10 Things to Do BEFORE a Power Outage

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After a long, HOT 122 hours, we have electricity once again. We would like to thank everyone that sent thoughts, prayers and well wishes. It means so much and we hope that all others that were caught in this storm are safe and with power now.

I would personally like to thank Verizon for somehow managing to keep service here so that I didn’t go completely insane. My husband thanks you too.  I’m sure I would have been unbearable.

I have so many things that I’d like to talk about the past five days, but I thought a little lighthearted fun would help break the ice, so here it goes, in true countdown fashion!

10 Things to Do BEFORE a Power Outage


#10 Practice Saying “I’m sorry sweetie, but you can’t watch cartoons. The TV doesn’t work right now.”

Don’t worry, after about 48 hours they will stop asking.  If you need help with this part, see tip #5.

#9 Get Used To the Disheveled Sexy Look

If you think that looking like you just rolled out of a romp in bed is hot, be prepared for a whole lot of sexual tension. Even when I tried to put myself together, it fell flat.  For those of you with natural wave or curls – embrace the frizz.  You have no idea how much I am looking forward to taking a flat iron to my hair.  It’s sad really.

#8 Have Gas in Your Car

My mom always told me never to let my gas tank go below 1/4 tank and this past week drove that message home. Unless you like to wait for eight hours to get gas, that may or may not be available by the time you get there, please – please keep gas in your car and don’t be an Amanda.  (PS, I was lucky that I had JUST filled my tank the night before – with the needle hovering over the E.)

#7 Buy a Smartphone

I finally broke down and got a smartphone last November and I have never been so thankful for it as I was this past week. Though I am clearly addicted to social media, the access to local news updates was seriously invaluable – plus the comments doubled for entertainment.  When the news story in a rural area has more than 300 comments, you know that you’re about to have an entertaining read.

Also, I was able to feed my need for social media by capturing memories and posting them Instagram. Man I love that app!  If you don’t have a Smartphone, see tip #5.

#6 Coffee Coffee Coffee

I need my coffee and I imagine a good number of you do too. Waking up that first morning to a cup of coffee is certainly on my highlight reel.  Be sure to buy a kettle and have some Starbucks Via on hand. Their instant is amazing, but if you’re not into instant pick up a coffee press! The press and kettle are great for anytime, but priceless during an outage (or for camping!).

While you’re at it you might want to pick up a grill with a burner for your kettle… oh and food. While dry cereal has its place, it isn’t much to feed the bottomless pit that is my children. A gas or propane grill is priceless. We were able to cook nutritious meals with the help of our grill and have found a new love for it. If you’d like to keep it green you can choose a solar oven.

#5 Have Wine on Hand

A nice hefty supply. No need to explain this one.

Cups and wine glasses are optional.

#4 Have Busy Toys

Legos saved our sanity – seriously. With no power, this was the only thing that really kept their attention. Since buying a load of expensive pieces of plastic isn’t something I promote, I highly suggest trying to pick them up second hand. You’ll save a bundle, keep from buying new plastics and you can just tell your kids that they can use their imagination better without all of those pesky instruction manuals.

#3 Have Ice

Especially if your outage falls in the middle of a country-wide heat wave. Ice was vital to the survival of our food. While ice cubes may not be feasible to keep on hand, I now have a gallon water jug in the freezer to take up space (actually a few now in our deep freeze). Okay, so not just to take up space – a full freezer stays frozen longer (and easier), plus having a nice solid block of ice will help keep things cool for a bit longer. It was more than 48 hours before we were finally able to locate ice and I was nearly in panic mode over our food supply. Thankfully we did find ice and our freezer is in a cool part of our basement. It could have ended in a lot of heartbreaking waste (and much less food to eat for the duration of the outage!)

#2 Bucket Washer

I hand washed diapers.  Let’s have a moment of silence for me please….. Thank you <3

Okay.. so thank God they are just pee at this point but it required a lot of washing, soaking, rinsing and squeezing.  I wish that I had taken part in Dirty Diaper Laundry’s Flats Challenge, because then I would have had a handy bucket washer to use.  I plan to be more prepared in the future (this would be great for clothes too!).  One of these bad boys is totally going in my preparedness kit. (Post to come!)

Also, having a portable clothesline would be super handy too. These can be used indoors or out and are better than laying clothes all over your car in the hot sun.

