A power outage is more than just an inconvenience. It’s not just about missing your favorite show or being unable to charge your phone to post on Instagram. Power outages can cause food to spoil, damage equipment and appliances, and affect work and businesses. Even worse, it may also affect your water source and the internet. In some cases, blackouts can be fatal. That is why everyone should prepare for blackouts even if they rarely experience them.
Back in February, Winter Storm Uri hit Texas and neighboring states real hard. The storm knocked power out affecting a staggering 9.9 million people in the country and in Mexico. Sadly, more than 100 people died with most of the deaths caused by hypothermia.
Don’t be caught unprepared when the power grid goes down. Learn everything you can about how to prepare for blackouts the right way so you won’t end up like those poor souls who froze to death.
Invest on Alternative Power Sources
The best way to prepare for blackouts is to have other ways to power your home. You shouldn’t just rely on the power grid since there’s always the possibility of it going down. Consider not just one but a number of alternative energy sources. That way, you’ll still have power even if one or more source conks out.
Generators are one of the most common alternative energy sources used in homes and businesses. These pieces of equipment utilize fuel to generate electricity. It’s useful during blackouts and in places where there are no sockets to plug in your devices. It’s portable enough to take with you on your next car camping trip.
The Generac GP3500iO Open Frame Inverter Generator boasts of its PowerRUSH Technology, which improves its starting capacity by more than 50 percent. The RV ready generator is 50% more quiet than most so that is definitely a plus. Portability is less of an issue since it is only 74.3 pounds or 25% lighter than other generators. The Generac GP3500iO also comes with a couple of USB slots that can be used for charging devices.
Solar Power System
Solar power is a better yet more expensive energy source. In the long run, however, you are actually saving more since you’re electric bill will go down. The problem with grid-tied solar power systems is that they need the power grid to generate electricity. That means the system will not work during a blackout. You need the off-grid version or one that stores energy for later use if you wish to prepare for blackouts.
Portable Solar Panel
It’s also a good idea to have a portable solar panel. When you have to go out or if SHTF and you have to evacuate, you can’t take the solar power system you have at home. A portable solar panel will allow you to harness the sun’s energy wherever you are.
The Tenergy Portable 60W Solar Panel is a good alternative power source to have for emergencies or when spending some time outdoors. It can generate up to 60 watts of solar energy per hour on a good day. Its power reset chip allows it to harness solar power even on cloudy days.
The Tenergy portable solar panel comes with 3 output methods, namely DC, USB Type C, and USB A. They can be used to charge small electrical devices at the same time including Portable Power Station brands such as Goal Zero Yeti, Paxcess, Rockpals, Suaoki, and Webetop.
The emergency kit must-have weighs only 4.9 pounds and measures 11.2 x 14.8 x 1.6 inches when folded making it easier to carry in your emergency kit. The water-resistant solar panel also boasts of a 23% efficient energy conversion.
Portable Power Station
A generator is too bulky, too heavy and too loud. It’s not really the best choice if you’re trying not to attract attention of possible intruders or looters. Remember, desperate people tend to take what are not theirs in order to survive. When power goes down and people can hear your generator, you can become a target.
Do your best to hide the noise of your generator. You may also want to use blackout curtains so outsiders will not notice the lights on. You may also run out of fuel for your generator. If you’re not sure when power will return, use your generator only when you really need it.
During the moments your generator is resting, use portable power stations instead. The Tenergy T320 Portable Power Station is a good backup power supply that gives you up to 300 watts per hour. It is capable of charging as many as 8 devices simultaneously. The Tenergy T320 can be charged via its MPPT solar panel, an AC outlet, and a car port.
Other Power Sources
There’s no such thing as too many backup power sources. When things get really bad and it takes too long for power to go back to normal, you’ll need as many ways to have electricity as possible. Powerbanks and solar chargers will help keep small devices like your phone going. You should also stock up on lots of batteries. You’ll need them for radios, flashlights and other battery-operated equipment.
Use Alternative Light Sources
Without electricity, the world will go dark. That much is pretty obvious. Even with the trusty moon lending its shine at night, you will still want to have ways to brighten things up. Alternative light sources should be on top of your list when you prepare for blackouts and other possible emergencies. They’re also necessary when you spend some time outdoors, especially at night.
