How to Prepare for a Power Outage

When the lights go out due to a power outage or blackout, it pays to be prepared and to know exactly how to respond effectively so as to minimize the disruption to your everyday life and activities. Whether you’re without electricity for a day or a month, knowing how to prepare for a power outage alongside having a strategy and dedicated supplies in place will make life a whole lot simpler if the plug gets pulled suddenly.

Knowing how to prepare for a power outage represents a fundamental survival and preparedness planning activity that means wherever you are when the grid goes down, you’ll have more than enough redundancies in place to ensure continuity.

From the after-effects of a natural disaster like a severe storm or hurricane, to man-made events such as terrorism or serious infrastructure failure, the causes of a power outage are almost as wide ranging as the knock-on effects that they can bring about.

With this in mind, one of the main considerations when it comes to preparing yourself for a loss of power is that the chances of a seemingly unrelated incident also knocking out the energy supply to your home are probably much higher than many of us would like to think.

Luckily, there are quite literally hundreds of steps you can take to mitigate the adverse effects of a power outage or blackout and the great news – we’ve covered them all in this guide!

So grab a flashlight and we’ll walk through the best ways to plan and prepare for a power outage of any kind.

How to Prepare for a Power Outage Getting Started

If your new to emergency home preparedness, you may have wondered in the past how best to get started in making sure you have at least some level of contingency planning and supplies in place for an unexpected emergency, disaster, or that very rainy day which may be around the corner.

One of the best things about preparing for a power outage, is that it really is the perfect entry point to a wider level of preparedness planning and acts as a great foundation for getting started, providing the basics needed for many other emergencies outside of a blackout or power cut event.

Putting together a power outage kit (something we’ll cover in detail in this guide) basically involves maintaining a constant level of readiness should your usual energy-powered systems and processes fail in a blackout situation.

Therefore, everything from lighting and heat to food storage and cooking need to be considered and whichever way you cut it, these are still very much the core tenets of any comprehensive preparedness plan.

While knowing how to prepare for a power outage is ultimately about focusing on the inevitable after-effects of losing power, the wider scope of the kinds of situation that cause this in the first place should also factor into the equation, so we’ve looked to cover those aspects in this guide as well.

The goal of any preparedness strategy is to make sure that redundancies and contingencies don’t just exist, but are also second nature when actioned, meaning you don’t need to think (and certainly not worry) should a disaster or emergency situation arise – you’ll simply be able to implement your plan, knowing that you’ve covered every base ahead of time.

Understanding the Main Causes of Power Outages

The kinds of events that can cause you to lose power are wide ranging, can be both natural or man-made in origin, and may be local, regional, or national when they occur.

One of the most common causes of serious power outages can comes as a direct result of severe weather ranging from blizzards and snowstorms through to flooding, storms, hurricanes, and tornadoes.

The network of energy supply that we’re all dependent on is actually incredibly vulnerable to disruption, with an issue occurring anywhere along the route from power plant (source) to the power lines effectively cutting you off from electricity until the issue is fixed.

How to prepare for a power outage - infrastructure shutdown

Similarly, mother nature can also wreak havoc on this energy infrastructure in the form of tectonic or geological disasters such as earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanoes as well as non-terrestrial threats to power and communications from events like solar flares.

In the case of this last example, a solar flare (also known as a coronal mass ejection) is just one of several possible causes of an EMP or electromagnetic pulse which has the potential to wipe out all communications and power based systems in orbit and at a specific point on Earth in a single hit.

There are of course, plenty of man-made scenarios that can result in a serious loss of power for prolonged periods  and whether this is intentional due to a hostile action, or simply an error in human judgement, the effect is the same – a life without heating, refrigeration, lighting and communications for potentially weeks on end.

While outside threats to the power grid may well come from conventional attacks from a hostile state or a terrorist act of some kind, in our interconnected world, now more than ever, the risk of widespread chaos has undoubtedly increased through the increase in non-conventional hostile actions such as cyber-attacks which have the potential to completely shut-down infrastructure at the touch of a button or key.

Preparing for a Power Outage

If you find yourself in a situation without power, knowing that you’re fully prepared can make all the difference.

