If you mainly depend on electrical power from the grid, there are chances that you may have experienced a power outage. Temporary power grid failures in main grids are common and result from electromagnetic pulses, cyber-attacks, hurricanes, and solar flares.
Although the local authorities and power companies sometimes may warn you, power outages are, in most cases, abrupt. They catch you unaware, and you may get stranded after they arise.
The problem with power failures is that there is no defined time for their resolution. They may take a day, a week, or even weeks. That could mean a while without refrigerated food, laptop power, or even elevators if you did not plan earlier.
Power outages can cause many damages like short-circuiting your electronic appliances, direct losses resulting from the inoperability of your electrical systems, and even psychological torture. Thus, seeking knowledge about surviving a power outage is necessary regardless of where you live.
So, do you know how you can survive if the electrical power goes off? Unfortunately, for too many people, the answer is most likely nothing.
However, knowing how to survive a power outage is a genuine concern. While we can prevent some causes of power outages, unfortunately, some cannot. A medium or prolonged power outage is a disaster that you must be well equipped to handle.
Power grids are woefully inadequate and cannot withstand a cyber-attack or a disaster like a major storm or hurricane which could result in downed power lines. Power outage protection is helpful in preparing for future power outages. This article will act as a guide to give you survival tips to prepare for a power outage.
Surviving a blackout is a skill that everyone must possess. Having such a skill can help a person save his electronic gadgets from short circuits. We currently live in a world of the internet of things. These interconnected devices rely on power to keep them running.
Imagine if a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine fails because of a power outage, or streetlights stop functioning because they lost power.
There can be commotions and accidents on every right, left, and center. Commuters using electric trains would never arrive at work because the primary power source is off. The effects of power failures are not only monetary.
Extended outages can cause deaths too. The extents of the repercussions of power outage are dire. Thankfully, there are ways you can prepare yourself for this, as the next section will illustrate.
Surviving a Power Outage: What You Need to Know
As we saw above, there are various tips and ways to prepare for surviving a power outage. However, do not be left in the dark simply because you were not ready or could not expect the blackout. This section will look at various ways to be prepared for a power outage and what to do after it occurs. So let’s dive in.
Buy a Power Generator
The first point in being ready for when the electrical power goes off is to have an alternative source to power your establishment, be it your home or business. An automatic power generator is the best for this. It automatically kicks in when the power goes off, ensuring that you continue enjoying the lighting and other services that it can power.
Power generators differ in size and power. Therefore, you need to consider what kind of generator that you need carefully. So, what are the considerations that you should make before purchasing a power generator for an emergency?
- The amount of power the generator will deliver
The first thing to consider before you buy a power generator is its power rating. Generator sizes differ in terms of power that they can deliver. However, there are two types of power, continuous or running power and surge/peak power. The surge power is vital when starting up large electrical appliances like an air conditioning system, a refrigerator, or a washing machine.
The power rating of a power generator can be as low as 300W and as high as 10KW. So, to determine what generator to buy, your lifestyle comes into play. For example, how many electrical appliances do you intend to run?
What are the essential appliances? What is the total power that on these appliances? After figuring out the total energy for the critical equipment, buy a power backup generator that exceeds the total by 20% power.
- The number and types of electrical plugs on the generator
How many electrical plugs are available? What are their types? The plugs must be compatible with the cords on your appliances. Otherwise, you will have a generator that does not power your electrical system because of incompatibility. Many standard power generators only have a 12V plug suitable for a standard extension cord, run the lights, and other small-sized electrical appliances.
- Type of fuel
Generators can run on various fuel types. However, most run on either diesel or gasoline. Others may run on gases like propane. The power generator’s tank capacity should have enough fuel to last for some time. A dual-powered generator is even better. Remember that fossil fuel-powered generators pollute the environment with carbon monoxide.
Other things to consider before buying a generator are price, runtime, noise levels, grounding method, motor, and how to start it. you should also ensure you install a carbon monoxide detector to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.
Solar Power Stations and Solar Panels
The other way to power your home after an outage is using solar power. As we saw above, fossil fuel power generators pollute the environment. They are not eco-friendly. Besides being a renewable source of energy, solar power stations are also portable and provide clean power.
Solar panels collect the sunlight and convert solar energy into electrical energy. Solar power stations comprise a battery, inverter, and charge controller. The battery stores the power for later use. At the same time, the inverter converts the DC power into AC power that various appliances in your establishment can use.
