One of the most likely disasters to actually occur is a failure of the power grid. But the sad truth is too many people are unprepared for even a basic power outage. We take power for granted, having it available at the flick of a switch. Because it's always been on, we expect it's going to stay that way. Plus having the lights on is a nice comfort. Power allows us to see in the dark, work on your laptop or charge your power tools, and run many appliances we often don't think about, like the air conditioner or your refrigerator. When the power goes out, it's going to change your life. All it will take is a storm, heck, it's happened time and time again and the power can drop out for a few hours; to days or even weeks at a time. And that's not even the scary part. Humans built the power grid, along with the systems and equipment it runs on, and eventually it'll simply fail. Or be taken out by a coordinated terrorist attack. Having a plan in place to deal with a long-term power outage is just good common sense. Here's what I recommend preparing:
Keeping the lights on Make sure flashlights are a staple device in your home. We've got at least one in a drawer in every room in our home, so if the power goes off, at any time for any reason, we'll be able to see. That's an important first step. Light helps you identify what's going on, and gives you the ability to take further action, like heading to your garage to power up your generator. In addition to a healthy stock of flashlights and batteries, we've stocked up on plain white candles. They last almost indefinitely, and are our main backup for lights in a sustained power outage.
Keep your water running Drinking water is going to be a critical asset in a power outage, as it won't take long for the taps to stop running, and you may not want to be drinking the water that comes out of there anyway. You want at least 2-3 gallons of water, per person, per day, to ensure you've got enough for your family, and don't forget to include your pets and any livestock in this too.
Keep your family fed Now I know it's not the most exciting food, but with the power out you're going to want meals you can prepare with very little effort. We've stocked up on basics like tinned spaghetti, baked beans, canned meats and vegetables, as all of these can be eaten straight out of the can. Just make sure you buy things you'll actually eat. This will make things far simpler in a crisis if you're not worried about how you're going to "cook." For actual cooking, it's a smart idea to get a couple of backup options just in case. We've got a gas barbeque as well as an old woodstove, and a couple of backpacking propane cook stoves that will ensure I'm not going to go short of coffee, no matter what happens to the power. It goes without saying that you should also have an ample supply of fuel for these cooking methods too.
Keep the power going One of the investments I really recommend making is a generator. In a crisis it'll form an invaluable part of your survival, as a little fuel can ensure you've always got power running to important appliances. Like your refrigerator. No matter what happens to the grid, with a good supply of fuel and a generator, you can keep the power on in your home. Once you've got this sorted, my next piece of advice is to start looking into sustainable power solutions. Get a battery pack and a set of solar panels, or install a wind turbine on your roof so you can harness electricity from what nature provides. Oh and don't forget adapter kits for your car to give you a backup option for charging your devices.
Keep your family warm With the power out it's going to get cold, so ensure you've got a good supply of warm clothing. Blankets, sleeping bags, thick woolen socks and whatever else you need to stay comfortable during the nights. We also had a contractor come through out home and fix a variety of "gaps" where the warm air was escaping, and install proper insulation in our roof and walls to help. My advice is to do the same, there's nothing worse than freezing during those cold winter nights.
Keep your freezer full We've got a couple of chest freezers in our home that also form part of our preps, but if you've got large amounts of frozen anything on hand you're going to be in trouble when the power goes out. One little trick my mother actually taught me was to collect old plastic milk bottles, filling them with water and using them as "ice bricks" to plug any dead space in the freezer. In addition to helping your freezers run more economically when they're not full of meat, the ice bricks can help keep whatever is in there cool in an unexpected power outage, if you can't keep your generator on 24/7.
Keep up to date There's two things I recommend investing in to stay connected to the outside world. A simple battery powered (or hand crank) radio so you can listen to local broadcasts and stay informed, as well as a set of walkie-talkies so you can stay in touch with your family. In a power outage your cell-phone will probably stop working, and you won't be able to rely on landlines either.
Keep your family safe This last point is an unfortunate one, but it needs to be mentioned. Have ample means to protect your family. In a prolonged power outage situation, people are going to quickly become more and more desperate, and there's no telling what they will do for a hot meal. Ensure you've got a firearm or some means of keeping looters from your home, to keep your family safe. These eight fundamentals are critical preparations to make to ensure your family will not only survive a power outage, but thrive. The small steps you take now will make all the difference when a disaster strikes, my advice is to start getting organized now.