Make sure you have at least one portable lantern at home, in each bug out bag, and in your car. There are camping lanterns that can be folded or packed for easy storage. They occupy very little space so you should be able to carry as many as you need.
The Luci Original Inflatable Solar Light provides up to 75 lumens of cool white LED light. Each full charge can last from 6 hours up to 24 hours depending on the light mode you’re using. Aside from the low, medium and high modes, the water resistant Luci Solar Light also has a 10 second flashing light that can be used for emergencies.
A flashlight is perhaps the first thing you grab when power suddenly goes out. Well, aside from your dear ol’ momma. Seriously, though, you should always have a flashlight nearby. In fact, you need one in your everyday carry kit.
A tactical flashlight is a good tool to have since it is sturdy enough to use as a weapon. You just have to get proper training so you can maximize your tactical flashlight for self-defense. You also want a flashlight that you can use in an apocalyptic scenario where power never comes back.
The GoSun SolarLight Solar Assisted Flashlight is one such portable light source. The rechargeable flashlight features a 10-watt solar panel that will help provide you with up to 250 lumens of light as long as the sun continues to exist. The SolarLight can also be powered via USB, which takes only 4 hours to fully charge. Additionally, the solar flashlight also functions as a powerbank itself since it can charge any USB device.
Other Emergency Light Sources
Other sources of light you can use during blackouts include solar lights, headlamps, light sticks, oil lamps, and candles. Crayons can also be lit up. One piece can burn for 15 to 30 minutes.
Prepare for the Cold
Power outage means you don’t have the luxury of using an electric heater. When a blackout occurs during winter, you must find a way to stay warm. Ideally, you should be prepared for the cold even if blackouts are not a regular thing in your area.
As we discussed above, the worst thing about power outages is the risk of hypothermia. Since heaters and other appliances that provide heat will be indisposed of during a blackout, the possibility of freezing to death increases. Even if it is not winter, you can still suffer from hypothermia if you don’t have enough protection from the elements, especially if you’re outdoors.
Make sure you have warm clothes and wool blankets at home and in your bug out bags. Don’t forget your gloves, head protection and wool socks. Thermal underwear will also come in handy in extreme cold weather.
Fire has been a good source of light and warmth ever since our ancestors made a campfire some one million years ago. These days, there are plenty of ways to start a fire. The most effective ways are to use matches, lighters or magnesium fire starters.
The Tough Tesla Lighter 2.0 is a fuel-free lighter that utilizes electricity to produce heat needed to start a fire. The dual arc plasma lighter can be used 300 times for every charge. Charge it always so you have a way to start fire during blackouts and other emergencies. The Tough Tesla 2.0 is waterproof and windproof so you can still enjoy the benefits of fire on stormy days. It also comes with a 120 decibel whistle, 100 lumen flashlight, and a 15-inch paratinder lanyard.
It’s also a good idea to know how to start a fire without any of the tools mentioned. Some of the old school methods are rubbing wood together, striking stones to create sparks, and to use a magnifying glass or eyeglasses and the sun. Another useful survival hack is to use a battery and wool as seen in the video above.
If you have a furnace or fireplace at home, have it cleaned regularly so there wouldn’t be any issue when you have to use it. Be wary of the fire. Take the necessary precautions to ensure your house won’t burn down. Prepare fire extinguishers, fire ladders and other items you may need to survive in case your house is burning. Remember, you just need to be warm not burnt.
Hand and body warmers are another ways of keeping yourself warm when the heater is not working. They also deserve a spot in your camping backpack and bug out bag.
The QuickHeat Rechargeable Hand Warmer with Portable Power Bank is a handy device to have during the cold season, especially when you have to leave home. In fact, it should be in your everyday carry kit so you always have a way to charge your phone and keep your hands warm. This survival tool provides between 104 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit of heat that should help in scenarios where it gets too cold for comfort.
Keep Food From Spoiling
One of the annoying things about power outages is that you can’t keep your beer cold. Oh, and fresh foods like raw meat spoil easy. When power goes out, avoid opening your refrigerator that much. This will help keep its contents cold as long as possible. You should also consume your perishables, especially raw meat, if you think it will take time before power goes back.
