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What to Do During a Power Outage or a (Blackout/Brownout)

Updated on June 14, 2017
Kristen Howe profile image

Kristen Howe have been through a couple of blackouts, including the great big one in New Jersey. She wrote this hub during one.

When the Light Goes out, Stay Calm and Busy During a Power Outage

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Lights Out

Two years ago, when my area had a power outage, (and later my modem was offline), I’ve thought of this hub idea to share with you. A power outage can last a few hours or over a day. That’s when you have no electricity in your house—no TV, Internet or phone service. Usually, it’s weather-related, due to a climate change in temperature, or something has knocked it off the grid. It can be no fun for you and your family. It can happen in any season, too. There are three different types of power outages you should be aware of in this hub.

  1. A transient fault is a momentary (a few seconds) loss of power typically caused by a temporary fault line. Power is automatically restored once the fault is cleared.
  2. A brownout is a drop in voltage in an electrical power supply. The term brownout comes from the dimming experienced by lightning when the voltage sags. Brownouts can cause poor performance of equipment or even incorrect operation.
  3. A blackout is the total loss of power to an area and is the most severe form of a power outage that can occur. Outages may last for a few minutes to a few weeks, depending on the nature of the blackout and the configuration of the electrical network.

Here are a couple of things you and your family can do to keep busy and active, depending on the weather outside.

A Board Game Like Monopoly can Help Everyone Endure a Blackout With Family fun

Family Time with Family Game Night/Snuggle Time

If you live alone and own a pet, (like I do), this is a good time to spend with your pets and keep them company. You can give them TLC and play with them, so they won’t bark or meow at you. And if you have fish, rabbits, or any other kind of domesticated pet, this would work too, one way or another.

For those who have a significant other, this is a great time to catch up with them by asking about work. You can also snuggle with them, too. For those who have families, you can talk to them about their day at school/college or work. Family Game Night used to be a thing of the past. But now it’s been back for a few years, thanks to the Hub Network, that brought back the classic board games and made it interactive with audience participation. If you love playing board games with your family, you can spend some quality time with them by playing the classics and have some fun and laughter. Take out the board games or a stack of playing cards to keep everyone busy in the dark or in a lighted room. For card games, you can do UNO and go Fish with your younger kids. If you have puzzles like jigsaw puzzles, they can be preoccupied for a while. Family time is a fun time to spend with those you love.

Tip: If the weather’s nice out, take your dog for a walk or give your cat some fresh air and sunshine. Take your family out and go exploring around your town. Have a spare cooler to keep your food cold. You can always eat out, dine in, or create your own meals. Check out your museums or local gardens and parks. Going for a hike to give everyone some exercise.

Meditate/Pray and Power Nap

If you’re alone in the silent darkness, you can do some meditation and take some time for yourself. You can start small with a 5-minute mini meditation or go for a full half-hour for a complete meditation.

If you’re behind on sleep, you can always take a power nap and get some much-deserved rest. That’s what I did. Just don’t go longer than an hour. Snuggle up with your pets and enjoy the silence that awaits you.

Another thing you can do is doing some praying if you feel like it. You can pray for electricity to be restored and the lights to be back on.

Tip: If your cell has a timer function, you can time yourself for meditation and perhaps power naps. Make sure you fully charge your cell every night, if you do lose electricity.

Read a Good Book, Magazine or Newspaper

If you love to read, and need to catch up on your reading, this is a good time to do so. If you prefer the print version, you can read a book you own or from your local library and get swept away by a storyline. If you can do some offline reading, too, by reading e-books on your computer or on your e-book reader. This would be a good way to get you busy and being proactive.

You can also check out some magazines articles or e-zine articles on any topic for any version. If you’re behind on the news, you can get caught up with reading your own newspapers, if you have a subscription, or read them online, like on your Kindle, too.

Tip: For those who read on an e-book reader, make sure you check the battery status and recharge if necessary for your reading pleasure. You can do this beforehand and save yourself some grief. You can do it offline, as long as you have electricity.

