Every now and then we have to expect the unexpected. You just never know when a big storm might roll in and take down a few trees or hydro lines. When this happens, your power may end up going out. This could be a quick flicker of the lights, or, it could be a blackout for days. It is a good idea to have a few essential items on hand just in case this happens to you.
Power outages are normally quite rare in the city, but if you have a family cottage you like to visit in the summer, chances are the power may go out at some point this season. Normally in rural areas, power outages aren’t uncommon. Have you ever been stuck without hydro? You never realize how much you depend on it until it’s gone. So, what do you do if the hydro goes out for a long period of time in your area? Read on for the items you should have on hand in case of a power outage.
Obviously, the first things you want to have on hand are a flashlight (or three) and lots of candles. Battery-operated flashlights can be tough because the batteries might be dead. You can buy crank-up or solar flashlights or ones that you shake to help alleviate the potential of dead batteries. You may also want to have a battery-operated lantern that can provide a lot of light. Headlamps are also a great idea. Purchasing a 24-pack of tea lights might be a good idea just to have in your home. Be careful when it comes to open flames in your home and don’t set candles anywhere they could potentially set anything on fire (stay away from curtains, up against walls, on the edge of tables, etc). You will also need to have something to light these candles with such as a BBQ lighter or matches.
If you live in a house in the city on municipal water, then your plumbing may still work just fine. However, if you live in a high-rise apartment building, your water may stop working as soon as the power goes off. If you live outside of the city and are on well water, you most likely won’t be able to use your water because the well is probably powered by electricity. Remember not to flush the toilets as this will use up water as well. If you have extra water, you can pour it into the tank of the toilet to flush if needed. How much water is enough? It is recommended to have 2L of water / person / day.
You will want to make sure to have lots of extra batteries on hand. They will run out quickly when used in flashlights and other items that are constantly running. Make sure to have an assortment of AA’s, AAA’s, C’s and D’s. Some of the larger battery-operated lanterns and such use the bigger batteries so be sure to have some of those. Another good thing to have is a couple of fully charged power banks. If you have a low-quality power bank, you may want to try and charge it weekly just in case of a power outage. If you have one of the higher quality banks, it may not lose charge for months at a time which is great for these scenarios.
Of course, we hope to never have to use this kit, but it is a good thing to have on hand. Humans are clumsy creatures, and we are even more inept in the darkness. Because of this, it is a good idea to have a first aid kit nearby. Not only for when the power goes out but anytime. Make sure the kit is in an easy-to-reach place that doesn’t require moving a lot of things out of the way. There is nothing worse than fumbling through a closet full of stuff when you desperately need a Band-Aid! Be sure to stock your kit up with medications such as Advil, Tylenol and Aspirin just in case.
Though the thought of eating uncooked soup doesn’t sound pleasant, having canned and dried goods in your home is a good idea if there is no electricity. A few examples of these non-perishables include canned beans and vegetables, dried fruit, cereal and granola, peanut butter, crackers, granola bars and boxed milk such as almond milk. You should also be sure to have a manual can opener as the electric one isn’t going to work. As long as you keep your refrigerator door closed, the food inside will be okay for about 4 hours. Any longer and it should be removed and put into a cooler with ice packs if possible.
This is critical for winter power outages. When your hydro goes out and your furnace can’t run, it is going to get pretty cold in the middle of the night. If this happens, then sleeping bags will keep you and your family warm through the night. Be sure to have good-quality sleeping bags so they can keep you warm in the winter temperatures. Also, make sure to have lots of heavy comforters to add to beds and long underwear or flannel pyjamas for the family. Another thing you can do to keep your family warm is to camp out in one room. Everyone’s body heat will help to keep the room warmer.
Nobody plans for a power outage, so we don’t have time to remove everything from our fridge and freezers beforehand. As mentioned in the non-perishable food section, the food in your fridge can stay cool for up to 4 hours, so long as the door isn’t opened. The food in your freezer can stay cool for up to 48 hours, assuming it is chalked full of food. If it is half full, you have about 24 hours until food starts to thaw. Don’t wait until the last minute to add items to your cooler as it may be too late. Having a large cooler (or two) is a great idea for storing the food you don’t want to lose during a power outage.
It is inevitable that at some point everyone’s cell phone is going to die, and the power banks are going to run out. At this point, you are going to have to actually talk to your family members, what a weird concept! If and when this happens, the conversation may get old quickly, but you will be prepared because you will have board games on hand! Board games can easily break the silence and add a well-needed aspect of fun in the dark. Be sure to have enough flashlight power or candles to be able to see the game pieces! Even just a simple deck of cards can be enough to add a little bit of excitement.
In conclusion, we hope that your power doesn’t go out for a long period of time. But, if it does, we also hope that this article has helped you prepare for this type of emergency situation. Many of the items listed above are things you may already have lying around the house which will make it easy. The specialty items such as extra jugs of water may be a bit of a pain, just because of how large they are to store. But, it is still a good idea to have it on hand. You just never know what could happen.
A few other things to keep in mind if the power goes out is to turn off all light switches as well as unplug electronics such as computers, TVs cell phone chargers, etc. If possible, plug your devices into a surge protector rather than straight into the wall. This will help protect your devices when that surge of power turns back on. Check for updates on the Hydro Ottawa or HydroOne outage maps to see when your power will be restored.
Remember not to panic in a power outage. This happens on a regular basis all over the world and don’t worry – your power will be restored!