How to Prepare for Power Outages

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Learn how to prepare for power outages that may arise during bad weather or winter blizzards. Tips and tricks for items to stock up on before the outage happens.

We recently survived a 75 hour power outage in the middle of winter and without a generator. Ok, it really wasn’t my choice and was beyond our control. But over the years of homesteading, I’ve learned how to prepare for power outages.

chicken eating grain on snow

How to Prepare for Power Outages

One of the first lessons I learned when I moved with my husband to the middle of nowhere, rural living requires planning for various situations like crazy weather and 75 hour power outages.

I’ve had my fair share of power outages since moving to this middle of nowhere ranch life. But I really did not anticipate 75 hours without power. And the truth is, it can happen any time. To any one of us.

Previously we survived winter storms and outages with the heat of a wood stove. Our new home does not have a wood stove, but has a generator. Unfortunately it was not working properly during this recent outage and required an electrician to come out and service it.

It is now fixed so we are prepared for this coming tornado season and the severe weather outages.

Being prepared for power outages is what helped us survive. And maybe you’re thinking it’s not a big deal. But we do have three young children and one of them with special needs.

So, it was challenging in ways I didn’t expect.

Here’s our power outage essential list to keep on hand. 

Generator or Wood Stove

The wood stove is especially helpful if you live in a cold climate. A generator can help with not only the heat or air, but also the other electricity needs you may have. And this is essential if you have a freezer full of meat and other food items.

Like I mentioned above, we unfortunately don’t have a wood stove or other source for heat without electricity in this current home. We survived on snuggles, extra blankets and a whole lot of winter clothing!

man outside carrying a water bucket in a blizzard to give to the chickens
Animals need to be fed, even during a blizzard.

Camp Size Grill

A basic grill, such as this one can help you be prepared to make meals for your family. Our last power outage was only for 75 hours, but it continued to go in and out for days as crews worked to restore the damage from the blizzard.

Often times, the power would go out while I was getting ready to make a meal for my family. And around here, I make all of our meals from scratch.

The grill was a huge help.

Propane for the Grill

Unfortunately you can’t really cook on the camp size grill, if you’re not stocked up on propane. Don’t ask me how I know. Ha.

We have an area designated where we keep totes of emergency supplies ready to go in case the power fails.

Cast Iron Cookware

Cast iron cookware is pretty amazing and it’s all I use besides my ceramic pots. It is also very versatile and will last you almost forever if cared for properly.

It’s helpful to keep a variety of sizes on hand. Because those smaller sizes were necessary to use on our small grill.

And if you’re a coffee addict like myself, a French press or non electric coffee maker are incredibly necessary to get your fix in during the outages.

Buckets of Water

And I’m not talking about for drinking either.

Most of the homes in our rural community rely heavily on electricity for everything to operate and function properly.

This includes our heat and air, and running water. Having buckets with lids and full of water stashed in storage is necessary during the power outages.

It’s helpful to have this water available so we can get by with washing dishes and flushing toilets. Absolutely necessary to have on hand.

tree covered in snow during a blizzard

Non Perishable Foods

Not being prepared with a good supply of foods that are easy to prepare during a power outage can create a bad time for anyone.

Wether you’re prepared with home canned foods or other non perishables, your family will thank you.

A large supply of bottled water is also something we always have on hand for the emergencies and power outages.

Check out this post on what food to store during an outage.

Emergency Supplies

Here I mean things like having good working flashlights, extra batteries, candles, lighters, matches, and so on.

Think of things you will need to use in to use if you were without power for an extended period of time.

It’s also handy to have extra blankets, and a good supply of winter gear available if the power fails during the cold weather.


This is something I did not realize we needed until we were without power for an extended period of time. Luckily for us, we were already prepared.

It is very challenging to keep young children entertained and warm during an extended power outage. But we got through.

Thanks be to God!

We survived with art supplies, board games, and decks of cards. And after the roads were clear, we made a couple of trips to town to warm up and just to get out.

I admire those of my friends who choose to live off the grid. I don’t foresee that being in my family’s future unless it came unexpectedly. But if it does, at least we are somewhat prepared.

I hope that my simple list of how we prepare for power outages is helpful to you as you work on preparing for potential outages.

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  1. I grew up in the city but my grandparents (also in the city) kept chickens and canned fresh foods from the farmer’s market. The space under the stairs to the bedrooms was the pantry with shelves on both sides.

    My first wife and I have been married 50+ years and we still keep a pantry in the kitchen, plus a freezer and some buckets of beans and rice. We have central heat but we have two backups – gas logs that use batteries for the remote AND the gas valve so they work without power, plus a kerosene heater. You don’t have to lose power to lose heat. Our then 3 years old high efficiency, very high tech, gas furnace quit in January with the forecast temperatures being in the teens and 20s. The dead controller board was covered under warranty and had a 3 day promised turnaround. That process took 14 DAYS so we closed off part of the house and used the gas logs and the kerosene heater to warm the space we used – sometimes it’s nice to not have an open concept house 😉

    In addition to having gasoline powered generators, I built a solar-charged “Wait until daylight” generator that can provide 8 to 20 hours of limited power (depending on the season). We can power the fridge, some lights, internet access, charge cell phones and maybe use the central heat for a short while. We have enough power to “get by” without going out in the dark or during a thunderstorm to start and connect a gas gen.

    Easily accessed backup power is a very good thing when the forecast “1/2 to 1 inch of snow on grassy areas” has you waking up to 7″ to 12″ of snow and the cable TV, internet and phone going out at 8AM followed by the power 20 minutes later. We made most of the day on the solar generator, but I started one of the gas generators around 6PM to have the central heat run long enough to ensure the basement was warm enough to keep pipes from freezing and put some charge back in the batteries because the electric co-op had not issued any power restoration times and I wanted to have power overnight. Our power was restored around 830PM but others were without power for several days.

  2. All things are achievable AFTER the first cup of coffee . . . Thanks for the reminder to buy that French Press I hoped Santa would bring me at Christmas. I must have been naughty as it did not arrive. We do often have power outages where I live.

    You always offer some piece of advice that I find useful or it sticks in my mind for when I suddenly need it.

    I am downsizing due to age so really find your ideas thought provoking as they force me to stop and think about things I’ve not been able to bring myself to let go of.

    Thank you my dear. Wishing you all the best in your endeavors.

    Mary in Northern VA