Every person experiences a power outage. Some more than others. They are a fact of life. How do you prepare for it? Especially an extended one? What to do? How do you stay cool or warm as needed? What gear do you need ahead of time?
Preparing For, What To Do During and Surviving a Power Outage
Preparing For and
Power Outage Causes
Power outages can occur at any time for a variety of
reasons. It’s not just downed power lines.
Rolling blackouts during peak usage or high winds
are common in many places.
The power grid is vulnerable to a computer virus
Electricity is vulnerable to electro-magnetic pulse
(EMP) from either a nuclear explosion or a solar
Recently cold weather caused a massive power
outage across Texas.
We’ll cover what to do before, during, and after an
What to do to prepare for
a Power Outage
It’s too late to prepare once the outage occurs.
After every extended outage, most people list these
following items as things they wished they had
Keep a flashlight within reach of your bed.
Below is an inexpensive D-Battery light; a lithium
rechargeable lighter/flashlight, and a single AAA light I
keep in a sheath with my Leatherman
Flashlight & Spare Batteries
A headlamp so you can use your hands.
Battery powered on the left; rechargeable on the right.
Candles are dangerous.
Since I list rechargeable items on the previous pages, power
becomes an issue, especially in an outage. I’ve become a fan
of solar, which allows a renewable power source from nature.
The small solar power bank on the left is light and in my bag.
The more powerful one on the right is heavier. It’s attacked by
velcro to my Jeep dashboard facing the windshield.
I have an entire slideshare devoted to basic Solar Power.
(A couple of the slides follow this, but go to the original for more
One impetus for me to get interested in this, besides the
practicality, was to have a power source that we can use as a
backup. In our previous house we had a whole house
generator, which was nice. We don’t have that in the house
we’re currently renting. Also, a generator powers off fuel, which
will run out.
I have solar panels now, a convertor and backup batteries. At
the very least I can run my wife’s CPAP machine all night and
recharge the batteries. I also have power for essential items.
This power is renewable so for an extended blackout I can
recharge. I can also recharge my batteries off my vehicles.
In fact, I have a GoalZero 400 in my Jeep with an extra battery.
And a 100 watt solar panel on top.
If you have medical equipment, particularly life-saving
equipment, that requires electricity, it is ESSENTIAL that you
have a back up power source. The key is battery power.
During a Texas power outage, people died because their
oxygen machines, which ran on power, failed.
There are other life-saving devices that require power.
If you do not have the means to keep them working for at least
several days, you must figure out how to do it. Whether it’s a
generator, solar, wind, water— get some other power source!
Carbon monoxide can kill. Be very, very careful when using a
generator or even getting in your vehicle to run the engine. Do
not run your vehicle in your garage. Make sure your generator
is properly vented and outside. Don’t put your generator in your
I know a couple who died with a generator outside their mobile
home, but the vent was near a window they kept open. They
passed away in their sleep.
Do not bring gas grills indoors to ‘warm up’. It will make you sick
or kill you.
The key components are
Most people focus on the panels, but the chokepoint, not
just for solar, but for all renewable energy, is the power
storage: the battery
For more, view the entire slideshow HERE
If an outage is widespread, your pumping station might lose
power. Also, your heating and air conditioning are dependent
For an extended outage, you need enough water for at least
During the recent Texas outage, potable water becomes
scarce because of burst pipes.
Minimum is one gallon per person, per day.
Double that for warm climates.
8 average 500ml water bottles is just over one gallon.
A case of water (24 bottles) is the minimum three days
supply per person.
I recommend at least two cases per person.
A water filter can be a life-saver.
Even the water from our tap can be
We always have a water filter on the tap for our
The one on the left is a pump filter.
The one on the right works with gravity.
Click on images for links.
Non-perishables for three days minimum.
Food that doesn’t require refrigeration.
Don’t have food that will make you thirsty.
Plan for infants and special dietary
Note expiration dates.
Click on image for a good, 25 year
expiration, supply from the company that
made our Long Range Patrol meals in
Special Forces. It’s what we have on
hand and in our grab-n-go bags.
Also good for camping.
I have a variety of ration bars (click on each for
Grizzly Bear Emergency Food Rations
Below are some before going into a ziplock bag
and into my Jeep.
A small, portable stove is key.
Make sure you have plenty of fuel which comes in
various sizes from small to larger and heavier. The stove
screws onto the fuel canister. This stove is inexpensive
and has a built-in click lighter, and two cups in the form of
the case. I’ve brewed many a cup of coffee/hot
chocolate/meals with it.
