How to Prepare for a Power Outage: Tips to Know Before It Happens

January 26, 2015 Updated: January 26, 2015

With a winter storm of historic proportions bearing down on the Northeast, it’s almost certain power lines will go down somewhere. It may not seem like that big of a hassle—until it happens to you. So do yourself a favor and prepare now because once you find yourself without power, there will be a lot of things you’ll wish you had thought of. Here’s what they are.

1. Keep you cell phone charged 

The moment the power goes, you’ll be very grateful to have a working cellphone. After about 30 min of checking in with family and tweeting dark street photos to your friends back home, you’ll be really sorry it wasn’t fully charged before you lost power. If you’re not going far, keep your phone tethered to an outlet as much as possible. And if you have one of those backup chargers, make sure that’s fully juiced too. There’s nothing worse than reaching for your backup and finding it dead.

2. Get out your extra bedding now

Throw your extra bedding at the foot of your bed now. If the power goes out, you could lose your heat with it. If that happens during the night, you’ll wake up shivering, and that’s not when you’ll want to be stumbling around climbing on chairs to fetch that extra blanket from the back of the top shelf.


3. Stock up on the right food

If you don’t have power, it’s true, the food in your fridge and freezer could go bad so you’ll want to eat it. Just keep in mind you won’t have a microwave and may not have a stove to use. So if you’re stocking up, non-perishables that don’t need heat to eat are the best. Here are some good choices: a lot of canned foods (tuna, creamed corn, ravioli); fruits and vegetables like apples, oranges, carrots; bread and butter keep for while; nuts and granola are good; and of course most junk food won’t perish either.

4. Water water water

No power, may mean no pump to send you water to your taps. Fill up whatever containers you have now. About a gallon of water per person per day is a good guideline for personal use. But keep in mind you won’t be able to flush the toilets either, so best to fill some buckets to help with that too.


5. Flashlight, candles, matches

Nothing new here, but good to make sure those batteries actually work instead of just assuming they work. Ensure you have the flashlight handy before the power dies because when it’s dark, it’s hard to find anything. Keep in mind, you’ll want to use a candle for room light and a flashlight to navigate around in the darkness.

Here are some other tips for what not to do during the storm.