Natural disasters, power grid failures, rolling blackouts: Two things we know are that 1) power outages can happen, and that 2) they happen most often in the spring and summer. Be prepared for them by following these eight tips.
Let there be light
- Have flashlights ready for every family member. And keep them in easy-to-grab places. If you know you’ll forget to check their batteries every six months, you should probably opt for flashlights that have their own power source, such as a hand-crank or the Secur Dynamo-Powered Waterproof LED Flashlight. Or for something stronger, try a hand-crank, rechargeable lantern/flashlight combo.
- Plan to improvise. In a pinch, remember that you can use the solar landscaping lanterns from your yard to help add light throughout your home. Just don’t forget to put them in the sun again the next day for recharging.
- Charge your cell phone. Have a secondary dedicated battery source for your cell phone, or think about using a small solar charger like the Secur Solar-Powered Mini Cell Phone Charger. You can use a car cell phone charger in a pinch, but you will probably want to save gas if local gas stations are without electricity. To conserve your cell phone’s energy, text instead of call whenever possible. In many cases, your text will go through when your call won’t. Plus, texting takes up much less bandwidth on the network, allowing emergency calls to get through.
- Follow the news. Stay informed with a battery-powered/hand crank NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) weather radio, like this one from the American Red Cross. Depending on the outage, this may be your only source of information.
- Stock up on batteries. Speaking of batteries, stock a supply of fully charged batteries for any small appliances you need. Some reusable batteries come in a handy charger that you can keep plugged in to a wall socket so they are always ready.
- Charge your devices. Invest in a solar charger for your laptop and cell phone. In addition to emergencies, a solar charger can be used every day, which allows you to cut energy use and be ready for the occasional outage.
- Make your own energy. A generator might be a sound investment if you live in a region that experience frequent power outages. A classic generator runs on gasoline and can only be used outside because of the danger of carbon monoxide poisoning. The new generation of generators are nearly silent, safe for indoor use, and can be charged by solar panels, an AC wall plug (in advance of a power outage), or 12V car adapter.
- Keep you cool. If your power outage is caused by extreme temperatures, you may want to have a battery-powered fan on hand to help you cool down. The O2-COOL Battery Operated Fan runs on batteries and can be plugged in as well.
For other ways to be prepared for power outages, the checklist at Ready.gov, the emergency-preparedness website of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), provides a practical roundup of what you and your family need to stay safe and healthy.