A storm can strike at any time. And with any storm comes the risk of a power outage. Since it’s difficult to predict when a power outage may happen or how long it may last for, it always helps to be prepared.
There’s plenty you can do to make sure you’re ready for a blackout. It’s important that you have the necessary supplies and equipment and that you know what to do and how to keep your family safe before, during and after an outage.
To help you get through your next power outage safely and comfortably, we have some expert tips to make sure you’re prepared.
During a blackout, the most important consideration is light. Make sure you have a supply of torches and LED lanterns. You should have enough lights so that every person in the house can have one of their own. Try to include a few waterproof torches and ensure you have plenty of spare (and fully charged) batteries.
If your mobile phone has a built-in torch, resist the urge to use it. While it may seem handy, it will quickly drain your phone battery and you may need your phone for more important things.
You will also want to avoid using candles. It might seem like they add a nice romantic ambiance to the blackout, but they are a massive fire hazard, especially if you have children or pets.
Food and Water
If you’re prepping for a serious storm, you’ll want to lay in a supply of fresh water and non-perishable foods. Aim for three days’ worth of food and water. Tinned food and dehydrated meals are the best options for long-life meals. Make a note of how they need to be cooked to ensure you have the necessary cooking equipment. And don’t forget a can opener!
Even if your plumbing doesn’t rely on an electric pump, it’s recommended to also have three days’ worth of water for drinking, hand washing and cooking. For one person, this is roughly ten litres.
Be very careful with the food in your fridge and freezer during a blackout. Try and minimise opening your fridge to help keep the temperature as low as possible. However, if the power outage has gone for more than four hours, you should be wary of the food in your fridge. Bacteria will quickly start to flourish in your fridge once the power goes out and the last thing you want is a bout of food poisoning.
First aid kit
Any properly prepared home will have a thoroughly stocked first aid kit that includes sticking plasters, gauze, bandages, sterilising swabs and over-the-counter pain medication. It should also include reserve supplies of any other regular medications you or your family require, such as insulin or asthma medication.
Heating and Cooking
Heating and cooking are important consideration in a blackout and both have significant safety implications. If you live in a cold area, you’ll want to make sure you are well stocked with enough warm, thick blankets for the whole family. An emergency gas heater can also be useful. However, you should avoid using any gas heaters designed for outdoor use, as these can be a fire hazard when used indoors.
When it comes to cooking, a small, gas-powered camping stove can be useful. Alternatively, if you have a gas-powered stove in your kitchen, this should continue to work without power. You may just need matches to light it. You can also make use of outdoor gas barbecues to do the cooking. However, you should never use your barbeque inside as it’s a major fire hazard.
Communication and access to news sources and emergency services are vital during a power outage. In most cases, your TV, computer and wi-fi will be useless. So, your mobile phone and tablets will be vital for maintaining emergency communication.
When the power goes out, it’s essential that you conserve your phone battery. Switch it off, turn it to flight mode or change it to a low-power setting. And only use your phone when absolutely necessary.
To keep your battery topped up, consider including a portable mobile phone power bank in your kit. Make sure this is charged up regularly. You can also include a phone charger in your kit in case you need to evacuate so you can charge your phone later.
A power outage kit is a must-have for every home. Even if the power outage doesn’t last for long, the kit can make the experience more comfortable for you and your family. And once the power is back on, it’s always worth contacting a commercial electrician just to make sure that no damage has been done to your electrical systems at home.