Checklist: What Should You Do When Electricity Goes Out?

woman holding candle

Total loss of power can last for a few minutes, hours, or weeks.

A power outage can compromise lives, risk financial loss, or stop the production process. It defrosts the refrigerators and causes food and grocery spoilage. Consequently, leading to poisonous food that can cause shock or death.

That’s why an alternative and reliable power supply is efficient. Nevertheless, preparation is the only mechanism to withstand a prolonged period of electricity blackouts.  

For more information on what to do when the electricity goes out, use this checklist: what should you do when the electricity goes out?

How to Prepare For a Power Outage

candles and clock

Preparation is critical, and every aspect of human life is about taking precautionary measures.

Even winners in games or athletics spend significant periods preparing and rehearsing to master the skills.

The first thing you should do when the electricity goes out is to prepare for such circumstances. Use the following procedures to prepare for a power outage.

  1. Keep an inventory of all the home items that depend on electricity.
  2. Master the periods and intervals of power blackouts. If the locality experiences more blackout than usual, then source for alternative energy.
  3. Source for best alternative batteries and other power sources to replace the power blackouts.
  4. Have a spare energy backup for the phone and even the computer. Notice, there’s a full power backup system that can last for days before depleting.
  5. Use alternative solar or wind energy to compensate for the blackout period.
  6. Purchase power-saver bulbs.
  7. Always keep the computers and phone batters fully charged.
  8. It’s imperative to fill up the generator to avoid the last-minute rush.
  9. Have a backup of all the essentials such as gas and water in case of a prolonged power outage.

Backup Power and Batteries

small ups power supply

Another thing to do when the electricity goes out is to have backup power and batteries in place.

Imagine losing the power supply, and the security and communication devices have no backup. It can be the most devasting period for the household or the business. Similarly, surviving for days or weeks without entertainment or normal activities is agonizing.

Thus have backup power and batteries such as an Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS). UPS is an important alternative when the power supply is fluctuating or gets interrupted. 

Also, UPS functions as an immediate backup system that ensures all the necessary household or business activities are running despite a prolonged electricity blackout.

Remember, UPS is a complete backup for the entire household since it can power the gaming consoles, security systems, televisions, and the computer. An interesting thing with the UPS is its easy replacement and upgradable batteries.

Similarly, the UPS contains the capacity to signal dangerous power wiring and can prevent a short circuit in the entire system.

Power backup batteries

When the electricity goes out at home, it’s imperative to have backup batteries. There’re varieties of backup batteries to choose from, and the most efficient is solar batteries. 

Ensure to look at the batteries’ specifications, such as how long they last, the prices, and the backup power criteria to ensure consistency.

What to Do During the Outage

After preparing for when the electricity goes out, the next necessary precaution is to know what to do during the outage.

First, determine the blackout cause and get a rough estimate of when the situation is likely to last.

Determine the cause of the outage

cause of failure

Having an exact picture of what caused the electricity to go out can help take the most efficient preventative measures. The truth is that some causes can lead to prolonged periods of power breakouts while others cannot.

For instance, on the 19th of January 2020, thunderstorms in South Kalimantan and Central Kalimantan left millions without a power supply. On the 12th of April2020, tornadoes in the USA, Maine, and Texas affecting over 6 million residents.

The Hurricane Isaias that happened on the 3rd of August 2020 affected New England to South Carolina, causing over 13 million people to go without power. 

Ideally, power outages can arise from natural or human-made disasters. Natural disasters are bound to happen and lead to a devastating impact on the affected.

Some of the human power outage causes are failure to pay for power, short-circuiting in the homestead, accidental falling of trees on the power lines, or accidental breakages during homely activities or events.

Do you know how long it’s going to last?

Immediately after experiencing a power blackout, a critical solution is to determine how long it will last. Ideally, electricity can go out for seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, and months, depending on the underlying conditions.

Decades ago, nations experienced prolonged hours of power breakout, but the same is not reported today due to the many alternative energy sources. For instance, in July 2012, India experienced an hour blackout that touched on 670 million people. Similarly, in November 2009, Paraguay and Brazil witnessed a power blackout that lasted for more than 100 hours.

