Lights out: Preparing for extended power outages

Consider extended power outages when<br />creating a disaster preparedness plan.
Consider extended power outages when
creating a disaster preparedness plan.

Most of us can, reluctantly, endure the occasional brief power outage from a weather event or other calamity.

But an extended power outage can be a challenge to our dependence on modern appliances and electronic devices, and disaster plans should take power loss into account. Lengthy power outages can result from many sources, and your disaster plans may change with the seasons:

  • weight of snow or ice downing lines in the winter
  • branches falling on wires during spring or summer storms
  • utility-driven blackouts or brownouts at any time of year

The Federal Emergency Management Agency describes steps to take before, during and after power outages, including conservation measures for areas subject to widespread utility brownouts or blackouts. Reminder: To prevent damage to electrical appliances as a result of power surges when power is restored, unplug any non-essential electrical appliances.

Special needs

Your family’s medical needs should top your emergency plan:

  • Prescriptions  ̶  Most refrigerated medicines will be fine for a few hours in the refrigerator, according to the website. After a longer outage, medications may lose their effectiveness. The Food and Drug Administration provides advice on medication safety following power outages.
  • Powered medical equipment  ̶  You may need a backup battery system for essential medical devices. The Food and Drug Administration offers tips for creating a personal emergency file for people who rely on electrically powered medical devices. Some communities have registration programs that place priority on restoring power to homes where medical equipment is in use. Check with your local authorities.

Refrigeration and food safety


  • The American Red Cross offers tips on purchasing, installing and safely using emergency generators. Take all necessary precautions to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning; don’t use a generator indoors, including in a basement or garage.
  • Keep in mind that in widespread catastrophes, gas stations may not have electricity to pump gas, so you may need to keep a supply of fuel for your generator on hand, requiring additional safe storage precautions.
  • Some whole-house generators use natural gas supplied from underground piping, which may be more dependable, except in earthquake zones.


  • Have a battery-powered emergency radio and extra batteries available.
  • Unless a widespread disruption takes out cell towers, your cell phone may continue to work in an emergency as long as you have batteries.
    • Stock extra phone batteries for emergencies, and keep a car charger on hand.
    • Hand-crank radios and phone chargers are also available for purchase.
    • Wired phones may also continue to work for phone sets that do not require batteries. You might consider keeping an older phone on hand to plug in during emergencies.


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212 Responses to “Lights out: Preparing for extended power outages”

  1. OII Member Spotlight: Top Weather Preparation Tips from March : Ohio Insurance Institute – Oii

    […] For more tips see the post, “Lights out: Preparing for extended power outages” here.  […]

    • dave

      I live off the grid, wouldn’t bother me at all.

      • MAC

        You can’t be too far off the grid if you are leaving comments here.

        • kirby lance

          did yall bother to ask if he was on solar power or wind ? before jumping down has throat..

          • Paul J Walsh

            That is the problem with many today, the first sentence is where they get their news. They have no idea what the real story is.

          • Bill B

            Living off-grid doesn’t necessarily mean having to go without internet access. There are numerous ways to have access without having an umbilical cord to your local electrical company.

          • George

            There is no such thing as solar power or wind. The renewable resouses only have an insignificant ancillary support of the grid. Sun goes down and the wind stop blowing but you still need your toast for breakfast

        • Kelly

          He could have a generator or wind power.

          • John

            Off-grid may be using free power via phone line voltage or cable signals to charge up bank of batteries.

        • Sandra

          Even people who live off the grid use cell phones.

        • part time prepper

          Off the grid can be a confusing phrase
          maybe we should say, not grid dependent
          as in you have a generator
          and for wind or solar, YES they vary, thats why you get a battery bank, you use the wind or solar to charge batteries then run the juice back through an invertor to get your Alternating Current back into your applaiances.
          Me i have a very small generator and its only purpose is to run the refrigerator and the freezer, and maybe a sump pump.

        • Roger Lamb

          Of course he can be. Many people where I live are not tied to the grid in any way. Between solar, wind, and water powered generators there are many options for power. Most of our internet is satellite or radio relay. Most phones are cell phones. You must be a city dweller.

        • Mike

          You can be off the grid and have power when the sun goes down and the wind stops blowing. If you are living like that you have series of batteries that run your electrical items, e.g. lights, fans, TV, audio, tankless hot water, ect. As for connecting to the Internet in this situation some people use MiFi devices that connect to cell towers. Worst case is you don’t have Internet (God help you). Same for telephony service.

        • Amy

          This is a pet peeve of mine with politics also; I will never understand why people comment on things without any knowledge of their own. As the article juuuuust mentioned, it is possible to charge things (such as a smart phone) without being connected to major sources of electricity. Pretty sure we all know by now that cell service is basically every where these days; so are portable means of Internet connection. Being off grid doesn’t mean out of touch. I’m not YET, but heading that direction.

        • Jool

          Lo. My thoughts exactly.

          • Bruce-Boy47

            How stuck can some people be that they keep insisting that the internet is NO THE GRID?
            It is totally separate. Even the Amish (think off the grid) can check E-mail and do internet on their cell phones. They DO NOT HAVE ELECTRICITY in their homes or farms.

        • Heather

          Off the grid means that you harness/supply your own power. Many people with the property to construct solar and wind recovering devices actually have a surplus that they sell to power companies. Also, if you store your energy in batteries you can use them all night or days on-end if need be.
          Off the grid does NOT mean that they do not use power…simply that they provide their own.

        • diane

          Off the grid today doesn’t mean no internet, for me it means growing what I eat, no tv, using a generator, and a well for water. js

      • Catherine

        You aren’t off the grid … evidenced by your using whatever electronic device you used to post your comment.

        • Kelly

          Catherine he could have a generator or wind power.

        • eric

          seriously, wind, solar, water power as alternate power also feeds and maintains a charge in deep cycle battery banks for use when the wind does stop blowing or when the sun does go down. Awesome concept really? Yes one can live off the grid and surf the net in heated comfort in a rural mountain region! duh

        • Tom

          He could be at the library.

        • E

          Living off the grid doesn’t mean you live in a cave. It means you generate your own power. You can live off grid and still enjoy modern technology. The beauty of living off the grid is that when the rest of the world is freaking out because they lost power for a a few days, we are living comfortably and the neighbors are coming over to charge their cell phones.

      • RL

        That’s awesome Dave

      • Kryz

        The internet is a grid, you’re on it.

        • Carol

          Come on all you people who are baiting those who have ‘chosen their wording’ on the fact they are “off the grid”.
          We ALL know what they mean: that they are NOT using the electric companies power/ gas lines, and have their OWN power, be it wind/solar/generator/ a combination of any of these or other types of power.(hooked up to a bicycle, maybe) And YES they can be “off grid” (again, meaning they are not hooked into any normal power company and it’s power) and still have internet access. Don’t be so literal.

          • TIMBR

            Being “Off the Grid” means not using electrical power supplied by a third-party. It means supplying your own electricity to run your household.. like a computer and internet.. using solar, wind, generator.. whatever.

          • BrendaJ

            Why do you all feel the need to jump on the guy who says he is “off the grid”? As others have noted, he can have solar, wind power or gas powered generator back-up. What it sounds like is you are calling him a liar, why? You can be off the grid and access internet in multiple other ways that a home computer, even our handy cell phones. Play nice children.

        • Norman Blowers

          The grid, understood by ALL technicians, power companies and more, it the system of electric delivery dominant in our cities and countryside. Internet is NOT the grid. It is the web, serves a different purpose and is accessed in many ways other than hard wiring. I know people who have constant power via water turbines which are stand alone systems. The Amish have cell phones but NO electricity.

      • S Brown

        I hope you can stay off the grid. More and more communities are forcing people back onto the grid. I have to pay a fee for using too little electricity in my town in east Tennessee. Some stuff about we all have to share in the cost of administrative duties and my shutting lights off when I leave the room just doesn’t do enough. Good luck and God Bless

        • Carol

          Wow! Aren’t you a bit disgusted and angry at paying for “services NOT rendered”? I know I am! The phone company CHARGES you to NOT publish your number, and now, this. Some power companies actually pay customers for using less, or for ‘adding’ to the electricity supply….I guess I’m glad I don’t live where you do….Sorry. ;-(

      • Alex Luken

        If you’re off the grid, then you’re not the target audience for this article, are you?