Cooking Food & Boiling
Know what the emergency broadcast stations are.
Below is a hand crank/solar radio/flashlight combo I
have in my Jeep and in my grab-n-go bag. Click on image for
I carry a SpotX 2 Way Satellite
I’ve gone many places where there is no
cell phone coverage. While going to Hole
in the Rock in Grand Staircase-Escalante
National Monument, my clutch began to
burn out. 120 miles from the nearest
civilization. Luckily I managed to sustain
in third gear out of there but it made me
consider the situation.
There are places all over the country,
including in the Smoky Mountains, with
no cell coverage. I view this as a
potentially life-saving investment.
Also peace of mind as my family can get
hold of me any time and I can update
them on my progress.
If the outage is widespread, cell phone
towers might no longer work.
While we’re all going cellular or wireless, a plugged in
landline still works during a power outage.
There are plenty of prepared ones you can buy.
Below is one I have in house and in grab-n-go bags.
Click on image for link.
Make sure you have medications to last a week.
Extra glasses, contacts, etc.
First Aid Kit
When power is out ATMs won’t work
Store computer systems will have crashed.
It will be a cash environment for a while.
Until it’s a Zombie environment.
I’d have you click on image, but instead, go to your
Do you know where the manual release on your garage
door is and how to use it?
Don’t run your car in a closed garage for heating,
cooling, or to charge phones.
Always keep your car at least half topped off. Gas
stations rely on electricity to pump. In an extended
outage, a shortage of gasoline is always a factor. Story
at least a five gallon can of gas outside your house, in
Shuffle away from downed lines, with your feet close
together and in constant contact with the ground. When a
live wire hits the ground, power goes in all directions. The
voltage decreases with distance. Water is a powerful
conductor of electricity, so stay away from wet spots.
Never drive over a downed line. Even if it doesn’t have
power, it can become entangled in your car.
Downed Power Lines
Do you have a way to keep warm in cold weather or
cool in hot weather without power?
Do you use gas or propane for heating? Do you know
how to manually start the pilot light if its an electric
In either situation close all shades.
Go lower for cool; a basement is best.
Do not use gas grills inside.
For heat, wear clothes in layers.
Never use your oven as a source of heat.
Heating and Cooling
Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed.
An unopened freezer that is full will keep for almost 48
Turn off or disconnect appliances and electric
equipment that could be damaged by a power surge
when the power comes back on.
Disconnect and turn off
A power outage that lasts more than a week can cause
problems we need to consider.
Think through all the things around your house and
moving outward that require power.
Do you rely on well water? Can you draw via hand
What about your septic system and pump?
Cell phone service might well be down as the towers
will be without power if the outage is widespread.
Extended Power Outage
Generators are like car engines.
The more power you draw from them, the faster they
Turn off all non-essential items drawing power.
A portable generator must be vented. NEVER run one
inside your house or your garage.
Make sure the vent isn’t close to an intake in the house.
Over half of the deaths in the last hurricane were from
people running generators in their houses and near
their houses that weren’t properly ventilated— be
I have a separate slideshow on solar power, but it’s
something to consider. Even on a limited level, a few
solar panels, convertor and a couple of batteries can
run critical equipment such as CPAP machine and
charge things like phones and laptops.
There are also whole-house battery banks that charge
off the grid and can also charge off panels. They are
more expensive than a regular generator but they can
work for much longer in an extended outage.
Even with a large propane tank, eventually your
generator will run out of fuel.
Throw away frozen food that has thawed or that has an
unusual texture, odor, or color.
Check with your doctor if medications have spoiled.
Restock your emergency supplies.
More Free Information
I constantly update free, downloadable
slideshows like this on my web site for
preparation and survival and other topics.
I also have YouTube Survival videos. HERE
Also, I conduct Area Study workshops for
those interested in properly preparing for
their specific circumstances.
The guide on the left is the complete preparation and
survival guide. The one on the right is a pocket-size
manual with just the survival portion. Useful in your Grab-
n-Go bag, car and kitchen drawer.
New York Times bestselling author, is a graduate of West
Point and former Green Beret. He’s had over 80 books
published, including the #1 bestselling series Green Berets,
Time Patrol, Area 51, and Atlantis. He’s sold over 5 million
books. He was born in the Bronx and has traveled the world.
He’s lived on an island off the east coast, an island off the
west coast, in the Rocky Mountains, the Smoky Mountains
and other places, including time in East Asia studying martial
He was an instructor and course developer/writer for years
at the JFK Special Warfare Center and School which trains
Green Berets and also runs the SERE school:
Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape.