Most people have flashlights and candles, and perhaps a battery-operated radio on hand. These are all great items to have when the power goes out unexpectedly. In addition, there are five good things to have ready when the electricity goes out:
1. Food that can be prepared without electricity.
I created three bins that contain food for three days in the event that the electricity goes off and the refrigerator, stove, and oven cannot be used. Some of the food requires no preparation (e.g., crackers, fruit) while others need the camp stove to make.
Three days' worth of food that doesn't
take electricity to make.
It's a good idea to purchase perishable food in containers small enough that your family can consume the food in one sitting since refrigeration would not be available (unless, of course, your power goes out during the middle of winter in Minnesota where temperatures do get below freezing).
If you haven't had a use for the food after six months, take a look at the expiration dates and eat the food before the expiration date passes. Make sure to replenish the food so that the bins are ready to use in case of an emergency.
2. Water for All Family Members, Pets, and Livestock
Last month, when the electricity went off due to a person driving into the electric pole at the end of the road and cutting off power to all the homes along the road, we were without power for over ten hours. At that time, we had no extra water on hand - just the Britta water pitcher that was half full. Needless to say, those ten hours were a bit challenging.
A small start towards the amount of water needed
during an electricity outage.
It's recommended that you have 1 gallon of water per person per day (2 quarts for drinking and 2 for food preparation/sanitation). Since we also have pets and horses, it's important to have water for them as well.
Remember to put water in containers that are easy to carry. One gallon of water weighs 8 pounds. A 5-gallon container weighs 40 pounds.
3. A Temporary Toilet or Water for an Existing Toilet
If you have a lot of extra water on hand, you can simply use the toilets in your home by pouring a bucket of water directly into the toilet bowl and flushing. The contents will swirl away. You need to manually fill the tank if you want more water in the toilet bowl.
If your water is in short supply, it's best to use what you have in gallon containers for personal consumption and cooking. So, then you have a couple of options: you can either use a 5-gallon bucket with a toilet seat on top or get a portable toilet that's designed for camping use.
Portable toilet with bags (upper left and center).
Solar shower (upper right).
4. Solar Shower
In the picture above, there's a picture of a solar shower. This is an easy-to-find item at this time of the year since they're sold with the camping supplies. Solar showers can be used in the summer when the sun heats the black bag holding the water.
If the power unexpectedly stops in the winter, use a large storage bin and fill 2 containers with water: one hot and one cold. Put the hot one in first and then add the cold until it is a comfortable temperature. Take a bath in the warmest part of the house. Go from the cleanest person to the dirtiest. Have soap, washcloths, towels, and clean clothes nearby.
If you have a use for solar shower besides when the power goes out, check out this DIY outdoor shower from Off the Urban Grid.
5. Camp Stove and Fuel
If the power is out for a prolonged period of time, most likely you'll need to cook a meal. Having a camp stove and fuel on hand is a way to make food that would give you energy that you'll need...especially if you're doing hard work (e.g., clean up after a major storm or tornado).
Coleman camp stove that uses either
liquid fuel or unleaded gasoline.
It's a good idea to get comfortable with using the stove prior to needing to use it. If you have children, having an outdoor dinner or camping in the backyard not only is fun, but it can help prepare your family when the power does go off.
The camp stove pictured above is the one that I have. What I like about it is that it can use either liquid fuel or unleaded gasoline (most camp stove use liquid fuel only). At this point, unleaded gasoline is less expensive than liquid fuel, so that is a less expensive way to cook. Also, in the event of an emergency and if no liquid fuel is readily available, simply going to the gas station and filling up a container of gasoline is easy to do.