Power Outage Preparedness: A Complete Guide

February 26, 2024
9 minutes

A header image depicting a woman holding a candle to a breaker box with the words 'Power Outage Preparedness Guide'.

Power Outage Preparedness: A Complete Guide

In today's unpredictable climate, power outages have become more than just a temporary inconvenience; they're an eventuality we all must prepare for. Whether caused by severe weather, technical failures, or infrastructure issues, the loss of electricity can disrupt our daily lives, posing challenges to safety, comfort, and even health. "Power Outage Preparedness: A Complete Guide" aims to equip you with the essential knowledge and strategies to make it through an unexpected interruption as smoothly and safely as possible.

We’ll go over the assembly of an emergency kit, a first-aid kit, setting up emergency contacts and how to implement long-term solutions for energy independence — important aspects to ensure peace of mind and readiness if a new power outage occurs.

Prepare a supply kit

Emergency Supply Kit for a Power Outage

Download the printable version here!

Be sure to organize an Emergency Supply kit with as many of these items as possible:

  • Non-perishable food items that don't need to be cooked or refrigerated.
    • Canned goods (vegetables, fruits, beans, meats)
    • Dried foods (pasta, rice, beans, lentils)
    • Nuts and seeds (almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds)
    • Dehydrated fruits (raisins, dried apricots, banana chips)
    • Shelf-stable milk and milk alternatives (UHT milk, almond milk)
    • Grains (quinoa, barley, oats)
    • Cereal and granola
    • Jerky and dried meats
    • Honey and syrups
    • Powdered eggs and milk
  • Manual can openers (not battery-powered).
  • Include pet food as needed.
  • Important documents in a waterproof plastic bag (ziplock).
  • Ample supply of safe drinking water.
  • Candles and matches; use them with extreme caution to prevent fire risks.
  • Battery-operated flashlights and radios, or a multi-functional device that serves similar purposes (like this one).
  • Spare batteries, particularly for devices that rely on them for power.
  • For those with medical needs or conditions, maintaining an extra supply of medication is critical. It's vital to devise a strategy for managing power-dependent medical equipment or medications requiring refrigeration. If you have any doubts, consult your doctor for guidance during your next appointment.
  • A reserve of cash. A little can go a long way if digital payment systems become unavailable.
  • Paper copy of your main contact list. Friends, family, relatives, and anyone else who should know about you.

Special tips

  • Create a communication strategy with family and close friends for emergency situations, including assigning an emergency contact.
  • Consider establishing a specific meeting location. While it may not always be accessible, having a predetermined spot is preferable to not having one.
  • If you or someone in your household is a person with special needs or a disability, there are specific recommendations to be followed on this site.

First aid kit

Be Sure You Have an Updated First Aid Kit

Download the printable checklist here!

According to the American Red Cross, these are the recommended contents for all domestic First Aid Kits:

  • Two absorbent compress dressings (5 x 9 inches)
  • Twenty-five adhesive bandages (assorted sizes)
  • One adhesive cloth tape (10 yards x 1 inch)
  • Five antibiotic ointment packets (approximately 1 gram each)
  • Five antiseptic wipe packets
  • Two aspirin packets (81 mg each)
  • One emergency blanket
  • One breathing barrier (with one-way valve)
  • One instant cold compress
  • Two pairs of non-latex gloves (size: large)
  • Two hydrocortisone ointment packets (approximately 1 gram each)
  • One 3-inch gauze roll (roller) bandage
  • One 4-inch wide roller bandage
  • Five 3 x 3 inch sterile gauze pads
  • Five 4 x 4 inch sterile gauze pads
  • Oral thermometer (non-mercury, non-glass)
  • Two triangular bandages
  • Tweezers
  • Emergency First Aid instructions

Contact list

Make a Paper Copy of Your Main List of Contacts

In the event of a power outage, relying solely on digital devices for emergency contact numbers can leave us stranded. A paper copy of crucial contacts—health services, security, workplaces, schools, and neighbors—ensures we can reach out for help even when technology fails. This simple step is a key part of outage preparedness, keeping us connected and safe in critical moments.

You can print this PDF and take some time to collect all the important phone numbers. Then, store it in your Emergency Supply Kit.

Weatherize your house

Prepare Your House for Extreme Weather

Adopting simple habits such as switching off lights when not needed, using appliances during off-peak times, and slightly lowering the thermostat can greatly affect energy usage. Additionally, several measures can enhance home efficiency, reducing power and gas consumption while safeguarding against extreme weather.

  • Insulate Your Exposed Water Pipes: As water turns to ice, it expands, which can result in burst pipes. There are various strategies to prevent this; ensure you pick the one suited to your pipe type.
  • Upgrade Insulation in General: If you have the chance, enhance the insulation in your home's attic, walls, and floors. Effective insulation will keep your interiors warmer during the winter and cooler during the summer, diminishing reliance on heavy heating or air conditioning.
  • Energy-Efficient Windows: Think about fitting your home with double-glazed or energy-efficient windows. These windows are effective in minimizing heat loss in winter and reducing heat entry in summer, leading to lower heating and cooling demands.
  • LED Lighting: Switch out incandescent or fluorescent bulbs for LED lights, which consume less power and have a longer lifespan.
  • Smart Thermostat: Set up a smart thermostat capable of adjusting heating and cooling patterns to align with your daily activities, thereby preventing wasteful energy consumption.
  • Seal Leaks: Inspect and seal any leaks around doors, windows, and various openings. Minor drafts can cause a substantial rise in the demand for heating and cooling.
  • Energy-Efficient Appliances: Upon needing to replace aging appliances, opt for models with high energy efficiency. Seek out the ENERGY STAR label as a mark of superior efficiency.
  • Solar Panels: Consider the installation of solar panels if possible. They not only decrease your dependence on the grid through the production of renewable energy for your household but also allow you to sell back any excess energy, benefiting everyone involved.
  • Wind turbines: As highlighted in the second episode of our podcast, modern and compact home wind turbines are also becoming available. Combined with solar panels and a proper battery system, they can diminish your environmental impact and enhance your electrical self-sufficiency.
  • Water-Saving Fixtures: Fit your shower heads and faucets with low-flow or aerator devices to cut down on hot water consumption. Less hot water used means less heating needed, thus reducing energy consumption.
  • Programmable Power Strips: Employ programmable power strips for your electronics to minimize 'phantom load' – the power consumed by devices when they are turned off yet remain plugged in.
  • Regular Maintenance: Regularly maintain your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems, along with household appliances, to guarantee their efficient operation.