A power outage emergency kit is essential for your family. Start preparing these simple supplies to get ready.
Do you have a power outage emergency kit for an electrical blackout? Will your family be able to survive without electricity for a few days? Are you ready to make some simple preparations for this inevitable event? There is no better time than now to start getting prepared. A blackout survival kit will help keep your children stay safe during rolling blackouts or natural disasters.
Hello, and welcome to episode 3 of the Parenting Over 40 podcast. I’m your host, Frank Sasso. I’m a licensed psychotherapist from Chicago, IL and have been in the field of wellness for over 15 years. I’m also a dad, who made the decision, along with my wife, to have a child after 40.
In this episode, I will discuss why parents should have a power outage emergency kit for the family and tell you the 7 supplies you will need.
Hey, moms and Dads out there. Have you ever been in a situation where the electricity went out for several hours? It is an absolute nightmare. Maybe you’ve even experienced a lights out for several days? Boy that can be even worse – especially if you have an infant. The anxiety can be unbearable when all the lights go out.
Sometimes, when there is a low supply of electricity, utility companies will temporarily ration power to meet high demands. Rolling blackouts are meant to limit the overall time an entire area goes without having power.
So, I want to start this episode out by doing a basic thought experiment with you. Imagine that the electricity went out for just 3 days in your local area and your family had to survive. In this scenario, you have no lights, and no real communications with the outside world. That’s right, The TV won’t turn nor your computers. If you’re lucky, your cell phones internet connection works for a little while- but without electricity, the battery eventually dies.
You can also realistically imagine there being a hoard of people flocking to the grocery store to empty the shelves too! That’s simply because the local department store depends on truck shipments every night to re-stock the shelves. With no electricity, those trucks stop delivering products. Parents, this isn’t crazy to think this way. Recent history has shown us that people were also more than willing to loot and rob department stores during a panic.
Having said that - think back to when the Corona Virus pandemic first began. Many people found themselves leaving the grocery store empty handed because there was nothing available to buy. It was all gone! Essentials like bottled water, toilet paper, children’s medication including meat, flew off the shelves within a few hours.
I remember when they sold out of children’s Tylenol medicine at the local pharmacies in my area. It usually cost us about $10 a bottle. Because nothing was available, I went on Amazon and my jaw dropped. They were charging a whopping $34 dollars for children’s cold medicine. The price gouging was ridiculous!
Do you still wonder if any of this can happen? Do you by any chance happen to recall the civil unrest that occurred during the summer of 2020? In Chicago, there was absolute mayhem. I mean people were looting anything that wasn’t nailed down to the ground. I’ll never forget watching the local evening news one night and watching some guy break into a bedding store and run out the front door with a mattress over his head. It got so crazy here in Chicago that there was even some guy galloping down Michigan Ave on a horse! That was something I thought I’d never see. I’ll leave a picture of that guy on the horse on the website, so you can see how crazy this was for yourself.
[caption id="attachment_4095" align="aligncenter" width="516"] Guy on horse during civil unrest in Chicago, IL. Courtesy of You Tube.[/caption]
So back to our thought experiment. Let’s just say just there is a 3-day power outage, it is very possible, that you would lose the ability to have clean water for your family because fresh water is electrically pumped in from an outside tower. If you are in a high-rise apartment, then that water flow would immediately stop since it’s usually pumped in from the basement. At this point, you are in a situation where you and your family wouldn’t be able to stay hydrated because there simply isn’t any clean and reliable water to drink.
Other simple comforts we take for granted like flushing the toilet would come to a screeching halt. There’s also a good chance that all of the food in your refrigerator will spoil. Speaking of food – how would you cook it? If you were lucky enough to have a gas stove, then you might be okay- but many people depend on electric ranges and microwaves for heating their food.
So as you can imagine, this very realistic scenario of being without power for just 72 hours can quickly escalate into an emergency situation for your family. Even worse so if you have little kids.