        • Carol

          WHY do some of you insist on being so nasty to those who have managed to do what we all wish we could: be off -grid? I think that unless you have something constructive, or beneficial or NICE to say, you should just keep it to yourself. Being off-grid DOES NOT mean you have no power! It just means that you aren’t hooked into the mainstream power grid and pay for using a power company’s electricity.

          • Aaron

            Carol, do you bother to read the responses before you continually post your canned response to everybody who disagrees? Alex never mentions power or anything to do with “the grid”; he simply stated to the original poster that the article wasn’t intended for him, which is obviously the case. The original poster decided to throw out his snide remark, knowing he would get a bunch of responses, just suck it up and let people respond.

          • E

            Right on Carol. 🙂

          • Slovka Bajak

            Well Carol , I guess it is because they are so jealous of their own ineptness at preparing.

      • Robin

        Tell me more

      • Bennett

        Not sure if you understand what that means, dude…

      • Carol

        I know. I took your class. It was great. Lucky you. Any time feel free to help me set up my house.



      • mike

        Wow, I didn’t realize it costs almost $3,000 to have a generator installed! I better start charging my neighbors! I hooked mine up and built an enclosure for my 9,000watt peak / 7kw running system and total cost was about $1000.

        Since then my 2 neighbors went out and bought the parts and 3 hours later we had theirs hooked up at well for about $300 in parts.

        My other neighbor received high quotes until I told him to just order it at Costco then call a dozen electricians and see who gives competitive quote and good referrals. I think he spent like $800 to get his installed. There is a 15kw from Costco. I highly suggest ordering it, then calling around to electricians and having them give you a quote in your area. This is a job that can be completed anytime over a 2-3 month period so having flexibility in their install schedule usually makes it much cheaper.

        • Dan

          Yikes! You all spent way too much! Conduit pipe, glue for 220 cable run from my shed to house: $60. 220 Cable 100feet $150. Knowledge and labor on how to wire and install it, $0.

          • Carol

            Well, for those of us not fluent in electrical stuff, yes, it DOES cost a lot! Not everyone is an electrician, or have the electrical know-how, nor can we learn enough to be CONFIDANT about wiring up something that won’t cause a fire later on! Nice that YOU have that knowledge, (I really do mean that, wish I did) and can do for yourself, but don’t slam those us us who don’t.

          • Kelly

            DAN. My husband says it cost to much to go off grid…..but we are looking at doing it. Can you give suggestions?

          • Gordon

            I have a Coleman 5.5 KW generator. I have a jumper, to back feed into a 230VAC appliance outlet, in my garage. With proper management, it will power everything except my water heater. I don’t use public utility water. I have three freezers, kept full of groceries, at all times.

            I have 2 disconnect devices between my generator and the public utility transformer. NEVER forget to disconnect from the public utility transformer, before connecting and/or operating a portable generator.

      • NJ-Mike

        I a generator transfer switch installed (about $500) into the panel in the basement, which also included an outside receptical. The generator transfer switch I used can power up to 6 circuits, however, I only have it wired for three becasue of the size of generator I use. My generator is a Champion 4,000 watt peak, 3,500 watt running, which I use to run my furnace, refrigerator, and one lighting circuit (the three circuits wired through my generator transfer switch). The generator cost about $350 and the transfer switch with installation was about $700. I grabbed about 20 gallons of gas before Hurrican Sandy and we went 8 days without power and could have gone several more. Haven’t used it since – so $20,000 for a natural gas powered unit seems a bit much.

    • Gary Clark

      For 10-days worth outage, should mention having a stock of freeze dried foods & a way to make clean water.
      -just a prep-er

    • Bob-in-cincinnati

      I have a power inverter that plugs into a cigarette lighter on a car. This converts a DC car battery into 120 V AC power. I can use this to run a refrigerator off a car battery similar to what a solar system does. You can either run the cord out of the car or attach it to a solar panel which charges the battery. A power inverter can be purchased for about $15 and are rated on the number of watts generated. So if you want to run a large piece of equipment, you may need to get a more expensive power inverter.

      • RJ

        Sorry Bob, that won’t work. That small inverter won’t carry the amperage needed for the fridge.

        • Jack

          RJ, it depends on how he defines “refrigerator”. For example, one can buy a two-stage thermoelectric “refrigerator” that runs off 12VDC at about 7Amps (12Vx7A=84Watts) that will cool down the small refrigerator’s interior about 60 degrees below AMBIENT. So, if your ambient temp is 100degF, then it can cool a small space down to about 40degF. They run directly off 12VDC and do not need or use a 12VDC to 120VAC converter.

          To provide even greater temperature differences, you simply stack on more modules to the active cooling assembly. These use the “Peltier” effect to cool OR heat one side of the active cooling unit. Internet search on [thermoelectric cooler] and/or [Peltier cooling].

          You change whether you want to cool or heat the interior by simply changing the polarity of the applied voltage. If you don’t open the cooler very often, and it is VERY well insulated, you can keep things cold on RELATIVELY low total power requirements. I have kept medicine properly cooled for over a week using a small 2-stage thermoelectric cooler that cost me about $80. The more stages in the assembly, the higher the temperature difference. And, generally speaking more stages equals more expensive…and while it still uses 12VDC, it will require higher amps/watts.

    • Ross

      Not many people consider the fact that if they own a vehicle they already have a majority of what they need for 120 volt power. 12V/120V inverters can be purchased in various wattages and at various costs. The least expensive per watt are “square wave” inverters and generally the most expensive per watt are true (electronic) “sine wave” inverters. Your lights and most motors will operate on either “square” or “sine” wave patterns but some induction motors (refrigerators, etc.) MAY fail to run on a “square” wave. There are more details if a person wants to get deeper into it but basically they are very simple and easy to use and may be a good choice for those who don’t want to bother with a separate genset.

    • Christy

      Predictable storms must have time to get non-heatable snacks, like cereal bars, dried nuts, chips, bread and spreads, purified water bottles, candles, lighter or match boxes,battery LED Lights or flash lights, charged phones, or these can be collected and stored in a backpack or bags one bag in car and one at home, car phone charger, fueled tank, warm clothes and blankets. It’s safer for informed power cuts rather than hazards, until the storm passing time, affordable generators, re-chargeable phone batteries, picnic ice boxes to store frozen food, portable stoves either by gas or oil. Manufacture grooved cylinder fire pit with 2 inches metal stand on it with a metal sheet top to warm food and a metal sheet under the pit for floor safety. Needs self lighting charcoal and wood chunks or wood chip bags in store.Include safety tips.Need lot of prayers, friends and neighbors.

    • Jimmie

      Additional info for water purification after filtering it and storing it is using an eyedropper and adding plain bleach per gallon. This will shock/kill 99% of bacteria. I have a well and use chlorine bleach to shock the well a few times a year and add pool tablets monthly to the well to maintain safe water. Google it and there are tables you can print out as to how much bleach to add to water to keep it safe to use/drink. I also use a solar panel array to charge a bank of large batteries stored in the basement with inverters running the furnace and sump pump. In all practicality I use my 7k gas gen 2 hrs in the am and 4 hrs in the evening during long power outages. Seems to do a good job except when my hot water heater and well pump and fridges/2 and deep freezer are all requiring power. So when we shower I just turn off the electric water heater till we are done. Then turn it back on to heat back up. I live in an area that hasn’t had too many prolonged outages, 6 days being the most, but I am considering a whole house genset because we just got Natural Gas. I can install the genset myself, ie… gas line, concrete pad, but the electric I will have a friend who is an electrician help me with. I always keep a few months of canned goods on hand like beans, carrots, canned meat, fruit, peanut butter, etc. I keep them in the basement where it is a more constant temp. Be prepared! I also have coleman lanterns, canned gas for them, coleman camp stove, turkey fryer, 5 propane tanks, gas grill, kerosene lamps, lamp oil and candles. Remember when unprepared people get desperate they will do anything to fulfill they’re needs. It’s only normal to expect this kind of behavior so be prepared with a way to protect yourself and family. Hopefully we never have to use any of the above but in these turbulent times anything can happen.
      I also recommed FRS radios with neighbors all on the same channel during bad times incase the local phone co/cell carrier/ internet fails in your area. Communication is a must. Battery powered radios are a lifesaver. Look up on how to get you amateur radio license. This I highly recommend. This way you can pass messages to other towns/states/countries or receive messages if needed.
      Please do not rely on public service for everything in life. You will always be let down.