In case of a power blackout, the energy stored by the portable solar power station can run various appliances. Solar panels come in different power ratings. However, most household solar panels today produce 100-400 watts every hour.
This is enough power to run essential appliances and provide lighting at night. Therefore, ensure that you check the solar panel wattage and the battery capacity of the portable power station. Solar energy is cheap, and there are minimal costs in maintaining solar generators compared to gas or diesel generators.
Heating and Cooling
Power blackouts are disruptive and affect every other device connected to electricity. HVACs are not left behind. In case of power, blackouts, and you have a standby generator, it can run your HVAC system.
Cooling during a summer power outage is essential depending on the age of your dependents or the season. Seniors require properly regulated environments and not extreme heat, be it taking a bath to lower the body temperature.
If in a winter storm, you need a mechanism for heating your house or office. Since an HVAC cannot work without power, you can go traditional if you do not have an alternative power source.
Use some wood to warm your house. Keep the seniors warm during the winter weather. Turn off your HVAC at the thermostat or prevent abrupt power on in case the power comes on.
An emergency radio is a receiver that remains fully functional in a power outage or any other form of emergency. It can run on renewable energy sources like solar. They can cover FM and AM broadcasting and shortwave coverage where local radio is out of reach.
An emergency radio allows you to get updates on when the power is expected to return. You can also use it to broadcast various alerts through the emergency system. It is helpful in areas that are prone to emergencies, like hurricanes, storms, and tornadoes.
Ensure that you have one to stay updated on the outside developments in the occurrence of a power outage. As per FCC regulations, all cell phone towers should have a 4-hour battery backup. With usages lasting for weeks, you need to have a way of communicating with your family. An emergency radio is your solution.
Flashlights or Lanterns and Extra Batteries
Although it may not be as pressing as not having water or food, not having light can also be a nuisance. Walking around without seeing what is in front of you can cause an accident or death.
However, a mundane thing like a broken toe may differ between death and life in survival mode. Thus, having some light in a blackout is necessary.
Keep some flashlights and extra fresh batteries or dry cells as they may come in handy during a blackout. Also, having solar-powered lanterns, dry cell-powered can be a life savior.
The next thing to have is food. Ensure that you have food stocked in your house or cupboard because, in case of an extended power blackout, you can be assured that food will not come soon. In dire need of food, people craft various creative solutions to ensure that their stomachs remain full.
A power outage can disrupt food production and distribution. Therefore, there arise food shortages in supermarkets, and the little that is there becomes expensive. The shortage and the increase in prices are also associated with panic buying as the word spreads out.
Most people depend on the use of debit cards. Do you think the supermarket will accept it? Where will you get the cash? Electricity also powered ATMs, meaning they are off.
Keep food in a cooked state. During a summer power outage, If milk stays at room temperature for long, it will go sour and may even become unsafe. Cooked food has a longer shelf life than uncooked food. however, if you have a gas grill, you can still find your way to making some good food for yourself without leftovers.
Drying up water is the biggest of a power loss. Besides those people who have some wells, many rely on water systems that require electrical power to operate. In a power outage in a water processing and treatment plant, you lose access to the necessity.
It means that you may enter a water rationing plan because you know water is not coming back soon. A person should take a gallon of drinking water every day. Pets are included as well. You need water for drinking, cooking, bathing, among other needs.
Therefore, ensure that you have your emergency water supply. If you live near a water source like a river, then you are in luck. However, boil water now and then, as river water is not safe for drinking. If you can, drill a well or connect your home to well-water. Then, you will have an uninterrupted supply of water.
First Aid kit
During a blackout, there is much darkness. The commotion created by the outage can injure your relative or friend. Therefore, it is vital to have a first aid kit and skills to attend to the victim. Remember that in such cases, hospitals are overwhelmed. Thus, administering first aid may save a life. Ensure that in your first aid kit, there are enough bandages, pain relievers, and ointments.
Tips For Surviving a Blackout
- Be ready for power surges.
The entire power grid becomes unstable as the utility companies try to resolve the blackout. It leads to surges in power that can destroy your electronic gadgets. Therefore, switch off and unplug everything whenever there is a power blackout. To know when the power is back, you can leave the lights on.
- Bring your solar lights inside.
Solar lights can provide a few hours of lighting. Therefore, you spare the flashlight batteries for those tasks that need more light. Unlike candles that can end up burning your house, solar lights are safe. Ensure that you set your l solar landscape lights out for recharging during the daytime.
