There are many factors that determine your safety and comfort during a power outage. This includes the cause of the blackout and its expected duration. The time of year, the climate in your region and any special circumstances that may apply to you also play a role. First of all, it is important that you are prepared for the crisis, even before it occurs.
But how do you prepare for a power outage? Since it's hard to predict what the trigger might be or how long it will last, you should take the most important precautions. For example, if you expect to be without electricity for a week or more at any time of the year, you should have more than enough supplies and gear at home.
A power outage in the evening, for example because a car crashed into a power pole, is nothing more than an inconvenience for most of us. But what if a serious problem left your house without power for several days? What if the temperature is 40 °C during this time? Or in winter, when it's -30 °C outside? It is important to prepare yourself for all eventualities and to know the right behavior in the event of a crisis. Read this little blackout guide to learn more about it.
- 1 1. Take precautions
- 2 2. Stay informed
- 3 3. Get a power source
- 4 4. The purchase of a light source
- 5 5. Stock up on batteries
- 6 6. Store food
- 7 7. Build water supplies
- 8 8. Use gas and wood for cooking
- 9 9. Keep the car tank full
- 10 10. Think about communication
- 11 11. Provisions for heating and air conditioning
- 12 12. Get a first aid kit
- 13 13. Have cash ready
- 14 Safety tips for after a power outage
- 15 Summary
1. Take precautions
Emergency equipment is essential. It is not only useful in the event of a blackout, but can also be life-saving in many other crisis situations. These kits contain, among other things, all the necessary utensils to provide you with electricity and clean water.
Put together an emergency kit that is suitable for all family members or roommates. Also, pack survival bags in case an evacuation will be necessary.
2. Stay informed
During power outages and the chaos that could result, radio stations and emergency channels broadcast important safety information and breaking news. Make sure in advance which stations can be received in your area and have a battery-operated radio or a hand-cranked device (Test of the best devices here) handy at home.
3. Get a power source
It's always a good idea to invest in a generator. It serves as an emergency power source for your house. But first think about what size you need. How many of your devices do you want the generator to power? Make sure you choose one that has a slightly larger capacity than you actually need. So you have some reserve in case of an emergency. The models vary. There are small, mobile generators and those that are permanently installed in your house.
If you're buying a generator that will power your entire home, have it professionally installed. Because some products work with natural gas, which is dangerous in lay hands. Such an installation requires the assistance of a licensed professional. In some regions, self-assembly is even illegal.
Never use the generator indoors, only outdoors. This greatly increases the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. Every year, many people die from CO2 poisoning caused by improperly operated power generators. Thousands more end up in the hospital. Familiarize yourself with the symptoms of CO2 poisoning and place special alarms in the occupied rooms. It could save your life and that of your roommates.
4. The purchase of a light source
Of course, it's important that you have easy access to flashlights, especially in the early stages of a power outage. Store these in different and easily accessible places in the house. So you always have one on hand when you need it. However, the question arises, do you really want to get by with only the light of a flashlight for several nights in a row?
There are a number of options available to you when putting together your emergency kit. When it comes to something as important as light, it's a good idea to have multiple options at your disposal and incorporate them into your set.
Some people are attracted to the idea of using only candles during a power outage. Because they are inexpensive and can be stored for a long time. But candles don't provide much light compared to a battery-powered lantern or LED lights. Let practical considerations guide you when choosing possible lighting sources for the blackout kit. For example, you could also use solar lights from the garden. Their brightness is at least sufficient for orientation in the dark.
Also, don't forget to pack any additional items needed to operate the lights. If you depend on candles, you'll need matches or a lighter. Battery powered light sources require lots of spare batteries or batteries.
5. Stock up on batteries
First, check what type of batteries your flashlight, radio, and walkie-talkie need. Always keep extra batteries near these devices. Keep them in easily accessible places and make sure the stock lasts for some time. It is advisable to have enough batteries on hand for two changes.
Consider using solar-powered devices in your home instead of rechargeable batteries. For example, you can charge your mobile phone with energy using a solar charger. On sunny days, this type of energy is available to you almost indefinitely.
6. Store food
Stock up on non-perishable groceries. For example, canned goods and freeze-dried meals are ideal. Rice and other legumes also belong in every pantry. Consider the size of your family and don't forget your pets. The food supply should last at least 3 days for each person or animal. Special containers help you with storage and keep vermin away. A week's supply is recommended to be on the safe side, as power cuts, especially during natural disasters, can also be of long duration.
Use your refrigerators and freezers wisely. A refrigerator without electricity keeps food cool for at least 24 hours. It takes about 48 hours for the contents of a full freezer to begin to thaw. You can extend this time by not opening the devices.
7. Build water supplies
When the electricity goes out, the water supply can also be affected. Prepare for this by keeping a 3-day supply of drinking water per person indoors. This should be at least 4 liters of water per head per day. Again, a week's supply is better.
Under certain circumstances, it can take some time before the infrastructure - and also the water supply - works properly again after a power failure. It is better to have more supplies in stock than are actually needed. If you have an aversion to PET or plastic containers, you can also store the liquid in metal or glass containers specially designed for this purpose.