      Signed ” the Boy Scout”

    • Sally

      I lived through 2 weeks without power at my grandparents lake house in upstate NY. We used our wood burning stove, hand water pump, and outhouse. We emptied our freezers and took what we had to the firehouse to share with our neighbors. We made it.

    • Carl

      Unfortunately, one can’t simply plug in a wired phone. That requires land-line service, which unbelievably costs about $50 per month just for local service.

    • peg blalock

      WOW. Never heard of a ‘crank radio’ (oh, yeah. The tv show Mash just came to mind )any way feeling pretty dumb thinking there would acutally be good information without any RABBIT TRAILS!!! Living in townhouse, lots of regulations & one is no room heaters using any kind of fule. Generators out of the question. But I have been trying to find a way not to freeze this winter when power goes out, without moving to warmer climate. Any ideas???

    • jeffrey pullen

      I use sunjack products I have a small set of solar panels that charge batteries with usb ports and they have lights that run off them I ran one for 8 hours and didn’t touch the charge. and charged my phone several times. they hold a charge for months I also have a generator and two sided fire place with a cord of wood

    • sara blacher

      I have medical supplies which require power to work. If we are out of power for an extended time, I need to find a place that has generator emergency power. Like a hospital, nursing home, hospital, fire station, etc. Otherwise I need to go to a shelter that has power, food, water, etc. All I would have at home would be freezing cold water and could flush the toilet. I have been out of power a few years ago for a week, luckily it was summer. Had to go across the street to a nursing home to recharge my cell, use my breathing medicine, etc. Luckily I live on a first floor so I could get in and out with my electric wheelchair and charge it a few hours at the nursing home. Then a shelter was opened at a school and I went there until the power went back on. Could.not take that cat. Just gave her a huge bowl of water and some dry food. She did ok, but cried and was lonely.

  2. Mary Smith

    Been there, done that. It’s not fun, neither is it comfortable, but it is doable if you take the time to prepare a long time before.

    • Richard

      Agreed. Been there — done that too. Hurricane Hugo when it knocked out the power grid and much of the infrastructure in eastern South Carolina in 1989. We were without power for 28 days and we had limited police, fire and emergency medical transport for the same amount of time. Many roads were impassable and you could really see who was prepared — and who wasn’t. There is a lot of good advice from the article and from readers. Generators are great, but keep them around 4000-5000 watts and I would recommend an extended run model that uses less fuel and runs cooler than the older models. Keep a spare spark plug and generator oil as well as a safe and separate supply of generator fuel. An outdoor gas stove and about 4-5 bottles of LP gas to cook with, several gallons of water (we started out with about 40 gallons) and a plan to forage for more from the National Guard and the Red Cross as time progressed, lots of dried goods and canned goods, from beans, rice, pasta and coffee, to jar sauce and spices. We had a chest freezer filled with fresh caught shrimp, snapper, flounder, and venison. All of that had to be cooked, consumed or given away to people who were not as prepared. Fresh veggies and fruit was likewise consumed as soon as possible. Finally, it doesn’t hurt if one member of the family has a pickup truck, Jeep or SUV. If you live in hurricane country, you already know to keep your fuel tanks full from March to September. If you keep firearms, know where they are and keep them in a locked and secure place, or on you. Know the procedures during a time of marshal law before a disaster hits.

    • kirby lance

      mary my power went out on xmas eve up in washington state.. out for 3 days lucky my house heat and stove ran on a big propane tank in the front yard.. across the street they had city water, but no heat or lights.. all were military folks… we had a ball

  3. Deborah Williams

    Keeping water in the refrigerator and ice in the freezer also will help lower your utility bill, appliance will not have to cycle so much and stay out of it!!

    • J Smith (@wizoz20186)

      I’ve run some experiments during long-term power outages (we have two refrigerator/freezer combos) and the difference really is dramatic between how long a full refrigerator/freezer stays cold and how long a near-empty one does. I didn’t think that it would make that much of a difference if neither was opened, but it’s dramatic.

      • Todd Scott

        hi! care to share the results? very curious.

  4. mike

    how long after date on a can is it safe to use food, storing long term

    • Cincinnati Insurance

      Mike – We would search for this information on a reliable website for food safety, such as a university extension service or the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

    • Wayne

      in Vietnam in 1970 I rember the navy feeding us hotdogs in gallon cans dated 1948

      • Sean

        Lol. In ranger school 1973 they fed us c-rats from ww2!

        • mikdemps

          1971 the tincan DD-703 i was on we opened our life boats up and inspected them. I found a cartoon of Lucky Strike Green still have then and 1942 tin cans of water 12oz. cans and they where useless.

        • Alisha

          The Army tried to do that to us in 2001. Even the people who came up with the idea could not handle the smell. Next idea was fried rattlesnake.

      • Jaylog

        I’ll take the c-rats from WWII before any canned hotdogs that old!

      • sprayman0

        Hahahaha! K rations from the Korean war with two cigarettes so old the paper was yellow!

      • optouter

        When in the Army in the early 60s we were fed “C” rations once a week that dated from WWII. Nobody had any problem.

      • jon

        I joined US Army in 1976. In basic training we were eating C-rats dated 1954. how crazy was that.

    • annjo1

      As long as the can was intact before you opened it (no holes, dents, bulges, rust), the contents look and smell normal, and the food was commercially canned, it is almost certain to be SAFE. If it’s several years beyond it’s “sell-by” date, it may have lost some vitamins and flavor, but it will still contain the basics (fats, carbs, protein) needed to keep you alive. If it looked and smelled normal, I’d have no reservations about eating commercially canned food 10-15 years or more past its “sell-by” date.

      Home canned low-acid food (veggies, meats) is only safe if you know who canned it and how carefully they follow the rules of canning.

    • Mike

      Hey Mike. Typically, canned foods like you purchase in the grocery stores can be kept and used for 2-3 yrs past the cans expiration date. A reliable way to tell if the contents are bad is if the top or bottom of the can is expanded or curved up. The ‘good’ food will still have a ‘not-so-fresh’ taste to it, but it will still be edible unless the can lid is ‘popped up’.

    • Dan

      The food in the can is good for a long time..years….the dates are “best when used by” not expiration.
      When you see rust around the rim or you see the top popped up, throw it away it is dangerous.
      Until then it is perfectly safe.

    • Clem

      We’ve used canned foods years after the date on the can. The dates on the cans are a bunch of crap that the FDA has foisted on food manufacturers.

      • Mark Becker

        FYI, I work in grocery business and researched this for a customer. The FDA does not require dates on cans. Most of those dates are for rotational purposes. There are only certain things that require dates and that is in the perishable category such as eggs, cheese, milk, meat, etc. Frozen items are good for years and don’t require dates either.

        • Marcus

          Mark- “The best used by” date is a marketing strategy. Dairy products dates are a safety guideline for the consumer. Those on canned and frozen foods are for marketing, encouraging the consumer to discard and replace items beyond the printed dae.

      • BrendaJ

        Clem..that date just mean that it will taste best till that date. as others have said, if container is in good condition food will be safe, just may not taste as great as it would before that date.

    • optouter

      Mike. I have in the last month consumed half a dozen cans of food and another half a dozen boxes of food that were 2-3 years past their “best by date”. I detected no reduction in quality and I certainly was not harmed by doing so. If you ask the producer of the product they are directed by their attorneys to give you more conservative answer possible.

    • ken wiley

      I date all my can goods when I buy them- I have a double door (front & back) large cabinet /new goes in the back and I draw from the front -I have used can good 5 years pass ” best by ” date -just check for blotted cans and trash them-by law can good must be 120% pass date safe to eat-

      • Elsie Dexter

        I also have for years used products after use by date. All products. Usually from a year to 3 yrs after date. But usually keep things rotated. Only thing I am VERY careful of is canned tomatoes. Why I’m not sure. Something I heard I suppose plus canning practices I’ve read.. HOWEVER government just lately put out that ” use by date ” was just put on products by mfg. for their sake and means nothing. I still taste everything first for precaution as I have occationally found some have a different taste.

