[dropcap]M[/dropcap]ajor blackouts are more common now than ever before. Most of us have experienced a blackout for a few hours. A blackout is a power outage that can range from a few hours to months. They might happen because of a major storm, a hurricane, a transformer blowing, or other issues. It is a good idea for everyone to stockpile things for the next blackout.
You might be new on your preparedness journey or find it strange to prepare for an entire year without power. No matter where you are on your journey, I encourage you to prepare for at least a two-week period without electricity. Why? There are dozens of examples of this happening. If you live along the coast, a major hurricane can wipe out the power grid for multiple weeks. Earthquakes, major storms, and blizzards all frequently cause blackouts. Everyone is at risk.
Typically, it won’t take two weeks to get your power restored, but most Americans barely have enough food for two days (and will put themselves in the delicate situation of risking their lives trying to find them). You will be ahead of the curve by preparing for two weeks. Let’s take a look at things you need to stockpile to last those two weeks and beyond.
You need to have clean water to survive; everyone knows that. During a blackout, there is a chance your taps won’t work. There is also the chance that filtration systems set up may stop working, which means the water might be dirty or unsafe to drink.
It is crucial for every family to have a two-weeks supply of water stored. The general rule is one gallon of water per person, per day, but you’ll need more for cooking, for when you get sick, laundry and so on. To last two weeks, our family of five needs 70 gallons of water. It is also important to stockpile water for your pets as well. We have two dogs, a cat and a rabbit to consider, as well as livestock!
A Water BOB is a great investment as well. They go right into your bathtub; if you are expecting an emergency, fill it up. You can use the water later if the power doesn’t go out. You also want a way to filter the water if your taps are working. Purification tablets are a good choice.
Source of Light
A source of light may seem like an obvious thing to want on your list. It would be nice to have solar power, but that isn’t financially possible for everyone. You will want to have flashlights on hand, as well as plenty of batteries. LED flashlights take one or two batteries and last a long time. Even the dollar store sells flashlights for cheap. Stock up on them!
Keep a solid stock of candles on hand as well. Taper candles are my favorite. They shine well and last for several hours. Plus, they are some of the cheapest candles aside from tea lights, which don’t last very long. Glow sticks last for 24 hours, are cheap, and perfect for kids who need to find their way through the dark.
One thing to think about is that a source of light during a blackout can draw attention to you. Avoid using light as much as possible in the evening. During the first few nights, people will have more lights available, but those will slowly go away over a few days or week. Invest in some black-out curtains for your living room. Your family can stay together in one room at night with the lights.
A Way to Cook
You need food. Room temperature food is no fun, and most food needs some preparing. If you happen to have a wood burning stove in your home, you are in luck. You might have a gas stove that will work, but there are a few other options that don’t require the grid.
A popular choice is a camping stove. You could also use a grill, but you have to stand outside to cook. You will need to keep lighters and matches on hand. If you opt to use a camping stove or grill, you will need to have fuel on hand. Keep a large enough stock to last a few days easily.
After you run out of fuel, cooking can be tricky. You could use fire, but smoke could alert those you don’t want around. Solar ovens are also a great tool to have, but they can be stolen if left unattended!
Stockpiling food that doesn’t require cooking is a great idea. It allows you to conserve your cooking method. For example, while dried beans are cheaper, it takes a lot of cooking fuel to warm them up. Canned beans are easy to cook and could be eaten cold if needed. Here are some of my favorite foods to stockpile.
- Protein shakes – just use water!
- Peanut butter or almond butter
- Dry cereal or granola
- Powdered milk
- Trail mix
- Canned fruit
- Canned beans and vegetables
- Packages of pre-cooked and seasoned rice
- Canned soup
- Instant mashed potatoes & gravy
- Canned beef, chicken, and tuna
Keep fresh fruit on hand. Most can last for two weeks when stored outside of the refrigerator, such as apples, melons, oranges, and pineapples. They make great snacks for your kids as well.
Step-by-step how to build a 1-year stockpile. Watch >>
Source of Heat
If you live in the deep South, a source of heat may not be an issue. Since I live in Ohio, heating is important, especially if the blackout happens during the winter. For the first 24 to 48 hours, blankets, candles, and sleeping together can keep you warm. After that, you will need an extra source of heat.