Listen to Music or the Radio


If you want to break the silence in your home, you can turn on your battery-operated stereo to listen to some music. It can be from your favorite radio stations or from your own CD selection. That’s what I did with my old spare stereo that I use for those reasons, like the reception is bad, due to weather.

Even if you do it for a little while, you would feel better afterward and won’t be bored with silence.

Tip: Make sure you stock up with plenty of spare batteries for your boombox or radio. Keep the radio on to listen for any breaking news on the power outage or blackout, especially if it’s weather-related.

Dance or Exercise

If you’re a yogi or a Pilates practitioner beginner like I am, you can get some exercise with your home practice and feel better later. You can do any kind of exercise at your home—aerobics, any form of dancing, lift weights, box. You can take it outside, if the weather’s right, to go for a walk or a hike, or ride your ride around the block. This would help get rid of any doldrums just for a while to get some fresh air and the sunshine.

Tip: Make sure you have plenty of spare batteries for your boombox or radio, or even for a spare flashlight.

Get Crafty

If you love to knit, sew, quilt, or croquet, you can take out your supplies and create a design. This would be a good time to let your kids to color in their coloring books and make beautiful pictures. Get out some construction paper and scissors to make homemade cards and other art projects. How about scrapbooking or make a collage? There are many of art projects you can do, since these are examples the whole family can do together.

Tip: Make sure you have an inventory of arts and craft supplies for the whole family in a closet.

Keep plenty of flashlights with you for any emergencies in the dark and load them up with fresh batteries

Doing Chores and Errands

If you’re behind on chores, inside or outside the house, depending on the seasonal weather, you can choice to get caught up with your chores. For outside the house, you can plant a garden and do some pruning of weeds, rake the leaves/shovel snow, mow the yarn, and any other chores outside of your home. Indoors, you can clean house, wash dishes/load dishwasher, scrub the floors, make the bed, do laundry, dust, recycle plastic, glass and metal, take out the garbage, and so on. Of course, your kids might moan and groan. But the sooner you get it over with, the sooner you can get it done and out of the way.

You can also get caught up with the mail. Throw out the junk mail and flyers, flip through newspapers and magazines, clip coupons, recycle newspapers, and do your bills. You can write out checks and manage your checkbook to maintain a good balance for your account.

If you have a need to do some errands, this is a good time to get outside of the house and take care of it. You can grocery shop at the stores or buy items at the mall. Check out books at the library or bookstore. Visit your church. Go to the pet store, if you have pets, for food and litter or any other pet supplies. Take the clothes to a laundromat or dry cleaner. Take the mail or any important packages to the post office. Even if you have one to-do errand on the list, you can get it done in no time.

Tip: If you have a lot of chores or errands to do on your to-do list, you can break it up into intervals and check them off as you go along. Make sure your car has plenty of gas. If you’re riding a bicycle, make sure you don’t have flat tires.

Offline Writing and Editing

This would be a great for us fellow hubbers to stockpile our hubs on a word processing document. If you don’t have to do any online research and have the stuff you need in front of you, this would be beneficial to us all to write them down and get them ready, even if you’re working on one at a time. That’s what I did on my previously worked on hub drafts when I'd thought of this idea.

For those of us who write short stories, novellas/novels, poetry, songs, other blog articles, or flash fiction, you can put some time and effort into writing and let those creative juices flow. You would feel good to get your ideas out of the way to hone out the first draft for your writing.

If it’s polished enough and publish ready, let’s work backward and do some offline editing, revising, and rewriting. It’s time to let it shine with spit and polish in the literal sense to refine our writing and shape it to the best it can be. This was what I did with my beta reader with my writing and for hers as well. You don’t need to spend hours on the editing table. A half-hour or less, unless you can do more, would be great.

Tip: Save them on a hard drive, flash stick, or a website like Google Documents or Dropbox, to prevent losing your original copies. If you like to write long hand, pen and paper would also work out well to get those ideas touched up or written. You can also print out your rough drafts and work on it, too.