    • Winnie

      The biggest threat from canned food is botulism, actually from the toxins that botulism creates. If you have any qualms about canned food, boil the contents for 10 minutes – that will destroy the toxins. Do not, under any circumstances, eat from a damaged or bulging can however.

  5. thelma a. t. btown

    is it safe to eat canned goods (green beans, carrots,peas, beans, etc. and/or water packed tuna during a long power outage??

    • PissedoffinAZ

      No, only when the power is on.

    • ken wiley

      And the can goods Know when the power is off so then can be open? now if it is in the refrigerator OPEN and still cold probably about 2 days –

  6. Momala

    Thelma ~
    As long as the cans are within their expiration date, it is safe to eat the contents. Just a reminder – this is why you always have a manual can opener around the house!

    • john

      Or rub can top on concrete for emergencys. Tops are only lightly soldered in place

  7. Linda

    I lived twelve years without electricity, running water, or indoor plumbing. But if you haven’t experienced that lifestyle, I would advise investing in a Camp Chef stove

    (in addition to your gas barbeque), as well as storing water, and canning jars and sealers. Study up on how to can food, so that you can preserve the food as it thaws out in the freezer.

    • Maria Bruno

      I did it for two years (yeah Peace Corps!) You did it for 12? RESPECT.

      • Chris Olson

        My wife and I have lived off-grid for 14 years in northern Wisconsin. We have solar panels, wind turbine and two generators so we are not without power. And we have satellite TV and internet. But we don’t depend on the utility because there is no utility where we live.

    • JOHN

      How did u store water for how long what kind of water container did u use? Thank you!

    • Deb

      How do you access the Internet without electricity?

      • Grumpster

        Deb…you really don’t read do you. Go back and read again…did he ever say he did not have electricity?

      • john3347

        Deb, “We have (WE HAVE) solar panels, wind turbine, and two generators so we are not without power.” Where does this statement indicate that that the household was without electricity? The only condition expressed here was that their electricity came from a source other than a public utility company power line. That is what “off grid” means.

  8. Retha Tallent

    Be aware that ATM’s aren’t functional during power outages. Keep some cash on-hand for purchase of ice, batteries, gasoline, etc. Although this might sound silly, buy a whistle and keep it on you. Should the worst happen and you are buried under rubble a whistle will help rescue personnel find you.

    • Jim M

      Also be aware that stores without power can’t sell you goods that you need. So you will have to travel out of your outage area (keep spare gas on hand) in order to purchase emergency supplies.

      • Mike M

        So that explains all the looting—they wanted to pay for that stuff but since the power was out they couldn’t.

    • Grumpster

      ATM’s without power….a great resource in and of themselves.

    • Brian McCue

      Keep cash on hand in small denominations (like ones and fives). You don’t want to pay for a loaf of bread with a $20 if the guy selling it only wanted $5 and couldn’t make change. Also, get “D” powered LED lights/lanterns. “D” batteries have a higher capacity and the LED “bulbs” run much longer and don’t break. Also get a “D” cell powered radio and run it on low volume to extend the run time. Use only “D” batteries for consistency and alkalines. You should also purchase “C” to “D” cell converters to convert the “C” sized batteries very people people buy and many stores stock. This is only if you are in dire straights and have depleted your “D” cell supply. Also look for the “D” powered fans. Have at least 1 full change of batteries per device and keep them in a designated location you can reach in an emergency.

  9. Hank nNovak

    Canned food, most people do not have a MANUAL can opener!

    I have a small supply of John Wayne openers in our house left over from Vietnam just in case.

    • Jojo

      They were called P38s

      • MARY

        That’s right JoJo. My husband was in Army in 1968-1970 and that’s what they used: P38s and that’s what they called them. Why on earth anyone would call them John Wayne openers is beyond me. You know Wayne NEVER fought in any war except in movies! He used his “married with dependents” exemption over and over. Not like Jimmy Stewart or Henry Fonda or real heroes!

        • gomer

          yes but wayne played a much needed role for propaganda on the homefront. don’t trash a national treasure.

          • Jonathan Miller

            Obviously the other poster was not a fan. Wayne provided a more valuable service than he ever could by physically fighting…

        • RealPatriot

          In the Marine Corps we called them “John Waynes”. I never heard them called P38s until I spoke to an Army vet about them. Semper Fi.

          • William West

            I was in the Corps ’64 ’til ’69–never heard of a P38 until many years later either. We just called them can openers (How novel)! More Semper Fi !!

      • jim

        US Army “55 to “58. I still have my original can opener. Got it out of c-Rations. A few called them a P-38…most just called them can openers. A real engineering masterpiece tho, can’t wear one out. We had rations as far back as ’39-’43. A few times glad to get’em. The meat patties and franks ‘n beans were just lovely…….

        • joe nagel

          Ham and eggs were the best. Semper Fi.

        • john3347

          I was in the U.S. Army 1959-1962. I carried a P38 on my key ring while in the Army. I still carry the original P38 on my key ring. I use it less frequently now, but it is quite handy to have when camping.

    • John

      Most people don’t have a MANUAL can opener??? I have 3 homes and don’t have a single electric can opener. ‘John Wayne’ opener was a P-38 when I was in the US Army. Every can of C Rations had a P-38. I have dozens at home.

      • Keith

        In the Marine Corps, we called the small can openers “John Waynes” – why I do not know. I never heard P-38 until I spoke to an Army vet about them. Semper Fi!

    • norfolkgarden


      it’s kinda funny. we never could decide which of several electric can openers we really liked, so they all went back to the store. we have several nice manual can openers that I’m happier using, even though I’m left handed. Just habit i guess.

      If you only have an electric can opener, you can still use it with a “PATIENCE” method. Pop open the can in the beginning like normal, then rotate the can a quarter inch and pop it open again. keep doing this until the lid is fully perforated (about 4 to 5 minutes PER CAN).
      It’ is very important to HAVE PATIENCE and DON’T CUT YOURSELF BEING IMPATIENT !!! The Emergency Room where you would normally go to get stitches is really busy right now!
      This method is still much safer than the idiot in “American Blackout” who tried to use a kitchen knife and slashed his hand open.

      Good movie, recommend watching it to everyone. Very eye opening if you haven’t really thought about it before. I’m used to 2-4 days max of no power. And having the area outside of where we live still being normal. This movie was pretty scary, even with the “happy” ending.

      • JOHN

        Good comments! We think that there is no problem opening a can and eating its contents cold!

    • jon

      I have one of those ‘new fangled’ jobs that opens can from edge which leaves no sharp edges. it cranks just like the original and as easy to use.

  10. Kimberly Pyles (@kimberlypyles)

    I have been through this after Sandy 10 days of absolute chaos.

    • Barb

      In Florida we go through this somewhere in the state every year …. There is absolutly no excuse to find yourself unprepared for a hurricane.

    • Alisha

      I have the extended outage problem a lot. You just keep stalked with simple stuff. Grab stuff you do not have to cook, cook food ahead of time, eat food out of refrigerator before it goes bad and barbecue anything out of the freezer. I lock a certain amount of snacky foods up just in case because we have the outage problem very often. I keep extra gallon jugs of water for the toilet or mini baths. Usually 2 gallons per person is a good idea. It is also a good idea to find out how much local hotels cost and keep at least a few nights fee set aside. Enduring negative temperatures, if you are not used to them, are not worth the risk. I also tend to make sure laptops, mini dvds, mp3 players and phone are charged up. We usually huddle up in one room and put a movie in to fall asleep to on nights the laptops are still charged. It is also an idea to cover up windows and doors when it is cold out. We also section off one part of the house to use and start up the kerosene heater. Not the best, but at least you are warm.

      • Carol

        Alisha, I agree about the having enough cash for a hotel/motel stay in emergency cases. I live in rural Oregon, and often during ice/snow storms, I loose power where the big city I live nearby still has power. I have no insulation in my 1945 built home, (no way to add it, either, as there is ancient petrified wood and some crappy plastic siding!)and when it gets down to 30* inside, with no way to heat, a stay at a motel with heat and showering ability is a luxury! I’m planning to remedy most of this, but it does take time and money, so for now, the cash on hand for the motel stay really is all I can do.

        • dick

          we have a canopy bedand use wood heat for the house. If you hang curtians on the canopy and close them well its Very warm.