Which brings me to point #1

#1 Laundry

Ladies, I hate laundry as much as the next person and while it may seem like a good idea to put it off until you husband is wearing his last undies and kids are naked – this is NOT a good plan.  Should a freak storm of nature blow up and knock you without power for more than 24 hours, you will need laundry.. unless of course your family is anything like my children, in which case they’ll be perfectly happy prancing around in the nude.

I spent far too many hours hand-washing, wringing and line-drying laundry (3 loads of regular laundry and 1 load of diapers). So much so that my poor hands began to cramp up.  That shit hurts!  (See tip #5)


Have you ever been in an outage?  What tips helped you keep your sanity?

Amanda Hearn
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  • I survived a massive ice storm/power outage in early 2007 in Southern Missouri for almost two weeks. It was approximately 0 degrees at night and stayed below freezing during the day. We didn’t have to worry about losing food, because we could just put it outside, but we didn’t have water due to the electricity to the well pump being out. I heard some crazy stories, and I’m proud to say we didn’t do anything stupid, but we did get very creative. We didn’t need a hotel, because we got resourceful.

    We had two fireplaces but no wood to burn (we had sold the house and were preparing to move when the storm hit, so we had burnt up all the wood and not replaced). We got very creative on things to burn in the fireplace. Some old wood furniture that was beyond repair, my sister’s ex husband’s saw horses that he never came to get… Finally we found a local feed store that had wood pellets. Now we didn’t have a pellet stove, but we made these sort of mini logs by putting a couple cups of pellets in the bottom of a shopping bag and rolling it up. It kind of worked. We managed to keep the house at right about 50 degrees once we hung sheets to block off rooms that weren’t being used.

    So without a stove, we were limited to the propane grill outside. We had oatmeal on the grill one morning, and I remember thinking life wasn’t too bad (as I sat bundled in 4 layers of clothing, oily hair tied back in a bandanna.

    We took showers at our fitness club. We didn’t need to work out because we were doing so much yard work dragging fallen limbs/trees into a large pile. The large pile turned out to be about as big as our house.

    We traded resources with friends. One friend had electricity, but certainly couldn’t house everyone. We came over for warm dinners after our shower at the fitness club. Another had wood (frozen) but no food. He ate at our house.

    We used a public laundry mat on the opposite side of town that still had power. It was quite an adventure! We found a new Mexican restaurant across the street that woudl give us free chips and salsa while our clothes dried.

    I know of others who survived the same storm and power outage by staying in a hotel and charging it to the insurance company. It makes me sad to think that without the comforts of modern civilization, some people just couldn’t make it.

    • Wow, I love your story Michelle! I am sure that it was a hard couple of weeks but it is amazing how much you were able to accomplish by being resourceful and working with your friends and neighbors.

      While being without electric in the heat of this summer wasn’t fun, we too found ourselves feeling pretty good a number of times. We had food to eat and we made many memories with the kids and as a couple.

  • I have never dealt with this yet but you have some great tips I would never have thought about before! The full tank of gas is something that wouldn’t have crossed my mind until now. And I am defiantly going to hunt my kettle and french press out of the trailer now and keep it in the house!

  • I was thinking of you yesterday when our washer’s pump went out and I learned it will be a week before the new part comes in. As a CDing family with nine members total, I’m thinking we need several of Kim/DDL’s camp washers. This is going to be a long week. I’m encouraging the kids to NOT wear socks unless necessary. We already use our bath towels for multiple uses and try to wear PJs, shorts, pants several times before washing.

    • Oh goodness, I hope the week passes quickly. Our kids like to change cloths far too many times a day and I never know what’s clean or not. I can only imagine with more family members to wash for.

      • Thanks. I will probably take some of the laundry to the laundry mat at some point, especially for washing any bedding or bath towels.

  • I too was witness to the massive ice storm the beginning of December in 2007. I was in Tulsa, OK and it looked like streets had been barricaded because of all the stacked up limbs on the roadside. It was nice being able to put food outside in/on the ice, but it got old fast. We too used the fitness club to shower. It was also nice to go to the home improvement stores (who were using generators) and see all the electric chain saws on the shelf and absolutely NO gas powered ones. I think it took about 12 weeks to get rid of the debris from the roads proper. They were still mulching stuff at Easter though…

  • We too were without power. Sadly, I needed to wash my husband’s dress clothes for work, but was not able to when the storm came. Not that it mattered because where he works was without power, so he didn’t have to go into the office.

