The 5 not-at-all-essential things you should prepare for your home in case of a power outage

August 1 |
blackouts are fun
Photo by sandcastlematt. Used under Creative Commons license.
Y'all remember that huge blackout in the Northeast US in 2003? 55 million people lost power completely unexpectedly. I remember watching video of thousands of people walking home from Manhattan to New York's boroughs.

Of course power outages can strike any time of the year, but between the heat and the thunderstorms, summer is a good time to prep. Put together your power outage kit today, and you'll thank yourself down the road!

We're not talking about an emergency kit, although of course you should have one of those, as per this guidance from the Red Cross. We're talking more about an 'oooh, the lights are out — what shall we do?' kit. So grab a shoebox, gather these items, and tuck them in a closet next to your flashlight so you've got things to do when you're out of luck.

When the power goes out, make sure you've got:

  • Food. Since you won't be able to zap a frozen pizza in the microwave, get some noms that'll be accessible. If you have a gas stove, rock! You can rely on mac & cheese. If not, pack up some nuts or Chex Mix or Pop Tarts in your Power Outage kit. You know you'll be hungry.
  • Drinks. Make sure you have water. And then, give yourself a $6 bottle of bottom-shelf vodka, for emergencies only. It'll make your time without electronic stimulation go much more quickly.
  • Lube. It's dark, it's quiet, it's a little spooky — it's all very sexy. Be prepared.
  • A deck of cards
  • A pad of paper and pens. You'll find something to do with them. Write a Madlib, play MASH or tic-tac-toe, draw caricatures, write a poem about being afraid of the dark.

What will you add to your power outage fun kit? Share it in the comments!

  1. Crayons and colored pencils! Again, you'll find SOMETHING to do with them. And lots of batteries for flashlights, hand held gaming equipment, and vibrators.

    6 agree
  2. lol I love this. ummmm … my parents always had a pretty kerosene lamp on hand! i loved how special it made everything feel. pretty important for a scaredy-cat little girl.

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    • My mom had a beautiful pink oil lamp (same thing? who knows!) that she got as a wedding gift 28 years ago and it is always handy when we have to use the bathroom in a blackout (so you can use both of your hands!) We would always start a fire in the fireplace and toast marshmallows : )

      1 agrees
  3. My hurricane kit generally would double up for the power outage kit, since it's safe to assume we'll lose power.

    We have a portable propane stove in it, plus some propane is always available.

    We also have packs of cards, candles galore, and dollar-store misting fans powered by battery – a godsend in the summertime, to be sure.

    1 agrees
    • zomg, I want battery powered misting fans. We got hit by a big cyclone (hurricane) at the start of the year, in the middle of the tropical summer. We were without power, and thus ceiling fans, for 5 days. My arms were so tired from continually fanning myself with a bit of cardboard.

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      • American consumerism culture is amazing, isn't it?? They make handheld ones and full sized ones that you can plug into a generator. I stick with my handheld ones – and I often stock up and ship off a few to support our troops too. :)

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  4. if there is ANY kind of heads up that you might find your self without power, quick! CHARGE ALL THE THINGS :-)

    7 agree
  5. Ooh, I live in hurricane territory, and around here power has been known to go out for DAYS.

    I recommend board games. A cutthroat game of Monopoly or Risk makes really long power outages more bearable.

    Also, if you have a way of making hot water, instant coffee and/or tea bags. I know it's not the same, but you caffeine addiction will thank you.

    Finally, a practical suggestion for people who still have landlines: an old style phone with cords and everything. It needs to be one that plugs into the phone jack but NOT a power outlet. Phone lines usually still work even if the electricity doesn't.

    4 agree
  6. This is so funny. Yesterday early in the morning the transformer blew on our block. We were without power for like 16 hours… And, the pumps for our water are electronic, so the whole building was without water for roughly 10 of those. Since there's a Barnes and Noble across the street we just took our nooks and laptops and hung out there most of the day. This post would have come in handy, although the ac was out and there was a heat advisory so we might not have used it, but, ya know… it would have been an option.

    I just felt bad for people living above us, our building has 18 floors, thank God we live on the second floor so we didn't need the elevator.

    1 agrees
  7. A plan of how to keep your lizards and fish and any other exotics comfortable without all their lights and heaters without having to look it up on the internet. A list of stuff you can do without power for when you've run out of ideas and your kids/other half/housemates/friends/self are driving you crazy with complaints of boredom.