- Close the freezer
In many freezers, food can stay frozen for about three days and below 400 F for a couple of days. It is vital during a blackout because you can keep your refrigerated and frozen food safe.
- Charge with your car
When you need to recharge your smartphone or tablet during a blackout, remember your car. Its battery holds enough power to charge your tablet or cell phones several times.
- Be ready for freezing.
Ensure that you drain the plumbing system if the indoor temperature comes near the freezing point. It prevents the pipes from bursting. Close the main valve that supplies water into your house and open the lowest one. To allow cool air into the system when the pipes are draining, open the other faucets.
- Use a water heater to heat your house.
When there is a power blackout, your furnace will not work, although your water heater may work. However, this is for gas models with no power vents. Fill your tubs and sinks with water. Drain the water when it cools down to room temperatures.
- Write the important contacts.
During a power blackout, your phone may run out of power. However, you may still need to communicate with outside people. The safest way to ensure that you can reach the outside world is by writing the critical contacts and keeping them manually. Therefore, then you come across a person with a mobile phone, you can borrow one and call.
Also Read: Best Solar Generators 
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How Do You Prepare For a Blackout?
For you to survive a power outage, you must think about emergency preparedness. Various components come in handy. You cannot predict when an outage will occur. Therefore, taking power outage protection steps is the best way to stay ahead. Preparation for power outages include;
- Buying a standby power generator
- Installing solar panels and leveraging solar energy
- Stocking enough food and water that can run you for weeks
- Buying oil lamps, flashlights, and several battery cells.
- Having a disaster/ a first aid kit and an emergency radio, and
- Knowing how to purify water.
Though these steps will not get you to your comfort zone, they will ensure that you at least live a modest life when you lose power. First, take an inventory of the essential items that rely on electricity and plan your alternative sources to meet these needs. Next, determine how long the alternative backup power sources will last.
How Can You Stay Comfortable During Power Outages?
The best way to ensure comfort during a power outage is by having an alternative source of energy. The alternative source may be a backup power generator, a solar generator, or a solar panel.
In case of a power failure, the alternative sources kick in automatically if you have a transfer switch installed. You will hear from others that there was a power failure.
You can use the alternative energy source to power entertainment and other leisure function like warming or cooling your house using an HVAC system.
Ensure that you purchase a portable solar power station to reap maximum benefits. You can also use heavy blankets and keep the doors shut. Do you have a fireplace? Light up some fire to keep the house warm.
How Can I Protect My Appliances During a Power Outage?
As we saw above, as the technicians from the utility company work to resolve the outage, there is a possibility of a buildup of surge power. It may damage your appliances when the power comes back. Therefore, to ensure that your appliances are safe, unplug them from the sockets and return them once the power is back.
This will avoid short-circuiting by the surge power. That is the only sure power outage protection for your electronic appliances.
What Should You Not Do During a Blackout?
You should always avoid a few things during the blackout. Below are some things to avoid during a power outage:
- Do not use candles for lighting. They may end up burning your house.
- During a summer power outage, ensure that the full freezer is always closed to keep your food in the right state and make it stay for a few more days.
- Do not enter the pooling water. Entering pools of water may expose you to electrocution when the power finds you inside.
- Do not use all your battery power up. You may need to make a call to your neighbors or relatives.
- Do not keep your appliances plugged in. When power comes back, the surge of power may destroy them.
- Never forget to keep stoked water. Dehydration may have more dire consequences compared to hunger.
These are a few things to stay away from during a blackout. They may cause financial loss or bodily harm. Therefore, your safety is of utmost importance.
For people who use the power from the national grid, a power outage is not a novel experience. However, the occurrence of power outages can cause dire consequences, especially if you had not prepared.
As we have seen above, there is various equipment that you need to have to be ready to face a blackout. Adhere to the safety precautions above, and you will have a comfortable life even with power outages.
For a small, solar power generator to help power devices and small appliances, you can consider the Goal Zero Yeti 500X or a Renogy Phoenix. For a more powerful, standby generator to power the whole house or major appliances, the Briggs & Stratton 10,000W Standby Home Generation is a good choice to consider.
I’ve always been a lover of Mechanics and the engineering that goes on behind it. Naturally had a knack for fixing things and i’ve had lots of adventures that generators are second nature to me.