10 Ways to Prepare for a Summer Power Outage
When a hurricane, heat wave, or other weather event knocks out the electricity in your area, you'll want to be ready. Here's our best advice for what you can do before the lights go out.
Hurricanes, tornadoes, thunderstorms, and excessive demands on the electrical grid can lead to power outages in the summer. Beyond the inconvenience of being left in the dark or without access to your electronic devices, power outages can be a health and safety concern. The summer months are known for their intense heat, which can heat up the indoors quickly. Additionally, if the power is off for too long, all the food in your refrigerator and freezer could spoil.
Taking a few measures now can help you prepare for the next power outage and help minimize the negative effect it could have on you and your household.
1. Store clean water.
While you may still be able to access running water during a power outage, it is not always guaranteed—especially if you need a pump to pull water from a well. To prepare for the worst, store fresh and clean water before a storm is scheduled to hit. Clean and fill the bathtub with water, or consider purchasing water storage containers.
Be sure to also have plenty of bottled water on hand for drinking and cooking. Ideally, you should aim to have 2 gallons of water per person per day for at least two weeks. For a family of four, this would mean storing 112 gallons of water.
2. Figure out how you’ll stay cool in the heat.
No power means no air conditioning. During the heat of the summer, the temperature in your home will rise quickly without the air conditioner running, which could lead to a potential health emergency. Below are some tips to help you stay cool without AC:
- Close all the blinds and curtains in your home to block the heat and sunlight.
- Wear lightweight, breathable clothing.
- Mist your skin with cool water.
- Keep yourself hydrated.
- Open windows on opposite sides of the room to create a cross-breeze.
- Use a solar- or battery-powered portable fan.
- Create a DIY evaporative cooler by hanging a wet towel in front of a fan.
- When sleeping, use a spray bottle to dampen the top sheet.
3. Purchase a gas-powered generator.
A gas-powered generator can provide backup power to keep essential medical equipment, refrigerators, fans, or other devices running. Whole-house generators that are designed to automatically power on during a power outage are also available.
When using a generator in your home, there are a few important safety tips to keep in mind. These include:
- Always keep the generator dry.
- Switch off the generator and allow it to cool off before adding new fuel.
- Only use the fuel type specified by the manufacturer.
- Use an approved storage can to safely store the fuel for the generator.
- If you’re using an extension cord, choose a heavy-duty, outdoor-rated one that matches the combined load of anything connected to it.
- Avoid overloading the generator.
- To avoid potential carbon monoxide poisoning, always keep the generator outside.
- Install carbon monoxide alarms on every level of your home—and test them regularly.
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4. Stock up on nonperishable foods.
If the power stays out for a while, you likely won’t have access to fresh foods. Keeping your pantry stocked with nonperishable food items that are ready to eat is essential. Make sure you also have a manual can opener on hand if you usually rely on an electric model.
5. Invest in outdoor cooking appliances.
While you can’t cook using your stove, microwave, or countertop appliances if the power is off, it will still be possible to cook with outdoor appliances that don’t run on electricity. If you don’t already have a propane or gas grill, now may be a good time to invest in one so you’re able to cook meals if the power is out. You might also consider purchasing a solar oven.
RELATED: 12 Ways to Cook Outdoors Without a Kitchen
6. Keep power banks fully charged.
Power banks can help keep cell phones and other personal devices up and running. However, they won’t do any good if they aren’t fully charged. Before the next storm is expected to roll into town, plug your power banks in so they’ll be ready to use. Consider purchasing additional backup chargers in the event the power stays out for multiple days.
7. Load up on flame-free emergency lighting.
One advantage of losing power in the summer rather than in the winter is that there are more hours of daylight. However, it will still get dark eventually and you will need a way to illuminate your home when it does. With all the effort you will have spent to stay cool with using personal air conditioners and fans, keeping the blinds closed, and more, the last thing you want to do is introduce more heat into the house with candles or gas lanterns.
Rather, make sure you are well stocked with flame-free lighting options. Traditional flashlights, headlamps, or even glow sticks can all be a much cooler—and often safer—alternative.
8. Check your battery supply.
Flashlights can be a lifesaver during a power outage, but they won’t do much good if the batteries are dead. Check your supply of batteries and make sure you have plenty of the correct types for all the flashlights in your home. Think about other battery-powered devices, such as radios or clocks, too.
RELATED: Buyer’s Guide: The Best Rechargeable Batteries
9. Use surge-suppressor power strips for electronics.
When the power comes back on after an outage, it can sometimes cause a surge of electricity. While typically very brief, this surge of electricity can damage computers, televisions, or other electronic devices. Plugging all of your electronic devices into surge-suppressor power strips will help prevent a power surge from frying the interior components. Alternatively (or additionally), you can also have a whole-home surge protector installed to offer protection for all the components of your home’s electrical system.
10. Keep your gas tank full.
You won’t be able to pump gas to fill up your car if there is no power at the gas station. Filling up your tank before a storm can help prevent a crisis. Don’t forget to check your fuel supply for your generator or any other gas appliances or tools you may need.