Everyone has the power go out once in a while. For many, it’s a great inconvenience. For others, it can be an enjoyable break from everyday hectic living. The glow of oil lamps, the delicious smell of soup simmering on the cookstove, a lively board game taking place on the kitchen table…
A lot of people think “preparedness” is only for hard-core survivalists, but in reality, we should all be ready to hunker down in comfort in the event of a service interruption.
When the electricity is only out for a few hours – particularly if you’re already home – it can be a fun adventure. But for a power outage to be a peaceful break, it’s necessary to have your physical needs met, which means having some things in place ahead of time so you’re not making frantic dashes to the grocery store (which can’t ring up your purchases anyway, since their cash registers run on power).
Store your emergency items in a large plastic tote so they aren’t scattered throughout the house. The tote should contain water, non-perishable food (don’t forget a manual can opener!), flashlights with extra batteries, a first-aid kit, matches, and necessities for specific family members, such as diapers for babies.
If the outage hits at night, the first thing you’ll need is a means of seeing in the dark. Flashlights are great for immediate use, but less useful for long-term lighting. For this reason, everyone should have an oil lamp or two around the house. They’re inexpensive and charming; we often use one at dinner in lieu of candles. The biggest issue with oil lamps is safety. Lamps should be placed where they can’t be knocked over by toddlers, dog tails, or a stray elbow. Keep matches handy, as well as a fire extinguisher.
During a power outage, don’t open the refrigerator or freezer unless absolutely necessary, so the cold air stays trapped inside as long as possible. If the outage hits in winter, heating your home may not be necessary if the power is only off for a few hours (most homes don’t lose heat that fast). However having a backup heat source, such as a wood-burning stove or other non-electric heater suitable for indoor use, is important. The advantage of a wood-burning stove is the surface can also be used for cooking food or heating water.
Without television, computers, or personal electronics, what do you do during a power outage? Now is the time to break out the board games and books. How long has it been since you played dominoes or Monopoly (maybe Farm-opoly) or Yahtzee with your kids? Life without the distraction of electronics is a prime time to reconnect with family members and create a few memories.
But this can only happen if you’re ready for it. Prepare in advance by making sure you have food, water, heat, and light. Thankfully, preparedness is not nearly as complicated as you might think…and a lot of your reaction to a power outage is attitude. Hunker down – and enjoy.