Meet Your Neighbors/Volunteer/Reach Out to Others

This is a great way to meet and greet your new neighbors, especially if you’ve moved into your new house, condo or apartment in a new neighborhood. If they’re home, you can go check on them and see if you can help them out with something. They might be elderly, sick, or need general help. Just introduce yourself with a warm greeting, shake hands, and find out if they need any assistance in or outside of their home. By paying it forward with your random acts of kindness, they might do the same for you in return. If you’ve met some of your neighbors previously, you can talk to them to stall for time and get to them know better.

You can also volunteer your services for the duration by helping people out in other areas, like a local shelter, soup kitchen, or a hospital. Maybe afterward, if you have free time, you can do continue to volunteer after the power outage is over, when you've felt great about lending a helping hand.

You can also call friends and family who live out-of-town or out-of-state with your cell phone, Android, iPhone. They might be worried if they can’t reach you. Rest assure them, that it’s temporarily and will call them back when it’s over. Everyone loves to hear a warm and friendly voice from their family or friends. And for those who work, call your workplace to find out the status if they were hit or not by the power outage. If not, then you can go to work as normal, until the lights are back on. If so, find out how long it would be closed. For those who have children in school or college, you can call them to find out if it’s closed for the day and for how long.

Tip: Recharge your cell phone or iPhone the night before to make a call or send them a text about the situation.

Power Outage ideas

Will you try any of these ideas, when the lights go out?

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Final notes

These are many ideas on how to keep you busy when the lights go out. Make sure you have lighters or matches for candles as a back-up light source. Stock up on batteries for flashlights. File a spare portable freezer or cooler with ice to keep your perishable food cold for the time being. As long as you stay active, you’re being proactive for you and your family.

Tell me about your power outage thoughts down below in the comments

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    • Kristen Howe profile image
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      Kristen Howe 19 months ago from Northeast Ohio

      Thanks Farawaytree! I appreciate your kind words and visit.

    • Farawaytree profile image

      Michelle Zunter 19 months ago from California

      Good one Kristen! Yes, imagine actually spending time with your family without TV or computers! ;)

    • Kristen Howe profile image
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      Kristen Howe 22 months ago from Northeast Ohio

      Thanks Vellur. It would help pass the time and prevent boredom.

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 22 months ago from Dubai

      Great ideas to spend time during power outages. Bonding with family and neighbors is a great idea.

    • Kristen Howe profile image
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      Kristen Howe 2 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      So true. I'll be working on that hub this weekend and will post here before I publish it for QP ONE MORE TIME.

    • Glenn Stok profile image

      Glenn Stok 2 years ago from Long Island, NY

      You're welcome Kristen. The forums are a great way to discover one another.

    • Kristen Howe profile image
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      Kristen Howe 2 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      Thanks Glenn for your kind words and comments. Glad you've made it through the hurricane season okay. Thanks for your comments to my forum question too.

    • Glenn Stok profile image

      Glenn Stok 2 years ago from Long Island, NY

      These are very good suggestions. I really should keep a few flashlights around. I only have one and not enough batteries either in case I need to replace them. I do keep candles ready just for that day when we have a long power outage.

      I have a UPS on my computer which provides power for about 25 minutes. That gives me time to compete my work and shut down without losing what I was doing.

      In 2012 we were hit by a hurricane that knocked out power for several days. At least I prepared for it and got through it, living like in the Stone Age.

    • Kristen Howe profile image
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      Kristen Howe 2 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      Emge, thanks so much for stopping by to comment. Stay safe!

    • emge profile image

      Madan 2 years ago from Abu Dhabi

      Great suggestion, unfortunately we are so much used to electricity that we are lost if theres a outage

    • Kristen Howe profile image
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      Kristen Howe 2 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      Susie, oh no! Thanks my friend. It's the least we can do, when the light go down. Stay safe and thanks for the visit!

    • colorfulone profile image

      Susie Lehto 2 years ago from Minnesota

      Funny, because it was about two weeks ago that the phone / internet service was out if the area for about 8 hours. Days later the electricity was out for about 5 hours. I like all your suggestions on what we can do in a power outage. Up votes!

    • Kristen Howe profile image
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      Kristen Howe 2 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      Alexa, stay dry my friend. Family time is always good to stay occupied, even with your pets! Thanks for the comment.

