Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Ten Things You Should Know Before a Power Outage Strikes

I know by now everyone around the country has heard about the rash of tornadoes that hit the South last Wednesday. Some of you probably witnessed the terror first hand and many more of you have been affected or will be.

Last I heard, in Alabama the death toll has risen to nearly 250 lives. Unbelievable. I can barely stand to see the pictures of the damage and yet I can’t seem to stop reading the articles circulating the internet. I’m terrified, knowing that the spring storms are not yet over.

Remarkably my own family has remained mainly unaffected by the hoard of tornadoes that passed directly through our county, including one that has recently been upgraded to an F5 tornado. Though our property didn’t receive damage, we did loose power when all the high voltage lines were knocked out here in North Alabama.

APTOPIX Severe Weather Picture of one of the tornadoes that hit Limestone County, just north of Huntsville.

I have learned a few things through this ordeal that I thought I’d pass along in case you find yourself in a similar circumstance.   

1. Keep enough gas in your car that if you need to leave the area you can. Don’t assume that you’re local gas stations will be open or accessible.

2. Keep some canned food on hand for emergencies. Preferably something that can be eaten as is, straight out of a can. Even if you don’t make it a habit to eat processed food- let’s face it- the shelf life for a can of Ravioli is a lot longer than organic fruit.

3. We were fortunate to have water throughout our power outage, but it’s wise to have a minimum of several gallons of water on hand at all times.

4. Keep emergency cash on hand. Bank accounts are nice, but if your area looses power, you can’t touch your money- even with an ATM (unless they DO have power). And, if businesses can’t process credit cards, chances are they will insist on cash.

5. An old fashioned radio may be your only lifeline to the outside world.  Make sure you have a working radio and once again, make sure you have the proper batteries.

6. Candles are not only useful for making your home smell good- they certainly come in handy when the lights go out. Keep some unscented, long burning candles on hand with matches somewhere you can find them. Have a stockpile of flashlights with working batteries- and a supply of extra batteries.

7. Car chargers for your cell phones are very helpful. If the power goes out, you won’t be able to use your home phone. There’s also no guarantee that your cell phone will work, but if it does, you will want to make sure that it continues to work.  Depending on its strength, a power inverter for your car can also charge cell phones, run laptops, power TV’s or portable fans or heaters

8. You should have a first aid kit with a minimum of Tylenol, Polysporin (suggested by Drs. over Neosporin), alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, sterile bandages and cold packs.      

9. Keep a few extras of anything you wouldn’t want to be without. Think necessities. Can you make it through a week without your medication? How about diapers or toilet paper (assuming that you have water)?  

10. Finally, if you ever needed a reason to keep up on your laundry, this is it. What would happen if you had no clean clothes and weren’t able to do any laundry for a week or longer?  Not that I would know or anything.

Have you ever been in a situation where you were without power for several days? What tips and recommendations can you add to the list? 

This post is linked to Oh Amanda’s Top Ten Tuesday.



  1. Great list! I love the laundry one 8)

  2. We were without water for a week, and without power for 14 longs days after hurricane Ivan in 2004. All of your tips are very good. Propane comes in quite handy for cooking or boiling water. And 5 gallon buckets off water collected off the rain gutters from the roof will give you at least 2 flushes each.

  3. We've been without power for 2-3 days. (Nothing like others.) During those times, we were thankful to have our propane grill. We could warm up food and water, which was especially nice when the inside temperature dropping into the mid-40s. We always have 15 gallons of water stored in the utility room for drinking, cooking and washing up, but Julie's idea is GREAT - we have a 50 gallon rain collection barrel (for the garden) that would work awesome.

  4. Amy FriendlyshoeMay 2, 2011 at 9:18 PM

    Great list - thanks for sharing. Glad you are safe.

  5. It's just terrible what's going on with Mother's Natures Wrath. Your article hits gold again. And again I am sharing your helpful info with my facebook and twitter friends and family....

  6. We've had more than our share of power outages in Texas in the past several weeks. Although they have only lasted a few hours. This is a great list to keep us prepared.

  7. Great list

  8. You can bet I'm gonna be stocking up on some rain barrels! That is a great idea.

  9. 14 days? Whoa.

    We have a propane camp stove in storage in Ohio that I was really missing. Great tip about the water.:)

  10. Thought someone would appreciate that one. I've been playing catch up all day. :)

  11. Yikes, glad your family made it unscathed and so sad for those who didn't.
    Great list to use to stay prepared!

  12. Great tips for all of us to remember.

  13. I would also like to recommend a small charcoal grill and a bag of coal. Through hurricane Charlie in Orlando (2004), I learned how to cook frozen pizzas this way! Also, maybe have a small cast iron pan. You can heat up anything on the grill with this.

  14. wow... some great advice for all of us! I can't imagine being without power for a week. I think we'd have to take off and go camping! :)

  15. Hmm, I have been putting off going to Target for diapers. I guess I'd better get off my butt because I certainly don't want to be living without those:)

  16. The cast iron pan is a great idea! I used my kitchen pans over the fire and I've still not been able to wash all the soot away. :( We don't have a grill at all but I did find a small bag of charcoal and you can be sure that we put it to good use.

  17. These are great tips. Thank you for sharing them. I'm glad you are safe.

  18. Lessons I too learned this past week. We were NOT prepared for 5 days w/o power. Now I have a box with things we got from this storm; batteries, flashlights, a battery operated lamp, a Sterno stove, charcoal. The gas was an issue for us too. I only had 1/8 of a tank and was afraid to travel to find gas in case I didn't find gas. Oh and I now have a car phone charger! Glad you made it through the storm Tonya.

  19. Re: "If the power goes out, you won’t be able to use your home phone."  I just went through a period of almost 48 hours with no power here in Los Angeles because of a wind storm.  My landline phone worked fine through the entire time; traditional  phone lines carry their own small electrical current.  The mistake people make is depending on cordless phones, or giving up their plain old telephone service for VoIP or cellular service.  

  20. Yes, you are right. With a true traditional landline, you won't lose power. Unfortunately, our phone provider offered digital service so our phones didn't work. No worries, our cell phones did the majority of the time. Thanks for stopping by! :)

  21. But that is certainly a good argument of why you should steer clear of the new, "better" or "more enhanced" services. :)


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