From stocking up on the right supplies and keeping a well stocked survival pantry, through to having plans in place should you need to leave your home if the situation deteriorates, preparing in advance is the key to success.

Preparedness is never a one-size-fits all affair and it’s important to always remember that your plans ultimately need to be specifically tailored to the needs of you, your family, your home, and the climate where you live.

Before the Cut – 24 Hours Notice of a Power Outage

Quite honestly, very few disasters that occur are considerate enough to provide much in the way of advanced notice of their approach and there are just some emergency situations which strike completely out of the blue, with minimal (if any) advanced warning.

When this is the case, your best course of action is to have a preparedness strategy in place ahead of time (see next section) which will allow you to implement it and react instantly when needed.

If you are provided with a window of warning ahead of time however (for example if a serious storm or hurricane is approaching), there are a couple of things that should move to the top of your list as soon as possible.

Fill the Tank

Keeping a full tank of gas in your vehicle at all times is good general preparedness hygiene in any case, but if you’re running low (or even under three quarters full), get to the nearest pump and fill up as soon as you can to make sure you’re good to go should you need to use your vehicle to skip town if the situation deteriorates further down the line.

If you own a generator and/or if you have a place to store them safely at your property, consider investing in some high capacity fuel cans and filling these up too.

Similarly if you have a solar generator system in the garage or basement, charge up all of your batteries while the weather is favorable and move the fully charged devices to a convenient, safe, and accessible location ahead of deteriorating conditions outdoors.

Fill your Cart

Stock up on non-perishable food items and plenty of bottled water in addition to any food and water supplies you have stored at home.

Fresh produce, meat and dairy are at the bottom of the list here and will need to be bought last and consumed first if purchased at all.

Go for bottled water (as much as you can manage) and high protein, low preparation foods such as canned tuna, energy bars and peanut butter.

Once your covered, be sure to also stock up on pet food to see your best friend through the storm as well.

Fill your Wallet

In an imminent blackout situation, the ability to get access to your cash will be difficult if not outright impossible.

Get to the ATM and withdraw as much cash as you are able or think you’re likely to need for a prolonged period without access – remember you can always deposit it back again once things calm down!

If the power is out still but local stores remain open, you can be sure that in a scenario without electricity, credit and debit cards will be off the table – same rule for ATMs.

Planning a Power Outage List

Putting together a list of the top survival and continuity essentials in your home will allow you to ride out almost any storm in an urban survival situation and the same rule applies when preparing for a loss of power.

The core items in a power outage list – AKA your power outage kit – will always focus around mitigating the areas where you’re most likely to feel the immediate adverse effects during a short-term (24-48 hour) power cut and are primarily centered around the following:

  • Heating + Warmth
  • Lighting
  • Cooking (and Boiling)
  • Communication

Outside of these essential ‘electricity specific’ considerations, more comprehensive power outage kits should look to cover a prolonged dark period, also focusing on the additional areas that will need addressing if the loss of power is the result of a wider-scale incident or emergency situation, for example:

  • Hydration and Water Purification
  • Nutrition
  • Sanitation
  • First Aid and Medical Provision
  • Personal Protection

In every instance, carry out an audit of your current preparedness level, should you find yourself in a situation without power tomorrow.

Make a list of what you currently have in your inventory (including expiry dates where applicable) and assess the specific risks and considerations based on where you live and the challenges that could bring.

For example, if you live in an area that regularly experiences extremes of temperature or weather, ensuring you’re covered against any effects of this if the power were to disappear should represent a primary goal when considering a power outage list –  are extra blankets or extra water the priority where you live, and if so, do you have enough?

The 1 Day List

While you should always look to prepare for the worst case scenario, a 24 hour power outage is probably the most likely scenario you may encounter either as the direct result of an emergency situation or due to an infrastructure failure between the plant and your home.

Assessing the risks of rolling blackouts and power outages should form the basis of any home energy preparedness plan, and putting together a one day power outage list is an excellent way to cover yourself quickly.