    • alexadry profile image

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 2 years ago from USA

      This happens quite often now that we're in full swing monsoon season, I often feel good about it though, as it takes me off my computer giving me the opportunity to enjoy some time with my family and dogs!

    • Kristen Howe profile image
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      Kristen Howe 2 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      Thanks Ologsinquito for stopping by. You're so right.

    • ologsinquito profile image

      ologsinquito 2 years ago from USA

      There is so much we can do offline, and a power outage is a good reminder of that. Think of all the extra prayers that would be said during a blackout. Computers are necessary, but they can be so distracting.

    • Kristen Howe profile image
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      Kristen Howe 2 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      Thanks Peg for stopping by and commenting on my hub. I agree that winter blackouts are tough ones. Great ideas you've did in the winter.

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 2 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      Great ideas to keep busy when technology is unavailable. Out in the country where we live there are frequent power outages. It's not too bad if the power comes back on within a couple of hours but when it's off for hours in the winter during a snowstorm it can get freezing cold in here. We keep a supply of batteries for our weather radio, candles for light, a kerosene lantern for the bathroom counter top and have a wood burning stove for a heat source with a stack of logs outside.

    • Kristen Howe profile image
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      Kristen Howe 2 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      Thanks Moonlake. Glad you've made it out okay.

    • moonlake profile image

      moonlake 2 years ago from America

      We had a small power outage tonight. I hate it when that happens but you have some good ideas. Voted up

    • Kristen Howe profile image
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      Kristen Howe 2 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      Nalini, thanks for stopping by. You're right--we should do it normally and not far behind.

    • Kristen Howe profile image
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      Kristen Howe 2 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      Thanks Nalini for stopping by and commenting. You're right about incorporating some ideas to a regular schedule. But it's good to have it out there.

    • Nalini Marquez profile image

      Nalini Marquez 2 years ago

      Kristen, this is a good list of things to do in a brownout and/or blackout.

      It would be good to incorporate this list during the week or in a normal schedule as well but we're often too connected to technological and electronic things that it probably takes a brownout/blackout to get us to finally do these things. Voted up and useful!

    • Kristen Howe profile image
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      Kristen Howe 2 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      Thanks Stephanie for stopping by. Well, it's best to keep busy, even if housework, chores and errands. Good for you for having candles and extra batteries laying around.

    • Stephanie Henkel profile image

      Stephanie Henkel 2 years ago from USA

      It seems that we used to lose power more often years ago (when we lived in the northeast) due to snow storms and other bad weather. So often, the power went out in late afternoon or evening. We always had candles on hand and batteries for the flashlights. In day time, playing games with the kids kept us all from getting bored and cranky! Good ideas, except for the housework! LOL

    • Kristen Howe profile image
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      Kristen Howe 2 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      Thanks Linda for stopping by. I hope these ideas will help pass the time, when a hurricane rolls by. Stay safe!

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 2 years ago from Orlando, FL

      Living in Hurricane Alley I am always prepared for loss of power and since I am prepared I only lost power once in 29 years for about 6 hours during a hurricane. You offered great suggestions! :)

    • Kristen Howe profile image
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      Kristen Howe 2 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      Thanks for visiting Dan. Good choices. If you have a fireplace, good for it. If not, stay warm under blankets and comforters with sweats.

    • wilderness profile image

      Dan Harmon 2 years ago from Boise, Idaho

      My favorite is either a book or sleep. If it's dark but still early, the two of us may sit by the fire and snuggle or chat.

    • Kristen Howe profile image
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      Kristen Howe 2 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      Wow, that's interesting to know about the AC, esp. during the summer. Thanks for that tip. I believe that happened last year in my old home state, due to the winter weather. Thanks for dropping by.

    • Dolores Monet profile image

      Dolores Monet 2 years ago from East Coast, United States

      Hi Kristen - a few years ago we had a huge storm that knocked out power for 3 or 4 days. It was 100 degrees out. We visited friends and sat in the yard talking. On one street, one side had power while the other did not. The whole street was covered with outdoor power cords. Neighbors supplied power to the folks across the street.

