Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Don't Get Caught in the Dark

 Today is about many options we all have or could have if we had to be without power for an extended time.  It could happen and has happened for various reasons.  Weather is always a huge cause of power outages - but it could be anything.
I think we have probably ALL been without power for short periods and survived.  A long outage could be different.
Not only heat and AC - many have to worry about freezers and health issues.  
Today are just a few ideas to keep in mind should you be caught in this situation.

Lights for me, wouldn't be a big problem.  I have candles - lots of candles.  I have solar lights outside - that I could bring in.  Otherwise I would be OK.   I wouldn't have to have lights at night - I would just go to bed or sit outside.   
Candles are always a good bet - scented or plain.  Cheap solar lights (like dollar store) would be great.  They absorb light all day and bring them in and you have light at night.  I have even seen pics where you can really radiate their light by placing a plastic  (like milk) jug over them.  Oil lamps are a great source of light.  Make sure you have oil that is OK for inside and soot free.
Flashlights of course.  Big and small - they work.  Make sure you keep batteries on hand.
I have 2 or 3 battery operated candles for a nice glow.
Even something as simple as glow sticks would help and maybe make it not as scary for young-ins.
I have a couple of head lamps as well.  They would work if you just had to read or sew or do something close up.
 I also have a battery powered weather radio - and a battery powered regular radio (so music would be an option!).

There are several options.  None are super cheap, but they are things that you can get that would make life easier.
The one thing that is a great help is a generator.  A generator can help keep a freezer going, AC/fan on for a while, heat, cooking, medical aids, etc.
You could always plug in small heaters to help with cold - it may be difficult to hard wire your furnace.  Your freezer could be plugged in for a few hours every day or two - to keep things frozen.  Perhaps you would need to run a sump pump - a generator would help.  Now granted, you have to have fuel to keep it going.  Something else to think about.  But at least it would help for short periods of time to keep life somewhat normal and perhaps keep you alive.
If it is winter - you could always transfer frozen or refrigerated items to coolers in garage or outside - barring you have no major critter problem.

This is a whole house generator.  No they aren't cheap - but they are always there and ready to go.  This is directly tied into our gas line and then tied into the electrical box.  If the power goes out - this turns on within seconds.  Sure it would be expensive on the gas bill to run a household for a long period of time - but I would have power.  I would not use things as normal - like I would keep AC off unless absolutely necessary.  Heat would be kept low - most lights off.  But I WOULD have heat and my freezer would still be good!  
We invested in this to make sure that G would always be comfortable and to make sure our freezer always had power.
Now if the gas suddenly quits flowing - I have to revert to plans C, D and ..... oh crap!!!!!!!!!!

There are less expensive options as well for short periods of time.
This device sure came in handy before we had the generator.  Glen used a Bi-Pap almost ALL the time to easily breath.  This thing worked wonderfully.  It gave us 8 - 10 hours of power for his medical device.  NOTE:  we were also on the power company register for medical emergencies.  Our power pole/area would be attended quickly.  Look into that if you have extreme medical needs at your home.!!!!
If I remember correctly - this cost less than $200 back when we purchased it.  Not sure about now.  It was literally a life saver.  You keep it plugged in to keep charged and then when the need arises you have a small power station.  Like I said it worked his Bi-Pap for a good 8-10 hours, it would power a cook plate or crockpot, maybe the coffee pot or  fan or a small heater.  Many uses.
On another note - it also will jump the batteries in your vehicle!!!!  Indeed!!!  This has saved me so many times - dead of winter - no one around - Blazer needed jumped.  I did it all by myself.  I have even taken it with me in the car - when having battery problems in severe cold.  
A very good multi use gadget to have.

This is a converter that G installed in the Blazer.  It turns the vehicle power into electric power while the vehicle is running.  I use this to charge my cell phone if I notice it is low while I am out.  G installed it to actually power his Bi-Pap and still be able to go places.  We loved to wonder the back roads and this gave him the ability to be away from home for a while and still be comfortable.  (where there is a will there is a way!)
You could use it to power anything not too large for a short period.
This is the side view - where the electric plug-in is.  It is about the size of my hand out stretched and fits on the center console.  I believe it was around $50.