  • High Quality Flashlights – One per member of your household plus one spare
  • Spare Batteries
  • Slow Burn Survival Candles (See Candles notice above)
  • Portable LED Lanterns
  • Wind-Up Crank Radio with Solar and Battery Power Option
  • Solar Charger for Small Devices
  • Gas Powered Camp Stove and Spare Fuel Canisters
  • Cooler and Pre-frozen Ice Packs – For transferring freezer and refrigerator contents over prolonged period
  • Heavy Wool Blankets – One per member of your household plus one spare
  • Bottled Water – Enough to meet requirements of family members and pets for up to 5 days
  • Canned Food or Emergency Meal Pouches – Enough to meet requirements of family for up to 3 days
  • Survival First Aid Kit and Spare Medication

The 1 Week List

Preparing a power outage kit for 7-14 days will offer you an increased level of flexibility if the grid goes down.

The supplies for this length of time need to take into account both an increase of required physical inventory but also the fact that if the lights still aren’t on by now, things may be more serious than a temporary power cut.

When the power is out for longer than a couple of days with no news of when it will be back online, the chances are something serious may have occurred.

If communications are down as well (particularly if you live in a rural area), you may not know what’s actually happened to cause a power outage as well as the likely recovery window for some time.

Either way. your preparedness plans will want to scale accordingly to meet the potentially higher threat level and this means considering a wider range of issues beyond just those related to a loss of power.

  • High Quality Flashlights – One per member of your household plus one spare
  • Multiple packs of batteries
  • Slow Burn Survival Candles (See Candles notice above)
  • Portable LED Lanterns
  • Wind-Up Crank Radio with Solar and Battery Power Option
  • Solar Charger for Small Devices
  • Gas Powered Camp Stove and Multiple Spare Fuel Canisters
  • Fire Starting Tools and Equipment
    • Fire steel
    • Stormproof Lighters
    • Waterproof Matches (Multiple Packs)
  • Cooler and Pre-frozen Ice Packs – For transferring freezer and refrigerator contents over prolonged period
  • Heavy Wool Blankets – One per member of your household plus one spare
  • Bottled Water – Enough to meet requirements of family members and pets for up to 4 weeks
  • One Month Emergency Food Supply – Enough to meet daily requirements for each member of household
  • Large Survival First Aid Kit and Spare Medication
  • Water Purification Methods
    • Physical Water Filtration Device(s)
    • Chemical Water Purifying Solution

In cold climates, consider supplementing all of the lists above with the following items:

  • High Quality, Cold Weather Sleeping Bags
  • Thermal Base Layers
  • Insulated Socks

The Emergency Backup Plan

Remember what they always say about “failing to prepare”?

Well, when it comes to planning for any emergency situation, this rule always holds true.

Probably one of the most important elements of any all-encompassing home emergency preparedness strategy is the inclusion of a comprehensive grab bag or bug out bag to fall back on should you need to leave your house or apartment quickly.

While the main goal of knowing how to prepare for a power outage is to ensure continuity inside the home in the event of a blackout, you simply never know what could be about to happen – particularly if the loss of power is due to a larger scale emergency or disaster.

With this in mind having an exit strategy or fallback plan should be considered of high importance as part of your planning, and preparing a bug out strategy alongside a packed bag or pre-loaded vehicle (or a combination of both) is one of the best insurance policies there is when it comes to building redundancy into your planning.

Nutrition and Hydration during a Power Outage

One of the key considerations when preparing for a power outage or a complete loss of utilities in general is ensuring the continuity of your access to clean and safe drinking water and adequate food reserves.

Food and Nutrition

If the power goes out, there are two ways in which you’re likely to be hit immediately when it comes to ensuring access to adequate food and nutrition.

Firstly, the ability to keep chilled or frozen food fresh will be drastically impacted if a power cut persists for any length of time with freezers and refrigerators losing the ability to keep food cool beyond a few hours.

Secondly, if the utilities fail, so to will the ability to heat food and water if your primary cooking method relies on electricity to generate heat.

In both of these instances, ensuring access to long lasting (non-refrigerated) food stores, along with a fuel powered (and ideally portable) stove solution will mean that if the power goes out, you won’t go hungry.

