8 Electrical Blackout Essentials Every Home Needs

By Paul Michael on 2 October 2017 0 comments

America has been pounded by hurricane after hurricane, leaving devastation in their wake, and thousands of homes without power. And while you may not be in the path of a disaster at the moment, there is no telling when or where a blackout will strike. Are you prepared? Could you survive without electricity for days, or even weeks? Here's what you need to be ready, should the worst happen. (See also: Micro-Prepping: How to Prepare for Small Disasters)

1. Lighting supplies

Lighting is number one on the list, and for a good reason, as it's hard to get anything done in the dark. While flashlights, lanterns, and candles are great, think about investing in something that doesn't need batteries, and will last you for many years, like a hand-crank flashlight. You won't have to hunt for batteries, find propane, or worry that they will burn down to nothing. Couple it with a hand-crank lantern, or look for an all-in-one unit that does lighting, phone charging, radio, and more. Remember to put them in a place that's easily accessible; you don't want to go hunting around for lighting sources in the pitch black.

2. Power sources

This runs the gamut, from batteries and liquid fuel, to generators and solar-powered chargers. Stock up on the five main types of batteries — 9V, D, C, AA, and AAA — and invest in a solar-powered charger for phones and power banks. If you fear you will be without power for a considerable period of time, you definitely need to have a backup generator on your property. You can find a good one for under $400 on Craigslist, although you should research your power needs before you buy one. If you'll be using it to run a lot of appliances, and something like a sump pump or attic fan, you will need adequate power and outlets.

Generators run on four main types of fuel: gasoline, propane, diesel, and natural gas. Again, research what is best for your situation and environment, and have plenty of it on hand (safely stored, of course) in case of an emergency outage.

3. Heat

You'll need heat for cooking, and possibly for warmth, depending on where you live and the time of year. The power supplies mentioned previously will be essential for cooking and heating, and can supply electricity to a portable buffet range, a space heater, a toaster or toaster oven, and even a kettle. If you don't want to rely on power backups for your heat, there are small, portable propane grills and space heaters that can be used in an emergency. And if you do a lot of camping or outdoor activities, you probably have these on hand, anyway. (See also: The 5 Best Camping Stoves)

Last but not least, keep an ample supply of blankets, sleeping bags, and other warm clothes in an easily accessible place.

4. Potable water

We cannot survive without water, and yet, we take it for granted. It's right there, flowing freely from a faucet, and costs pennies per gallon. But you will soon find out how much you rely on it if the power goes out and your supply is cut off. It's a good idea to keep a case of drinking water in your basement or garage, but keep an eye on expiration dates, and swap this out with new water regularly. A pitcher that filters water can also be a great help during this time, and can give you a supply of clean drinking water for weeks.

If you want to go one step further, and know in advance that you may have a blackout coming, try something like a WaterBOB. This is a simple, but incredibly useful device that stores a four-week supply of clean drinking water in your bathtub. You can find them on eBay and, occasionally, on Amazon. Also, invest in a Lifestraw, which is often used by people who go camping or go on extreme adventures. A Lifestraw can be inserted into almost any water supply, and filter 1,000 liters of contaminated water, removing 99.99 percent of the bacteria. This is essential if you are running out of clean drinking water. They start at just $15, and could really save your life in an emergency.

5. Nonperishable food

It may be a no-brainer, but you need a supply of food that does not rely on power for storage (the refrigerator will be down unless you have generator power). That means a well-stocked pantry filled with a variety of canned goods, dry foods, snacks, drinks, and pet food if you have pets. Some popular items include jerky, granola bars, soups, meats (don't knock SPAM, it was a lifesaver in World War II), beans, packet foods (oatmeal, ramen noodles), nuts, dried fruit, protein bars and powders, cereals, condensed milk, MREs (Meals Ready-To-Eat), and freeze-dried foods.

Ideally, you will stock up on food that can be stored for years, but remember to constantly rotate the supply. You don't want to blow the dust off a bunch of cans to find out the food went bad five years ago and cannot be eaten. If all that sounds like a lot of work and effort, you can always buy an emergency food kit. These all-in-one kits are designed by experts to be long-lasting, give you a balanced, nutritious diet, and supply everything you need in one container should disaster strike.

6. Basic medical supplies

Most homes have a first-aid kit of some kind, but quite often it gets neglected and is not stocked with the necessary supplies you'll need for a true emergency. You can buy ready-made first aid kits from Amazon and Target, or find them in any supermarket, but if you would rather put your own together from scratch, make sure it has enough to handle the most common cuts, bruises, breaks, and other medical emergencies.

In particular, have plenty of antiseptic wipes, antibiotic and hydrocortisone ointments, a wide variety of adhesive bandages, some heat and cold packs that can be activated by a click or snap, tweezers, Q-Tips, a thermometer, scissors, latex gloves, a sling, and the usual medications (aspirin, ibuprofen, acetaminophen). It's also generally a good idea to have some Dramamine and antihistamine tablets, an Epi-pen, multivitamins, a suture kit, and laxatives. Check on this kit often, and replace supplies that get used up. (See also: The 5 Best Emergency Kits)

7. Communication devices

These days, everyone relies on a cellphone to communicate. Hopefully, you'll have the ability to charge your phone through solar or generator-powered sources, but if that's not an option, or you're looking to conserve cellphone power, you'll need other ways to communicate. Get yourself a good set of Walkie Talkies, and that means more than two. Amazon has a great set of six rechargeable, long-range two-way radios for under $100. That should be enough to cover everyone in the family. Keep them charged, perhaps in the basement or garage, and ready to hand out at any time.

Plus, you'll also need to find out what is happening in the world, and in your immediate vicinity. For this reason, first invest in a radio that can be activated from a hand crank. This will be an essential way to find out what is happening around you, and whether things are getting worse and an evacuation is going to be called. It can also provide some much-needed entertainment, which will go a long way to keeping your spirits up.

8. Waste disposal

It may be unsavory to think about it, but you may not have access to a functioning lavatory (some water supplies rely on electricity), and you will need to dispose of human waste in a sanitary way. Have a well-stocked cupboard filled with garbage bags, newspapers, kitchen towels, toilet paper, anti-bacterial wipes, and hand sanitizer. You may also want to invest in a bunch of zip ties to keep everything firmly sealed. The garbage pickup service may not be available either, so you will need to prepare for waste storage. It doesn't hurt to have several garbage bins ready to go for excess waste in an emergency. They can be stacked and placed in one corner of the basement or garage, or even in the backyard.

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8 Electrical Blackout Essentials Every Home Needs

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