    2 agree
  8. I have found Clif bars to be invaluable, in any and all emergencies. And non-emergencies.

    I used to live near Arcata, where the power would go out for up to a week, in the winter, in the torrential downpour. Sometimes the roads would be blocked. I learned one very important thing from this: Have a non-electric heat source. We always had a woodstove, and we also had wood.

    As for fun things, craft supplies. It's amazing how entertaining cross-stitch can be, especially if you mix it with the $6 vodka…

    3 agree
    • Oo, and musical instruments. Assuming someone can play them.

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    • I misread this as "I used to live near Antarctica"…and I was really excited. What a let down :P

      1 agrees
  9. Would having something like this be cheating?

    BodyGard Self-Powered Emergency Tool

    If not, then that.

    And also LOTS of candles, a bottle of wine, Yahtzee or Jenga, blankets, handiwipes, and some hard candy.

    Having MREs is comforting (about $7 each, available at army surplus stores), since at any time you can have a self-contained hot meal. Even those pouches of Indian Food from Trader Joe's can taste good at room temp.

    http://im1.shutterfly.com/media/47b8d608b3127ccec4af4a3893af00000060O00AZNG7Ro4cuGIPbz4S/cC/f%3D0/ps%3D50/r%3D0/rx%3D480/ry%3D320/

    I would also suggest you make fun provisions for your pets and little ones… Including snacks, treats, toys, leashes, poo bags, and extra water.

    2 agree
  10. I have this LED booklight that illuminates like half of my dorm-sized apartment bedroom, so yay for LED! :D Also, I try to keep my DS charged at all times, just in case. That thing can go for like 8 hours on a full battery.

    1 agrees
  11. Our power goes out EVERY WINTER. We now get stores of canned foods every fall, the staples along with fun munchies, and we have a gas cook stove. Last winter we made the BEST pancakes on it. And LEDs, lots of LEDs, along with chargeable battery back ups to watch DVDs and charge our cell phone batteries.

    1 agrees
  12. We have one of those car charger to electrical outlet converters and I cannot tell you how handy dandy that thing is when you're bored and your phone is dead!

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  13. Oh yeah, and glow sticks! And glow necklaces and bracelets and glasses and and more glowing things.

    1 agrees
  14. When I was younger, we used to have a tiny portable gas stove at hand, and I plan to get one of these for emergencies. They are not as big as a bread basket, and they are nice for cooking quick meals and heating up the smallest available room of the flat. (We do have a portable indoor fireplace, but still…)

    Another thing to put in the emergency kit: Candles. And matches. ^^

    (And DO NOT forget to put a few blankets away with the kit. A few years back a small German town had a power outage in the middle of winter, which lasted for a week, and some people actually froze to death.)

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  15. My knitting supplies. But those are always on hand anyway, so I'm not sure if that counts.

    2 agree
  16. When I was in high school, my home town got hit by a massive ice storm. Something like 8 inches of solid ice overnight. We had no power for most of a week and all that. So my sister and I just walked over to friends. If it's not actively storming/freezing rain/zomgwe'reallgoingtodie, go visiting. Grab a bottle of wine, a board game, and just get out of the house. Even better, depending on where you live and how your city is set up, you might even be able to go visit folks that have power!

    2 agree
  17. A battery powered radio – after the ChCh earthquake my sister had to text me to know what was going on because we all listen to the radio online!

    2 agree
  18. Ug, our power was out for nearly four days and it keeps going out from all the thunderstorms. Charged Mp3 players are awesome, and so are books, an acoustic guitar, oh and something that lots of people forget, if you have a sump pump/ no city water get lots of water so you can flush your toilet. That was no fun.

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  19. I live in an area with septic systems, wells and lots of lakes. When our power goes out, our well stops but we use a bucket with water from the lake so we can still flush the toilet. All we need to do is fill the tank in the back after flushing so it's ready for the next person. I'm lucky because my septic system is powered by gravity so everything goes down without power.

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  20. "Well the powers out honey, let's eat some pop tarts wash it all down with vodka, then lube up for some lovin', but don't forget the pens and paper so we can write about why you cried afterward" Awesome ^_^

    1 agrees
  21. we threw a roll of dimes in our emergency kit (which also has things like playing cards etc.) if you can't charge your phone you might be able to walk to a place that still has a working payphone – have the change to use it!

    1 agrees

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