As a society, we just don’t realize how much we depend on the electrical grid for our daily day living. And folks, our electrical grid is not exactly stable. There’s a reason why we hear so much in the news about rebuilding our infrastructure. Most of that work needs to be done on our much-outdated power grid. It is decades old and has serious problems handing consumer demand. After all, look what happened to the good people of Texas during the 2021 winter storm.
Over 5 million people were without power for over 4 days. Hundreds of thousands more went weeks without electricity across the south. Many millions more were told they must boil their water from the sink because it was full of bacteria and contaminants.
Families went without basic needs like lights, internet, heat - and in some cases - food for days.
Even where I am in the Chicago area, the power goes out nearly every year due to high winds from springtime storms. And Folks, this kind of thing happens on a regular basis all around the country! With ever increasing natural disasters like, hurricanes, extreme storms, tornados, and wildfires – a sustained power loss is now quite common.
Back in 1995, there was an oppressive Heat Wave here in Chicago that killed over 700 people. During that time, thousands of people suffered through wide ranging power outages throughout the city and suburbs.
Here’s some mind-blowing information I found over on S & P Global Market Intelligence. The Combined U.S power outage hours jumped an astonishing 73% from 2019 to 2020. They attributed this large increase due to extreme weather conditions. Utility customers across the U.S. experienced over 1 billion hours of lost power. Think about that number for a second, because It just boggles the mind! The research is saying that when you add up all the hours of people who lost power in The United States in a year – the number is over 1 billion! That my friends are a lot of time to be without electricity.
Global warming makes natural disasters more likely. And please don’t tell me Global warming isn’t real. That debate has long been settled. Just look at NASAS own numbers According to the NASA website, “The Earth’s surface temperature has risen 2 degrees since the 1900s and most of the warming has happened over the past 40 years” Just a 2 degree change in temperature can cause the ocean’s sea level to rise and create massive changes in the weather patterns. The thing is - It doesn’t have to be this way. With just a little preparation, you can sustain your family for several days by just planning. Just remember, it isn’t a question of if it will happen, but when!
I’ve went ahead carefully put together 7 supplies that parents should have in their power outage kit. As a Dad, I’ve tried to keep these supplies very practical in a way that will last your family for at least 3 days.
The reason I recommend putting this first on your list is because without proper hydration, the human body starts to shut down within about 3 days. Have you ever been dehydrated? It’s like you just can’t think straight. Our organs depend on water to function properly and without it - things can go sideways in a hurry. If you have pets like I do, you will also want to take this into consideration. So, for example in my family, I must think about my daughter, my wife and my two cats: Neptune and Typhoon. Man, those two cats drink a lot of liquid.
According to the Red Cross, an active person needs to drink around half a gallon of water each day. People who live in warmer climates or nursing mothers will need to drink a little bit more. Since we depend on water for hygiene and food preparation – you will also want to equate this into your kit.
There are several ways you can store water safely for an extended period. The first thing you need to do is think about how much water you will need for family members, and yes -including pets.
To make things simple - I would recommend purchasing commercially bottled water. The easiest way to store enough for your family is to buy 5-gallon jugs from your local grocery store. I know they can get kind of heavy, but you don’t have to get everything all at once. Start building your kit slowly. You want to be practical about this. My general rule is 1 five-gallon water jug per family member.
So again, as an example, in my family there are 4 people and 2 pets - which makes six. If I keep six individual 5 a five-gallon jugs for each family member, then that will be more than enough water to last each one of us during a 72-hour blackout. In fact, we there would be a good amount left over for cooking and hygiene.
If you have the room in your home or garage, I will also recommend keeping a few cases of 12-ounce bottled water just to be safe. And you would be surprised at how cheap you can buy the bottles from your local dollar store.
As far as storing the water goes, just do not tamper with it or open the lid. Put it off into the closet, shed or garage until you need it.
Over a 3-day period, your family is going to need calories to provide sustainable energy. Since this is a relatively short period of time, there is no need to wild by stocking your pantry to the point it’s bursting out at the seams. No, no - I would recommend just buying a sturdy backpack, or better yet a medium sized plastic container box that you can easily purchase from anywhere. You want to make sure your box has a strong lid to keep everything fresh. A container box is also good idea because it will also be able to hold everything else you will need in your power outage kit. If you’re family is on a budget, any kind of industrial bucket with a snappable lid will do.
So now, let’s talk about food. Think about what each member of your family likes to eat. I’m not talking gourmet meals here. I mean you just want good quality food items that will last a long time. Here are just a few ideas:
Granola bars are an affordable great option. They are usually nutrient dense and come in a variety of flavors. Another item might be trail mix. I like this one because the packets are generally small but have plenty of seeds and nuts which provide healthy fats for energy.
Jerky is also a fantastic item to have in your kit. And if you don’t eat a lot of meat like me, they sell great tasting vegan jerky these days. You can even buy it off Amazon. I swear this stuff tastes like the real thing.
You also might want to consider throwing in some packet foods. Stuff like oatmeal, crackers, and peanut butter are inexpensive options. You’ve seen the peanut butter that squeezed out of a tube right? That stuff is delicious. You can also get vacuumed sealed packets of tuna, chicken and salmon. This stuff usually has a shelf life of about 2 years.
The next one is canned vegetables. The kids might not like them very much, but you want to have those vitamins and nutrients. Just a few cans of mixed vegetables, carrots, chickpeas or beans can go a long way. Plus, they are relatively inexpensive to buy.
Next is one of my favorite items – freeze dried foods. This stuff is AMAZING and can taste like it’s hot off the over. Technology in the freeze-dried food industry has come such a long way over the past several years that many of the meals taste out of this world.
You might be wondering how does this work? Well, you simply add hot water to the meal packet and let it sit for a few minutes and surprise – you have a full-on delicious meal. I’m talking about yummy meals like Lasagna, Chili Mac or even Chicken and Rice. They even have breakfast skillets with sausage and hash browns.
And again, it’s super simple with freeze dried foods. If you can boil water than you will have the ability to give your family a hot meal within about 10 minutes.
There are many different companies that sell freeze dried foods out there. I personally like a brand-named Mountain House because the meals taste so good. Chances are your kids will like this stuff too. My daughter loves the lasagna. Did I mention this stuff can last for 25 years? Think about that for a moment: a 25-year shelf life. That’s just phenomenal.
Finally, don’t forget the kiddos. Keep a few snack packets items they might like in your stash. Around my house we keep little packet snacks like yogurt bites, cheese crackers and veggie sticks. They last a long time and always put a smile on our daughter’s face.
As far as food expiration goes – keep it simple. Keep track as to when certain items will expire. Before the food goes bad, put them back into your normal household food rotation. Then just replace those food items back into your power outage kit. Basically, just check your kit every 6 months to see if anything needs to be replaced.
If you need an idea of ways to pack your food, or other kind of items – check out Simply Cherrie’s on You Tube. She organizes the food for each member of her family based on their dietary needs. She’s really got this down to a science!
So, it goes without saying that you’re going to want to be able to see when things get dark. You don’t want to be in a situation where you’re carrying an infant or chasing around a toddler while you’re hanging on to a flashlight. That’s why one of the best types of lights you can have for your power outage kit are headlamps. You’ve probably seen a lot of campers out there using headlamps because they need the ability to illuminate large areas in the dark of night. If you haven't seen one before the concept is simple. There is an elastic band that fits around your head with a light attached to it. This makes moving around and so much easier!
I was able to pick up a headlamp and regular flashlight combo for 10 bucks over at Wall Mart. The set came with two head lamps, and three smaller flashlights and get this....it came with batteries! Again, this was just $10 dollars. Make sure to check out the link in the episode description to see what I've been using.
Having said that, you can also get some of the small hand-held flashlights for pretty cheap. I was able to go down to my local dollar store and pick up a few plastic tactical flashlights for about a buck each. There are the types of flashlights that police and military use – except there made of plastic. Tactical have the benefit of being super powerful, despite their small size. Check out the Parenting Over 40 website, you will see a link to this great gadget.
