We’re so used to having electricity; we take it for granted. I know I can’t start my morning without my coffee maker.
But what would happen if there was no electricity for longer than just a couple of days?
Okay, so a coffee machine is not indispensable, and not being able to use one is just an annoyance, really.
But we rely on electricity to cook, clean the house, work, and stay connected to the rest of the world.
A long-term power outage could leave you suddenly helpless. Having a plan for a long-term power outage is well worth it, and it’s not rocket science either.
You just need to do a bit of simple preparation.
In this article, I’m going to share with you 7 tips on how to prepare for a long-term power outage at your place.
How To Prepare For A Long-Term Power Outage?
Regardless of the reason, it’s best to be prepared, so you and your family have the essentials until help can reach you.
There is no backup plan that will magically fit all homes. Every home is different, and you need to consider your specific needs.
But we all share the need for survival basics, and these you can plan for quite easily.
1. First Aid and Other Essential Medication
Unfortunately, illness often strikes when you are least equipped to handle it.
Inconsistent heating and lighting, changes in diet, and the general stress of a power outage can all make you susceptible to falling sick.
- Have a First Aid Kit on hand, and check that it is indeed stocked with disinfectant, bandages, and everything else that it should contain.
- Check that you have all essential medications for the whole family, including pets. If you or anyone in your family has a health condition that requires consistent medication, speak to your doctor about possibly getting a longer-term supply.
- Stock up on basic over-the-counter medications. Simple, non-prescription drugs like painkillers, anti-allergy, digestive, and fever management medicines can make a huge difference while waiting for professional medical help.
2. Make Sure You Can Still Communicate
If there is a long-term power outage, you may have to communicate with emergency personnel. You may also want to reach out to more distant family members.
- Have a Battery-powered USB Charger. Telecom services may be out in your immediate area, but could still be available within a 20-mile radius, allowing you to make calls.
- Acquire a Car Phone Charger for the same reasons. You can use your car to charge smaller devices like phones during a power outage.
- Have a Battery-powered Radio on hand as well. It will allow you to tune into your local stations for updates regarding bot the outage and safety instructions from the state and government.
Keep in mind that during a major power outage, phone lines are likely to be overloaded as everyone tries to call their loved ones.
If you can access it, use email and social media to reach people instead.
3. Keep Your Lights, Heat and Cooling Functional
There are numerous ways to keep your house lit up during a power outage.
It may be tempting to use open flames like candles, but these carry a significant risk of setting fire to the entire house. Instead, invest in any number of alternatives:
- Solar-powered lamps
- Rechargeable flashlights
- Battery-powered LED lights
When it comes to heating, you also have several options, including keeping warm clothing and blanket available.
- Kerosene heaters require you to keep fuel in stock.
- A fireplace requires you to stock wood or coal.
- Propane gas heaters require a propane tank. (Here’s the best one)
If you’re looking at alternatives to air conditioning, our best advice is to invest in low-power fans and a generator, as shutters and blinds will only do so much.
4. Access to Clean Water
This is perhaps the single most important function to maintain after emergency communication and first aid.
It’s important to know that every member of your household will require at least a gallon of water per day. This is in addition to the water you will use for cooking and sanitation.
It will not keep you going forever, but storing a couple of hundred gallons of clean water in your basement can help in emergencies.
- Consider investing in a rainwater collection system
- Check out any nearby sources of water and how usable they are
- Invest in water purification tablets or other purification mechanisms
Use only what you have to, and keep some disposables like baby wipes, waterless body washes, and the like on hand to help save on water usage.
5. Preserving Food
In a power outage, your fridge will keep cool for around 4 hours, and your freezer tops for 2 days. After this, you’ll have to rely on other means to prevent your food from going bad.
The easiest way to handle this is to keep a decent amount of non-perishable food items in stock.
Many of these items you likely use regularly anyway. It’s just a matter of stocking up a larger quantity that will take you through at least a week.
There is a long list of foods that go into this category. Here are a few easy options:
- Powdered milk
- Dried fruit
- Canned soups
- Dehydrated foods
A food stockpile is expensive and aquaponics systems need electricity in order to function. A long-term power outage could take a longer time to recover. One way to ensure you have all the food, water, tools, clothes, and even furniture in a long-term crisis is to start a homesteading.
6. Cooking Your Food
It might seem impossible during a power outage, but there are definitely ways. Even if you don’t have any major backup plans, you can always resort to a firepit or a wood stove.
But if a fire is not an option, there are other good alternatives, although they do require a bit of preparation.
- Buy a propane stove. These work the same as propane heaters. You will need to have a propane tank around, but this is a quick, easy way to prepare meals when there is no electricity.
- Solar-powered ovens are another option, although their usability is limited by your climate/season.
7. Maintaining Sanitation in Your Home
Keeping your home clean, especially during a power outage, is very important. It’s easy to keep some disinfectant and sanitizer around to keep high-traffic areas in your home clean.
But your biggest concern is going to be human waste disposal.
- Get a Portable Toilet, such as an RV or camping toilet like this one. Many of the more modern ones come with inbuilt ways to break down the waste and are made to be easy to dispose of.
- Install a Septic Tank if your city rules permit it. A septic tank is placed underground and designed to pre-decompose waste down before draining it into a field.
- Make a Temporary Toilet. There are a few ways to do this, from placing a large bag inside your toilet itself, to using a bucket. It may not be pleasant, but it can serve when the municipal water system is out due to a power outage.
Alternative Sources of Energy
Just because you’re experiencing a power outage doesn’t mean you can’t have electricity in your home. There are off-grid alternatives to keeping your household electricals functioning.
A Portable Generator Can Keep You Powered
A backup generator may seem like a relatively big investment, but it’s the single most convenient way of keeping your home powered up even when off-grid.
There are a couple of alternatives to consider here:
- Solar-powered generators convert the sun’s energy into electricity. A solar-powered setup will usually last well, but it must be installed ahead of time and can get quite expensive. On the upside, you won’t have to buy any fuel.
- Gasoline-powered generators are cheaper than their solar counterparts, and also much simpler to set up. You can usually get a gasoline-powered generator up and running in under an hour. The downside is that it requires fuel, and will not last as long as a solar-powered one.
Whichever option you go for, it will likely not be able to keep your entire home powered up. You’ll need to prioritize and select the appliances you want your generator to run.
The tips above may not be exhaustive, but they’ll get you started in the right direction as you plan for long-term power outages. You can use the list above to make an inventory of whatever you need and create a back-up plan.
As you make your plans, get involved with your local community. Make contingency plans with your neighbors.
They may be able to help you out with something, and vice versa. It also helps to make a list of emergency contacts in case you cannot reach emergency personnel.
Sign up for any local alert services. These can be invaluable in keeping you updated on danger-causing situations, outages, and rescue and relief efforts.
On this same note, keep your car tank full. You never know when you’ll need to charge your devices, or even make a quick getaway.
A long-term power outage is not a joke, but people can and do survive. With some preparation and planning, you can get yourself and your family safely through the crisis.