Sustainable Living & Sustainable Lifestyle

How to Survive with No Power

Losing power once seemed like an inconvenience. A bad storm or the occasional transformer blow out could result in lost power for a few hours. But as recent events in California show, much longer power outages are possible, leaving people to survive with no power for days instead of hours.

How to Survive with No Power | Long Term Power Outage TipsTo reduce the chance that active power lines could contribute to wildfires, Pacific Gas and Energy cut power for days to almost one million homes. Over the course of the blackouts, an estimated 2.5 million people found themselves in the dark, according to NPR.

Such events may become more common, especially if you live in or near places with a history of wildfires, hurricanes and severe winter storms. If that is the case, the following tips on how to survive with no power are for you.

What To Expect During Power Outages

One of the first things you realize when you lose power for a long period is just how much you have come to depend on power. Electricity is central to almost everything: food storage and cooking, medical services, communications, computers, conducting financial transactions and the pump working at the local gas station.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) provides a list of issues that paints a grim but accurate picture of what to expect when the power goes out. They include disruption of communications, water, and transportation. Also, you can expect retail stores, grocery stores, gas stations, ATMs and banks to close. Some medical devices will not work. There’s a potential of “food spoilage and water contamination.”

Tips For Power Outages

Thankfully, there are steps you can take to minimize the damage from long power outages. While not all of them will apply to your situation, these issues typically are universal.

Plan Ahead

You must know what to expect in order to prepare for it happening. Then, take an inventory of everything in your life that runs on electricity. Other steps the DHS recommends doing in advance include:

  • Talking to your medical provider about how long refrigerated medications can be stored at higher temperatures. Find out what type of batteries your medical devices run on and stock up.
  • Stock up on all types of batteries well in advance. Make sure everyone in the house has flashlights with extra batteries.
  • Install carbon monoxide detectors that work with batteries within your home
  • Have food supplies that are edible without being cooked or refrigerated. Have plenty of bottled water.

If you have reason to believe you may lose power (a hurricane is approaching, for example), then DHS recommends:

  • Using a thermometer so you know the temperature in the refrigerator and freezer once power is restored. If the temperature is more than 40 degrees, throw out the food.
  • Keep phones charged at 100% for as long as you can
  • Fill your gas tanks.
  • Get local weather alerts and track local weather reports.

When the weather event happens, always make sure to keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed. Another important task is to check out neighbors who are older or those with small children. They may require help during a long power outage.

Remember to have a plan for aging parents & elderly neighbors in case of an emergency. If there’s no power, people with Alzheimer’s can quickly get disoriented and having gifts for people with dementia can help keep them calm and avoid repetitive behaviors.

Other Issues To Keep in Mind

While the above covers many of the main issues on how to survive with no power, here are some other items to check off your planning list.

  • Can opener. This is such a common mistake that it bears mentioning. Make sure you have a can opener, otherwise all that canned food is for nothing.
  • Cook over a fire. Arrange a charcoal grill or outdoor pit where you can cook with no electricity.
  • Long matches. You will want these to light a fire in the fireplace or ignite charcoal for cooking.
  • Freeze water. Frozen water can displace air in the refrigerator or freezer, resulting in food staying colder for longer.
  • Surge protector. Plug your computer, television and other electronic devices into a surge protector – or keep them unplugged altogether – to protect them from power surges when the power comes back on.

Also, remain vigilant for carbon monoxide poisoning. Avoid the issue altogether by never burning charcoal or using gas-powered or propane-powered equipment unless you are outdoors.

Losing electricity for long periods of time is disruptive. But it’s something everyone should plan on experiencing. You can survive with no power if you take steps to prepare your home and your family.


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