I have a gas stove that is electronic spark start.  Generally I can light it with a lighter, just by turning on the gas knob and lighting.
If you have any kind of generator - big or small odds are you could power a crockpot or insta-pot or a heat plate.  Think about having a way to cook that isn't power driven.  Gas or charcoal grills, fire in the back yard with a grate.  Solar oven.  Shoot, you can even cook little things or warm them on a hot sunny day in a closed vehicle (yep it gets that hot).  You could have a rocket stove or even a clay pot over a candle - can heat items up.
Have a coffee pot that doesn't require power and could be used on the grill or over a campfire.    Your home canned goods COULD be eaten from the jar!  So could many store bought items.  It may not be as good cold (not heated) - but you would have food.

IF you have a well and it requires power for a pump - think about an alternate way.  Do you have a hand pump?  Do you have water stored?  You could use a generator for periods of time to get a days worth of water.  Have alternatives.

I keep plenty of warm clothing around - generally it isn't needed - but I have it.  I NEVER get rid of blankets, quilts or comforters.  If I wouldn't need them for staying warm, perhaps a neighbor might and even my animals. (don't forget about your pets).  One could also wrap their canned (non freezer) type food in blankets or quilts to keep it warmer and not freeze.  You could cover windows and doors to prevent drafts.  You could wrap your pipes.

Lots of things to think about.  Do you have alternative sources for power?  Do you have ways or know a way to cook?  Would you stay warm (fireplace or wood stove maybe).
There are ways to survive about anything.  Some don't cost a thing and others can be a bit costly.  Start thinking about what you would do IF caught in the dark!!!!!


  1. Being without power could be a scary scenario. Your whole house generator is great. We have a small one. The greenhouse gets really warm, even on winter days. We pray we don't have to experience power outages for any length of time but it is prudent to be prepared. We do have a couple of heaters that use small propane tanks. Lots of quilts and blankets... There is a fire pit in the backyard and we have a grill that goes over it. The griddle would be perfect for cooking, even a saucepan or old-fashioned coffee pot could be used on it. Our range is gas so it could be lit to use. Lots of candles, flashlights, oil lamps are readily available should the need arise.

    1. Yep - no one wants to deal with that - but it does pay to be prepared.
      You sound like you have a great plan in place.

  2. Great post! We are covered! We have a well but have always had one so we know how to cope. Sam's has six packs of water in gallons and we keep a stack of those here because we know they are sealed and do not have any mold growing in the bottles. We have a crank up radio and it sure does take the gloom off to be able to hear the news and have a little music. One thing to say is to keep a jar of instant coffee if you are used to having it every day. Enough fuel to perk a pot of campfire coffee pot coffee is way more than just heating some water. And then that water can be used for other things as well to maximize your fuel use. We have a Blackstone flat top grill and it can be used like a stove top but the bottoms of pots and pans need to be wrapped in foil to keep from turning them into a burned on greasy mess. We have a portable generator that runs on LP so we have several extra tanks stored under our deck for such a need. We also have a tiny wood stove that we keep in the shed that we can bring in and use with the stove pipe running up the chimney. We keep a fire proof mat to sit it on to protect our floors. Just last week we bought a battery powered rechargeable fan in case of a power outage in hot weather. A lot of these things go back to Y2K!

    1. Great reminder on the instant coffee! I know people moan and say "I don't like it" but if you NEED it and have no other means - it is available!
      Sounds like you are covered as well. Love it.
      You are so right - many have forgotten the scare in 2000!!!!

  3. Great post, this is so important for those that live where there is extreme temperature changes.

    1. It sure is. Winter can get get pretty darn cold here and where you are. Summer I can often tolerate - but it sure helps knowing what to do in an emergency.

  4. Another use for extra blankets is if you have a chest freezer and the power goes out, if you cover the freezer with blankets and don't open it unless absolutely necessary they will help keep it insulated. Just be sure not to cover the vent even though it's not working with the power off. You may not be able to check the freezer immediately when the power comes back on so you don't want the vent covered up.

    1. Super great suggestion - thank you!!!!! Indeed - we need to do what we can to save our freezer goods - but BE CAREFUL as well!
      Great tip!

  5. I have a lot of candles, a few flashlights & a battery powered radio. Living in an apt. it makes things a bit trickier - but - my next Amazon delivery includes some extra flashlights and those packaged hand warmers (I want to test them out and then I'll order more along with some foot warmers). I

    've already started next month's order and my cart includes a one burner Coleman camping stove (runs on butane canisters) and another hot water bottle. With the stove I can heat food and water to fill the hot water bottles. I'm also planning to add another couple of thermos containers to keep food or liquids hot throughout the day.

    I face west and have big windows so I'd be fine for light - and a bit of warmth - during the day. Like you, I'd just go to bed once it gets too dark.

    I also have a fabric "snake" to go under my entrance door as I get a bit of a draft from there.

    Living in Canada I know how to layer up and I have a lot of sweaters and a down filled parka.

    If I had a balcony I'd keep a cooler out there for food stuffs but I suspect most things would keep fairly well for a few days just by being near a window.

    1. I love the Coleman stove idea - living in apartment does change things up a bit. At least you could cook!
      Hand warmers are a great idea as well.
      Those "snakes" really do keep out cold air - that we didn't realize that was coming in.
      Let's hope these items aren't needed - but being ready is smart.

  6. Luckily our power has not gone off for extended periods of time very often. The one time that it did we could put our food outside from the freezer in coolers and boxes/totes. I managed to cook on a propane camp stove, and we used blankets and candles for warmth and light.

    I have been looking at a small generator and working on getting enough points to get one for free (only have another 300,000 to get) I hope to have that in another year or so. Pretty sure it would come in handy sometime.

    When Harvey asks why I am making so many quilts I tell him it is to keep warm in the winter if the power goes out. I plan on making a few more over the years to cover the doors and the windows in the rooms we use if I need to.

    God bless.

    1. Smart women! A generator could be so valuable to you and yours if no power for extended period. Hope you can get one soon.
      Smart on all the quilts. Great idea and nice to have.

  7. Since I am in SW Florida, I worry if the power goes off how we'll survive the heat! Our last bad hurricane we were without power for 9 days!! It was 98 inside the house. No way to cool down...hand held fans are mostly useless! We bought a generator after that (and losing 2 freezers full of food)...but have not had to use it yet.

    We bought a portable AC that vents to the outside so, hooked into the generator, we could cool one room for sleeping.

    We got a powerful enough generator that it could run that portable AC and also our freezer and refrigerator. We could use the washing machine (30min cycle) to clean clothes and towels to hang outside on drying racks. We, in the past, hand-washed clothing and towels, but could not wring them out enough to dry!!! Took DAYS!

    1. Exactly - it isn't just preparing for cold - but heat as well. Your area has so many hurricanes - it is very wise to prepare. Even if you don't need it for a year or 2 you are much more prepared now! That is always good.

      Oh, the heartbreak of loosing 2 freezers of food. I have had that happen (not a hurricane) and it is just too sad to put into words.
      At least being a little cooler when trying to sleep would be a huge perk.
      Glad you are getting prepared for 'next' time!

  8. Great post Cheryl! We are completely off grid. We have lots of solar panels and a few generators. DH is an engineer and built a few generators himself. We also have gas stoves and a rocket stove (can use wood or pellets). We're pretty set for any power outages.

    I like Jackie's idea of extra quilts. I might have to invest in a few extra comforters and/or blankets.

  9. We bought a whole house generator last fall and I believe it's actually kicked on once or twice. It runs on propane. They really are amazing when you think about it.

  10. We invested in the whole house generator too Cheryl. I am so glad we did. It was a big investment. And like you I still have alternatives if that fails. Also I keep the freezers really full and if we go to generated power I think mostly we would run it about four hours a day. Enough to keep the fridges cold the freezers solid and do tasks with electricity. Except in a heat wave. We would then keep it running and try and keep one room in the house reasonably cool. It terrifies me what I am hearing about natural gas going up so much to a degree people might not be able to afford it in Europe and England, with such cold temperatures. Everyone needs to think of alternatives.

    1. Yes, it pays to be prepared in many ways. We are never guaranteed ANYTHING - so preparing just makes sense.

  11. Living in an urban area with underground wiring, power outages are exceptionally rare. Since moving here 5 years ago, I think there has been only one outage and it lasted maybe 15 minutes. But, when we lived in a historic neighborhood in the City of Chicago, with huge elm trees and overhead wiring, one big branch down meant 8-10 hours in the dark. We'd just make sure to keep the refrig and freezer closed tight, quickly remove any food stuffs needed for meals, and we'd cook out on the grill on the porch. At night, every candle I owned would be lit to give us enough light for games or reading, and I'd use a deep jar with a tea light for a nightlight in the bathroom. We kept water on hand (we were boaters and regularly took it with us), as pumps would be out when we lost power. But, otherwise, we took it in stride.