  • So glad you have power again! We were without it here in Alabama for six days after the April 27, 2011 tornadoes and it was ROUGH but at least the temperatures were cooler than they are right now. I can totally agree with all the items on your list 🙂

  • Great tips. We had a huge blackout here in San Diego about a year ago when I was just 2 weeks away from my due date. It only lasted a few hours but we were so unprepared for it – we had no backup water, no emergency stash of food and supplies, etc. This is a good reminder for me to get things going again. Thanks!

  • lots of flashlights and batteries. Especially if you have little ones in the house. If it is winter, a small flashlight will bring hours of fun and comfort to a youngster. We had head lamps for all our kids when they were growing up. Now I kind of wish I still had one for me. But seriously, lighting is a serious deal in the dead of winter, both for inside and for a trip to the woodpile after dark.

  • I had a headlamp, a flashlight wore around the head. Oh that was so handy during the power outage back in Oct 2011, where there was a snowstorm, and I was out of power for 6 days at my house. It help me read during the power outage especially at night. During the power outage, I read more then normal. Also I used the same flashlight at work, the store was still open, but it was running on emerancy generators, and there wasn’t much light in some parts of the store. The same headlamp was wore, and gave me enough light to work with. So I suggest getting headlamps ahead of time with plenty of batteries.

    My family at least had plenty of firewood, my father and brother put a bunch of firewood down in the basement prior to the storm, so there was some heat. When I got colder at night when the temps went down, I would put an extra layer on, or put an extra blanket on the bed, I was warm. So having extra layers in cold weather is good idea.

    At one point we were about to lose food in the freezer, and by luck at work, (I work in a grocery store by the way) there was bags of ice in the freezers, so I waited for a break and purchase some ice, and stored in the snow where there was shade. The ice kept until I took it home, and the ice kept the food colder. It kept the food safe.

    Another thing I suggest doing before a power outage, charge the cellphone up before the power goes out, and have spare cell phone batteries. I wished I had done that, I was able to use my cellphone to keep track what was going on via internet, and send text messages. But I was able charge my phone at work so the battery wouldn’t be dead. So having a way of keeping the cell phone charge is a good idea. Or a solar battery cell phone charger, or cell phone charger that plugs into the car batteries it would be something to think about. I might do that. But at least I have a spare battery for my cell phone.

    A great tip, make sure the computer is unplugged ahead of time, I did that, and it wasn’t damage in any form after the power outage. I was glad I did that.

    It wasn’t easy losing power for such a long period of time, but I dealt with as best I could.

  • Have and maintain at least 1 cord of dry seasoned hard wood (oak,Ash,walnut) just for power outages. Have a wood stove or Insert that you can cook on and stay warm.Most important that it has a fire ready to light. (That is if you don’t already use in the winter.)
    Don’t for get the tea pot, for hot water,coffee and keeping clean.
    We have a basement all set up.

  • These are some great, and funny tips. Having a home generator can eliminate all of these though. Seems as though times are changing and the need to protect your home and family from power issues is rising. Thanks for the great tips!

  • When the change of year 2000 came it got me thinking about being ready for those ‘just in case’ scenarios. Moved to Louisiana and Hurricane Lilly hit , thankfully it wasn’t a rough one, but we lost power for about 8 days. My brother had heard on the radio that a company was selling generators to companies, thankfully we had a company credit card or we would have suffered. My neighbor got ahold of a few window air conditioners and loaned us one. After we got power back,
    I made a promise that I’d be prepared from then on. And we are. Ice storm season is on us now and have generator, gasoline for it too. Water saved up, just in case. Foods set aside. Flashlights, lanterns, batteries and candles. 4 electric heaters. Propane grill with a full tank. Cat & dogfood. Meds and medical supplies are very important. Pickup I keep filled at least over a half tank. We have car chargers for our cells phones.
    Now I’m working on maybe a natural gas generator, or some kind of old fashioned floor heaters that needs no electric to run. Or putting in a big fireplace. Theres a lot to have to think about. Like the Laundry. 😉

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