Prolonged Power Outage

Lessons of the 2003 blackout where a cascade failure of the nation’s power grid had darkened much of the country… That’s when the complacent America found out about its dependence on modern technology. We should endevour to never be in that position again, both as a nation and individually.

Power outages, or blackouts are disruptions in the power grid. While an electrical engineer would probably give us an elaborate description of what happens during an outage, for the purposes of this article, we will not expound on that point of view. Suffice it to say:

Power outages are caused by a variety of factors, some of which allow us to plan ahead and anticipate them. When winter is approaching, especially in the areas that get frozen over or those that get a lot of snow, one can be reasonably sure that a power outage will happen sooner or later.

We intend to teach you how to combat prolonged loss of power according to the Prepare – Survive – Thrive formula. This means that you will learn how to:

  • Be prepared for an outage
  • Live through one
  • Not have to worry about the next one

Please take a look at the checklist below. Some items may seem a little extreme, but we are assuming a catastrophic, long term power loss, which results in a breakdown of social services as the worst case scenario.

  • Preparation
  • Emergency Checklist

You have to know who takes care of whom and in what priority order:

  • children will need to be picked up from school
  • check on how the rest of the family are doing
  • check on neighbors

Items to have on hand:

  • Means of self defense, such as weapons. During times of plenty, we are all friends, not so when resources are scarce!
  • Appropriate clothing
  • Extra batteries
  • Candles (learn how to make a cheap long lasting emergency candle)
  • Flashlights
  • First aid kits (notice the plural). Have more than one, because the first one may be taken away from you
  • Soap, chem wipes, etc. for personal hygene
  • Survival radio with a crank, with the ability to charge a cell phone
  • Cell phone
  • Food – non perishable items, enough for 3 days per person
  • Water, enough for 3 days per person

You can get an ample supply of water simply by filling your sink and bathtub.
Also fill any containers you have with fresh water. What you don’t use for drinking, you will use for washing.
Keep bottled water on hand. Some people just buy 3 or 4 plastic jugs and keep it in the basement.
Gasoline – think about a safe way of storing an amount of gasoline in case the local gas station is unable to dispense gasoline.

Power outage – what to do

Storage of food during a power outage
Having an icemaker, or a supply of ice is helpful. You can stave off the eventual warming of your fridge by placing ice on each shelf. Do it wisely, remembering that cold air has a tendency to fall and warm air to rise. Using that as a guide, you should place half of your ice on the top shelf and distribute the other half evenly on all the other shelves.

When you take things out, open the fridge door only just enough to pull the item out and then shut it quickly so that you preserve the cold for as long as possible. The food that becomes useless first should be eaten first. This can become fun for kids, since ice cream will likely be among the items to be consumed first, so have a feast.

Cook/grill your meat, as cooked meat will have a longer shelf life.
Make sure to inspect your food whether it’s still ok to eat. When in doubt, throw it away. It’s better to be hungry than sick. Items such as raw fish, slices of ham, etc, should be eaten immediately, or thrown away, since they will be the ones to spoil first.

No AC (summer)

You will likely be fine, though uncomfortable if you can keep hydrated regularly.
The elderly will need welfare checks.

No heat (winter)

You will need an alternate heat source, like a fireplace. Part of your preparations should be to have one put in, whether gas or wood (whatever your building regulations allow). This will provide you with a good heat source that will keep your place warm. In a dire emergency, such as when there has been a breakdown of social services and power and gas are not available, some people will consider using a propane grill to cook with. Resist the temptation to cook indoors. There may be a gas leak, the propane may not burn fully, there may be a carbon monoxide buildup, etc. There are numerous dangers associated with that practice so please take appropriate precautions.

Living off the grid

The idea is to be independent enough to live without drawing from the electrical grid and make your own instead. To do this, you can invest in alternative means of producing energy.