  11. Jon

    Most canned foods don’t expire for a long time. The date on them is usually a “sell by” date, and is meaningless for your home storage. I recommend you stock up, but have a rotation system so the oldest gets used first. Then you never have to worry about it. A gas BBQ for outdoor cooking might be okay, but after a storm, a charcoal one is probably better, because you can also burn wood in it. There’ll probably be plenty of wood unless you live in the desert. Water is always an issue, but if you have a small purifier ($100 investment) you can haul water from almost anywhere. Have an escape plan. I wonder at the reactions of folks who stay put when a major storm comes in off the ocean (you had warning) and then want the government to rescue them. If a storm is coming in, get in your car, drive 150 miles inland, wait it out, then go home if it wasn’t destroyed. For those of us in Tornado Alley, I like that whistle idea. Have a safe basement corner. Keep a pry bar and hatchet there for digging out, whistle as needed. Can’t outrun the tornado like you can a hurricane.

  12. R Henrey

    With a severe threat of incoming bad weather and potential power outages lower your refrigerator freezer to the lowest setting possible. Get it as cold as you can; add bottled water in plastic if your freezer is not full. More mass you have the longer time to unthaw. Hopefully power restored before it thaws out. Lightly loaded freezers thaw out faster.

    • Alisha

      One other option is to unload your frig of perishables, if you know someone who has electricity. I do that one to my mother quite often.

    • Janice

      I buy my popcorn in a plastic bottle, like Orville Reddenbacher. These are the perfect size to fill with water and freeze, and they’re small enough to scatter around for better coverage.

  13. John

    In 2005 we were hit by two hurricanes at our home in FL. The first one took out the power for 13 days a week after restoration the second hit and we lost power for another 8 days we cranked up our genset and just kept on truckin. We always have a several week supply of food and also have several cases of MREs just in case. A little planning and while inconvenient, these situations are not all that difficult to deal with. Its the folks who think the government should take care of them that are most at risk during a disaster. Be prepared to live for a week or more without any help and you willbe fine

  14. bill collier

    in your gallon of plastic milk jugs when tha milk is is gone fill up a bount 2/3 eds of hot water out of tha tap, shake thuraly, let set 4 abount 5 mins,,,,, than repeat tha same sugesston twice, than fill up tha jug abount 3/4 of hot water from tha tap, and let set there , ,,,, for abount a few mins,,,, than fill up tha jug with cold water out of tha tap.,,,, to take a very quick shower,, take a very small elecertic drill and drill small holes in tha ex formation in tha plastic water cap, use just enouh to take tha stinky off of you,, tha hot water will kill any BACTERIA in side tha plastic jugs,, store all of tha jugs in tha same order,,with tha water I have 26 jugs of wATER jugsSTORED,, put then up high so tha rats and mince cant knaw thrugh them I am 78 yr old former usmc, and still gung-ho as hell ,,,,,,,

    • john

      There is a legal difference between a “water filter”
      and a “water purifier”..the purifier removes ALL contaminents! The filter leaves a lot of bad things after you pour water through it! We buy a product called “Zero Water” the filters can be purchased at Walmart, Target, Bed Bath and Beyond. The initial cost is high; due to the acquiring of the water pitcher. After that, screw on filters are used. The company also gives you a small meter to measure water quality..we have no connection with Zero Water of any kind; except we buy their US made products!

      • Jack

        To be safe, it’s vital to understand that ZeroWater(R) stipulates the filters you referenced do NOT handle biological hazards
        Per ZeroWater on this date 20140818
        …NOT CERTIFIED to reduce cryptosporidium (microbiological cysts)
        …the current filter WILL NOT REMOVE microbiological contaminants.

        In addition, while the product box claims each filter is “rated” to handle over 22 gallons of water, that water had to be pretty “good” to begin with. If you live in an area with REALLY hard water (like some areas of Texas, Arizona, etc each 5-stage filter may treat less than 8 gallons of tap water. My experience (with each of two different brand-new boxed filter units) was that after about 10 gallons, the water suddenly came out of the filter tasting VERY sour and bitter. I couldn’t drink it. It turns out I shouldn’t have expected the filter to produce 22 gallons of completely filtered water…because of the area where I live.

        Municipal water hardness out of my tap measures about 500mg/L of Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) according to the ZeroWater electronic meter. If I did my math right, 500mg/L is about 19,000mg/10 gallons of water. Since each ZeroWater filter is rated to remove 18,000mg of TDS we can see filtering a MAXIMUM of about 10 gallons of city water is the limit for my location. Keep in mind that for the last couple of gallons out of the filter, the water is not treated 100% to ZERO grams/L of TDS. ZeroWater claims that at 500mg/L a filter will treat about 8 gallons to zero gm/L. It also says that “most water in USA” is 51 to 200mg/L TDS, which it claims will treat 25 to 40 gallons to zero gm/L TDS. It’s clear that depending where you live, the amount of water that can be treated can vary by a LOT, and as such, the COSTS will also vary by a lot.

        • JOHN

          Jack: tks for the valuable results of your efforts! I guess that for purifying city water Zerowater is OK! I now need to find a more effective purifier; especially if we have to move during/after a serious survival problem! Have u found a good purifier that is portable?

    • ExSophus

      Bill Collier,
      Hot water from the tap will NOT kill most bacteria harmful to humans. Typical hot tap water should be set to about 120degF. Any hotter can cause dangerous burns with even relatively brief contact. Some harmful bacteria have to be “boiled” ABOVE the 212degF boiling point of water with which most of us are familiar. Search the internet for [what water temperature kills bacteria?]

      Among other factors, it also depends on the species and number of bacteria, their concentration, and how well the bacteria are exposed to whatever method is used in the sterilizing process. For example, a big “glob” of bacteria near the mouth of the jug will be much harder to kill than the same number of bacteria evenly spread-out over the inside of a jug.

      There are other ways to kill bacteria in water, but just using standard hot tap water is definitely not sufficient.

      Bill Collier said,
      “…than fill up tha jug abount 3/4 of hot water from tha tap, and let set there…tha hot water will kill any BACTERIA in side tha plastic jugs….”

      • dick

        try to poor boy it if you must. You can get clear soda bottles, no labels, and leave them in direct and full sunlight atop a tin roof during summer, ALL DAY. Its not perfect, but I firmly believe that if theres anything alive in there after that, you wont stay away from it long anyway.

        • ExSophus

          Just to clarify for folks, it isn’t the HEAT of the sun that kills the organisms in the clear soda bottles, it’s prolonged exposure to the Ultra-violet (UV) in the sunlight. In times/areas where the sun is low in the sky (e.g. winter day up north) or the sun is obscured for much of the day, there may be insufficient UV to kill enough organisms to make the water safe to consume. You want a high “UV index” of at least 8 of 10 to kill the organisms over the course of a day. It also depends on the clarity of the water being treated. You should pre-filter before exposing to UV. UV from sunlight won’t safely treat cloudy water. One must of course also pre-remove any labels and glue residue from the bottles.

  15. Sam

    We had a 5-day power outage last summer. The worst part was a neighbor whose emergency generator was so loud that no one in the neighborhood could sleep at night, even with the windows closed. Other neighbors had generators, but they weren’t as loud and most people shut them off for at least 5-6 hours during the night. It was hot and sticky, but they were thoughtful enough to give everyone some peace during the middle of the night. If you run a generator, think about your neighbors. Walk up and down the surrounding blocks to get a sense of just how intrusive your generator is. Unless you’re powering critical medical equipment, shut it down at night!!!

    • Jim M

      I hear you Sam. During a recent power outage in our area, many generators were so loud as to be an annoyance. for short term outages I can see powering up refrigerators for a few minutes at a time. Everything else you can do without. We use candles (carefully) and flashlights at night and run our laptops and internet off car battery jump boxes. These and a power inverter are very handy (and Quiet).

    • ken wiley

      I have 3 generator 2 diesel and 1 gas-the small diesel is only a 5000 watt but is very quiet- it is a back only-the other diesel is in my motor home and has a pipe that vents above the roof good at camp grounds-my main gas gen 150,000 watts is in a building with sound proofing when running it goes thru a water muffler and vent up about 6 ft- also quiet-you get what you pay for-on a side note buy out side solar walk way lights and use them for short term inside lighting-

  16. sandy

    My power was out 7 days this last winter (2014), 2 days longer than all my neighbors because the power lines were ripped right out of my house! I had my generator running around the clock because my furnace was just about to go out (bad baring) and if it shut down, it was really loud! So some time people can’t help but to leave them running all night. Keep this in mind if your neighbors LOUD generator is running all night!

