Here’s Exactly How To Prepare For — And Deal With — A Power Outage

power outage tips


When you think of a power outage, you may think of a rough winter storm, huddling in the living room covered by dozens of blankets and eating cans of non-perishables. While a power outage may not mean stranding you in your apartment with no heat for three weeks, it can be pretty serious if you’re not prepared. But trust us — we don’t expect you to buy headlamps and kindling for a fire. Here’s a realistic step-by-step guide to battling loss of power. Know before it happens!

Before The Potential Outage

1. Always have non-perishable foods on hand for a few days.

Most of us are guilty of buying cans of beans and soup that we cram into the back of our cupboards and forget about. So hopefully, you’re already ahead of the game. Some other good options that don’t need to be frozen or refrigerated: nuts, cereal, crackers, chips, canned fruit, tuna and peanut butter. Oh, and make sure you have a can opener, of course. That would be a field day, huh?

2. Have at least one good flashlight and a handful of big candles, plus matches or a lighter.

No, we’re not gonna guilt you into getting the headlamp. But we highly suggest you have a light source available. A flashlight with working batteries, a few big candles and a pack of matches or lighter will do you a solid for when that darkest hour hits. Your best bet is to buy those candles during a big sale (who cares what color?) and store them somewhere out of sight. If you get pretty ones, well, that’s just a bonus.

3. Invest in a wireless phone charger. 

Having a charged cell phone is extremely important. How else can you get in touch with someone that has power if you have the ability to get to his or her house or apartment? And of course, you need need to be able to reach someone in the event of an emergency. Get a wireless phone charger and keep it fully charged. If you buy a good one, like this one, you can keep your phone charged all day without an issue. Don’t skip this step. Plus, wireless phone chargers come in handy even when the power doesn’t go out.

4. Stock up on blankets.

Got a lot of blankets? They’ll definitely help during a major power outage, especially in the winter when the weather can be awful. If you lose power for several days and you’re stuck in your apartment, you can keep yourself warm under layers of clothing and — yep — a blanket fort.

Unsplash/Pavan Trikutam

During The Outage

1. Put those blankets to work.

If and when you do lose power in the winter, cover your windows with some of those blankets. They’ll shield some of the cold from reaching the inside of your home, and they could make your place a little more livable, considering the brutal circumstances. Don’t cover south-facing windows during the day, though — the sun can help heat your apartment naturally.

2. Don’t open your fridge or freezer unless you absolutely have to.

You can keep your perishable food unspoiled for up to six hours if your refrigerator is full and you don’t keep the refrigerator door wide open. A full, closed freezer could keep your food good for up to 48 hours in some cases. If you have to get something in either, know what you’re going for, grab it quickly and close that door. You can also leave some of your foods outside if it’s in the winter. But anything that’s been exposed to over 40 degrees for more than two hours will spoil — plan to throw it out.

3. Use your phone to call your service provider and get an update.

No matter what electric company you use, make sure you call periodically to get updates on when your power will be restored. This could help you decide whether you need to evacuate your place and go to a friend’s or family member’s. If it’s serious, you may also need to make arrangements to stay at a shelter. Either way, that update will help you make a decision.

4. Get to know your neighbors.

If you’re planning to stick it out in your place until the power is back, get in touch with your neighbors and ask about their situations. They may share food or have resources that you don’t. Maybe they even have a generator. Make sure to also share your resources with disadvantaged neighbors. The silver lining? You’ll get a really good bonding sesh out of it.

After The Outage

Survey the damage. Over the next few days, weeks or even months, you may notice things in your home or building not working as they should as a result of the power outage. Make sure to survey your own space first. Look for leaks, broken or no longer working appliances and changes in your heating and cooling systems. If anything’s up, call the appropriate party to fix ASAP. If you notice any major wires hanging in front of your building, call your landlord or electric company ASAP — those could potentially be dangerous.