How to Prepare for a Prolonged Power Outage

Power outages range from brief brownouts as backup gas turbines kick in when summer temperatures climb or extended power outages because of downed power lines. Here are tips on how to prepare for a prolonged power outage. None of these solutions requires looking like a prepper or spending thousands of dollars on a secondary generator connected to the gas line to power your home.

Know How to Contact the Power Company

Power companies cannot respond to power outages they don’t know about. Record your power company’s phone number for reporting outages or service problems, and as a backup, write it down on a piece of paper. You can then contact them when service is lost, even if you cannot access their website via a working cell phone. If the power company is difficult to reach or takes a long time to restore service for its customers, compare electricity providers through a service like and find one that offers a better service.

Own a Generator

You should consider owning a generator powerful enough to run several appliances. This would be enough to keep your refrigerator and HVAC for one room going as long as you have fuel for it. Generators like this can often be found for less than a thousand dollars. A dual-fuel generator runs off either gas or propane, which is useful if you have items like a gas grill or RV that run on propane. Don’t forget to stock up on gas canisters, too, so that you have shelf-stable fuel to run it whenever you need it.

Let There Be Light

One way to have light when the power is out is to stock up on LED flashlights and lanterns and batteries that work with them. The LED models last five to ten times as long as the conventional ones. You can use long lasting glow sticks, such as those that last 10 hours or more, as a backup for the flashlights. While candles may provide an aura of ambiance, glow sticks can’t start a fire if knocked over and are safe to have around children. These are also ideal for storing in your car as an emergency source of light if you’re stranded on the side of the road.

Stock Up on Food You Do Not Need to Cook

One simple way to prepare for a long-term power outage is to have several days’ worth of food you don’t need to cook. This doesn’t require a stockpile of MREs. Instead, cans of pasta, vegetables, fruit and meat you can open and eat immediately or heat up a little for the sake of taste are an ideal solution for when the power goes out. Include a stock of bottled water, canned juices, and other drinks so that you have something safe to drink if the power outage shuts down the power to the municipality’s water pumps.

To prepare for a prolonged blackout, know how to contact your power company when the power is out to minimize how long the power is out. Invest in a reasonably priced generator. Consider using a gas grill as a source of heat and method of cooking. Your car can act as a generator for small electronics. In both cases, only do this if you have adequate ventilation. Stock up on canned food that doesn’t require cooking and LED flashlights or glow sticks for lighting.