How to Survive a Power Outage
Top Four Ways to Survive a Power Outage
- Understand family and food safety
- Determine if you will stay or leave your house
- Maintain quality of life
- Be a good friend and neighbor
We have all had our power go out due to storms or any sort of bad weather. More than anything, lack of electricity in your house is a major nuisance. What becomes bigger than an annoyance is sustained lack of power. Anyone can tolerate a power outage for a couple of hours, but what if you were like us and on day eight of a power outage?
Hurricane like winds ripped through our Midwestern city toppling eighteen power lines on a busy street. As a result, we have been living without power for over a week.
How do you deal with a power outage?
Enjoy Grilling OutClick thumbnail to view full-size
Critical Food Safety
- A refrigerator will become unsafe when the temperature gauge reads greater than 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Consider purchasing ice and keeping dairy products in a cooler.
- A partially full freezer has twenty-four hours before food reaches a danger zone
- A full freezer has forty-eight hours before food reaches a danger zone.
- Try to limit or prevent opening refrigerators and freezers to contain as much cold air as possible.
Family and Food Safety
It is critical to triage the situation and understand how long your power could be out. Often when power outages are reported, estimates are given stating when power will be restored. Because our estimate was initially five to seven days, we needed to deal quickly with some critical items: temperature of the house and freezer and refrigerator items.
If you are anticipating successive days with a lack of power and you are elderly, have an infant, or have compromised health, you may want to consider temporary housing or a cooling station. Local churches and the American Red Cross offer cooling stations and shelters. Excessive heat or cold may not be suitable conditions for waiting out a power outage. Assess your situation and understand your family needs.
After evaluating our family situation, we moved on to our food. We purchase one quarter of a cow each year. Cooking all the meat was not an option and neither was losing our beef investment. We chose to immediately find a friend with power and freezer space.
We additionally needed to evaluate what food could be grilled and what we were willing to lose.
This power outage was a learning opportunity and that first afternoon we realized that the following items could be grilled:
- Chicken nuggets and French fries
- Cookie Dough
We lined the grill with foil and the nuggets and fries turned out just like in the oven. The cauliflower was roasted and is now my new favorite was to prepare this vegetable. It was amazing. I kept the cookie dough in a block and the edges got a little brown. I had trouble getting it off the foil. I ended up with a pile of warm, cooked cookie on a plate. We topped it with thawing ice cream, passed out the forks and the kids went to town.
Once we knew that our food was safe, we had a chance to be adventurous. The kids had fun and what did we really have to lose?
What is a Heat Index?
- What Is the Heat Index?
The heat index, or apparent temperature, is even more important than the thermometer's reading when you're planning outdoor activities. Learn about the heat index, how it is calculated, and how it affects your body.
What is your longest power outage?
Where to Stay During a Power Outage
It was time for fight or flight. We do not have elderly, infants or anyone with compromised health in our family so we decided to wait out the outage. Due to a heat index of over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, many neighbors left and let us know of their departure.
If you decide to leave your home and sleep somewhere else during a power outage:
- Exchange cell phone information with a neighbor
- Let a neighbor know if plants or grass should be watered
- Notify neighbor if mail and paper will still be delivered
- Leave on an outside light so that it can be determined if power is restored
We ended up watching multiple houses, watering many plants and keeping an eye out for pockets of power being restored. We were pleased that our neighbor left their exterior lights on so we were able to let them know that while our power was not on, theirs had been restored and they could return home.
Generator SafetyClick thumbnail to view full-size
Quality of Life During a Power Outage
Because we have a basement that was much cooler than the remainder of the house and had access to a generator, we chose to stay. Our house is our largest financial investment and we wanted to make sure it was safe. If using a generator during a power outage, it is critical to review generator safety so that your family is unharmed.
With the generator, we were able to quickly rectify the thawing freezer and warming refrigerator. If you are lucky enough to use a generator, keep in mind others that do not. Offer to refrigerate or freeze food items. Spread the ‘generator’ wealth if you have it. In our situation, power resumed quickly for half of our neighborhood while others, like us, remained without power. In the midst of celebrating the return of your power, remember that others are still without. Take lending a hand to a new level. Offer your generator to those who do not have one. An idle generator is a wasted generator during a power outage.
There is a fine line between being proud and just being silly. We denied some offers for help on day one and two of the outage. After day three, we accepted offers to:
- Do a load of laundry
- Let the kids play at an air conditioned house
- Eat dinner a friend’s house
We have five children seven and under and needed to maintain some quality of life.
Understand the wattage of your generator and how appliances or electronics such as televisions and DVD players will affect its output. Our generator allowed us to plug in our basement television and DVD player. We set up mattresses on the floor and made a slumber party in the basement. We purchased two large bean bag chairs and put those in the basement as well. Two kids each night were chosen to sleep in the bean bag chairs. The kids have asked that the power not be restored so that they can continue to have summer slumber parties. I explained, “Let’s get the power back on and we can still do the slumber parties. There is no reason we can’t all be happy!”
Power Outage Quiz
view quiz statistics
Portable Air Conditioners
Be a Good Friend to Those in Need
The saying, “Treat others as you would like to be treated” speaks volumes during a power outage. I am amazed at the number of friends who checked in on us daily. Friends and family were offering visits to their houses and one even offered us their home while they are on vacation. A wonderful friend not only allowed us to use their washer and dryer, they returned our folded clothes to our house.
We will survive. At this point we might be a bit more than annoyed and a little bit sweaty. But, our family is safe and our kids are happy. We have maintained a positive attitude and our kids have yet to complain.
There are estimates that our power will return today. In the meantime, we reflect on the overall health and well-being of our family and friends. We are reminded of the wonderful support system that we have.
While we are sweaty and our patience is dwindling, what we lack in power, we make up for in blessings.