Preparing for Power Blackouts
With the recent weather patterns and crazy weather that we’ve been seeing all over, it’s best to be prepared for when these power blackouts happen.
Power outages are nothing new and thousands of homes within the US are without power every year. Most of the time its only for a few hours, however it sometimes is out for a few days or even weeks.
Would you be prepared if the power stayed off for several days or even months?
I’m willing to bet that many of you reading this right now aren’t prepared. I know this because I was once exactly where you are. I was a beginner prepper and unsure of what I needed and what I should prepare for. Many people say to prepare for pole changing climate switches, while others feel it’s important to prepare in case anything happens with a global problem.
Power outages are nothing new and thousands of homes are without power every year in the U.S. most for only a few hours, but some for days or even weeks – would you be prepared if the power stayed off for several days or even months?
These extended power outages are a real possibility after events like serious hurricanes, winter storms (this past winter), or even the result of a terrorist attack affecting the power grid or an EMP strike.
The U.S. runs on electricity and without a functional power grid, the U.S. would stop functioning. Gas pumps won’t work, scanners at super markets won’t work, radios and televisions won’t function and computers won’t connect to the Internet.
What would you do to provide for your family?
Everyone needs to have a plan for situations like this. Even if it’s unlikely to happen, you are better off being prepared and not needing it than not being prepared and needing it. So where do you start? What will you need to prepare so that the next blackout won’t become a major issue for you?
Safe Drinking Water
You may be on municipal water supply which means your water may not be affected, but you should still be prepared and stock up.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommends storing at least one gallon of water per day per person for emergency use. A normally active person needs at least one-half gallon of water daily just for drinking they state. You’ll also need to take into consideration age, physical condition, activity, diet, and climate to determine needed qualities. And don’t forget about your pets, they need water too.
Many of you may be in the process of living off-the-grid, and you’ll need to find a nearby spring to get water from as well as have stored water in your emergency kit. The easiest way to store drinking water is to simply buy bottled water but its cheaper if you store water from your own tap. You can learn how to store water for long term emergencies by clicking here.
Many people over on our Facebook page have asked about storing water in milk jugs, and we recommend against it. Milk jugs can work for short-term storage, but they’re prone to leaking and the plastic in them deteriorates quick. The reason they deteriorate so quickly is that milk proteins are often left in the container, even after cleaning. Using the two liter plastic soda bottles is a better option or you can get proper water storage devices.
If you choose to use 2 liter bottles, FEMA recommends sanitizing the bottles after cleaning with dishwashing soap and water, you can do this by adding a solution of 1 teaspoon of non-scented liquid household chlorine bleach to each quart of water. Swish this solution around the bottle making sure it hits every surface. After you wash it with this, rinse thoroughly with clean water.
Contrary to what you may have read elsewhere, there is no need to add liquid household chlorine bleach to tap water before storage as this water has already been treated by the water utility company. In this case all you need to do is fill the bottles to the top and tightly screw on the cap.
Next up you’re going to need food. One of the most important things you will need to keep in mind with emergency foods is that you are storing foods that you and your family actually enjoy. It’s a horrible experience eating foods you don’t like when you have no other options, so be sure to store foods you like. Canned soups, meats, nuts, fruits and veggies, peanut butter, dried fruits and veggies and crackers will last a year if stored properly in unopened air tight containers.
Other things to store in air tight, food safe containers are:
- self-rising flour
- corn meal
- rolled oats
- other dried goods
One common mistake that people make is not using and rotating their stored food. People will buy a bunch of foods and stock up for emergencies, but then put it on the shelf and throwing it out when its past its expiration date.
Be sure to keep track of your food and rotate it according to schedule.
How can you do this?
Simple! Grab a permanent marker and some duct tape. You simply place a piece of duct tape on the container and write on the duct tape. Then just use a first-in, first-out system for moving food. As each item is used in your everyday meals, replace that item with a new product of the same value, date and repeat. Simple, right?
It’s best to keep at least a two-week emergency food supply in your house at all times. Ideally you should have several months to a years worth of food. However, this isn’t practical for people who live in smaller houses and apartments.
You will need to make the decision based on your family’s eating habits to determine how much will be enough.
Heating and Cooking during Power Blackouts
Most of the power outages that happen within the US. I grew up in upstate NY and there was often power outages for periods of a few days, however some people have had experiences where they are without power for a few weeks or even a month.
This is where things like kerosene heaters can come in handy.It has been estimated that a gallon of kerosene will provide about the same heat output as a wheelbarrow load of wood.
Kerosene is easier than gasoline for storage and it actually has a longer storage life than gasoline. You want to be sure to label your kerosene in order to avoid putting gasoline where kerosene should be. Following a color coding system for this will prevent any accidents, just remember which colors are which. Keep a chart and label the containers.
There is a disadvantage to using kerosene is that it can smell if not used properly, along with having to refill them every few hours.
Standard fuel container color coding systems:
- blue for kerosene
- red for gasoline
- yellow for diesel
We recommend having three gallons of kerosene saved per day, which means you’ll need a minimum of 28 gallons for 2 weeks. You can do the math to figure out your needs for any longer.
Keep in mind that this is only an estimate and actual usage will depend on several factors. Including but not limited to the type of heater, quality of the fuel, condition of the wick (don’t for get to add an extra wick to your emergency kit) and environmental conditions where the heater is used.
Most of these items can be stored in some sort of bug out bag, five-gallon plastic bucket with gamma seal lid or plastic totes until needed.
- A good first aid kit
- A sleeping bag for each family member
- Several pairs of wool socks for each family member
- Thermal underwear for each family member
- A battery-operated or crank radio and extra batteries
- A deck of cards, jigsaw puzzles, and board games etc.
- Flashlight and batteries
- Battery-powered lamps or lanterns
- Non-electric can opener
- Prescription drugs and other needed medicine
- Rock-salt to melt ice on walkways
- Chemical fire extinguisher
- Battery powered smoke alarm
- Battery powered carbon monoxide detector
- Disposable plates, bowls and utensils (to avoid wasting water washing dishes)
If you have any other suggestions or questions feel free to ask in the comments below. Stay safe my friends.