Row of candles

Power outages can strike at any time – and if you’re anything like me, you don’t realize how unprepared you are until your home is cloaked in darkness. It’s the one moment in time I’m thankful my mom’s a pack rat who saves things like candles, flashlights and random batteries “just in case.” During power outages, I’m always the first one at her door (in all my hypocritical glory).

Here’s how you can make sure you and your family are always prepared for power outages:

Phase One: Set Yourself Up for Success

  1. Create a preparedness plan with your family. Sit down together and create rules that you’ll all follow during power outages: No matter where you are or what you’re doing.
  2. Make a list of all local emergency contact numbers.
  3. Create an emergency kit and store it in an easy-to-find location (See Phase Two).
  4. Use surge protectors anywhere you have sensitive technology, like your computers, TVs, and stereo systems.
  5. Keep a flashlight in every room of your home so you’re not tripping over yourself to find one when the lights go out.

Phase Two: Put Together an Emergency Kit

This is something you should plan with your entire family to make sure you don’t miss anything. Stock it with basics that will last for at least 72 hours, and have each family member add any special items to the kit that are important to them. You want to make sure everyone knows where the emergency kit is, and you also want to make sure it’s easy to move around (I highly recommend a suitcase on wheels).

Here are the basics you should include:

  • Copy of your preparedness plan and emergency numbers
  • Flashlights/candles/matches/lighters
  • Battery-powered radio
  • Batteries
  • First aid kit
  • Toiletries
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Utensils
  • Garbage bags
  • Basic tools
  • Bottled water (2 liters per person per day)
  • Corded telephone
  • Non-perishable, ready-to-eat foods
  • Manual can opener
  • Warm clothing and blankets
  • Cash and change
  • Special needs items, such as medications and pet food
  • Fun things to do (See Phase Three.)

Phase Three: Have Fun Together!

I actually enjoy power outages: They give me the opportunity to have actual conversations with my family and friends that don’t involve typos and emoticons. I also find the tech break gives my body a chance to fully relax and unwind from being overstimulated all day, every day. It feels so refreshing that sometimes I’m tempted to turn the power off on purpose – but that would be crazy.

Here are just some of the ways you and your family can enjoy power outages together:

  1. Read a book out loud. Take turns confessing your latest literary obsessions.
  2. Play vintage board games. Monopoly anyone?
  3. Play cards. It’s the perfect opportunity to practice your poker face.
  4. Camp in the living room. Create a gigantic fort, set up your sleeping bags and have a giant slumber party together.
  5. Depending on the weather, go for a walk or a bike ride together. Teach each other the workouts that’ve been kicking your ass lately.
  6. Give loved ones a call that you haven’t caught up with in a while.
  7. Pig out on ice cream, minus the guilt.
  8. Have a fashion show. (Uber-fun, and also gives you the opportunity to clean out your closet.)
  9. Go through the beauty sections of your magazines and try out the hairstyles and makeup tricks you never give yourself time to.
  10. Have your friends and family over. Consider it a theme party and pool your resources.

How do you prepare for power outages?

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Image: Dimbledar