The (mis)Adventures of a Homesteadin' Mama

The knowledge, skills, and encouragement to be able to homestead no matter where you live. Down to earth and full of humor!

How to survive when the power goes out….

I am not a prepper or a survivalist, but that being said, I do have first hand personal experience on this topic. You see, last winter our area lost power for 10 days over Christmas. And it was COLD, below zero kind of weather. The kind of cold that can kill. The weather was so bad, we couldn’t go anywhere (like a hotel that had a backup generator or a family member’s home hours away.) So what do you do?? How do you survive when the power goes out? Being prepared just in case, takes a lot of stress out of the situation!


HEAT

Staying warm is going to be your number one priority. It doesn’t matter what other supplies you have on hand if you freeze to death first. If you have a fireplace or wood stove, you’re set. We really want to get a wood stove put in just in case it happens again, but haven’t been able to yet. Not only does a wood stove give you heat, but you can cook on that bad boy. We were lucky enough, that within a couple days we managed to get our hands on a generator. Having a generator is a must if you are in the country or an area prone to severe weather and power outages. Our generator was only able to power our fridge, a lamp, and two heaters, but that is because we allowed our neighbors to tie into it, so they could run heaters too. In a crisis, it is good to know your neighbors and be kind to them, you never know when they can come in handy. If you are heating with a space heater, limit the area you are trying to heat to one room. You can always hang plastic or blankets in doorways to keep heat in the area you want.

But what do you do if you have no fireplace or generator? Well there are other things you can do to keep warm……..

  • Clothing – Layer up! You want to keep warm, but not sweat. Sweating is counter productive to staying warm. Have wool socks on hand, a knit cap, and of course gloves. Your extremities will get cold first so watch your fingers and toes.
  • Blankets – Make sure you have blankets on hand to cuddle under. Cuddling under blankets with a family member is a bonus, share your body heat with each other!
  • Check for drafts/leaks – Cover windows with blankets to help keep the cold out. You can also roll up towels and put them along doors to help keep cold air out.
  • Make a heat source – You do not want to build a fire in your living room, but you can always build one outside and warm rocks or bricks, which you can wrap in towels and bring inside to place under blankets with you. 
WATER
We all need water to live, it is a must. You will need about a gallon a person per day just for drinking. It is always good to keep a few gallons of water on hand in case of an emergency. If you live “in town” your water should still flow, unless your pipes freeze. If you live with a well, it is even more important to keep extra water on hand. Worse case scenario, you can melt snow. Make sure you you bring it to a boil and if possible, filter it.
FOOD
You have all seen the images in the media of grocery stores being emptied out with the news of a winter storm bearing down. Do not wait till a storm is coming in order to get food supplies. Don’t count on the store being able to restock either. If the weather is that bad, trucks might not be able to make it through. If you have a way to cook your food, your lucky. If not, you are going to want to have on hand things that don’t require cooking to ingest. 
Bread and peanut butter may get boring, but the protein in the peanut butter is a good source of energy for your body. Crackers and cheese are another good source of nutrition.  Grab some granola, nuts, beef jerky and fruit. Don’t go for prepackaged junk food as the empty calories and sugar will do your body no favors when you trying to generate body heat. 
If you can heat water (even if it is outside on a fire) you can add food items like oatmeal and soups to your food options. You can also boil pasta, rice or whip up instant mashed potatoes!
LIGHT
Since winter storms happen, well, in the winter, the days are shorter and you have a lot more “darkness” to deal with. Having flashlights (with fresh batteries) on hand is a must. But batteries can die quickly if you have children always turning them on! A hand cranked flashlight is worth the money. Candles are also an option for lighting, just keep them out of the reach of children and pets. The last thing you want to do is set your house on fire. Oil lamps are better for illuminating an area, where flashlights are good for walking around. If you have mirrors, they can be positioned to reflect the light around a room, making it a bit brighter.
BOREDOM BUSTERS
Once you are staying warm, have light to see by, and food and water to stay alive, your going to get bored. If you have children, they are going to get bored even faster! Our oldest, who was 7 at the time, begged us to plug the TV into the generator. Sorry, kid, the gas in the generator is for survival items…. not cartoons!!! So what do you do to combat the hours of silence, broken by the words “I’m bored?” Here are just a few ideas…..
  • Books
  • Board games
  • Puzzles
  • Deck of cards
  • Paper, pencils, crayons
  • If you have a big cardboard box, turn it into a “tv” and let your kids act out shows
  • Indoor balloon volleyball
  • Look at old family photos and reminisce
  • Paper airplanes
  • Simon says 
  • Make a masking tape hopscotch on the floor 
  • Tic, tac, toe and hangman
OTHER THINGS TO THINK ABOUT
Have a stockpile of batteries. If you have pets, you are going to want to include a stockpile of food for them, as well as their water needs. If people in your family are on medication, never let your on hand supply get low enough where you might run out if bad weather hits. Keep your vehicle gas tank at least half full at all times. Gas station need power to run their pumps. Also, gas supplies may go quickly if a large area of people need the gas for running their generators. Unplug all your electronic, so when the power does come back on, nothing gets fried. Leave one lamp on so you know when the power does come back on. Don’t be a grump. No one is having fun during the situation, but a negative attitude can make it even worse. Try to find the bright side or silver lining.
Stay safe, stay warm, and I hope you never need to use these tips!