Next, you are going to want some lighting that will be able to illuminate larger areas, like the bedroom, living room and kitchen. The last thing you want during a blackout is for you or your kids to bump into things and get injured. For this I would recommend picking up a few battery powered camping lanterns. Most of the ones out there are generally collapsible and will fit nicely into your power outage kit. I was able to pick my lanterns up for about 9 bucks each over at Walmart - but you might be able to find a better deal somewhere else. Oh, and if you can find a solar powered lantern, even better.
A power outage can be a little scary for kids, so you can make this event a little more tolerable by picking up a few of those silly glow sticks. They come in a variety of colors and the little ones can play with them for hours. Again, this kind of thing is cheap right. We’re talking a buck or two. Just open the glow stick and snap it once until it illuminates. The ones I picked up at Dollar tree last anywhere between 6 and 8 hours. And besides, if anything you’re going to laugh seeing your kids or wife running around the house with a pink or green glow stick. It’s kind of like being at your own little night club!
4. Hand Cranked Radio
Hands down, my favorite gadget to have for my own power outage kit is a hand cranked radio. They are small, handheld devices that do many, many things for you in an emergency. First and foremost, they have a built-in transistor radio that plays both AM and FM stations. At the very least the kids would be able to listen to music when things get a little boring. Second, the little device receives a constant streaming broadcast from NOAA – or The National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration. So for example, maybe you’re in a power outage situation where it’s so severe due to bad storms that you will want regular weather updates. This kind of capability can be useful. On top of all that, the hand cranked radio can do a few more things. It actually has a built-in portable battery charger that you can use to re-charge your cell phone. That’s right, so long as you can crank the little handle with your hand for a few mins, you will have a constant supply of power for your hand-held devices. And finally, as if this thing didn’t do enough, it has a flashlight built in with decent power. The one I have also has a solar function. So as long as there is sunlight, it will have full batteries.
So again- here is just a quick review of what a hand cranked radio can do for you during an emergency:
And you won’t believe how cheap the hand cranked radio is! I got mine for under $25.00 on Amazon. There’s lots out there, but I’ll leave a link in the episode notes for you to look at when you’re ready. Don’t spend too much money on this. Just buy something that’s affordable and has decent reviews.
5. First Aid Kit
The truth is you don’t know how long the power will be out during an emergency. It could be a couple hours, or it could be several days. With kids running around in the dark, or for that matter, mom, and dad, you want to have a basic First Aid Kit to handle any accidents that may come up. Most First Aid Kits on the market are affordable and will have all the supplies you need. You just want to make sure that you get a First Aid Kit that has the basics. Band-Aids, bandages, ointment, tweezers, etc. You can pick these up at almost any department store for just a few dollars. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
6. Batteries/Portable Charger
Ok batteries are the kind of thing that should go into every power outage emergency kit. You will want to keep a good backup supply of the type of batteries you use for your equipment. Again, the dollar store is a great option because always have Double AA and Triple AAA batteries on the shelves.
Along with batteries, I highly recommend having at least ONE portable battery charger in your kit. Trust me, being able to charge your devices is going to make life a whole lot easier in your home. At our home, we watch a lot of movies with our little girl on the IPAD. Plus, she plays a lot of educational games on it. Having a portable battery charger will also give you the ability to re-charge your devices in a relatively short amount of time. If you have a little extra money, get a few for your kit. They sell them at most department stores, and you can also find them online for an affordable price.
A power outage can get very boring for the kids- fast! So, depending on your kids age, it’s a good idea to have stuff around that will keep them entertained. There are lots of great options out there. For example, board games, playing cards, coloring kits and sticker books. I think you get the idea of what I’m talking about.
So here is a summary of what you will need for your power outage kit:
Water, food, lights, hand cranked radio, first aid kit, portable battery charges, and entertainment.
Well, that does it for this episode of Parenting Over 40 Podcast. I know that you could have spent your time anywhere else, so I appreciate that you stopped by this podcast and listened. If you enjoyed the show, please subscribe. You can also so see pictures and links to all the items I mentioned on our website at parentingover40.com I hope this episode helps you to build good emergency power outage kit for your family. Thank you and stay safe.