Also have water on hand for washing and rinsing. Be prepared for any emergency situation. Even if there is a low probability that the municipal water supply will fail for a longer period of time in the event of a power failure. Also, take precautions if you have a well with an electric pump.
8. Use gas and wood for cooking
If your house has a gas or wood-burning stove, you're in luck with a blackout. Because then you can continue to cook without having to rely on electricity. However, many households now have electric stoves that are not easy or cheap to replace. An easy way to keep your stove working during a power outage is to get a gas grill or stovetop.
Make sure you only use the grill outdoors to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. Since there will definitely be a rush on the gas in retail during a crisis, you should have the tank at least half full. Or at least have spare cartridges ready. The same applies to wood supplies. Check these regularly and buy more quickly if necessary, so that there is no bottleneck in your supplies in the first place.
9. Keep the car tank full
In a crisis situation, petrol could become scarce. It is therefore a good idea to keep your vehicle's tank full in case an evacuation is required. You should be able to drive 200 to 300 km without having to fill up.
To prepare your car for the long journey, half a tank of fuel makes sense. It's not at all tedious or financially draining if you make this a routine. Be sure to fill up if there is a storm warning or if heavy snowfall is forecast. In some areas, this is a reliable guarantee of power outages.
10. Think about communication
Once you've examined your home, property, and even the neighborhood for the possible cause of a power outage, you need a way to communicate with the outside world. This is how you can find out what's going on. If there is an emergency generator, you could turn on the television and watch the local news. If that's not possible, there are some other things you can do to help.
- A battery powered radio with a supply of spare batteries is a good idea for your blackout kit. You might also want to consider a hand-cranked model. So you don't have to worry about the batteries running out. Which is unfortunately not uncommon. If there is a major power outage that is newsworthy, local radio stations could also report on it. Turn on the radio and catch up on current events.
- It is advisable to always have a fully charged cell phone battery. Have chargers ready for emergencies. Cell phones are essential when you need to check in with family members who are not at home. You can also use smartphones to surf the internet and try to get more information about the cause and duration of the power outage. However, expect that the mobile network will be overloaded and that the mobile Internet connection will also be affected.
- Radio devices work much more reliably and independently. You could make it your mission to get a radio amateur license and set up the necessary equipment at home. This allows you to communicate with people over long distances and, if necessary, to make an emergency call. Even if neither cell phone nor internet nor telephone work.
11. Provisions for heating and air conditioning
It's worth thinking about how you're going to heat or cool your home when the power goes out and options are limited. If you live in an area where temperatures are extreme, you need to plan ahead. To be prepared for anything, regardless of the season.
Protection from extreme heat or cold can be especially important if the very old or young live in your home. Extreme temperature fluctuations can also be dangerous for some diseases.
If your home is gas or wood heated, you shouldn't have any problems. Unless you run out of fuel. You can dress in onion skins and snuggle up under blankets. So you can survive even colder winter nights without electricity. Don't forget to leave the taps running or turn them off completely so the pipes don't freeze.
Cooling living spaces is a little more difficult. Without central air conditioning or fans, protecting against extreme heat during a power outage can be a real challenge. Make sure you and your family stay hydrated. In addition, you should cover windows and doors when the sun shines directly into the room. It is only aired in the evening when the outside temperatures drop.
12. Get a first aid kit
A medical emergency kit is an essential part of any crisis kit. Remember that your blackout set is meant to prepare you for the worst case scenario.
Your first aid kit must contain at least one item to stop bleeding and to clean and bandage minor cuts or abrasions. In addition, pain and anti-inflammatory drugs are just as important as an eyewash kit.
Depending on your first aid knowledge and skills, it may be worth putting together a more extensive kit. Anything is better than nothing, and any item that can treat the most common injuries will do.
If you or a family member depend on refrigerated medication or electronics, you should have a contingency plan in place in the event of a power outage. Think of a power supply for these important medical devices or the backup cooling for the medicines.
13. Have cash ready
A large-scale power failure also affects the infrastructure. In this case, the refrigeration and checkout systems in many shops will probably no longer work. Unless they have emergency generators. However, if you are lucky and find an open shop, you will only be able to pay with cash there. It is therefore optimal to have sufficient cash reserves at home. This also applies in the event of an evacuation. You won't have time to find a working ATM.
Safety tips for after a power outage
- Maintain a minimum distance of 10 meters from power lines. Do not touch hanging cables and inform the emergency call.
- Avoid electrocution in flood areas. Do not go into flooded areas or use electrical or electronic equipment that may have become wet. Before turning the power back on, have a professional check the wiring. Incidentally, this advice also or especially applies to flooded basements. Many people die in flooded homes every year. Not because they are surprised by the water, but because of an electric shock.
- When in doubt, throw everything away. Also discard food that is 40°C or warmer. Especially when it comes to dairy or meat products. Ask your doctor if you can continue using unrefrigerated medication.
- Prevent carbon monoxide poisoning by only operating generators, camp stoves, and charcoal grills outdoors, away from open windows and doors.
When there is a power outage, some of the things we take for granted may be gone, such as: B. telephone, electricity and water. Roads may be blocked, shops may have to close and gas stations may be out of service. It is important to take these considerations into account when planning to ensure the safety of the family.