(SurvivalDaily) – Blackouts are more than inconvenient — they can be expensive and even life-threatening. But they’re a fact of life, especially in the US. Our electrical grid is creaking under the load it carries, and a power surge from a solar event could cut power to huge swaths of the country.
At least where I live, bad weather often takes out power. The chances are, we’ll all experience at least one blackout in our lives, and maybe many of them. Here’s how to get through with confidence — in a way that makes the scared neighbors look a little like chumps. But don’t tell them that.
Immediate Blackout Action
If you’re at home, get the family together in one place so you can ensure everyone’s safety. If it’s already dark, get some sort of light set up. It’s a good idea to keep an emergency lantern, or even candles and matches in the main room of the house just for ease of access — no need to go hunting in the attic or crawlspace when trying to deal with these things.
Light Up The Night
Basic preparations for a blackout include making sure you have emergency lanterns on hand. You should be able to get at least one room lit pretty fast. If you have more lanterns, you can place them at potentially dangerous points — the top of the stairs, for example — as well as in other rooms (the bathroom is a good place to light for people). Flashlights are also useful — try to have one for everyone in the house.
Your Next Steps
Your next priority is minimizing the damage and then meeting basic needs and increasing comfort. What are you going to do if the power goes off just as you were about to start cooking dinner? Do you have an alternative way to cook? This is when you’ll be glad to have a gas camp stove handy. Make sure you cook safely, though; Coleman stoves are a fire hazards indoors, and charcoal grills produce deadly carbon monoxide. So keep those camping stoves outside.
Think about what else relies on electricity, too. What if you live in the country and get your water via an electric pump? Keep at least a couple days supply of water in clean containers — and don’t forget the toilet. Without water, it won’t flush. You can bucket flush it, but don’t use your fresh water supply — the contents of a rainwater barrel will work fine.
Even if your water keeps running, fill the bathtub as soon as you can. That will give you a reserve of fresh water in case the supply shuts down. Your water might be coming through a pump that’s powered by a backup supply, and what happens if the backup goes down too?
Protecting Your Food Supply
One of the biggest financial losses in a blackout can be the contents of your freezer. If frozen food thaws out it’s probably going to have to be thrown out and replaced. The good news is that you can keep it below freezing for a day or more, if you’re careful.
First, make sure everyone knows to keep the freezer closed. Leave the door shut until the power’s back on. Wrap the freezer in whatever extra insulation you can. Cardboard, old newspapers, blankets, quilts — anything that helps keep heat away from it will preserve your food longer.
Depending on the weather and how well insulated your freezer is, it should be able to keep food safe for at least 24 hours and possibly up to three days.
If it’s going to be longer than that, use the food as your daily supplies before any stored food and pack what you can in coolers on ice.
Take Precautions for When the Power Comes On
Your next step should be to unplug every appliance and gadget you can. When the power comes back on there might be a surge strong enough to damage electronics. So grab that flashlight or lantern you got out and go pull the plugs to protect the electronics and prevent fire risk.
The main thing is to just stay calm, protect anything that’s likely to get damaged, make sure everyone is warm and fed and waste is dealt with in a sanitary way, then wait for the power to come back on. And try not to laugh when you hear the neighbors bickering and yelling at each other about where the flashlights are or why the batteries are all dead. In fact, this might be a good time to offer them a hand.
Copyright 2021, SurvivalDaily.com