As discussed earlier, the world is no longer witnessing massive power blackouts unless in periods of tornadoes, hurricanes, wildfires, and incoming mysterious natural disasters.

Nevertheless, to determine when the power outage is likely to last depends on the causative factors. For instance, earthquakes can cause power blackouts for months and so an alternative energy source is handy. 

How to Prepare for a Long Term Power Outage

power outage checklist

A critical factor of consideration is how to prepare for a long term power outage. Yes, electricity is likely to go out for hours, but the blackout can prolong for days and months. Maybe it’s confusing how long a power blackout can last when there are plenty of alternatives.

The point of discussion is electricity blackouts. I mean losing electricity sourced from the electric grids. Despite the vast campaigns on alternative energy sources, a significant portion of the globe still depends on electricity as the primary source of energy.

Remember, there is a massive gap in development between one country to another, so preparing for a long term power outage is essential.

In this respect, it’s imperative to look at the common factors that surround our daily lives. For instance, the fridge or the freezer without power for a day. What happens to the water, AC without power for an extended period. And finally, what about the internet when there is no power.

How long does a fridge work without power?

When thinking of long-term power outages, a fundamental question lies in determining how long a fridge works without power. FDA recommends that all perishable foods require a maximum temperature of 40 °F.

Anything above this temperature is a breeding ground for bacterias likely to cause stomach upset and life-threatening conditions for people with a compromised immune system.

In a brief preview,  the main bacterias that grow in unrefrigerated perishable foods are Salmonella, which’s likely to cause food poising and even death. Also, E.coli is common and likely to cause chronic infections, and finally, Clostridium botulinum causes paralysis and possible death.

Discard anything in the fridge after two hours for low power refrigerator and up to 4 hours for high power refrigerators. Use a fridge thermometer to determine the inside temperatures. As the clock leads to more than 40 °F, all the food is not safe. Notice all the food stands for the perishables.

It is uncommon for food to spoil during winter even after a power outage, because the room temperatures are considerably low. To retain food for long,  then transfer icebergs from outside and store in the refrigerator to create the ideal temperatures of low than 40 °F.

It’s possible to purchase dry icebergs during the summer to help retain the fridge temperature for long periods. Alternatively,  other energy sources such as wind and solar energy are very convenient and efficient in running power for the house’s essential components during a prolonged power outage period.

How long does a freezer work without power?

fridge without electricity

Like refrigerators, the freezers also have the maximum period to retain effectiveness after a power outage. It all depends on the inside temperatures. If the power is gone and the freezer is full of frozen crystals, then wait until they melt off and then count the two hours.

Generally, with uninterrupted closed doors, the refrigerator retains the recommended temperatures for 24 hours. After that,  all the perishable food is unsafe for consumption.

So prolonged power outage during winter is resolved by harvesting ice from the outside and putting it in the freezer. It’s not advisable to store food outside to avoid contamination from animals and dirt.

Purchase frozen bags to help harvest the ice outdoors and put it in the refrigerator. Alternatively, using wind energy to gather enough power to sustain the essential components of the house.

Will you have gas or water during a long term outage?

Water and gas are critical in sustaining human life. Most depend on electric power to pump water to the houses. Also, cooking gas and car fuel depend on electric power. So when planning for a long-term power outage, it’s imperative to think about the gas and the water.

Tips for storing water during a long term outage

stored water

Whether it’s a power outage or not, storing water is very important. Water has no expiry period, but the means of storage determine its safety. 

  • So use plastic food containers with a tight seal to store water in preparation for any outage.
  • Do not store the water containers on the concrete floor to avoid rusting and contamination.
  • Buy a water tub to store water for the long term use.
  • Use water sparingly, considering the supply is out.
  • Have alternative  methods for the dishes and washing
  • Opt for a drought-resistant apartment garden.
  • Purchase a cistern where you can store up to  200 gallons of water.
  • Buy stainless steel gallons that are resistant to UV light.
  • Use hand sanitizer as an alternative for using water to wash hands.
  • Have a tank and install a system of collecting rainwater usable during the cold seasons.
  • Oxygenate water by exchanging back and forth using clean sealed stainless containers.

