ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

How To Prepare For A Power Outage or Blackout

Updated on June 24, 2013


The reason I am writing this hub, is because last night, I had a revelation. OK, not really, but the power did go out and being a new apartment, I was not prepared for it. Luckily, my parents live not too far from here, and I was able to pawn some supplies of off them to survive the night. While the blackout that happened last night certainly was not the largest, it is the largest one I personally remember being involved in, with almost all buildings being out of power ranging from Lompoc, CA up through San Luis Obispo and up to Atascadero, CA, about an 80 mile range.

Let's face it, blackouts and power outages do happen, in fact the entire electrical grid in the United States is quite old, and as it ages, issues are prone to happen. Not knowing when and where they strike can be an issue, especially if they happen at night. While the usually are quite temporary, and only last a few minutes or even a couple hours, you never know when they can go on for days, even weeks, and it is important that you are prepared in the event.

There are a few things we are going to talk about here, including what supplies you should have on hand, what actions you should take, and a couple ways to keep everybody calm during the situation.


ArtVerse Unscented Wax 12 Hour Votive Candles 1.3"X1.8" 30/Pkg, White
ArtVerse Unscented Wax 12 Hour Votive Candles 1.3"X1.8" 30/Pkg, White

Plenty of long lasting candles that will easily get you through a few nights if necessary


Candles, Matches, and Flashlights

The first and most obvious thing to have in case of a blackout or power outage, is an alternate source of light (unless you are lucky enough to have a backup generator, which we will talk about further down the page). You can get decent sized, non-scented candles for extremely cheap, and they are extremely helpful to have during an outage, especially if you or someone in your household is afraid of the dark. Keep on hand a few boxes of matches or a couple good lighters as well, as you will need something to light them with.

Flashlights are great as well, the only thing to be cautious about is the battery life. They are great for if you need to go outside though, for instance if you think the power outage may just be a popped circuit breaker, and you need to go outside to reset the switch. If you do store a couple flashlights in case of emergency, I recommend a high-quality LED flashlight, as the battery will last much longer because LED bulbs use much less energy. Also be sure to keep extra batteries on hand in case the power outage last longer than a couple days (in a worst-case scenario), and in this case, name brand batteries do make a difference over cheap batteries. Lithium batteries are very high quality, but also very expensive, so your standard Duracell or Energizer alkaline batteries will do just fine.

Another possible alternative to a battery-powered flashlight in which you may have seen before, would be a crank operated flashlight. They have a crank on the side which generates power, and you can even get cranked operated radios as well. You simply crank the device for a few minutes, and you have a decent supply of energy which will power the flashlight or radio. I mention the radio, of course, because it will come in handy if you would like to see if anything on the news will reveal why the power went out or about how long you can expect it to last.

You should keep these items together, for instance in a kitchen drawer, or someplace where everybody in your household knows where to find them and has easy access to.

First Aid Kits

Johnson & Johnson All Purpose First Aid Kit
Johnson & Johnson All Purpose First Aid Kit

A basic, cost-effective first aid kit that will treat minor injuries


First Aid Kits

There are people who think every household should have a first aid kit, and other people who think they can get by on a box of band-aids. The truth is though, during a power outage or blackout, the lighting is limited and someone may accidentally trip over something, bump into something, or take a spill down a step or stairs inside the house. This is why it I am recommending that a first aid kits should be readily accessible in your household.

A proper first aid kit will include at least the following: bandages in various sizes, a roll of gauze, medical tape, scissors, hydrogen peroxide or some other antiseptic, an antibiotic ointment like Neosporin, and pain medication such as aspirin or ibuprofen. You can buy first aid kits in all sorts of varieties, and some will include many more items like self-heating or -cooling pads, burn ointments, etc.

First aid kits should be kept out of reach of small children, because of some of the chemicals and sharp objects they may include, but accessible enough so that older children and teenagers have access to it in case of emergency.

Nutrient and Water Supply

Non-Perishable Foods, Water, And A Gas Grill

Now if it just a short-term outage, which in most cases it is, these items may not be necessary, although they are still useful items to keep on hand in case of an emergency. On the other hand, if the blackout will stretch on for a full day or even longer, you will need some backup food, and a source to cook it with (if you have an electric stove, that is).