If you haven’t done so already, investing in emergency meal kits and survival food solutions is an excellent option for shelf-stable emergency nutrition which is easy to prepare (without electricity), highly nutritious, and often offers a shelf life of up to 25 years.

Light and Illumination During a Power Outage

The Best Battery Operated Flashlights and Tactical Flashlights

When it comes to knowing how to prepare for a power outage, one of the first things that undoubtedly comes to mind is provision of emergency lighting if the grid goes down and the lights in your house go out.

With this in mind, being able to call on a dependable and durable tactical flashlight solution is going to provide a level of high quality emergency illumination that’s difficult to beat.

The best tactical flashlights and high performance battery operated flashlights will deliver a source of high quality light that will work for a prolonged period of time with considerable illumination levels and housed in a flashlight body that will take almost anything the situation throws at it.


Streamlight ProTac 1L Tactical Flashlight

This ultra compact, handheld flashlight is the perfect hybrid illumination solution for both everyday use and for calling on during a blackout or power outage.

Small enough to fit in a pocket, clip to a belt, or slip into a bag, this dual fuel tactical flashlight is designed to accept a single lithium or alkaline battery, providing ultimate flexibility in the field or as part of a home preparedness kit.

With three different user-selectable programs, the ProTac 1L is a high lumen tactical flashlight incorporating he latest in shock-proof power LED technology.

If you’re looking for a powerful and durable combination of size, output, and battery versatility, then  the ProTac 1L is a solid choice for helping you find your way through the darkness.

Learn More About the Streamlight ProTac 1L Tactical Flashlight Here


Coast HP7R Rechargeable LED Flashlight

This tactical flashlight is a favorite of both law enforcement and professionals due to it’s versatility and durability in a range of situations.

Combining Coast’s ‘Long Range Optic System’ with a slide focus and a lightweight aluminum body, this flashlight is perfect for one handed use.

Featuring high, strobe and low lighting modes (selectable with the slide focus), this flashlight is able to quickly adapt to a variety of scenarios while allowing you to keep another hand free.

The HP7R features a dual power system allowing this light to harness either lithium or alkaline power, while a micro USB connection means you can recharge the batteries either in or out of the light.

Tested and rated to ANSI/FL1 standards, the HP7R is impact resistant, weather resistant and built around a virtually unbreakable LED, meaning you can be sure it won’t let you down during those times when reliable performance makes all the difference.

Learn More About the Coast HP7R Rechargeable LED Flashlight Here


Fenix FX-PD35 TAC Tactical Flashlight

The PD35 TAC is a pocket sized tactical flashlight which outputs an incredible amount of light for its size.

Powered by a Cree XP-L (V5) LED offering a lifespan of 50,000 hours, the PD35 TAC offers multiple output modes allowing you to switch effortlessly between turbo, strobe, and low output modes as and when needed.

When it comes to durability and resilience, the Fenix PD35 TAC is waterproof rated to IPX8 and constructed from aircraft-grade aluminum with a hard-anodized finish meaning it’s built to take the punishment of real world use.

Learn More About the Fenix FX-PD35 TAC Tactical Flashlight Here


Streamlight ProTac HL 3 Tactical Flashlight

The Streamlight ProTac HL 3 delivers an incredible 1100-Lumens of light to illuminate even the darkest of areas.

Offering a lifetime of up to 50,000 hours, this tactical flashlight is built to last with a shock resistant design and a construction of 6000 series aircraft aluminum with an anodized finish.

A combination of 3 different user-selectable programs provide the backbone of this flashlight’s functionality, allowing it to effortlessly switch between variable intensity settings as well as a strobe mode.

Three CR123A lithium batteries with a total shelf life of 10 years are included with the flashlight and whether you’re using in the home or in the field, the HL 3’s IPX7 rating (waterproof to 1-meter for 30-minutes) and impact resistance mean this tactical flashlight wont let you down when you need it most.

Learn More About the Streamlight ProTac HL 3 Tactical Flashlight Here


Backup Power and Emergency Power Generation

The Best Solar Generators

The beauty of a solar generator system is that it allows you to utilize the power of the sun when times are good to charge a long life battery which can be called upon to see you through periods of darkness when times are bad.

