Power outages can happen without warning, and while they don’t typically last more than a few hours, you never know how long it could take to get the lights back on. It’s a good idea to be prepared with a lights-out box (or “blackout kit”). It doesn’t cost much to stock, and it doesn’t take more than a few minutes to put together once you have your supplies. Here’s a quick guide to ensuring your family can see in the dark when a power outage strikes!
First things first – you need something to keep your supplies in! You can use a 2-5-gallon bucket for your container, or a plastic storage bin. Whatever you have on hand or can afford should work just fine if you can fit the remaining items in it.
Mini, handheld, headlamp…whatever style of flashlight you have, keep them in your lights out kit so you know exactly where they are when you need them.
Check all your flashlights (and any other battery-operated item you keep in your kit) so that you know the type and amount of batteries they need, and stock your kit accordingly. One idea is to keep all your household batteries in your lights out kit so they’re all in the same place, but this is entirely up to you and the needs of your home.
Extra batteries won’t mean much if you can’t open the battery hatch on your flashlight! A basic Philips should get the job done in most cases; just check ahead of time.
Tealights and votives are very inexpensive, so stock up and keep them in your kit.
If you’re going to keep candles in your kit, be sure to keep candle holders in your kit too. These contain the wax and help prevent fires. You can purchase these for as little as $1 anywhere candles are sold.
Lighters or Matches
Candles are of no use if they’re not lit! Keep lighters or matches stocked up in your kit as well.
There are candle lanterns, oil lanterns, and battery-operated ones as well.
NOAA Weather Radio or Crank Radio
A radio will come in handy in order to be able to listen to weather updates if your phone dies (radios like this one actually have a phone charger in them). Just make sure they run on batteries or a hand crank!
The United States government suggests having 72-hours’ worth of food and water for every member of your household. With regards to water, the proper recommendation is one gallon per person, per day for three days.
Granola bars, protein bars, canned pasta or chili, applesauce, dried fruit, snacks, and water bottles…these are all great things to have in your kit if the power outage lasts more than a day. Be sure you also have a way to heat the food, such as a pot or pan that you could position over a candle or a propane-based camping stove. However, canned foods are pre-cooked, so you don’t have to cook them in order to eat them. (Just remember the can opener!)
An easy thing to forget, but a necessity! (It doesn’t hurt to have some garbage bags on hand either. You just never know!)
Some Quick Pro Tips:
Keep your bathtubs clean! Sound strange? Well, if there’s a power outage that lasts an extended period, depending on where your live and your sources of water, you may not have running water for very long. So, if there’s ever an unexpected power outage, it’s a good idea to fill your tubs up with water while you still have it. This ensures clean water that you can sue for drinking and cooking, as well as for flushing the toilet if needed.
Throw in some cards, travel-sized board games, crayons, paper, and a book. Granted, you’ll already be at home, so these things will already be available to you, but it doesn’t hurt to keep an extra deck of cards in your blackout kit to help pass the time!