      An air conditioning man told me that when the power goes out, turn off the AC. The sudden jolt when it comes back on can damage the system, he said.

    • Kristen Howe profile image
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      Kristen Howe 2 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      Wow Patty. That's some heatwave. I'm glad you were able to go to the library to cool down back then to read, talk and go online. Thanks for the visit.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 2 years ago from North America

      The worst for us was the July of 2012, when the heat was over 100 degrees F for a week and the power went down for the same week in over a third of the city. The libraries opened on the 4th of July to help people cool down. A lot of us went to the library and read, talked, and charged cellphones. Their Internet worked, so that helped.

    • Kristen Howe profile image
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      Kristen Howe 2 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      Thanks Sharp Points. Pen and paper with candlelight isn't too bad either.

    • Sharp Points profile image

      Sharp Points 2 years ago from Big Bear Lake, California

      Nice ideas! I try to get some candlelight and write the old fashioned way. Sometimes it feels good not to be staring at a screen anyway. Great hub as always!

    • Kristen Howe profile image
      Author

      Kristen Howe 2 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      Good idea, Flourish. Naps are perfect, when you're in a silent dark room. Thanks for the comment, my friend.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

      These ideas are good for snowstorms and other weather emergencies that result in downed power lines. I use it as a good opportunity to sleep!

    • Kristen Howe profile image
      Author

      Kristen Howe 2 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      You're very welcome, Alicia. It's what I came up with, not too long ago. I'm sure there's more. But i ran the gamut of ideas. Thanks for stopping by.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      There are some good ideas in this hub, Kristen. There hasn't been a power failure in my area for a long time, but it could happen at any time. Thanks for sharing all the useful suggestions.

    • Kristen Howe profile image
      Author

      Kristen Howe 2 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting. I had a longer one, which was 78 hours.

    • Venkatachari M profile image

      Venkatachari M 2 years ago from Hyderabad, India

      Very interesting and useful topic. Just I experienced full 24 hours power outage from 8 pm on 13/04/15 to 6 pm on 14/04/15 due to hailstorm and electric poll breaking down causing blackout in entire colony.

      I spent reading magazines on spirituality, news papers and listening to some good music along with both my sons. Besides this, I have my regular daily routine of cooking food and other work. So, it does not bother me too much.

    • Kristen Howe profile image
      Author

      Kristen Howe 2 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      Thanks so much, Bill. Glad you've managed for a whole week in the dark. and were safe. Always good to hear from you, my friend. ;-)

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      All good suggestions, Kristen. I'm happy to report we haven't had a power outage for four years, but the last one was a doozy...seven days. We were scrambling for things to do and trying very hard not to kill each other. LOL

    • Kristen Howe profile image
      Author

      Kristen Howe 2 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      Thanks so much Ermese. I thought outside the box and highlighted many things you can do to spend the time in the dark. Thanks for visiting with your vote.

    • Emese Fromm profile image

      EmeseRéka 2 years ago from The Desert

      Great ideas. Thank you for sharing them. :) . As a child I grew up with power outages, some of them done on purpose (this was behind the "Iron Curtain", so indeed we had a period of time when each night we had no electricity for an hour), and never thought anything of them. They were just part of life. However, I have only experienced a black-out once since living in the US, due to a storm, and it lasted a few hours; didn't help that we live in the desert and it was summer, so the hardest thing for us to deal with was no air conditioning. We just solved it by getting wet (we still had running water), other than that we just had some really great family time :) Sometimes power outages bring the family together, since there are no distraction like Internet, TV and other media. You wrote a great hub on a good topic.

    • Kristen Howe profile image
      Author

      Kristen Howe 2 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      Thanks Poetyman for stopping by my newest hub and commenting. Always come prepared for a blackout.

    • poetryman6969 profile image

      poetryman6969 2 years ago

      Some good ideas about what to do if the power is not up to snuff. As you pointed out the time to take care of batteries is before you need them. It's sort of sad to have a drawer full of discharged rechargeable batteries and an idle charger because you never got around to putting tab A in slot B!

      Voted up.