When a home experiences a short-term power outage due to inclement weather or equipment issues, it can be incredibly inconvenient. No matter the duration of the outage, there are certain steps that can be taken to prepare and make the situation much more manageable. Below are some tips on how to handle a short-term power outage in your home.
Tips to Deal with a Short Term Power Outage
As I write this, I am without power. Our entire street is down. As I have just been told this isn’t like the other 5 outages we have had this month…this one will be all day! They are having equipment issues and need to change out some big stuff – hence the reason we have been going down so much. Basically it’s just a big ol’ inconvenience but necessary to ensure we won’t be out a WEEK again like after the last hurricane…so we deal.
We have a big generator but it is a HUGE pain to set up and expensive to keep running. You have to move it outside (I can’t move this thing!!) and hook up a million cords to power devices. It really is for emergency situations…like when hurricanes hit and we lose power for weeks. We don’t use it for small outages because normally the power is back before we can even get it hooked up. Instead we just deal with them. Lately we have figured out quite a few tricks and tips so hopefully this will help someone else!
Here are my 12 Tips to Deal with a Short Term Power Outage!
Check for Utility Apps:
Our electric company has an app (and website) with a outage map on it. Easy way to find out if they actually KNOW about your outage. Rule #1 make sure they know you are out!
Once you find this, you can monitor to see how long you will be down…or if you are back up if you are away.
Most companies are on social media too. Facebook is a great place to find out what is going on!
Keep the Lights On:
A big problem is lights. Nothing is worse than a super dark house and it seems like the power likes to go out when it’s dark out. We used to keep candles around but there are unsafe. Another option is flashlights but they are very limited and it seems like the batteries are always dead (well in ours anyways lol), or we just can’t find the stupid things.
Now we have handy camping lanterns that are FANTASTIC for keeping around the house. They are LED too so the batteries last forever!
We are in LOVE with the Etekcity 4 Pack Portable LED Camping Lantern Flashlight with 12 AA Batteries (shown above). They are about $5-$10 each and are fantastic for lighting an entire room. We have had this set for about 4 years now and they work great. We use these for camping and outdoor parties too!
When we aren’t using them, I keep them around the house just for power outages. At only a few bucks each – get one for each room in the house. Perfect for the bathroom and for kids to carry around.
Here are a few other options that may suit your needs:
Also keep an eye out for a solar lamp. We have one in our living room and it is awesome because it stays on even when the power goes out. Not the best light but it works great to light the main room enough to find the lanterns and other necessities.
We have one like this…
Don’t Open Fridges and Freezers if Possible:
An unopened refrigerator will keep food cold for around 4 hours, an unopened freezer will keep food frozen for approximately 24 hours or even longer. If you aren’t 100% sure of when the power is coming back on you might want to just leave them closed. If the food gets hotter than 41′ you will need to throw it ALL out – that can cause hundreds!
This is where the small generator comes into play. If it is out for a few hours go ahead and plug in the fridge to ensure the food doesn’t go bad. The generator can pay for itself by saving just ONE fridge full of food. That’s JUST the fridge – imagine how much you have in the freezer!
If you don’t have a generator there are some things you can do to save the food in your fridge or freezer…
Fill and freeze old 2 liter bottles of water. Then if your fridge is out you can put those in to help keep it cool longer. That can also be a good gauge of if the food is bad. If the bottles have melted than you need to toss food.
Problem is you don’t want to keep these in the main freezer, so it really only works if you have a back up. The other option is to grab them IMMEDIATELY when the power goes out and put them in the fridge.
The fuller your freezer is, the longer it will stay frozen. If it is empty it will thaw out much quicker so use that as a gauge.
We have put all the food from the fridge we wanted in the freezer before and that worked for a few days. The freezer food thawed but stayed cold enough we were able to cook it before it went bad.
Another option is to combine it all in a big cooler. Freezer stuff on bottom, fridge on top. Last hurricane our food lasted almost three days with this method using bags of ice.
As you can see we have figure out many ways to keep food from going bad here in Hurricane land!
Battery Powered or Solar Generator:
I didn’t know these existed when we bought our big one. If I had, we probably would have gone this route.
Small non-gas generators are GREAT for running a fridge and a few lamps. You can’t run long term but they should last from a few hours to a day. Especially handy if you have home health care equipment.
They are also great for camping and other outdoor activities where you need power but don’t want the noise of a generator. Just keep it charging and it is there when you need it.
You can use the Generator Power Calculator to figure out how big of a generator you need. In general a 2,200 watt should run the fridge and a few lights but is is HIGHLY suggested you use the calculator to figure out how much you need because every appliance is different!
Here are a few options:
Heating and Cooling
HOPEFULLY if the power goes out, you can open the doors and hang out in the sunshine. Normally that isn’t the case though. If it’s going to happen it will be 10′ or 90′. Either way you may need something to keep cool or stay warm. If you have a small generator you can use SMALL space saving ones normally. Use the calculator to figure out if you have enough watts to do it.
They now make battery powered ones that are FANTASTIC for short stints of use. These will only last a few hours but it could be just enough to not have to leave or hook up the generator.
Keep Easy Food Around:
Try to keep some food around that doesn’t require cooking or refrigeration. Hopefully it won’t last long but if you end up in a several hour outage you will need food and it’s better to NOT open the fridge if possible. Might be a good time to eat out.
Inform Power Company of Special Conditions:
We haven’t had to deal with this but I know many who have and it can help a lot with getting power back faster. Notify your power company if you use special healthcare equipment like oxygen generators or dialysis equipment that require power. Most power companies have the ability to note this in their records and will prioritize the response to your home so you will get power back first. Of course ONLY do this if you really need it!
To Flush or Not to Flush:
If you are on city, your toilets will probably only have a few flushes. If you are on septic you should be able to constantly use them as long as you have water. I keep a few gallons of water around just for this and plan ahead and only flush when necessary!
Also you should still have hot showers. The hot water tanks are full at all times so you have one tank of hot water. Put on one of the LED lights in the bathroom and you can easily take a shower!
Power Packs for Charging Phones:
We keep a few of these around as back ups for cell phones. You can plug a phone into it will charge your phone. You can usually get 1 – 5 charges depending on the size of the power bank and your phone. We use these on road trips as well.
Here are a few options:
Keep the Kiddos Entertained:
Nothing is worse than the power being out – it’s raining outside – and the kids are all wound up. It’s a great time for books or let the kiddos run through our fun activities for indoor play on rainy days list!
When in doubt, grab a laptop. Pop a movie in the CD Rom and you can let them watch a movie. Or simply bypass to….
Leave the House:
I usually just leave the house if possible. Run my errands, go shopping, head to park. If you work at home (like I do), grab the laptop and head out to find WIFI. Like I said our utility company has an app so I can watch to see when the power is back on!
Learn to Use Your Hot Spot:
Most cell phone plans now include a Hot Spot. If you work at home and lose power you can use your hot spot to connect any device in your house to the internet. It will drain your data plan so make sure you know how much data you have. We have unlimited just for my laptop and traveling!
Learn how to use the manual release to open your garage door if the power goes out. If the power is out and your car is inside, you will need to know how to get it out if the power goes out. Consider taping the instructions inside the door…just in case!
Hopefully these tips will help the next time your power goest out. If you are in the south, you might want check out how we deal with Hurricane Preparedness here in Florida.
Got any other tips? I would love to hear them, please add them in the comments.