Preparing for Blackouts and Power Outages

Blackouts and power outages can strike at any time -- and can be so disruptive. Even if your power goes out in the light of day, the stress can still be tremendous.

Power outages disrupt work, family life, school and most aspects of daily living. This article highlights emergency gear and tips to minimize the impacts of a power outage.

Experience: Wind Knocks Out Power to the Region

Coeur d'Alene, ID experienced a sustained wind storm with wind gusts up to 55 mph. The city is located in a forested area and had hundreds of pine trees fall. Many of them hit houses, buildings and cars. We joined a clean up crew and removed over 50 trees from 8 lots. Chain saws ran non-stop for hours.

A winter thaw hit the area during considerable rain storms. The wind gusts applied unbearable leverage to the tree tops and a huge number of trees were toppled. 

We arrived at one yard and were unable to see the grass in the front or back yard. There were 16 trees down in the back yard.

Needless to say, most of the powerlines in the region were struck causing major power outages to most of the region. 65,000+ people were without power - some of them for days. Fortunately, our home was near a main power station so we were down for a half a day. Some families didn't get power for a week.

We were so glad we could help some of the families affected. Over 100 people donated their time. It was a great sense of community.

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History

One of the worst blackouts in American history plunged New York, seven of its neighboring states, and even the majority of Eastern Canada into complete darkness back in the winter of 1965. It left 30 million people without power for 12 hours.

Preparing for Blackouts and Power Outages

The best way to prepare for a blackout is to have the right gear on hand. Stock up on flashlights, battery powered lanterns, and extra batteries (preferably rechargeable). Take inventory of all electronics in your house beforehand and potentially taking out insurance policies on them before a blackout hits. 

Blackout Preparedness Plan – Activity List

You know to keep around additional light sources before your power goes out -- but what else can you do? Can you take your preparation another step further?

The answer is yes -- and here are some things we highly recommend doing to prepare for blackouts and power outages.

  • Invest in a powerbank for your mobile phone, and determine whether or not your home phone will work when your power goes out
  • Have a backup plan to properly store any refrigerated medications -- speak to your doctor about a plan to preserve any medications during blackouts
  • Stock up on extra batteries
  • Keep non-perishable food items to eat and avoid opening your fridge and freezer in an effort to preserve the food inside
  • Install carbon monoxide detectors in your home
  • Consider investing in a generator and fuel containers for extra fuel storage

Once you’ve fully prepared yourself and your family for the blackout before it hits, all there is to do is stay safe while it happens.

  • Avoid carbon monoxide poisoning by operating all camp stoves, grills, and generators outdoors -- and at least 20 feet away from your windows
  • Avoid opening your fridge and freezer in order to preserve the food and possible medications
  • Unplug appliances and other electronics in your home -- if the power comes back on unexpectedly, the surge may send sparks that will damage your belongings
  • Do not hesitate to seek shelter for heat or air conditioning if a blackout occurs during harsh temperatures

Calming children during a power outage

It’s common for kids of all ages to have a fear of the dark -- or maybe the silence and absence of a show or movie playing leaves them feeling anxious. Either way, it’s important for everyone’s sake that they feel safe and know that the darkness won’t hurt them.

Some children may have a nightlight in their room, and can feel afraid when trying to fall asleep. We recommend either sitting with your child until they fall asleep, investing in a glowing stuffed animal, or battery-powered nightlight.

It’s also important to calmly explain to them what’s happening. If they begin to cry, all you can do is comfort them and encourage deep breaths -- let them know that the blackout will end, and the power will eventually come back on.

If the power goes out during the day, and you’re looking for ways to curb boredom, try a few of these suggestions -- for very young children, like toddlers, try:

  • Singing songs together and teaching them little games, such as "say say oh playmate"
  • Going for a ride in the car and going to a park
  • Giving them a snack or drink
  • Playing with their toys with them, or playing pretend

For slightly older children, they will probably be a little more in control of their emotions -- but that doesn’t mean that they won’t get bored or upset. Try out some of these suggestions with your kids.

  • Get some outside time with them to play sports or play pretend
  • Play dolls or cars with them
  • Get to know their interests -- what happened in the latest issue of their favorite comic? What’s their favorite hobby right now?
  • Grab a snack or drink with them
  • Play cards or board games

And finally, teens and young adults can get just as bored as you during a blackout or power outage. Make an effort to reach out and fight boredom together by:

  • Supporting their hobbies -- have they learned any new songs on an instrument or created any artwork recently?
  • Grabbing something to eat or drink together
  • Offering them a good book, or taking suggestions from them
  • Getting outside and going for a walk together
  • Playing card or board games together

Remember to try to use your phone and laptop battery when you truly need it instead of using your power to check social media -- you never know when you may need to call for help in an emergency.

Emergency Gear for Surviving Blackouts and Power Outages – Product List

The gear you'll need to survive. The gear you'll need for evacuation is exactly the same as what you might need when you're staying home to weather out the storm.

  1. 72-hour kit or go Bag - your individual kit should have clothing, gear and supplies for 3-10 days minium
  2. Food Storage - Take a long food from your long term food storage

With every emergency comes the need to gather supplies. Even though a need to seek shelter during a blackout is uncommon, it’s still a possibility. And it’s important to have an on-the-go emergency kit.

Whether you keep your supplies at home or in a bag to take with you anywhere, it’s important to have everything you might need on hand. Keep emergency kits somewhere accessible, so they can be found in the dark.

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3 Most reviews are based on personal experience from one of our content editors. Some are based on research and the opinions of other reviewers.

 

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