It’s a little alarming to imagine how much we rely on electricity to get through our day-to-day lives. And nothing throws this into relief more powerfully than a power outage. When the lights go out, many things we take for granted – both comforts and necessities – fly out the window. That’s why it’s important to have a stock of things around the house to keep you going during an inevitable power outage. This is handy list of ten things that you should always have on hand, so that you can weather a power outage in comfort.
Water is the proper place to begin, as it’s the most vital thing to have at all times. However long the blackout might be, you will get thirsty. The rule of thumb is to have one gallon of clean, potable water per person, per day. Cases of bottled water from your local supermarket are good, as are one- and five-gallon jugs.
For longer blackouts, you’ll eventually get hungry. You’ll want to have some food that doesn’t need to be refrigerated or cooked to be eaten: peanut butter, crackers, pickled food, and nuts are the way to go. If you have a pet, you’ll obviously also want some food for them!
Fire is important in the winter months. A good rule of thumb is to always have three different ways to start a fire: lighter, matches, or a mechanical fire starter.
If you want to keep your fire burning, you’ll need fuel. That means wood for your fireplace. Candles, if used properly, can also be a source of heat. If you have lanterns, make sure you’ve got an appropriate stock of fuel for them, too.
A well-stocked first-aid kit is vital, and worth the investment. I would recommend going a step or two above the small kits that only have a few Band-Aids and some gauze, and find one with more items. They don’t go bad, and the moment you use it, it pays for itself.
A variety of kinds of flashlight will come in handy. Headlamps, hand-torches, and flashing signal lamps are always good to have around. Just make sure you have enough batteries!
Now that the strict necessities are taken care of, we can talk about comforts. An outdoor grill or stove will allow you to make coffee or cook food all year round, so long as you have fuel. Space blankets can be used in your windows to either seal out the cold or block out the sun in the absence of climate control.
If the power is out, you may be sleeping in the cold. Have a supply of warm clothes that’s clean and ready-to-wear, such as a balaclava, long underwear, and thick socks.
There are ways to use a select few electronics even when the power is down. Having a backup charger for your smartphone will allow you to use it for a long time, and a hand-powered radio can help while away the hours as you wait for power to return.
Entertainment off the grid is also useful for passing the time: a simple deck of cards or an acoustic guitar (assuming someone knows how to play it!) can have huge entertainment value.
Once your electrical power has been restored, it may be a good idea to schedule a service call from your local electrician to make sure there is no long-lasting damage lurking behind the walls.