The Sustainability Club

What to Prepare for a Power Outage

8 hours without power — that was the annual average per electricity customer in the US in 2020, according to EIA. That’s quite a lot, but it will get worse. Analysis authored by Climate Central is pointing out that 83% of power outages between 2000 and 2021 were caused to extreme weather. With climate change in full swing, those extreme cases of weather are going to happen more often, not only in US, but all around the globe. That’s why it’s so important to be prepared for the sudden lack of electricity, and one way to do that, is to prepare a blackout box.

The idea of “prepping” is not new (that’s an understatement…), but recently become popular due to more and more common outages, and rising electricity prices. Due to war in Ukraine, and Russia playing its gas card to bully EU countries, the energy prices are going up. It’s then crucial to know what to do and where to get the most useful survival tools, in case if the lights suddenly go out.

Firstly, think good about the place to store your blackout box. It needs to be easily accessible, especially when it’s very dark. The last thing you want to do is to get injured when trying to get your emergency box from a deep corner of your basement. But what to put inside?

Analyst Jakub Wiech from the portal energetyka24.com suggest the following things:

Contents

Batteries

Many different types, from AAA to C, mainly to power the rest of the equipment sitting in the box.

Work gloves

Good quality gloves not only help you stay warm, but will protect you from physical harm.

Thermal blanket

Again – not only will keep you warm, or sustain your temperature, but it’s reflective. The latter feature can be easily used to signal for help.

Notepad and a pencil

You never know when it will be helpful to do some basic rationing calculations or notes about the situation.

Painkillers

Easy to get, easy to store, critical when getting fever or being in pain.

A strong string

Again, one of the things that you don’t really need, and then you need it really badly. If you can connect or tie things with a string, you can glue them together with…

Duct tape

It needs to be a good quality tape as well, since the versatility of the tape is limited by how strong the adhesive is.

Hard candy with long shelf-life

It may be bad for your teeth, but you require sugar to keep you energized.

Cable ties

Along with the string and tape, those can be really useful for fixing loose things, or connecting various equipment together.

First aid kit

That’s quite an obvious choice, since it’s easier to get hurt during a blackout, and it’s harder to receive help. You want to be prepared with the basic medical equipment, like bandages or clamp.

Headlamp

Super useful, since you keep your hands free.

Flashlight

A good quality one, always with a set of fully charged batteries inside. It’s actually good to keep as many flashlights in the box as there are people living in the house + 1.

Lighter

If possible, a bit bigger one, so that you can use it not only to fire some candles, but get a small fire started, if needed.

A pocket knife

Universal tool, but you can also invest some money and get a proper multi-tool instead.

Set of cables

You need to keep your mobile devices juiced up – this means that you need to have a cable to connect each of them to power.

A powerbank

Fully charged, of course. The minimum here is to have a smaller one, just for your phone. The more, and bigger, the better.

how to prepare for a power outage

Wiech completed his blackout box for around 60 USD (61 EUR, 54 GBP), but of course the price could be very different, depending on the brand and quality of the equipment inside. Other people suggested some improvements to the list above, that are really worth mentioning.

Use a backpack instead of a box

In case of emergency related to your habitat, it’s easier to get a backpack and run, instead of a box with a handle. You can easily pack all the mentioned things into a bag or a backpack that’s better to just grab and leave your place. It’s a good tip not only on how to prepare for the outage, but in general emergency!

Get more energy storage

Instead of normal batteries, get some rechargeable batteries (e.g., 18650, 21700). Like a lot of them, since the main problem is the lack of electricity. You can also get power banks that are powered by those rechargeable batteries, so they are more universal.

Prepare some money as well

Obviously, it would be hard to use an ATM when the whole neighbourhood is dark. You can still try to pay for some things, though, exchange the bill with other people for services or goods. Could be helpful to have some cash hidden in that blackout box/backpack.

Get some candles

Very romantic, but also a great source of light that is not draining your flashlight battery…

Store bottled water and food

While it’s great to have hard candy, you need more to survive, especially when the outage takes longer than expected. Even if it’s not stored in the blackout box, you need to keep some bottled water and long-shelf life freeze-dried food (or non-perishable snacks) at your place, where it’s easily accessible when you are already rocking a flashlight.

As Insider mentioned, with climate change messing up the weather, and energy costs going up, widespread blackouts could be more common, even in wealthy nations. At least with a blackout box, you are going to be prepared!

What to Prepare for a Power Outage
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