Incorporating a combination of long life battery storage and high efficiency solar panels, portable solar generator kits are designed to offer a low profile, easy to store, and simple to use emergency power redundancy that can be utilized quickly and without hesitation during a power outage situation or similar crisis.

Goal Zero Yeti 1400 Solar Generator Kit

A solar generator kit delivering enough power to run higher consumption devices and appliances, this pairing includes one Yeti 1400 Lithium Power Plant and one Boulder 100 Briefcase solar panel system.

If you’re looking for a solar generator solution that will perform consistently and reliably, without noise and fumes, while providing enough power to run high consumption appliances, then this kit is the place to start.

With AC, 12V and USB outputs on the front of the device, the Yeti 1400 utilizes lightweight lithium battery storage which delivers long runtimes in use and an extended shelf-life of between 10 and 12 months meaning you can charge and keep close by for that rainy day when it’s time to call on your source of backup power.

The Boulder 100 is a ‘briefcase’ style solar panel which offer ultimate flexibility and portability, making it easy to relocate to another more favorable position whenever needed as well as representing the ideal solar solution for camping and carrying in a vehicle for off-grid power generation. On top of this, the Boulder 100 features a built-in kickstand to help you capture the maximum number of rays once set up.

Learn More About the Goal Zero Yeti 1400 Solar Generator Kit Here


Goal Zero Yeti 400 Solar Generator Kit

This combination solar generator kit from Goal Zero combines the excellent Yeti 400 Lithium portable power unit with the equally capable Nomad 28 Plus solar panel solution.

Designed to deliver backup power to small devices in a whole host of power-less situations, this solar generator kit and its 428Wh lithium portable power station enables you to run up to 7 devices at once.

The Nomad 28 Plus which makes up the solar panel contingent of this kit will charge the power unit from empty to full in around 20 hours, while the power plant itself includes a continuous 300W, 1200W surge pure-sine wave inverter, 2.4A USB ports, and 120W 12V ports.

If you’re looking for a solar generator solution that can power small devices such as phones, tablets, laptops, and small appliances such as lights and CPAPs, then the Goal Zero kit is a high performance choice.

Learn More About the Goal Zero Yeti 400 Solar Generator Kit Here


Goal Zero Sherpa 50 Solar Recharging Kit

This solar charger kit is designed to ensure you have access to charging and backup power for your small devices on the go, wherever you find yourself.

Combining the excellent Sherpa 50 portable recharger with the Nomad 13 Solar Panel, and 110 Volt bolt-on inverter, this solar charger kit provides everything you need to pack up and go with a portable energy supply on hand at all times.

The Sherpa 50 can be charged to full capacity from the wall (wall charger also included) in around 2-3 hours before you even head out. Once you’re on the road, you’re looking at the ability to charge the device to 100% in 4-6 hours from a vehicle and 5-10 hours when connected to the Nomad 13 solar panel in the kit.

Once fully charged, the Sherpa 50 is ready to output emergency backup power for your small devices and you can expect to gain around 1-3 hours of runtime from a connected laptop and over 15 hours for a tablet.

A compact and lightweight design combine with rugged durability to make this an excellent choice if you’re looking for a lightweight charging solution for use in tandem with a backpack or vehicle packing strategy, as well as for emergency use at home for small devices during a power outage or blackout scenario.

Learn More About the Goal Zero Sherpa 50 Solar Recharging Kit Here

The Last Word

As with all of our preparedness guides, we reference as many expert sources, real world user reviews, and opinions as possible so we’re able to provide the most relevant and educational information on the ins and outs of how to prepare for a power outage.

Knowing how to prepare for a power outage is ultimately a highly personal activity with individual needs and preferences sometimes varying considerably between people, locations, and specific situations.

With these considerations in mind, this guide looks to provide advice on our own opinions of how to prepare for a power outage or blackout situation, however, it’s always important to carry out your own due diligence to find the best solution for you when developing a strategy, plan, and solution that’s perfect for your situation.

Prepare . Survive . Thrive


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