A better way to handle this is to transfer your perishables into a cooler. You may want to invest on at least a couple so you can separate the raw food with your drinks. As for your vegetables, you should keep them in a Ziploc before placing inside the cooler. If you have medicines that need to be refrigerated, this gives you a stronger reason why you should invest on coolers.
The GoSun Chill Electric Cooler is no ordinary cooler. You don’t have to go through the hassle of buying ice since it doesn’t need them to keep your stuff cold and fresh. Yep, the Chill harnesses solar power and converts it to electricity, which is used to keep the inside cold.
The bundle includes the PowerBank+ and SolarTable 60. The PowerBank+ is equipped with 3 USB ports and cigarette lighter port, which allows you to charge multiple devices, including the GoSun Chill. It also has a built-in LED light. The SolarTable 60 doubles as a table and a charger for your powerbank. It’s collapsible so you can take it with you if you’re traveling by car.
Create An Emergency Plan
Every family should have an emergency plan. Take the time to gather everyone and talk about everything you need to do and prepare in case of an emergency. It’s a good idea to get everyone’s opinion so you don’t miss out on anything important. Of course, you need to do diligent research so you can devise a plan and prepare properly.
Power outages may result from a number of disasters and emergencies. Storms, earthquakes, flood, and fire can knock down the power grid. EMP attacks, terrorists, alien invasion and a zombie apocalypse can also cause blackouts. You should think of every scenario when you create your family emergency plan.
Build Emergency Preparedness Kits
Power outage or not, you should have bug out bags prepared at home. Each member of the household capable of carrying one should have a bug out bag.
Each go bag should contain water, non-perishable food, a first aid kit, and some survival gear. You should also include specific needs such as medicines and baby items if you have an infant. A portable stove will be necessary for you to enjoy hot meals and drinks that should help keep your body warm. You’ll also need fire starters, tinder, and a cookset.
Prepare Communication Tools
When preparing for blackouts, you should not forget about communication. You can’t be in the dark literally and figuratively. Invest on a hand crank radio so you can still get news and information on what’s happening around you, especially if the power outage is caused by a natural disaster or an EMP attack.
The Tenergy Multifunctional Hand Crank Emergency Radio provides news and alerts on incoming weather disturbances and natural disasters. It can be powered via USB, solar panel, AAA batteries and hand crank. That basically means you can get vital information even when power is out.
The weather radio also features a built-in 120 lumen flashlight and SOS siren. It also functions as a powerbank thanks to its powerful 2,000mAh battery and USB output.
Always make sure your phones are charged. In case of blackouts and other emergencies, you may not get the chance to charge them anymore. It’s important to always have a way to communicate with other people, especially if you need help.
In case of an EMP attack or prolonged power outage, your phone and other electrical devices will become useless. You should invest in some old school communication tools such as the BaoFeng Tech BF-F8HP HAM Radio.
Some Power Outage Safety Tips to Remember
Once power goes out, your safety instincts should start to kick in. Grab your emergency lights and do a headcount to see if everyone is fine. Check the neighbors if they have power. If yes, that means there may be a problem with your fuse or electrical wirings. Don’t try fixing the problem if you are not familiar with electrical stuff. Call a professional to handle the problem.
If the whole neighborhood is dark, make sure that all doors and windows are locked. There may be people who will take advantage of the dark to do bad things. Try contacting the authorities to find out what is happening. If the lines are busy, try calling your neighbors or other people who might know something.
While doing that, ask the others to unplug the appliances and flick switches off except for two. Leave two lights, one outside and one inside, switched on so you’ll know once power is back. They should also prepare the bug out bags, and grab other things you’ll need if things seem abnormal. Wait for announcements from the authorities before deciding if you have to evacuate or not.
If the power outage is caused by someone ramming their car and damaging a power line, you should stay in your home. Don’t go out to investigate. However, leave if your safety inside your home is compromised. But be very careful not to come in contact with live wires. Report what happened to the authorities.
If someone needs help, survey the situation first. If it seems safe to approach the injured person, do so with utmost caution. It may be best to let emergency medical services handle the situation.
The mere inconvenience is enough reason for many to prepare for blackouts. For some, however, power outages may mean life and death. Visit Gentleman Pirate Club for more valuable tips on how to deal with disasters and emergencies.