If you have a wood burner or fireplace, you are in luck. There are some other choices, such as propane heaters. Many people purchase the Little Buddy heater. You will need to have extra canisters of propane available. It is also wise to keep a battery-operated carbon monoxide detector in the room with you for protection. The other choice is a kerosene heater, but they pose a fire risk.
Germs and infections spread quickly in unsanitary places. There are a few things you can do in your house to keep it sanitized. Have a stock of paper plates, paper towels and disposable flatware. You don’t want to keep dirty dishes laying around.
You should also have cleaning wipes and sprays, hand sanitizer, baby wipes, disposable diapers, and toilet paper on hand. Something else to consider is if your toilet will flush without electricity. If you can, you can store water for flushing by adding it to the tank whenever it needs to be flushed.
If the toilet doesn’t flush, you will need to stock up on heavy duty garbage bags and cat litter. You can put the garbage bag into an empty toilet or bucket. Put a layer of cat litter and add more after each time someone uses it. Then, put the bag outside, but don’t wait for it to get too heavy. You don’t want it to break.
No matter what you are preparing for, you need a first aid kit. Inside of your kit, you should have all of the basic wound care items like antibiotic ointments, bandages, sprays, and gauze. You also want to keep pain relievers, cold medicine, allergy medication, cough syrup, and extra prescription medications on hand.
Fuel for Your Car
When you start thinking about long-term blackouts, you realize that people will eventually start to migrate, looking for power or resources. I highly recommend that you stay where you are until you have to leave. That time may never come. If it does, gas stations won’t work. You need to have fuel stored for your vehicles. Ideally, you want enough fuel stored to travel within a 500-mile radius.
Firearms and Ammunition
Most people are not prepared to lose power for two weeks. After a few days, they will become desperate. If they think you have something they could use, you may have to defend yourself and your family. The hope is that this never happens, but it is better to be safe than sorry, by getting a firearm (or several) for home defense.
Chances are everything in your refrigerator and freezer will perish unless you cook it up over the first few days of the blackout. However, you may have some medications that need to stay cool. A cooler with jugs of water, can keep your medications at a lower temperature. If you are in the winter, you are in luck.
A cool cheap way of maintaining a low temperature for things like veggies is to have a Zeer pot. This uses water and the process of evaporative cooling, something that has been used in the desert since ancient times.
For the short term blackout, you will want to have cash on hand. If you do venture out and find any stores open, they can only take cash because of no electricity. Carry smaller bills, so it is easier to get what you need.
I love electric tools as much as the next person, but most are useless during a blackout. If you don’t have a manual can opener, you will struggle to open those cans of beans. I suggest having more than one! You also want to have regular manual tools. Drills are great, but they can’t be charged without power. You need a tool kit full of different sized screwdrivers, wrenches, hammers, nails, screws, a saw, and more. Keep the electric tools on hand for when power is restored.
Boards for Your Windows
Many people board up their windows during a hurricane to prevent damage. During a blackout, boarding up your windows deters people from trying to break in and secures your privacy, along with those curtains I recommended. The fact is, you don’t want people knowing you aren’t as panicked as they are. People do crazy things.
Electrical radios won’t work, but crank radios are great for connecting to the world and receiving news. You can even buy some crank radios that allows you to plug in your phone chargers. Any information you can receive about the events happening is better than nothing and gives you an idea of what to expect.
Family Activities and Boredom Busters
You have at least two weeks ahead of you. I don’t know about your kids, but mine are sure to start fighting quickly. You could send them outside, but you have to be careful. As time goes on, people will become more desperate. If they see happy kids playing, they may want to find out why they are so relaxed and happy.
Keep a stockpile of books for your kids. I love yard sales; you can find books for $.25. Another great thing to have on hand is board games. We have a closet full of board games, perfect for kids and adults. Any way to forget about the stress outside is helpful for a blackout.
It is unlike the fire department is going to respond, since there is no way to call 911. You are going to be using propane heats, kerosene heaters, candles, grills and more. Even if you are very careful, it is a great idea to keep a few fire extinguishers throughout your home.
Preparing for a short-term blackout takes some creativity. If the blackout period lasts longer than six months (could be due to an EMP or a grid hack attack), you will need to think about the future. You would want to keep heirloom seeds on hand and start preparing to grow your food for the future. Before you can prepare for a long-term blackout, you have to be ready for two weeks without power. Are you?
Bethany Hayes is a mother of three kids who has a small, suburban homestead. When she isn’t homeschooling or gardening, she might be focusing on building up their homestead or preserving the harvest.