Knowing how to prepare for a national grid outage is an invaluable skill for every survival prepper. Besides electricity, a national grid outage will disrupt other life aspects, including services such as water, food, trash pickups, and even communication.
Check out our detailed guide to get you started.
11 Things to Prioritize When Preparing for a National Grid Outage
By now, you undoubtedly know that water is among the first things you need to think about when preparing for a national grid outage or other disasters. Therefore, consider keeping several boxes of water bottles around for such an emergency.
Like other ingestible materials, water can also go stale after prolonged storage so rotating your water storage is your best chance at ensuring that you have enough freshwater.
Besides drinking, you need water to run other activities around the house to ensure proper hygiene even during a grid outage.
Here, ensure you fill up any containers you might have with water. This includes sinks and bathtubs should you suspect an outage. Flushing your toilets regularly will also ensure they are clean at the time of an outage.
Lastly, stocking up on high-quality water filters will ensure you have a backup plan for water as they can easily make stale or questionable water drinkable.
- Recycling is a great way to ensure you preserve your limited supply of water while making the most of what you have. Water used for other activities around the house can be used to flush the toilets.
- A gallon of water per person and pet is the bare minimum.
After water, food is the next thing you need to prioritize. Stock up on foods and snacks that you regularly eat, paying close attention to what doesn’t require electric storage.
Consider keeping a few extras for things that you or your family specifically love eating.
The best way to stockpile is when foodstuff is on sale. This way, you get more for less and can throw in several varieties.
A vital part of stocking is consuming the oldest stock first to ensure you always have a fresh supply of foods you love eating for a rainy day.
Though a 30-day stockpile would be better, have at least three-day worth of food for everyone in your household, including pets. Should your finances allow, go for a 30-day stockpile with a considerable percentage of foods you normally consume and supplement it with other canned and freeze-dried foods you like.
- For freeze-dried and canned foods, consider buying in small quantities and have everybody in your family taste them before bulk buying. The last thing is to be stuck with foods you don’t like during a national grid outage.
- A home freezer dryer is a worthwhile investment that will allow you to stock foods your family loves.
3. Off-Grid Cooking Supplies
Learning how to cook a meal without power is your best chance at ensuring that you know how to do it when the grid fails. It is also the best way to ensure that you have everything you need at hand.
With a few bags of charcoal, outdoor grills are a practical and fun way to cook without power. On the other hand, portable gas stoves will conveniently help you cook small meals that do not require much preparation and pack away easily.
- Avoid camping stoves as they are too risky to use indoors, especially during blackouts.
- Indoor stoves with electric ignition may not work during grid outages.
More often than not, power will fail when you least expect it. As a result, you will need a source of lighting to help you maneuver around the house.
Consider having a flashlight for each room, including the kitchen, bedrooms, garage, bathrooms. The best part is that even the smallest flashlight will suffice.
Having a few extra flashlights will come in handy, especially if you have kids around, as they are prone to lose theirs around the house. The bottom line, you can never have too many flashlights in preparation for a national grid outage.
Though oil lamps and candles are a great alternative source of heat during cold weather, they pose a fire risk, especially in tight building spaces.
- Remember to stockpile many rechargeable batteries, too, and like with food, use the oldest ones first.
- Besides being great for kids and inexpensive, crank-powered flashlights also double as chargers during emergencies.
Having many flashlights means nothing if you do not have as many rechargeable batteries. Luckily, a pack of AA Energizer or Duracell batteries guarantees a 10 and 20-year shelf life, respectively, and that is longer than any national grid outage preparation can go.
For easy stockpiling, limit your gadget section to AA or AAA. This way, you only have to stock one type of battery, and you can also easily swap them from one gadget to another.
Though rechargeable batteries are a bit expensive, they come highly recommended to save you costs in the future.
RELATED: Building a Power Outage/Blackout Kit
6. Indoor Heater
An indoor heater will come in handy at keeping you and your family warm during a grid outage, especially if you live in cooler regions.
To go with the heater, buy several propane tanks since there is a high chance that you will need more than one during a grid outage.
If you have an alternative heat source like a wood stove or a fireplace, stock up on firewood early enough to dry and be ready in the event of a national grid outage.
You can always expect nature to call whether or not there is a grid outage.
During short-term outages, consider only flushing after long calls of nature only. This is because short calls are rather mellow and don’t have to be flushed down every time.
However, keep in mind that you might have to flush the toilet after several rounds of short calls to keep it clean.
With longer grid outages, toilets will most likely not be functional, which might require you to opt for pit latrines. This way, gravity becomes your flush system making it a little less stressful.
With latrines, however, ensure that you know where the sewage flows to avoid contamination.
When worse comes to worst, you might have to use DIY emergency toilets or even newspapers and store the waste in plastic bags before disposing of it.
- Remember to stock up on extra toilet paper
- Wet wipes will also come in handy in cleanups
- Consider recycling water used for other domestic chores to keep your toilet in use and clean.
8. Backup Power
We can all appreciate how handy backup power is during a national grid outage.
A generator is a great and inexpensive investment to make for when blackouts strike if your finances allow. With this, you can always hire an electrician to hardwire it for you during the initial installation, or you can learn how to do it yourself.
Though somewhat more expensive, solar panels make great alternatives for generators, especially if you live in hotter regions.
If you choose to go with grid-tie solar systems, keenly do your due diligence to ensure your solar panel can run even when the grid is down.
Generators are the most economical between these two backup power options even though they require regular testing to stay in proper working condition. What’s more, even with solar panels, you might still need a generator.
In a bid to ration the little available water during a national grid outage, you are likely to stockpile on plastic silverware and paper plates. This, however, means that you will have more garbage to dispose of.
To deal with this, ensure that you have more garbage bags that you anticipate using.
In cases where the grid outage disrupts garbage pick-up, you might need to consider burning your garbage for yourself.
10. First Aid Kit
You can choose to go for a store-bought first aid kit, or you can make one to suit any pre-existing conditions. Either way, ensure you have at least one first aid for your car, house, and workplace.
Each kit should last you at least seven days.
Tip: Having extensive training in first aid before a grid outage is the best way to ensure you know what to do in emergency cases.
Whether you like it or not, your phone is going to die at some point during a national grid outage. A solar or crank USB charger is your best chance at powering your phone during an outage.
To be safe, have a hard copy of important contacts to ensure that you can still contact your family member even when your phone is dead. A crank radio also allows you to listen to important broadcasts for better planning.
Here’s an instructographic guide. Don’t forget to download, save, or share this handy instructographic for reference:
There you have it, preppers. Preparing for a national grid outage doesn’t have to be an uphill task with this detailed guide. In addition to the basics here, you can pretty much throw in other things that you might find helpful to customize your preparation kit to suit your needs.
Any tips you’d like to share with us? Let us know in the comment section below!
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