You don’t have to be a full-blown Doomsday Prepper to be concerned about emergency preparedness, especially considering how common power outages have become. With the aging infrastructure of the electrical power grid, widespread power outages are becoming a frequent challenge like never before.
On August 14, 2003, the interconnectedness of the nation’s power grid, which has been an advantage in providing power to millions, showed its Achilles heel as millions were without power in one of the biggest blackouts in history.
Ultimately, some overgrown trees hit some power lines and due to some coordination issues of the power grid, which was at the time under a great strain, the system crashed.
Four days later, people who got their water from a Detroit area water plant were still under a boil order, as the power outage caused problems with water purification.
Hurricane Sandy also made a believer out of millions of Americans, as power wasn’t restored to many until well over a week later. So the need for some measure of emergency preparedness is not the question. The question is how to take adequate measures to be prepared for a power outage.
The two things that seem to come to mind first for people thinking about a power outage is having some flashlights and worrying about the food in their refrigerator spoiling. Let’s address these two issues and also look at how you can cook that food in the refrigerator if your microwave and electric stove are out.
Flashlights are the way that most people think of lighting their homes during a power outage. Candles are okay, but the fire hazard is definitely a consideration, especially if you have small children or pets that could knock them over.
Having flashlights and batteries, along with some table lanterns, is definitely a good first step. Oil lamps are also decorative and a bit safer than totally open-flame candles, but battery-operated lanterns are superior.
With regard to your refrigerator, keeping the frig and freezer full all the time is the best way to give yourself the longest time possible before the food starts to go bad during a power outage. The reason is that every time you open the door to your refrigerator or freezer, the cold air comes out and is replaced by warmer, room temperature air.
If your freezer and fridge are fuller, there is less space occupied by air that will come out when you open the door. So get in the habit of taking heavy plastic juice bottles and fill them with water to take up the empty space inside – you’ll save on electricity and also have a larger thermal mass of cold that will help your food last longer when the power goes out.
Cooking won’t be possible if you have an electric stove, so invest $50 in a portable propane camping stove, or get creative with your barbecue grill outside and you’ll be in business cooking food instead of going hungry.