50 thoughts on “How to survive when the power goes out….

  1. Not trying to be a hater but your spelling could use some work. In the above post you meant "you're" when you said your, and crisis when you said crises. The game is Tic Tac Toe. There are several more!

    1. LOL Yeah, I was typing fast and my proof reader was still at work, but I wanted to get it out there so people could start getting ready. I know the weather is moving in fast here. Thank you for taking the time to point them out to me! I fixed the ones you pointed out. I can't believe I messed up tic tac toe! Bwaa haa haa I knew that one, so why did I type it wrong!?!?!? Can I hire you for when hubby is at work?

    2. This is A. Nony Mouse, not Anonymous. Yes, sometimes Mindie is a little off with her spelling and grammar, but she is enlightening and delightful to read. I read for her content and have never been disappointed. Try it my way and enjoy!!

  2. My reply to Anonymous: Really?!?! What a silly thing to complain about.

    Mindie, Thank You for the article. We take so much for granted, thinking things like extended power outages won't happen to us. Nice to be reminded that we should stay prepared.

    1. LOL Anonymous could have emailed me, but either way, I am glad someone pointed the boo boos out. I usually let hubby do my proof reading as I suck at spelling and I type way to fast sometimes trying to get things out there. I'll take all the help I can get on days like this, when I have been trying to blog in between running out to break ice and provide water for the critters when it is pushing -30. Thank you for your kind words Little C. That is exactly why I wrote this piece…. people need to realize it CAN happen to them and need to know ahead of time what to do.

    2. Mindy, I was able to understand everything you posted for us. Who cares how survival tips are spelled, if they help you stay alive and comfortable. Most of us really appreciate reading your blog. It is fun and informative. Keep it up.
      Just so you know…this note is from A. Nony Mouse; a much loved web icon. 😉

  3. Excellent tips and great timing for this article. I've been thinking about a generator for some time, but when the power comes back on it just slips out of my head. I don't have a fireplace for alternate heat, put there is a fire pit in the backyard that we can use to boil water. My neighbor has a great wood pile. I always keep a ton of candles on hand too. As far as the spelling, if you're a writer you will make spelling mistakes. Happens to me all the time. None of us are perfect. You handled that comment well.

    1. I make mistakes often LOL That is why I usually have hubby proof read it for me. 🙂 Get that generator before it is too late. I just had a friend on FB announce they just lost power. I feel so bad for her.

  4. Also, you can sleep in your camping tent inside the house and stay much warmer at night. If you happen to have natural gas or propane you can install a passive wall heater. It won't take power to heat. We did so in our last three houses, but since we haven't had a power outage in the last house we didn't install one here. 3 houses ago power was always going out. We were the last service on a line that went through the woods. Good luck everybody!

    1. One more very important tip: fill your bathtub with water so you can use a bucket to flush your toilet. At the first sign of weather that would cause an outage we would get that bathtub full! And refill it anytime the power came back on.

  5. All good ideas. I bought several propane heaters, lots of candles, oil lamps, hand crank radio, blankets, sleeping bags, food storage and water. Still bugging hubby to buy a small woodstove 🙂 I'll get my way someday!

  6. Hello? Me again, the Spelling Police, self-appointed. I talked to my daughter, the English Major/writer/blogger, and she pretty much put me in my place. As in, if you don't enjoy the blog, then don't read it! I do apologize. I think I have some kind of "thing" about spelling and I somehow think… well just know I regret that post. Your info was great and well-intentioned.