Gas tips during a long term outage

Prepare for long term power outage by investing in natural gas to provide heat in the barbeques. Notice, barbeques are not safe in the closed room or the garage. Always fill up the gas and probably have an extra one in the house to help in long term power outage issues.

The following are the importance of having natural gas in the homestead.

  • Natural gas runs specialized appliances that can keep the household lit during prolonged periods of a power blackout.
  • The importance of natural gas is convenience and efficiency to use.
  • Natural gas is wired directly to the electrical service panel.
  • Natural gas is efficient by automatically turning it on when power is out.
  • It’s a useful resource for continuous fuel supply in the household.
  • Natural gas is a cleaner source of energy.

Will you have internet access?

internet acces during power outage

In the current technological periods, it’s impossible to stay for an extended period without internet access. So if the electricity goes out for long, one can access the internet using the following tips.

As mentioned earlier, use UPS to provide a sustainable source of energy during a long term power outage. It’s possible by recharging the UPS batteries, maybe using solar energy or the nearby station to continue enjoying power supply.

Second, during a prolonged period of a power outage, it’s possible to use a hotspot device to access the internet.

Remember, the world is inventing alternative energy sources. To invest in alternative sources and create a hotspot device through portable WiFi devices to help with internet connections throughout the house. Similarly, It’s also possible to tether the cellular phone using USB and use the WIFI for the desired purposes.

Always consider solar panels to support in providing for power during the summer periods and a generator during the winter sessions. The two devices can help last for a long and keep internet services during a power outage.

Last but not least, always recharge the devices to ensure a prolonged supply of internet. Buy replaceable and rechargeable batteries to help with the phone. The car charging system can be of help in case the house runs of all the possible options. 

Preparing Appliances and Household for Return of Power

overvoltage protection

After an electricity outage period, the following are the best practices for preparing the household and appliances for power return.

  • Disconnect the electronics and appliances to protect them from power surges.
  • Inspect and disconnect any substandard wiring method used during the period of a power outage.
  • Call an electrician to inspect the house and ensure the conditions are favorable for power back.
  • Use surge protectors in all the electronics and expensive appliances.
  • Install a box that protects the entire household from an electrical surge. Ensure the general house guard contains the best features for protecting the house. A general household protector is essential in securing the home from other catastrophes such as lightning strikes, short circuits, and tripped circuit breakers. 
  • Also, whole-house power protection is essential in ensuring all energy distribution to all the equipment and correcting major malfunctions created during the long period of a power outage.
  • Install quality AC units to protect the house against any suspected water surge.

Bottom Line

Electricity is essential for human activities.

It’s impossible to run the homestead without a sufficient supply of electricity. In this respect, always be prepared for a period when electricity may go out for a long.

Start by securing the refrigerator and the water for the period of no power. The refrigerator has a maximum use without power, but one can back up using solar energy.

Take care of all the appliances and household for the return of power by installing an electric guard against surges. Also, invest in a multi-purpose electricity guard to protect against other catastrophes that may cause fire or damage in the house.

The best method to sustain a more extended period of a power outage is to invest in a generator and other alternative sources of clean energy. Solar energy is very convenient and can help in wiring all the devices in the homestead.

Invest in a UPS to offer alternative energy that can run the electronics and the appliances. Through UPS, it’s possible to charge the phone to provide internet services by tethering or creating a hot spot.

Do you have any experience with prolonged electricity blackouts?

How long was it, and which methods did you use in ensuring power supply, gas, water, and the internet?

Greg - Prepping Insider

Hey, I'm a prepping enthusiast. Prepping for me is simply something of a passion. I have personally lived in many different rural properties that have given me a wealth of knoweldge and experience in practically living out survival and preparation situations. It’s not about getting the latest survival gadgets or buckets of food as its more of a lifestyle.

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