Prepping tips: How to survive a long-term power outage
By Zoey Sky
Ideally, your neighborhood shouldn’t have any power outages. If it does, they should only last for a couple of hours or one day.
But preppers know that things often go wrong when you least expect them to and that you should always be prepared. Make sure you can survive a long-term power outage by stocking up on supplies, food and water before SHTF. (h/t to CribSteward.com)
For the scenario below, you’ll need to stock up on supplies under the assumption that the government and utility companies will have power, water, sewage, financial and transportation services back to normal after a couple of months.
Stock up on food
When facing any survival scenario, remember the rule of threes:
- You can survive three minutes without air.
- You can survive three days without water.
- You can survive three weeks without food.
But even if you’re bugging in at home during a long-term power outage, not having access to clean water and not eating for several days will significantly impact your ability to think clearly and take care of your family. (Related: Prepping tips: What to expect when you lose power for one week.)
To prevent this scenario in the first place, start by prepping at least one month’s worth of food.
If you’re a beginner, the fastest and least expensive way of stocking up on food is by adding more items to your pantry food. First, list down foods and meals that your family likes to eat. Next, buy extra ingredients every time you buy groceries.
Follow the tips below to keep things manageable:
- Check expiration dates and buy items with a long shelf life.
- Use coupons and purchase items during sales to buy extras and save money.
- Stock up on canned vegetables, fruits and meats.
- Buy ingredients for meals that are easy to make and don’t require fresh ingredients, such as spaghetti or soup.
- Buy in bulk to save money.
- Rotate all items to prevent spoilage.
- Keep a detailed inventory of what you have and clearly mark the expiration dates. This information will help you keep track of what you have and which items need to be used first, so you don’t waste anything.
What to buy for your pantry
If your budget allows, buy dehydrated and freeze-dried food at local box stores and online. These items cost more than regular pantry food, but they let you have access to nutrients from fruit, vegetables and meat that canned products may lack.
Dehydrated food has a much longer shelf life than canned food, but the former doesn’t last as long as freeze-dried food.
Check the list below if you’re not sure what to buy for your stockpile:
- Baking ingredients (e.g., baking powder, baking soda, flour, yeast, etc.)
- Beef or turkey jerky
- Canned fruits
- Canned meat
- Canned vegetables
- Cheese in wax
- Cooking oil
- Dried fruit
- Honey or sugar
- Powdered milk
- Spaghetti sauce
- Whole grains
When stocking up on water, remember that you need clean water for drinking and more for bathing and other tasks.
You need at least one gallon of water per day per person, but for a long-term power outage, you should have at least three gallons for each family member. If there are four people in your family, you need at least 360 gallons of water for a month.
Before SHTF, consider these options for storing water:
- Get a large emergency water storage container like WaterBOB that can fit in your bathtub and holds 100 gallons of water for drinking and cooking.
- Fill a second bathtub with water to flush the toilet.
- Your water heater will have about 30 gallons of water that you can filter and purify.
- Get a large tabletop filter and multiple personal filters for the whole family.
- Stock up on bottled water bottles.
- Look for places near your property that might have water.
- Set up rain barrels so you have extra water for your garden.
Cooking during a power outage
Even if you have a large propane tank and a gas stove, you’ll still need an alternative cooking method and plenty of fuel for a long-term power outage.
Consider alternative methods such as:
- A camping stove
- A fuel stove
- An outdoor grill
- An outdoor Fire Pit
Emergency light sources
Stock up emergency light sources so you can safely navigate your home at night during a power outage.
You’ll need supplies like:
- One flashlight and one backup for each member of your family. Use newer LED flashlights because they are brighter, smaller and use less energy.
- Get a headlamp flashlight and a backup that you can use for various tasks at night. Headlamps are perfect for tasks that require both hands.
- Stock up on spare batteries for each flashlight.
- Leave oil lamps in rooms where people gather, like the kitchen and living room. They aren’t as bright as flashlights, but they’re bright enough to keep rooms lit when the power is out.
- When using candles and oil lanterns, you need matches and lighters. Get several fire extinguishers too, just in case.
Before SHTF, prep ahead and stock up on necessities like food, water and various supplies so you can survive a long-term power outage.