Blog: What to Do When the Power Goes Out

June 11, 2009

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Being in a power outage can be very frustrating. Here is some advice that may help you the next time there is a storm and you lose power for a few or more days.

To avoid darkness:

  • Attach a strip of glow-in-the-dark tape to your flashlights to make them easy to find.
  • Invest in headlamps. You will have your hands free and can even read a book in bed while wearing one.
  • Stock up on kerosene lamps (visit secondhand stores and flea markets), lamp oil, and wicks before the next storm.
  • Buy candles when they are on sale (after-Christmas sales are great!). It doesn't matter if they are all red!

To stay warm:

  • As soon as the power goes out, drape all windows with blankets or whatever you have. Uncover south-facing windows during the day to let in the Sun's warmth.
  • Select one room in which people—and pets—can spend most of their time together. Close off the doorway and try to let the collective body heat accumulate in that room.
  • Call shelters and hotels to see if they will allow pets, in case you need to leave your home and bring your pets.

Cooking and eating:

  • Have potluck dinners with your neighbors and take turns hosting. You'll be eating better and getting to know your neighbors at the same time.
  • Use your outdoor grill for cooking, but only outdoors. Never use one indoors. Look for great recipes in our database.

To avoid damage:

  • Protect water pipes from freezing by wrapping them with layers of newspapers and then plastic wrap.
  • To avoid damage from falling branches, don't park your cars under trees.
  • Open your refrigerator or freezer door only when absolutely necessary. Plan ahead to minimize the time the door is open.
  • Fill clean plastic milk jugs with water and put outside to freeze solid (if the weather is cold enough). Put these jugs into coolers, which can serve as temporary refrigerators.
  • Take your houseplants to your workplace or a friend's house.

For folks who lose their water when the power goes out:

  • Fill up your bathtub with water when a storm threatens (for washing and flushing).
  • Pack snow in buckets and bring indoors to melt.

Do you have any helpful power outage tips? Please share them below.

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Mare-Anne, our senior editor, joined The Old Farmer's Almanac in 1992. In her spare time, Mare-Anne loves to garden and always plants a large home garden with a variety of flowers and vegetables. She also enjoys cooking and traveling to Sweden, where she was born.

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We have a phone that doesn't

By Storme Arden

We have a phone that doesn't rely on power (not a cordless) that we use if the power goes out. Learned after Hurrican Juan hit us in Hfx. In New Brunswick we have frequent power outages, but luckily a wood stove.

and remember, electric can

By onyx3718

and remember, electric can openers don't work if the power's out ---- always have a manual opener for emergencies.

stock up on those "glow

By downeastcajun

stock up on those "glow sticks" and bracelets after halloween ... put one around each pet's neck to avoid tripping over them in the dark! (got this tip from my sister and niece who live in hurricane-prone louisiana) :-D

"Pack snow in buckets and

By custard

"Pack snow in buckets and bring indoors to melt."

Don't eat yellow snow! :-)

You can use a pet taxi for

By WNathan67

You can use a pet taxi for keeping things cold during the snow storms. And the door on the cage keeps critters out. The cooler works good as well. Put them outside in the snow and build walls around them. Works great.

Bring in some of your solar

By Diane Falbe

Bring in some of your solar lights for light in your house.

We did it during the Hurricane Ike. 2 weeks with no power.

Thank God we had a gas stove.

Don't forget you can use the

By horsewhisperstg

Don't forget you can use the wood stove for cooking also if you have one!!! Takes patience but is well worth it!!! I make a killer wood stove Pot Roast!!! You can cook any thing in a pot or pan.. :)

There is some wonderful

By pregan88

There is some wonderful information in this article, but what I did back in 2003 during the ice storm.......Threw a hissy fit until Shawn (hubby) went and bought us a generator!!!!!!

I can relate to this! Dave


I can relate to this!

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