What Should I Have Around the House in Case of a Power Outage?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 05 October 2016
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A power outage can be inconvenient, and if it lasts for several days, it can potentially be dangerous. Be prepared by keeping a stock of supplies on hand, and know what to do if your power goes out. If you live in a region with frequent storms or rolling outages, make sure to listen to regular radio broadcasts so that you can kept up to date on issues which may threaten the power supply.

Food, water, and warmth are all very important during a power outage, especially for the elderly. Keep a stock of easily cooked food and dry staples on hand. Canned goods, peanut butter, and crackers are excellent choices, because they can be stored for extended periods. Dried fruit, nuts, and vacuum packed foods designed for camping also useful as well. If you have pets, keep stocks of dry and canned food for them as well.

Keep plentiful bottled water around the house, and if you have advance warning of the outage, fill up the bathtub along with the sinks, if your water comes from a well rather than a pressurized municipal water system. This water can be used to flush the toilet, do dishes, and perform limited hygiene tasks.


To stay warm during a power outage, make sure that you have a stock of clean blankets, as well as clothing. If you use a wood stove, keep kindling and split logs on hand. If you rely on electric heat, prepare to close off unused portions of the house, and only use a portable heater such as a kerosene heater if it is vented and suitable for indoor use. For cooking, a camp stove is a useful acquisition, although you should not use it indoors.

In addition to basics, you should keep medication and vital records handy as well, in case the power outage is accompanied by limited access to the outside world or an evacuation. It is also crucial to have flashlights, along with batteries, and candles or hurricane lamps and matches. A radio for listening to updates is extremely useful, and many stores sell hand cranked radios so that you do not need to rely on batteries. If you have a landline, keep a plain phone without wireless or electronic features around, so that it will work even if the electricity is out.

Games, books, and other things to entertain you are also useful. If you live in a region which is prone to power outages, you may also want to consider purchasing a generator. Make sure to have the generator professionally installed, and keep the operating manual around so that you know how to use it. If family members do not know how to use the generator, instruct them to leave it alone.

People sometimes get left behind when the electricity goes. Form a neighborhood network to protect yourselves and watch out for each other. Make sure that elderly and ill neighbors are attended to during a power outage, as well as pets belonging to people who are out of the area. A neighborhood network can also be useful for other things, so if you don't have one already, start by making a phone list of your neighbors.


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Post 5

I think the thing that I miss the most during a power outage is light. I live in an area that is prone to severe thunderstorms, and every time we have one, the power goes out for hours, usually at night.

I can't stand to sleep in absolute darkness, so I keep a big bag of floating candles here. I fill a metal bowl with water and place the candles in it, and they will burn for at least three hours. By that time, I am fast asleep and unaware of the darkness.

Fancy floating candles can be expensive, but you can actually use cheap tea light candles instead. They float just as well, and you can buy a big bag of them at a great price.

Post 4

@JackWhack – I love eating those, too! They come in very handy when you don't have access to a working stove or refrigerator.

I also enjoy eating dried cranberries and nuts during a power outage. These are things that I don't normally eat a lot of, because I try to save them for emergencies.

Peanut butter is also a good source of protein during a power outage. I always have saltine crackers in my kitchen, so I can make a meal out of peanut butter and crackers.

Post 3

My dad bought a generator after the power outage of '94. A rare ice storm hit the South, and we were without power in February for two weeks!

We had a gas heater, so we managed to stay warm by staying in the living room. At night, we just bundled up with as many blankets as we had.

We had a big cooler, so we managed to keep some of our refrigerated food from going bad by using a little creative thinking. We went outside and twisted the tree branches to get ice, and we kept it in the cooler with the food.

We had a very large supply of ice outside. So, I would say that it is a good idea to have a big cooler in your home in case of a power outage due to an ice storm!

Post 2
We had a power outage earlier today, and I was glad I had some canned vienna sausages in the cupboard. My mother told me to never open the refrigerator while the power is out, because the food in there needs all the cool it can retain in order to stay fresh. So, I had vienna sausages and crackers for lunch, and I got full.

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