By non-perishable foods, we generally mean canned and boxed foods you would typically find in a pantry. Canned items can include soups, beans, other canned vegetables and canned fruits, and more. Boxed items can be things such as macaroni-and-cheese, pastas, rices, etc.

You should also have a few gallons of water on hand, for general drinking use, and in case you need it to cook some of your non-perishable foods. You can pick up a few gallon containers from the grocery store, or you can keep a 5-gallon jug or two on hand in which you can fill from any local dispenser for very cheap.
*TIP* If you have a case or more of water bottles on hand, you can fill up the extra space in your freezer or refrigerator to help keep the items cold for a longer amount of time. The water will act as an insulator, because they take longer to change temperature than the empty airspace does.

If you do happen to have an electric stove, it is a good idea to keep a small, portable gas stove such as one you would use while camping, so you have a means of cooking.

Keeping The Children Sane Without Electricity

One of the toughest things about a power outage might be keeping the kids calm and entertained while there is no power in your house. That is why it is a good idea to keep a few games your family can play, such as Monopoly, Sorry, etc. They may also find entertainment in a handheld video game system, such as Sony's PSP or newer PS Vita, or Nintendo's DS and 3DS line. The battery on these devices will last at least a few hours if they are fully charged, and may be just what your child needs to get through the outage.

The Best Preparation For A Blackout

The ultimate way to stay prepared for a blackout is to not lose electricity. But how can you do that? You've seen portable generators like those used in RVs and on camping trips, but there are also companies who specialize in backup generators for household use, in case of power outages. How do you think places like banks, or police stations and hospitals are able to maintain power during outages?

While they are a more expensive route to take, they can be quite useful in case of emergencies. You wouldn't lose power to your refrigerator and have to worry about food, you can still use your electric stove to prepare food, and best of all, you don't lose lighting! Not only do you get to keep your necessities, you can also maintain the power to your computers, TVs, wireless network, and so on. So while they may not be for everyone, you can decide for yourself how much your power is worth to you in case of a blackout or other emergency situation.

Blackout Preparedness

How prepared are you for a power outage?

See results

Actions To Take During A Blackout

The first thing you should do in case of a blackout when it is after dark, is to setup your sources of lighting. Put a candle in each room of the house, but make sure it is in a proper container and not around anything the can catch on fire. Also, make sure everyone is alright and nobody got hurt bumping into anything. You should also call any relatives nearby that may have been affected, to make sure everybody is doing alright and has the necessary supplies.

While some people will recommend to call the police department or electric company, I advise against it, because if the outage is affecting more than just your own house, their telephone lines will already be flooded with other callers who are wanting to know what happened.

I hate to take it to this scenario, but the facts show that in a mass power outage, crime rates go up while the power is out. Avoid going outside if you can, and while inside, make sure you have some sort of protection with you. This can be a weapon you are licensed to carry, or even a baseball bat or something similar. I would avoid going out driving at all, because it will be very dark with no street lights, leaving driver's vulnerable to vandalism or car theft, and leaving pedestrian's vulnerable of not being seen.

You may be able to check the news from a battery- or crank-operated radio, or your smart phone, but remember that if the power goes out, you have no way to charge your cell phone so use it wisely. Also, if you have a home wireless network, it will be down also so if you have a laptop, you won't have access to the internet unless you have a data card or hotspot with a cell phone service provider.

I know and admit that I was not prepared for our blackout here on California's central coast last night, but luckily it only lasted a couple hours. By the amount of people that were affected by it though, I would not have been surprised had it lasted longer than that.

The items shown in this article are not only helpful for blackouts, but will prove useful in case of any emergency or natural disaster situation. So ask yourself and think about it, how prepared are you for a lengthy power outage or any other disaster if one were to occur?


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • eugbug profile image

      Eugene Brennan 

      5 years ago from Ireland

      Luckily where I live we almost never get blackouts. If power is being cut due to scheduled maintenance, we are notified by mail a couple of weeks in advance. On average once a year or maybe every two years, power may be cut for less than an hour if a fault occurs. The only item I would be worried about is the freezer, but power is never off more than about 4 or 5 hours so its never become an issue on how to power it.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)