Updated: December 19, 2020

Prepare for a Power Outage Checklist

by Charles Jasper

We live with electrical power everywhere in our current age. It’s virtually impossible to go anywhere without interacting with electricity in some way, whether that’s through an electrical outlet or via battery. Electricity is becoming even more important as we move to a post-fossil fuel economy and life. New battery and electrical technology has made appliances and household items that used to run on gasoline or by plugging into an antique outlet more efficient and green than ever.

Prepare for a Power Outage Checklist

Preparation is the key to success in case of a power outage. Ensuring you have everything you need before one strikes is key to getting through it unscathed. The items you need can be separated into two categories and checklists. First, there are a number of items that all households should have at all times, regardless of impending storms. Power outages are caused by more than just storms that can be predicted. The other category is for things to stock up on when an emergency is expected that could cause a power outage. Let’s take a look at both

Things to Have On Hand at All Times

• Non-perishable foods

It’s always a good idea to have things you can eat if you lose power and are without it for several days. This includes canned meats, vegetables and fruits, trail mix, protein bars, and soup. Canned tuna is also a great source of protein. Also, consider shelf stable milk. Finally, if you have an infant, ensure you have extra formula that you can rotate through.

• Water

Having a few jugs in your basement never hurts and is important to have in case you ever lose power. Your tap isn’t controlled by electricity? Still good to have water around as a power outage can contaminate water treatment centers and pipes around you.

• Flashlights and lanterns

Have a number of alternate sources of light around that can help you navigate a darkened house and yard.

• Batteries

All sizes, regardless of whether you think you need them or not. Odds are you’re forgetting about some out-of-the-way appliance that requires a D-battery you didn’t know about.

• Alcohol wipes and gels

Hygiene is important at all times, but especially when you do not have power. To conserve water, you can use alcohol-based gels to clean your hands and prevent the spread of germs.

Prepare for a Power Outage Checklist

Basic first aid kit

This includes bandages, gauze, tape, scissors, pain killers, and other items that can help if you injure yourself while your power is out. It’s also a good idea to have a small instruction book of common emergency procedures, like CPR, use of a tourniquet, and more. You can often buy a first aid kit that contains all of these items and store the instructions inside.

• Generator

If there are items in your home that simply must run regardless of the power coming from the street, consider getting a generator. Be sure the generator meets your needs and is able to power everything you need it too.

• Hand-crank radio

Radios don’t require a ton of electricity and you can get a hand-crank-operated version fairly cheap. It’s important to be able to stay in touch with news, especially during a disaster.

• Unscented candles

It might seem nice to have a bunch of fresh linen or summer breeze candles burning at once, but it will quickly become too much. Unscented candles give light without the smells.

• Matches & Sterno cans

Keep a book or two of matches on hand and consider having a box or so of Sterno cans. These will help you light and cook food if needed.

• Duct tape

The most versatile of items, duct tape can be used to mend broken windows, keep water out, and even splint a broken bone. Grab a few rolls to have around.

• Utility tool &can opener

Sometimes the same thing, it’s smart to have a multi-utility tool like a Leatherman or at the very least, a stout, sharp knife. Additionally, consider having a manual can opener for the non-perishables.

Things to Have When Bad Weather/Emergencies are Expected

If bad weather or other disasters are on their way, there are a few things you want to ensure you’re stocked up on, and a few procedures you should follow.

• Power packs

Good in a pinch, these rechargeable packs will help you keep your phone charged and connected. A disaster isn’t the time to play games on the phone, however, as you’ll have to find somewhere to charge the packs when they run out.

Prepare for a Power Outage Checklist

• Extra medication

You don’t want to be caught down to your very last blood pressure pill as a hurricane bears down on your neighborhood. If you hear tell of extreme weather, ensure your prescriptions are filled.

• Actual games and books

Not iPads, not Kindles, but honest-to-goodness paper books and games. You’ll have to pass the time somehow.

• Updated call sheets

Ensure that you have updated paper contact sheets with important numbers. This should include the contacts for any important family members and friends, doctors, the local fire, EMS, and police non-emergency lines—the emergency line is 911—and the number for the poison control center.

Prepare for a Power Outage Checklist

• Gasoline

Whether you have a generator or not, it’s never a bad idea to have some gas around.

• Water

Fill your bathtub and let it sit - this water can be used to flush the toilet as necessary.

What to Do During a Power Outage

First, ensure you keep all refrigerators and freezers closed, if at all possible. Food will stay good for up to four hours in a closed refrigerator and up to 48 hours in a full, closed freezer. Next, if you use a grill or generator, ensure it is outside and at least 20 feet away from any open windows. Turn off or unplug any appliances that you are not using to protect them from the surge that occurs when the power comes bank on. Be sure you monitor any open flames you use to heat or cook. Stay indoors and follow the instructions of first responders. If you’re told to evacuate, do so. If not, it’s best to stay where you are and remain out of the way.

Being prepared for a power outage is as simple as thinking about what you use everyday and coming up with a contingency plan. Hopefully, you’ll never have to use it.

About the author

Charles Jasper is the owner and main author of Generator Guider. He has a degree Engineering and 20 years experience on using generators on various projects, around the house, and while traveling and camping. He has a passion for everything related to home improvemen and loves to travel on his RV. When he is not working, you might find Jasper working on projects around the house or organizing a camping trip.