I’m sure you have heard of Saturday’s storm (October 29, 2011) in the North East that knocked out power to more than 2-million homes and killed 20-people.  A lot of people may still be powerless through Thursday.  Apparently, a lot of people out in the North East were not prepared for a freak snow storm and/or a power outage.

That bit of news might make you feel like grousing about idiots not being prepared.  But, before you do, ask yourself this…

Are you prepared for a long power outage during cold weather?

A lot of us aren’t.

But not to fret.  You can prepare now.  Here are some tips to get you started.

Preparing for Power Outages

  1. 72-Hour Kit
    1. You should already have one of these.  Just because you are not leaving doesn’t mean that you can’t use it.  Check here to read about 72-hour kits.
  2. Alternative Light Source
    1. During the day, you should be fine.  But what about at night?  There are lots of options, including candles, oil lanterns, battery-operated lanterns, and flashlights.  To cut down on fire hazards (especially with children), we use battery-operated lanterns and flashlights.  I am switching out the regular batteries to rechargeable, now that solar rechargeable batteries are available.  Also, I am slowly switching the lanterns and flashlights to LEDs.  They are much brighter and require much less power than a regular bulb.
    2. Personally, I am itching to get my hands on some luminAID solar lamps.  They are SO COOL.  They are fold-up, inflatable LED solar lights!  Perfect for stashing in a drawer or on your 72-hour kit. UPDATE: you can purchase a luminAID at for $25.00.  You will get one and another will be sent to someone in need.

      Folded LuminAID Solar Lamp;

      Inflated and Lighted LuninAID Solar Lamp:

  3.  Alternative Cooking Means
    1. No power=No cooking.  That means that either you go hungry, eat uncooked food, or have an alternative method of cooking your food.  There are lost of options for alternative cooking.
    2. Your fireplace, assuming you have one and the appropriate cook-wear.
    3. Your grill, assuming you have fuel (e.g., gas, charcoal).  Can’t take it inside or into the garage due to CO2.
    4. Rocket Stove: I have posted about rocket stoves here and here.  These use small amounts of wood, such as readily available sticks, to produce great cooking heat with little CO2 exhaust.  Might be safe to cook in the garage, at least temporarily with the doors open.
    5. A Volcano Collapsible Stove: these are really sturdy, collapsible for storage and can use up to three types of fuel (gas, wood and charcoal).  I haven’t used one, but a lot of people seem to like them.  I like the three-fuel option.


  4. Non-Perishable Food
    1. No power means no fridge or freezer.  The grocery stores will be completely emptied in a matter of hours.  You might not be able to get anything there to eat.
    2. Purchasing a three-day supply of canned goods now is an option.
    3. There is always the old standby of peanut butter and crackers.  But how many times in a row can you stand to eat that?
  5. Water
    1. Electricity may be required to pump water to your house.  If the electricity is out, you are going to run out of drinking water and not be able to flush the toilet.
    2. FEMA recommends storing three days of water per individual (1-gallon of water per individual) with the following caveats.
      1. Individual needs vary, depending on age, physical condition, activity, diet, and climate.
      2. Children, nursing mothers, and ill people need more water.
      3. Very hot temperatures can double the amount of water needed.
      4. A medical emergency might require additional water.
    3. Don’t store your water where it could freeze!
  6.  Blankets
    1. You probably already have these, but do you need more?
    2. Wearing layers of clothes is an option.
  7. Non-Electric Radio
    1. If the power is out for an extended time, you are going to want to know what it going on out there.  A battery-operated radio is a good option.  The radio that wakes you up may already have a battery option.  If so, fill it up.  Replace the batteries when you replace the batteries in your smoke detectors.
    2. Solar powered radio.  I have already reviewed one here.
  8. Solar Re-Chargeable Batteries (and batteries)
    1. You could have regular batteries, but solar rechargeable batteries (and charger) give you the option of recharging the batteries when they have run down, instead of buying fresh batteries.
  9.  Home Porta-Poty
    1. Don’t laugh!  If the power is out for a few days, you won’t be able to flush your toilet.  If you can’t flush the toilet and aren’t ready, you definitely won’t be laughing.
    2. At the very least, you may want a 5-gallon bucket with a toilet seat on it.  A lot of companies sell “Honey Bucket” kits where everything you need.  Just get one and put it in a convenient location in the basement.
  10. Non-Electric Entertainment
    1. If you don’t have any board games or a deck of cards, this is a good time to get some.  Invite the neighbors over for family game night.  And don’t forget the kiddos.  Stock up on crayons, markers and paper to keep them busy.

So, have you made any preparations for power outages?  Or, do you think this is just hogwash?

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