    1. No worries, honestly. I would rather people point it out then sit there and think I was just a uneducated person. Like I said, I was hurrying and did a poor job of proof reading, my hubby wasn't here to do it and well I really do thank you for your help. You helped me be a better me and reminded me not to rush so much. By the way, tell your daughter thanks LOL I hope you do enjoy my blog and I will try not to send you into an spelling frenzy again. 🙂

  7. Hi, Mindie. You are doing just fine, dear. There is always that one person that points out spelling and even grammar mistakes too. I have seen it time and again on almost every blog I follow. Not everyone is a born speller. I am pretty good myself, but I will be the first to admit that I still make mistakes too. My fiancé is horrid at spelling! Every little word he has to ask me to spell. All that matters, Mindie, is that you got your point across. I find your posts clear, concise, and enjoyable to read anyway, mistakes or not. So don't listen to 'Anoymous' and keep posting and we will keep reading! I love your blog and will take it anyway you want to present it. Y'all have a good weekend now, you hear? 😉

  8. I FOLLOW "THUMPER"S" MOTHERS ADVICE IF YOU CAN'T SAY SOMETHING NICE DON'T SAY ANYTHING. THANK-YOU FOR SHARING SUCH GREAT ADVICE. YOU ARE A TRULY A GRACIOUS LADY FOR TAKING THE LOL APPROACH TO THOSE COMMENTS. GOD BLESS YOU AND YOUR FAMILY. YOUR FRIEND , TAMARA EARNHART

  9. Great advice! I one time visited my relatives in rural Wyoming in late March and we were surprised with a bad storm that took out the power for a few days. We huddled around the fireplace! Now I'm glad to live in a place with no winter but our water has gone out rather regularly. Good thing the grocery store is within walking distance!

  10. Good points…. it is important to think of such things B4 the crisis…. we have had times when power was out… or we were cold…. or hot…. and had to figure out what to do. This is a good list. Thank you. 🙂

  11. Mindie –
    Great tips here and information we all need to consider. I never gave it much thought until we moved to a rural, mountainous community that can lose power even on a sunny day. HA. We have learned to store water, extra batteries and have plenty of non-perishable food on hand. We have learned some valuable lessons living here and ones we will carry with us if we ever move again. Thanks for the tips again. ~Victoria @ The Simplified Life.net

    1. I swear, once you live through something, you don't take things for granted. I hate when the power goes out (like this morning when it was -8) but at least we were prepared. I worry about folks who think it can't happen to them or blow off the warning. It is better to have it and never have to use it, then to not have what you need when your life depends on it.

  12. Hey Mindie, thanks for these great tips. We get it cold but not too much below zero and no snow but we do have black outs when it is winter. Thanks for linking up at Good morning mondays. Blessings

  13. Oh, I have experienced that and it was horrible. Back in 2010-2011, when we were in Michigan, there was a terrible snow storm and power cut for 2 days. We were definitely not prepared for it. Thanks to the gas burners that kept us warm and to some kind friends, who lived just a block away and had electricity. I would have frozen otherwise!!

    Hope winters are being kind to you!

    -Tanya
    http://tanyaanurag.blogspot.com/

  14. These are some great ideas to stay busy when the power is out. When I was little we would take turns playing "Spotlight". My mother would shine the flashlight on us while we sang and danced. It was so much fun being a star! Thanks so much for linking up at the Totally Terrific Tuesday Link Party. I hope you stop by again tonight at 10pm to show us what you've been up to this week. It's so much fun partying with you!

  15. Great information and tips we all need to know. Thank you very much for joining in the celebration of #purebloglove, we enjoy having you each week. I hope to see you on Thursday at 8PM, EST through Sunday night. ~Cydnee

  16. Such good advice! We had our generator stolen and almost a whole year went by and then 1 day it came to mind. So I started looking around for a sale. Came across a fantastic deal so we scooped it up. Less than a month later, we lost power and needed the generator and it wasn't even winter! We have a well and our chest freezer had 1/4 beef. Soooo so glad we had it! . In the winter @ least here in MI you can keep your food from going bad but you can also freeze to death and in the summer you have food to worry about. Always something!
    we do have kids so I appreciate the suggestions of things to do.

  17. Great advice, I also would like to Thank you for coming and linking up at #TheWeekendSocial. Please be sure to come back this week starting Thursday at 9PM EST on KitchenDreaming.com ! I hope to see you there! Pinned

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On a 1/4 acre in a small town lives a slightly deranged woman who never thought she would be a Farm Girl again, then her son asked for a chicken! Welcome to my (mis)Adventures! My name is Mindie and I'm glad you're here!

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