Each household has different challenges when the power goes off. It is always good to have backup systems available. Try to plan for it so if it happens you will be ready.

    By Susan Sanders-Kinzel

    Tip: Use Glow Bracelets for Nighttime Power Outages

    Next time you are at the dollar store, pick up some of those Glo-Bracelets that light up when you crack them. Keep them tucked away to use the next time there is a night time thunderstorm. Just crack a bracelet open, (causing it to light up) and hang it on your little one's door knob. This way, if the electricity goes out during the night, your child will still be able to find their way to their door and then will be able to use the Glo-Bracelet as a little flashlight. My 9 year old daughter thought of this idea on a stormy night!

    By Michele from East Bethel, MN

    Tip: Disposable LED Book Lights for Kids During Power Outages

    Before you have a power outage or a Tornado Warning, buy several disposable lights at the dollar store. It's easiest to find them in the Fall, right before Halloween. They are great for kids (and adults) because they easily clip on to a book or to your coat or shirt. You can even clip them on to your headboard. If each child has their own disposable light, there's less of chance they'll be afraid, and they can take them to the bathroom with them. And at only one dollar each, it's cheaper than buying new batteries!

    Tip: Tealights For Power Outages

    There are occasions when we have power outages and we use oil lamps and candles for lighting. I use T-lights (which burn 3-4 hours) in clear or frosted glass mugs I pick up at the local save-a-lot or dollar store for 'portable' lighting. They can be carried down a dark hallway or room to room with little worry they'll be blown out, leaving you standing in the dark.

    By Kelly from Monongah, West Virginia

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    Here are questions related to Preparing for a Power Outage.

    Question: Safe Candles for Power Outages

    We had a power outage last night for about an hour. Lit a bunch of candles for light, had flashlights, batteries and car battery chargers with lights. I told DH to turn off the battery powered items and just keep the candles on as we had no way of knowing how long the outage would last (power company phone number was busy). So far, so good.

    Then 2 things happened: I took a candle with a lamp shade (this was, I discovered, just for looks) and that seemed to contain too much light within its shade, so that I tripped over something in the dark and almost toppled the candle on to the carpeting. Fortunately, I righted the candle in the nick of time and did not set the house on fire. Very scary. Threw this shade in the garbage. Never want to use it again!

    The second, was when DH opened the door to go outside, almost all the candles blew out. Had we been in pitch darkness, this would have presented a problem. So, my question is what kind of a candle holder can a person use to walk around the house for path lighting and what kinds of shades or shaded holders will keep a candle from blowing out with a tiny breeze?


    Holly from Richardson, TX


    Most Recent Answer

    By Nan Corpe [6]01/13/2010

    Candles are a major cause of house fires. You can't take your eyes off them, especially if you have pets or children. It's much better to get battery operated items. For night lights I use the battery operated timer candles that go on for 8 hours at the same time every evening. I use them in the bathrooms and one in the living area. That way if there's a power outage in the night, we always have light enough to get to the other battery operated lanterns, etc.

    Question: Candles or Flashlights for Power Outages

    When the lights goes out in your home do you prefer using candles or flashlights? Is it safe to leave batteries in a flashlight for a long time?

    By Onesummer


    Most Recent Answer

    By Sheilah Link [5]07/19/2012

    I keep a L.L. Bean crank flashlight by the bed. Candles and oil lamps I use as stationary lights - not ones to carry around. We plan to invest in a generator later this summer. This is an option you might consider if power outages are frequent and/or long lasting.