How to Prepare for a Long-Term Power Outage

Worker fixing power lines

Power outages are never fun, especially when they’re expected to last for a number of days or, sometimes, even weeks. In some cases, you may have an advanced warning of a long-term power outage, while other times, it happens unexpectedly. Either way, by reading this article, you’ll have a better understanding of how to equip yourself in the event of this kind of emergency. 

How to Prepare for a Power Outage

Extended power outages occur when an area loses power for 24 hours or more. They happen for a number of reasons. Natural disasters like hurricanes, flooding, and blizzards can put certain places at risk, which is why it’s important to be prepared. Long-term power outages can also happen from mechanical failures or human error, though, so it’s not always imminent just because a natural disaster is expected. 

In the event of a long-term power outage, there are a few circumstances you’ll need to consider. One important risk is whether you’ll be exposed to extreme temperatures, whether cold or hot. When it comes to preparing for winter power outages, there are a couple things you must be aware of. 

While you may think it’s best to use portable generators, stoves, or other devices indoors to generate heat, you’ll need to be careful. If you don’t use these in a properly ventilated or open area, you could put yourself at risk for carbon monoxide poisoning. If you do have a generator, try to maintain it fully charged (or close to it) at all times. You don’t want to risk having to charge it in the days or hours leading up to an outage, especially if it comes by surprise.

You’ll want to make sure that ahead of a long-term power outage, you’re also equipped with a plan and supplies.

Creating an Emergency Plan

Having a plan is one of the most important things you can do when an outage occurs. You can start by understanding where your power is supplied from, whether you live somewhere that’s at risk, and how to stay up to date about outage advisories. 

Some other steps in your emergency plan should include making sure everyone in your family is aware of their responsibilities. Will someone be in charge of certain tasks? How will you communicate with one another? It can also be good to meet with neighbors or others in your community in the event that you need to share emergency power resources. A Grab + Go Box is a helpful resource that you can use to make sure you and your family are on the same page.

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Essential Supplies and Resources for a Power Outage

Because, of course, you won’t be able to rely on your everyday items that run on electricity, try to prepare yourself with the following items: 

1. Battery-powered flashlight

Storing a battery-powered flashlight in your home will ensure that during an outage, you’ll have access to light. In the event of a natural disaster, this can be especially useful for navigating your home if it has sustained damage.

2. Water supply

Keep a water supply somewhere safe at all times. When the power goes out, you may not have access to drinking water. Consider how many gallons of water each person in your family would need to get through a few days. It can also be useful in the event that you want to wash off.

3. Portable generator

A portable generator is an investment you should consider if you’re in a high-risk area for extended power outages. Portable generators can be extremely useful for charging your phone, heating/cooling (with a small heater or fan), and using appliances for short periods of time. You can even find some that run on solar panels.

4. Canned food

Stock up on canned food that can be easily accessed and prepared in the event of a power outage. As tempting as it can be to wait until the last minute, you might find that supplies run out quickly when power outages are expected. Canned food you can store includes canned tuna, vegetables, fruits, beans, and soup. You’ll also want to make sure you have a manual can opener so that you can easily open your supplies.

5. First aid kit

While power outages may not cause direct damage or harm, it’s always a good idea to keep a first aid kit handy. You can either create your own first aid kit with materials from a local pharmacy or drugstore, but you can also buy one that’s equipped with everything you need. Bandaids, gauze, alcohol/antiseptic, tweezers, splints, and gloves are a few staples your kit should contain.

6. Cell phone

While you likely already have a cell phone, it could be beneficial to charge and store an emergency cell phone in the event of a power outage. A simple device with call functions and even messaging should be sufficient. Communication is an important part of your emergency plan, so make sure you educate your family or anyone else you live with on how to get in touch with one another. 

You could also consider a walkie talkie for a more affordable option, but you’ll need to remember that the range is likely shorter. Also, having these devices on hand can be a life-saver in the event that you need to contact emergency services or receive updates about the status of the power in your area.

powerlines with sunset in the background

Final Thoughts

So, whether or not you’re expecting an extended power outage, you’ll want to equip yourself with everything you need before it happens. By keeping these items in your home and educating yourself, you’re sure to be in a better position. If you have young children, you can find out more information about navigating power outages with kids here.