    • annjo1

      Sandy, if your generator is extremely loud and you know you might have to run it overnight, consider building an enclosure around it to reduce the noise. No matter how good your reason for leaving it on all night, you don’t have the right to inflict sleeplessness on your neighbors, who are probably under enough stress already.

  17. ken wiley

    I have enough power to run to house and fuel for over a month since the gen is in a small building and the exsuse goes thru 2 muffler and is pointed toward the sky the system is very quiet- my gen runs my water system all so- all so have my motor home (diesel) so it too is a back up-I have a enough food for over 5 years and rotate my can goods’ I started this about 4 years ago and I had to use it twice. plan now, do start a system for your self-buy 2 cans of food store 1 and in a short time you will be prepared-

  18. Barb Aque

    Fast way to find good guidance, u can check out the National Hurricane Center’s website for Hurricane preparedness plans on how to prepare for situations such as these. This is a good start for those who are unfamiliar with “emergency preparing.” 🙂

  19. gary patterson

    ice may be so important! saves food items..provides comfort and maybe even medical help if you are bleeding.. melts to provide drinking water…so I purchased a small 5cf chest freezer that is stocked to the top ALWAYS full of blocks and cubes of ice. good emergency investment and I always have basically free party ice!

  20. doktorthomas2

    A bunch of links is not professional journalism. Anyone who has heard of Google (better to use ixQuick it is more private), doesn’t need to waste time reading this article sans substance. ©2014

  21. bro48

    Get some ear plugs annjo1

  22. David Fitzgibbon

    If you are using a generator be sure you don’t backfeed the power line and injure someone working on the line. Turn off your main breaker, or install a throw switch to select either source.

  23. cobaltbunny

    Along with water and food, don’t forget entertainment for the kiddos. Keep decks of cards and toys which do not require power. Small flashlights, the kind you wind to use, are even entertainment/nightlights. You also want a small battery or wind up radio. On the can opener topic I use Swingaway it is always in my utensil drawer ready to grab.

  24. inkstigator

    Hello, McFly??? Why should I stock up on small containers of water that have to be rotated and replaced on a regular schedule? I have 40 gallons of fresh water sitting in my basement at all times. It’s in a glass-lined tank I like to call, “the water heater.” Next to it I keep a short hose and the tools I would need in an emergency to open the valve at the bottom of the tank. Since I drain and flush the water heater regularly like I’m supposed to, there’s very little sediment in there to deal with.

    Caution: If you drain an electric hot water heater, remember to turn off the power at the breaker box. Otherwise when the lights come back on the heating elements will dry-fire, and will burn out and have to be replaced.

  25. Bob

    You don’t need a large generator since a small inexpensive 3500 watt unit with a 110/220 option will be all most people really need and will greatly stretch your available fuel. You will also need a couple heavy duty 50 foot extension cords(which can be plugged together for 100 feet with minimal voltage loss or used separately) and a couple wired indoor/outdoor thermometers. Place one thermometer in your refrigerator and the other in your chest freezer so that you can accurately measure the temperature without opening the door. I use the generator’s 220 volt option to run my well pump and switch back to 110 for everything else. You should only need to run the generator for 1 1/2 – 2 hours a day to keep the refrigerator and freezer cold. During this time you can also plug in two or three other low demand electrical devices including battery chargers. If absolutely needed, the small generator will power up to a 13,000btu air-conditioner or microwave oven but not at the same time. During a heat wave power outage we put a small 5000btu window air-conditioner in our closed bedroom with cool on high for a couple hours and then shut it down. It stayed quite comfortable till morning. In cold climates a small vent-less propane heater can provide needed warmth. You will also need a supply of fuel stabilized gas and a 20# tank of propane on hand. We also round out our supplies with a couple oil lamps (indoor and outdoor) with a few quarts of lamp oil. The stabilized gas can keep for up to two years and the lamp oil and propane indefinitely. At 1 1/2 hours a day you can use as little a five gallons of gas per week in the small generator. This whole emergency kit can be purchased for less than $1000 including the little 5000btu window air-conditioner and vent-less propane heater.

    • Carol

      Hey, Bob!
      Thanks for all the great info! Never, on ANY prepping/disaster blog or article have I seen such a concise, fact filled important set of information as what you said in under 2000 words! I’ll use this to take to my next prep shopping run, especially about the generator. Already have most of the other stuff, gas, heater, air conditioner. But having this info all in one place is really great.
      Thanks again!
      My home was built, not well, in 1945, and has no insulation, so the heat/cool will need to be done pretty much all day (sorry, neighbors…but at least I’m rural, so neighbors are not 10 feet away, and those with barking dogs all night, well, payback’s a bitch!).

      • Bob

        Thanks Carol. I have posted this several times over the years and yours was the first thank you I have gotten. For practice we used to take our camping trailer out to the farm and live off the grid quite often using only our little generator. We also got quite good at planning meals and stretching supplies including conserving water and taking the 1 1/2 gal. shower. The newer generators are much quieter and you will also want a good chain and lock to prevent theft. Better yet, bring it in when it isn’t running. At 100 lbs. on wheels this isn’t too difficult.

        • Carol

          Again, thanks for great ideas! I have some mighty fine camping meals as well, and am familiar with the “sea shower” attitude. I plan to keep the generator in a locked pump house, so theft hopefully won’t be an issue. i also have an ‘etching’ tool, and scribe my Driver’s license number on all costly tools in case of theft for the LEO’s to ID as mine if found.
          Maybe a stupid question, but how do you use one indoors? I planned to get a small one just for my well pump, and another for the house for a few luxuries, but am not sure if it’s safe to run indoors for a few hours at a time. You mention 50’ extension cords: do you have to keep it outside and use the extension cords? Just wondering!
          Wish you were my neighbor so I’d have someone to go to for such great info and advice!

          • Bob

            NEVER run the generator indoors even with the doors and windows open. Carbon monoxide has a very high affinity for your blood cells. Any carbon monoxide breathed will be absorbed into your blood stream even with fresh air mixed in. Also using a propane heater inside must only be done for short periods of time with a certified vent-less indoor heater for the same reason. The extension cords allow the generator to be safely outdoors and run the cords in through a door or window.. The two heavy duty 50 foot cords allow a lot of flexibility running power to appliances in the house. You can use both separately or link them together to extend its reach. Some well pumps are 110 volt and some are 220 volt. Since my well is 220 volts I also have a special 220 volt extension cord and plug just for it. This is also why I recommend the generator with the 220 volt option which does not cost extra. Most people won’t need it but many will. I suggest that you find someone with a little electrical know-how to help you plan your emergency setup and make sure it works ahead of when you need it. My setup is adequate for emergencies only and does not have much excess capacity for luxuries. It is also very portable. If you want to use your central air, a heat pump, or any electrical heating appliances, it will require a much larger and more expensive generator system which will also require much more fuel to run. This will require professional planning and special electrical equipment which will quickly get into the $8000-$12,000 range.

          • Carol

            By “luxuries” I actually meant that my oil furnace uses electricity to move the heat, so I would use the generator to keep my heat going… (OR a small space heater, a closed oil indoor one) guess I should have been more literal. Also, to use to keep the frig’ and freezer cooling as you suggested. …so really not luxuries at all. I was pretty much thinking that using a generator indoors was not good, but your reply clarified that for me.
            Although as I mentioned before, my home is NOTHING like sealed, with many floors/walls actually showing the outside ..gaps over 1” in measurement, windows that blow cold/hot air in, etc, and no insulation except a few places in the attic,but even so, I will not be using the generator inside. Most of my windows don’t open, due to having been painted so many times. I will need to figure a way to bring the cords in without having to keep the door open…..
            I think that I have three that open, and two of those are upstairs. I actually keep the upstairs closed off in the winter, but open to allow heat to rise in the summer…As you can tell I have several obstacles to overcome just in order to be able to use a generator, but your comments and suggestions are really helping me figure out the logistics of what my system will require.

