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Surviving a power outage

Image used with permission by copyright holder
Image used with permission by copyright holder

With our lives more connected than ever before, power outages no longer merely represent a minor inconvenience or an excuse to break out the candles, books, and board games. For many of us, all three of those items are apps on our phones. If that battery dies, then it’s truly lights-out.

Fortunately, there are a number of ways to be prepared in case of a power outage. The first and most obvious is to make sure your life isn’t entirely dependent on the power grid. When doing so, it’s helpful to think of your needs in terms of Maslow’s Hierarchy. Basically, what this means is that you should prioritize your physiological needs—like food, water, and shelter—before moving on to safety, community, and more emotional needs.

First things first, make sure your food supply isn’t entirely dependent on electric-powered appliances, like refrigerators, microwave, and certain stoves. Remember that some water heaters are electric, and if your building is outfitted with one, you may not have access to warm water either. And if your home is outfitted with the latest IoT devices, like smart locks and alarm systems, make sure you have mechanical locks and security systems in place as back up.

It’s also important to be prepared for weather conditions and emergencies. Homes get cold quickly when they’re not heated, and ditto with the heat in summer months. And while it may be tempting to stand in front of an open fridge or a wooden fire to stay comfortable, you may be concerned about food spoilage or smoke inhalation and accidental fires. Stay hydrated and get out of the house to climate-controlled environments if possible, and for power outages longer than a few hours, consider packing your fridge with ice to extend the shelf life of your food supplies.

Once these basic needs are settled, think about how you like to spend your time, and outfit your home with analogue entertainment and comfort items to last through a long, dark weekend. If you rely on a cellphone to interact with friends and family, consider purchasing an old-fashioned rotary phone plugged into a landline, which will be unaffected by most power outages. Not only will this allow you to dial 9-11 in emergencies, but you can also invite all your friends to your blackout party.

Of course, just because you’re prepared to rough it when required doesn’t mean you might exactly be thrilled to at a moment’s notice. One of the major frustrations of even minor power outages is how disruptive they can be to our daily routines. More than a day or so without power to the fridge means food spoils; freelancers who work from home might upset clients without access to files; important calls, favorite TV shows, and alarms are missed. A compact generator solves many of these problems, and while, historically, generators have operated via unwieldly gas motors, new models are light and battery-powered, making them wise to have on-deck.

Goal Zero Yeti portable power stations are ideal generators for a number of scenarios, including power outages. Capable of powering lights for hundreds of hours or charging devices—like laptops, phones, and TVs—for dozens to even hundreds of hours depending on the model, Yetis take much of the anxiety out of a power outage. A smaller model like the 400 might be used to power essential lights and appliances, whereas a larger model will have no problem keep modern amenities alive just as well as a hookup to the power grid.

Because Yeti power stations are battery powered, they don’t require gas to use. This means they can be plugged into either an outlet or a solar panel to charge. This makes them suitable for surprise situations like power outages, when you may not have a steady supply of gasoline ready at-hand. In addition, they’re also equipped with USB charges, an easy-to-read smart display, and replaceable Lithium batteries.

When power outages strike, you’ll want to unplug major appliances from outlets to protect them from surges that occur when power sometimes momentarily restores. Having a secondary power supply will not only allow you to continue to power essential services, but will also protect items from dangerous surges.

Most importantly, when power is restored, immediately restock your emergency supplies. This means replacing flashlight batteries, first aid supplies, and any food items that perished or were stored above 40 degrees for two hours or more. Recharge any power supplies and backup batteries. Get your preparations in order immediately, because being prepared in the future is just as useful as not being prepared at all. You never know when the next outage will strike.