BLACKOUT! What will you do when the power goes out?

boy playing with a light in the dark

We think we’re self-sufficient. But let the power go out for 6 hours or more, and we start to see how tied we are to the grid. Phones and tablets run out of juice. TVs and radios don’t work. Food in the fridge spoils. It gets dark. Electric stoves are useless. Shops, gas stations and restaurants may close. Driving is dangerous because traffic lights are out or downed trees and power lines cross the road. Here are some ways to make life easier.

Prepare for a blackout ahead of time:

  • Keep phones and tablets charged and charge up your phone power banks.
  • Put fresh batteries in your flashlights and know where they are.
  • Keep your gas tank at least half full.
  • Buy a battery-operated or hand-cranked radio and a battery-operated camp light.
  • Keep a stash of food that won’t spoil and doesn’t need to be cooked, e.g. trail mix, nuts, crackers, dried fruit, jerky, freeze-dried or ready-to-eat meals.
  • Keep some cash on hand as ATMs may shut down.

What to do during the blackout:

  • Use the flashlight on your phone just long enough to find your real flashlight.
  • Don’t use power generators or gas/propane/charcoal grills in your house OR garage. The fumes are dangerous.
  • Open your fridge door as little as possible. Some food may spoil after just a few hours.
  • Turn off electronics and appliances that were on when the power cut out. Returning power can fluctuate with damaging power surges.
  • Leave one light on to let you know when the power returns.
  • Tune your battery-powered radio to a local station for updated information.
  • Use battery-powered candles for a nice ambiance while you play Monopoly or Hungry Hungry Hippos.

At TwinStar, we plan ahead for disruptive events such as power outages so we can continue to provide services to our members. We have staff who monitor systems and can instantly respond to a power outage. Last year, we participated in EarthEX, an exercise that simulated a large disruption to the power grid, and will continue to test and evaluate our plans and ability to respond. www.eiscouncil.org/EarthEx.aspx