          • Bob

            If you use a generator to power your oil furnace or other hardwired electrical appliance, YOU MUST FIRST DISCONNECT THAT ITEM FROM THE GRID EITHER PHYSICALLY OR BY USING A SPECIAL SWITCH OVER BOX BEFORE CONNECTING THE GENERATOR. Otherwise your generator will feed back into the grid and possibly injure someone working on the power lines or it could damage your generator. A refrigerator or freezer is much simpler since you can just unplug it from the wall and plug it into your generator extension cord. This accomplishes the same thing as disconnecting from the grid.

          • Carol

            Good to know. I do believe that the well pump AND the furnace just have a simple plug that is like the freezer, but I’ll definitely check on that before I do anything. I knew about the ‘feedback’ into the power grid, and will be very careful about what I use the generator for…

        • ken wiley

          I stared out with a small gas gen 2500 watts and had it off at night on my back porch with a small chain and lock-at 3am- I herd and saw a guy cutting the chain to sell my unit-I went out the front door with a 22 rifle and shot him twice and then call the cops-he was 17 years old at the time and now has a bad shoulder -at court his mother call me all kind on names for shooting her “good” son-he went to jail and the judge fined her–

        • Janice

          During 8 day power outage in Hurricane Sandy we purchased a case of “Gel Heat” (the old sterno cans) for make shift indoor cooking using stove wire shelves…on top of stove. Also make sure fire place has been inspected & wood stockpiled.. Kerosene heater is good option but ventilate well. We now have a generator & will be prepared. We keep 2 refrigerators & deep freezer chest full. Our pantry & garage shelves are stocked w/food, paper goods, cleaning products & cases of water. Batteries, oil lamps/oil, solar chargers on hand. Learning how to can/preserve veggies & fruit.

  26. Robert g

    During out hurrican outages we run the generator 1 1/2 hours in th morning and about the same at 6 pm . Because the storms our usually during warm weather a double run is required. Put items for frequent use in an ice chest and never open the freezer or refer unless the generator is on line. Just my opinion. Stay safe

  27. Geoff

    I swore I’d never need a generator until we lost power for 10 days with the basement sump filling every hour. The bucket brigade routine got old fast.
    Running the generator 24/7 to keep the sump dry also got old fast as there was one gas station open with power.
    I installed a water-powered sump that relies on the utility provided water pressure to suck water out of the sump. I kicks in if the electrically powered sump pump fails for any reason. Yes, it seems weird to pump city water to empty your sump but it’s reliable and failsafe. Even if I am not home and we get a combination of rain and loss of power I know the basement will stay dry.

    • Carol

      Geoff: That sounds really interesting! I have never heard of such a thing…Questions: 1: Where do you get one of these water powered sump pumps, and 2: Does it only work with utility water, or do you think it could work with well water?
      I live in a rural location with a well. My property is also low-lying with a high water table, and I need a sump pump almost daily in winter when it rains…..Yikes! Never thought about it not working due to power outage! I guess because usually our power outages come when it is extremely cold and everything is either ice or snow…
      Wish we had basements here where I live! I could use the extra space!!!
      Glad you found something that works for your situation!

  28. Kyle Harrison

    You should buy a berkey water filter. I have one. Cost me $256 and filters all bacteria and viruses.

  29. Sam Spade


  30. David Fitzgibbon

    When using a generator be sure to throw off your main breaker, otherwise you will be feeding the whole neighborhood. I usually backfeed my dryer outlet. Don’t try using high demand devices like ovens. Keep a small camp stove for these emergencies.

    • ken wiley

      I am electrician and have and use a REQ 4 sub panel-install 2 125 dp breaker phy tie the breaker to gather-one breaker to gen /one to house service from road- main lugs to house service main breaker-when switch to gen the out side power is turn off and vice versa

      • Carol

        @ Ken: “I am electrician and have and use a REQ 4 sub panel-install 2 125 dp breaker phy tie the breaker to gather-one breaker to gen /one to house service from road- main lugs to house service main breaker-when switch to gen the out side power is turn off and vice versa”
        What?? Total gibberish to me…sorry.

    • dick

      during an extended local outage. both our gas stations stopped selling ANY diesel, they were saving it for EMS/Fire. Dont know if thats policy anywhere else. Forward thinking but inconvienant.

  31. AMV

    Living in a Great Nation like America where we can have fuel,food, water at the turn of a key the real key to all survival is in the good times prepare for the bad and in the good times trust and honor Almighty God the best preparation for the hard times to come. All wisdom comes from the Father of lighs he alone knows the number of our days and allow us to live them out to the fullest,keep your bible just as close as your p-38 then you wil be able to feed body and soul and your mind will be refreashed for another day. God Bless may we all live in PEACE.

  32. Wally Mayo

    I think a two prong approach works best. That is, I use ONE 100w solar panel with a deep cycle marine type battery + ONE 3500w generator. I use the panel battery with a Cobra 12v to 120v device for low power things like cell phone charger, home phone units, TV, satellite receiver, and FAN. Why run a 3500w generator when you only need 50 watts for a fan for sleeping overnight? The generator is used intermittantly to keep fridge up to cool enough, and for short term things like hair dryer, microwave (for breakfast), coffee maker, etc.

  33. Dee bell

    I have not owned an electric can opener in twenty years. I admit, I eat very few things that come in a can. Manual is no big deal. Easier to store and clean. I freeze my filtered water in ice trays, bag the cubes and use them to fill up empty space in the freezers. I never have to buy ice for parties either. Makes a great emergency water supply.

  34. Tommy

    I have lived without electricity for extended periods of time. Not all that bad. It`s just that most people take it for granted and wouldn’t know what to do without it. How would anybody check their Facebook or twitter?

  35. Brian McCue

    Gallon jugs of water placed in your freezer provide 8 lb blocks of ice with handles. If you remove a little of the water you can reduce the chance of the jug splitting. If the outage is expected to last some time, pack everything into a cooler with the frozen gallon jugs of ice. The cooler will keep food cold longer than your fridge will. Also, consider placing the cooler in the basement or any spot out of the heat. Once the ice melts you can drink the water.

    If you’re going away for a bit and are concerned you may not be aware of a long term power outage, place 5 or 6 ice cubes on a small plate in your frrezer. If they are there when you get home you know that your fridge stayed cold. If they’re gone you probably should be suspect of the contents of your fridge.

  36. Brian McCue

    Some additional tips:
    Have a cell phone charge that plugs into your car lighter outlet.
    Have a few LED flashlights/lanterns that use “D” cell batteries. LED flashlights/lanterns last longer and are much more durable. In addition, “D” cells last longer (more capacity). Use alkalines and keep at least one set of replacement batteries per flashlight/lantern in a place they can be found and reserve them only for that purpose. The same holds true for a radio. Purchase one that uses “D” cells – lasts longer and you’ve standarized your batteries. Running the radio on reduced volume also extends the battery life.
    Make sure you have battery powered/battery back up smoke detectors and carbon monoxide (CO) detectors as well.

  37. Jeff Howards

    And nobody suggested an emergency backup generator? $300 for a small one, up to $1,000 to power an entire house. I have one I bought 12 years ago for $500 that I just used after the latest round of storms in Kansas. For an additional $500 I had a power transfer kit installed by an electrician. Now I just plug the generator into a 220V plug on the outside of the house, throw a few switches, and everything is powered again. Remember, your gas furnice won’t work in the winter without the electronics and blower motor powered.

  38. scott

    John, u are full of it dude! NO ONE has enough gas “on hand” to keep a generator running for 21 days ! get real

    • Bill

      This is probably true, unless you live on a farm and have fuel storage for your equipment. Diesel is probably the most efficient, but for those of us “city dwellers” gasoline is probably more plentiful. I have had a 5000/6250 watt generator for over 20 years, have made provisions to plug it into two different houses, and last year I converted it to run on natural gas as well as propane. Natural gas is generally considered to be the most clean and reliable, propane stores forever, and gasoline will last for a couple of years if treated properly. I rotate my gas storage into my cars on a regular basis, treat it with Sta-Bil in the mean time, and keep my generator tank dry until I actually put the gas in for an emergency if the other two fuels are not available. The 5000 watt generator will power everything that I “need” during an emergency (I trip the main house breaker first and then the panel breakers to the clothes dryer, HVAC compressor, and stove), and have never had a problem with keeping two refrigerators, one freezer, a gas fireplace w/blower and the furnace going, even while running a cord or two to the neighbors. I generally shut everything down when we go to bed or leave the house for an extended time. I keep my generator chained inside a small, locked garden shed, with good ventilation and an auxiliary muffler to the outside. I lined the shed walls and lid with HVAC duct liner sound control board. I read 62 db at 27 feet, so it’s pretty quiet. Even my neighbor says that he can’t hear it run in the winter time and his house is only about 25-30 feet away. My “Tri-Fuel” conversion kit came from and cost about $300, plus some gas pipe, fittings, and a flexible hose for the end which, with a quick coupler, I can switch between the natural gas valve and a 100# propane tank sitting outside in a matter of seconds, without tools. YouTube has many good suggestions. I took many good ideas from there and combined them into my final installation. Just look for “generator enclosures, generator tri-fuel, generator sound proofing, etc.

