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).
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  • 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.
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  • 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

August 27, 20100 found this helpful

Good article. It is wise to prepare for emergencies as we all have been told to do. This doesn't have to be done on a large scale but too have things in case power outages or storms. It is always better to be safe than sorry. Extra canned food and water is essential. In fact other day due to some renovations here-we had to turn off water. Thank god I had some stored for making extra coffee and needed some for a special cleaning chore. Be prepared is my motto.

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August 27, 20100 found this helpful

Well said, BMCCUE. Lildinks, you must've been a boy/girl scout.

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August 27, 20100 found this helpful

To minimize power outages consider buying a home on a main feeder line to a necessary utility or hospital.

When we came back from Katrina after 3 weeks, the ice cubes in our freezer hadn't melted. We lost power a few days later, but it was restored within 30 minutes. When we talked to the utility repairman he explained that since our house was on a line that supplied power to the waste water treatment plant it was a priority repair. Check with your electric company before you look for a house, it sure makes life easier.

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August 27, 20100 found this helpful

Great Post. May I add, when filling your bottles, remember to leave space since Ice expands as it freezes and leave the lid off until frozen for the same reason. I would also suggest freezing enough for 2 gallons per person. In an emergency, you may want to share and/or use for other issues besides just drinking, like preparing meals, cleaning up and personal hygiene issues.

Also, with regard to batteries, find a portable solar powered battery charger for those emergencies. One source could be www.emergencyessentials.com or many camping and emergency preparedness stores.

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August 27, 20100 found this helpful

Excellent post. Plus thanks to nearly all the add'l posts. I can relate to the buying home near the named facilities; I live (rent, thank goodness) on an "ancient" line that has outages spasmatically for no really apparent reason! A major PVC pipe manufacturer had to close and move out of the area due to having to scrap their runs frequently, and the city refused to upgrade. Now the acreage is vacant and no taxes are accruing! Shortsighted, yes? Cay from FL

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August 25, 20120 found this helpful

Living in Southern California were prepared for just about anything, you might like to add to the list the inexpensive solar lights once charged that last for many, many hours and you can put them all over the house safely and windup flashlights no batteries needed and instead of jugs for the water pickup the heavy plastic water bags they will take up less space and fit around the other food easier, just take out as is needed they will thaw out more quickly, I have found all of these at the 99¢ store.

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