Power outages can occur for various reasons, such as severe weather, equipment failure, or accidents involving power infrastructure, or in a real SHTF situation.
These events can disrupt daily life and present unique challenges that require quick thinking and adaptability. Knowing how to respond effectively during a power outage is essential for maintaining safety, comfort, and minimizing the impact of the situation, especially while trying to determine the extent of the emergency situation.
Here are 20 things you should do if the power goes out, so you can get through the emergency as easily as possible, as well as planning for the potential that the emergency might require evacuating.
Don’t immediately assume it is a SHTF situation. Keeping a clear head during a power outage helps you think rationally and make better decisions regarding your safety and well-being.
Grab your Lights Out Box
This is the box you keep with all the emergency supplies you would need in a power outage situation. Here is all the things you need to make a Lights Out Box.
Confirm the extent of the outage
Check with neighbors to determine if the outage is localized or widespread, as this can help you estimate its duration. If you cannot see anyone with power in your near vicinity as well as in the distance, you should be open to the possibility it is a widespread blackout event rather than a localized power outage event such as a tree down. Remember, in a widespread outage, you may see vehicle lights which might make it harder to tell if it is widespread or not.
Check circuit breakers
If you see neighbors with power, ensure that the power outage is not caused by a tripped breaker or blown fuse in your home, which can be quickly remedied. If you trip breakers frequently, you may want to consider upgrading the electrical in your housing, but in the meantime, you can mark the breakers most often that trip.
Report the outage
Notify your power company to ensure they are aware of the issue and can work on restoring power as quickly as possible. Most power companies have an app which allows you to easily notify them online, even if you don’t have power.
Unplug sensitive electronics
Protect devices like computers and televisions from potential power surges when the electricity is restored by unplugging them.
Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed
Minimize the loss of cold air and help preserve food by limiting the number of times you open these appliances.
Use flashlights or battery-powered lanterns
Avoid using candles for illumination unless necessary, due to the potential fire hazard. Stick to safer light sources like flashlights or battery-powered lanterns if possible, unless you anticipate the outage to last longer than your batteries. Be sure to keep candles away from anything that might catch fire, as well as away from children and pets.
Use a battery-powered or hand-crank radio to receive updates on the power outage, weather conditions, and emergency information. Because many houses do not have radios these days, you might be the lifeline for your neighborhood of what is happening in a longer term outage.
Check on neighbors and loved ones
While some preppers prefer to keep to themselves, you might consider checking on elderly or disabled neighbors, as well as family members, to make sure they are safe and comfortable during the outage.
Dress in layers
Wear warm clothing and use blankets to maintain body heat, especially during cold weather when heating systems may not function. Unfortunately, people dying of hypothermia in a power outage is a reality.
Use alternative heat sources safely
If using a generator, camp stove, or portable heater, follow safety guidelines to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning and fires. It is not uncommon for people to die because of using ways to heat that cause deadly levels of carbon monoxide to gather.
Conserve cellphone battery
Limit non-essential phone use to ensure your phone remains charged for emergency communications. Use the save battery feature if available, as well as closing all non-essential apps, as many of them will continue checking for updates in the background and draining valuable battery power. Ideally, only keep critical apps open, such as one messaging app and a couple webpages for emergency related updates.
Use a power bank
Charge your phone or other essential devices using a portable power bank if available. As a rule of thumb, you should always have a power bank charged and ready for an emergency – many will hold a charge for quite some time.
Avoid opening doors unnecessarily
Minimize heat loss during cold weather by keeping doors and windows closed as much as possible, as well as letting cooler air out during hot weather.
Stay away from downed power lines
Report any downed lines to the power company and avoid approaching them, as they may be live and pose a serious danger. You cannot tell by looking if a wire is live or not.
Plan meals strategically
Consume perishable foods first and save non-perishable items for later in the outage. And limit opening your refrigerator and freezer as much as possible to ensure your food lasts longer. Ideally, you only want to open the door once per each mealtime, and close it as fast as possible.
Create a safe sleep room
Designate a single room to stay in, which can help conserve heat and make it easier to manage lighting and other resources. Smaller rooms will make retaining heat easier, as well as even pitching a tent in your living room – be sure to use the tent fly, if there is one, to help keep body heat in.
Pass the time by engaging in activities like board games, reading, singing or conversation to help reduce stress and maintain morale. If you have smaller children, you can make it a game of “camping” or something similar.
Be prepared to evacuate
If the power outage becomes dangerous or lasts for an extended period, be ready to evacuate to a safer location, such as a friend’s house, a hotel, or a designated emergency shelter. If it becomes a possibility, start gathering supplies to take with you. In major emergencies, such as a fire or flooding, you may only have a few minutes to leave and it will help if you have all your supplies ready to go – or even prepacked in your vehicle.
Being well-prepared and proactive when faced with a power outage can greatly enhance your ability to cope with the situation and ensure the safety and comfort of you and your loved ones. It is crucial to remain calm, stay informed, and prioritize the well-being of yourself and those around you. With the right knowledge and preparation, you can successfully navigate power outages and emerge from these unexpected events with resilience and resourcefulness.