    • Brian McCue

      If you only run the generator (Honda e2000 for example) for 1 or 2 hours per day you can store enough gas for 21 days. You would mainly only pump water or charge batteries, make coffeee maybe, but not much else.

  39. Laura

    After going through the 2011 tornado here in Joplin, I’ve given a lot of thought to our emergency kit. One thing I don’t see mentioned is what I call “comfort” supplies. In addition to the water/food/batteries etc, I have a five gallon bucket with a lid for each of us with a pack of white socks, a pack of underwear, toiletries (I use hotel-size soap/shampoo etc.), an oversize t-shirt to sleep in and hard candies/notepad/pen/book. I’ve added a bottle of screw-top wine to the supplies, too. When the roof went, all of our clothes were soaked or sucked up into the sky–and dry feet make life look justa little better when you’re trying to survive. If we had to move to a shelter, grab and go!

    • ExSophus


      You may wish to change from screw-top wine to boxed wine in which the wine is stored in a VERY strong, resealable, quite large (e.g. 5L) and protected clear plastic bag. A screw-top wine bottle is more likely to break.

      I’ve not seen anyone else with this concept, but these “free” plastic wine bags are TOUGH. I’ve filled them with air and stood on them without causing damage.

      Use a wine box that uses an internal bag that uses a spigot that requires turning the valve on and off…not a spigot that provides a momentary “on” when you press a button on the valve.
      Some of the spigots are also easier to “pop-out” than others, otherwise, you may need a funnel to help fill a given bag. Some are easily filled from garden hose on spigot nozzle but be careful not to burst the bag.

      -adjustable inflatable pillow (older children and adults only)
      -inflatable emergency splint for broken arm, wrist, hand, etc
      -store more drinking water (box handle also helps make easier to carry)
      -fill clear bag with water and leave in the sun so UV kills any bacteria in water
      -blow up or fill with water. Use to take up space in freezer/refrigerator/cooler
      (see other posts on why you should do this. In freezer fill only 2/3 for ice expansion)
      -an emergency shower and sink water supply
      (can pre-warm in sun (also helps kill any germs in water). Make sure won’t fall on person’s head)
      -use as controlled “slow-drip” water source for evaporative cooling towel
      (cools fevers and burns, and for general comfort on hot days/nights)
      -MAY also be able to make a [solar water lens] to start a fire (search internet) I have NOT tried this.

  40. Todd Phillips

    Lost power in 05 during the hurricanes for two separate weeks. Power and ac are a must have! I recommend a 30 amp 5500 watt generator with a surge capacity to 8500. I run 3 air conditioners at once but it is a 100 degrees here until September. You can buy used window units in the fall on craigslist and back page for cheap. No need to install, I simply set in window and duct tape the sides.

  41. camille mueller

    This is a great read. Makes me want a canopy bed. Other tips are great too. Keep them coming guys and gals.

  42. Ross

    In response to Carol getting charged a “premium” for not using a minumum amount of “grid” electricity. Utility companies are operating on both sides of that coin. Some charge for non-use, other pay for non-use. The latter case is the likely direction that utilities will go over time. “Distributed energy” and “micro-grids” (private small scale electric generators) will become more accepted as our aging distribution system both lacks efficiency, and is difficult to upscale to meet growing demands. Hopefully sooner than later we will all “evolve” to the point that we do not have to pay for non-use, and those of us that can produce in excess of our needs can feed back into the grid.

  43. Ben

    15 days no power,17 days no water due to major Ice storm which wiped out the entire western end of Kentucky. Portable generator for power, 250 gallon water tank on trailer hauled in from nearby town, LP gas log fireplace kept us nice and warm, gas grill to cook on…..NO problems…just like a nice camping trip except a better bed to sleep in.

  44. joe


  45. sarah jones

    these posts are very interesting. I traded an old car for a vintage ten foot Shasta camper. It has battery operated lights, propane for cooking, a manual hand pump connected to a ten gallon storage tank of water, and wheels so I can get the heck out of Dodge. I also bought a 2000 generator with wheels to charge up everything. It will be stocked for off grid living. I really enjoyed fixing the little camper up. It does not have a bathroom so I will be looking for a loo.

  46. Jo

    At this point”off-grid” means not having a Facebook account. I’m fine with that…. I have enough to deal with & don’t need to know the minutiae of other peoples lives, no matter how much they mean to me. Unless you’re famous, Twitter is like standing in a room full of people and talking to yourself.

  47. Mark

    Our situation is a bit different than most. We are on 2,500 acres in 125 miles from the Gulf of Mexico in mid central Texas in the Eagle Ford Shale. There are numerous producing oil & gas wells. There are two redundant Mars 100 (about 11 MW each) gas turbine generators that were installed to power the gathering and production system.

    We obtain our power from the onsite gas turbine power plant. Gas is extracted from the production stream and cleaned up for fuel gas (to operate the gas turbines). We also obtain our natural to heat our home and hot water from the fuel gas.

    We do have a tie in to the grid; however, in the past 4 years we have not once had an outage or shutdown of onsite generated electricity. Redundant turbine generators enable one to be taken off line for repair and maintenance without losing site generated electricity. In our case the grid is our secondary backup.

    God forbid that the grid peter out for most everyone else. We are great to go and will stay comfortable and not worry if the worse happens.

    • ExSophus

      Then your issue becomes, how much your ‘repair and maintenance’ is dependent on ‘the grid’.
      ‘The grid’ impacts external suppliers, communications, transportation, and so on. There will be a point at which your inventory of replacement/maintenance parts and materials runs out…and it may be faster than you think or know. You may even not stock replacements for all key parts as they may be deemed ‘too expensive’ (the excuse given by power companies for not stocking replacement unique transformers that best case may take many months to replace if they fail or are damaged by EMP).

    • ExSophus

      I should also have mentioned your actual fuel process as well. Anything from drilling to your ‘cleaning’ process to make the fuel for your turbines. Those processes likely require consumables (chemicals, mud, pipes, or other) that are from a supply chain dependent on the ‘the grid’. So again, ‘the grid’ and your inventory (or lack thereof) may play more substantial roles than you know in your ability to produce the fuel that your turbines use to keep you off ‘the grid’. You need to be sure your disaster-resiliency plans look at the entire system and every internal dependency.

  48. GC

    Reading all these comments by people who actually think the other persons gives a “hoot” is hilarious!!!! Sometimes I think reading comments made on the internet is the best medicine of all. Keep it up people, I love knowing where I can always go for a laugh. And just so you don’t waste your time, once I hit “submit” I won’t be back to read any comments made about my comments. 🙂 Have a great day!

  49. John Wayne

    The term off-grid refers to not being connected to a grid, mainly used in terms of not being connected to the main or national electrical grid. In electricity, off-grid can be stand-alone systems (SHS) or mini-grids typically to provide a smaller community with electricity.

  50. rick


  51. Shawn

    It never ceases to amaze me how many people are commenting as though they are experts but do not have a clue to what that are talking about. In other words, a lot of people talking but nothing is being said!! Use a dictionary once in a while and you will not sound so ridiculous. Off the grid means not having to be connected to a local power utility for a source of power. You exists independent of your local power company by supplying your own source of power. Most commonly solar panels, batteries and inverters. However, some are attached to the grid in order to sell their excess power (from solar, wind, water, etc.) to the utility companies. Which is sweet irony!!

  52. Dealing With Disaster - Blog - Hamler Gingrich InsuranceHamler Gingrich Insurance Agency

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