When the Lights go out – Surviving Blackouts
Practically everyone is going to experience at least one blackout in their lifetime. We all hope that these situations will be short-lived and do not cause any major issues, but it is always important to prepare for the worst. A large-scale power outage can result in issues such as exposure to extreme temperatures, spoiled food, unsafe roads, and water contamination. This is why every family should start preparing for these situations immediately by creating a fool-proof blackout survival plan.
Why Do Blackouts Happen?
The word blackout generally applies to power outages that affect an entire community for more than a few hours. A damaged power line or transformer can affect a single block, but larger blackouts are generally caused by more serious issues. The vast majority of blackouts that have been recorded within the past few years have taken place for two distinct reasons.
One common reason is a storm that involves lightning, high winds, ice, or snow. Each of these can damage large power plants, transformers, underground electrical equipment, and statewide power grids. Another situation in which a blackout might occur is in the hottest months of the summer when the power grid is pushed to its limit. Many states have power outage warnings when temperatures become extreme and locals have their air conditioner running day and night. Minor power outages can be the result of trees falling over, faulty equipment, damage from wild animals, car accidents, and digging into underground power lines.
The Dangers of a Blackout
A power outage that lasts for just a few minutes is generally not a life or death scenario. Areas that require a constant power supply such as a hospital typically have multiple backup generators to keep their equipment running. Once the outage extends to a larger area or takes place for more than a few hours, however, the true dangers of a blackout will become apparent. Many families will deal with spoiling food and extreme temperatures in their home. Those that rely on a private well might lose all access to water or find that their water filters are no longer working properly.
An extended power outage will also affect the infrastructure of a community and make it nearly impossible to organize with other families or the local government. When a family no longer has access to the news and is unsure of what to expect in the coming days, it is vital that they have prepared for these situations to minimize their risks and remain as comfortable as possible.
Identify Local Variables
The first thing that you should do is start taking a look at some of the local variables that will affect the likelihood of a blackout happening, your community’s ability to respond to a blackout, and your options following one of these events. Those that are living in a colder climate will most likely experience a blackout during the winter months, and this will affect which supplies they must collect and how they will organize with their family. The same goes for families that live in a hotter climate where blackouts generally happen during the summer. Collecting this information will make the rest of the process easier and more affordable.
Speak With Your Family
Every family should have an emergency plan for all of the most common natural and man-made disasters. Whether it be a hurricane or a blackout, it is important to speak with all family members about where they will meet and everyone’s responsibilities. You should also attempt to plan for the unexpected. This includes what your family will do if a parent is unreachable while running errands or the blackout occurs while a child is having a sleepover at a friend’s house. Your family must know where to meet or if they should stay where they are until help comes.
Create a List of Supplies to Collect Immediately
Those that have not started preparing for a blackout or any other emergency should come up with a list of absolute necessities that must be collected as quickly as possible. At the minimum, this should include at least a few day’s worth of non-perishable foods, a good supply of water, some form of protection, and methods to keep your family at a comfortable and safe temperature. These are the supplies that could mean the difference between life and death if a catastrophe happens within the next few days.
Cover the Basics of Survival
Once the basic supplies have been collected and stored safely, you can then start thinking about ways you can expand your survival capabilities. The average blackout will only last for a few hours, but it is always better to prepare for these situations assuming that they will last for days or even weeks. This means that you must consider your options for long-term survival. The key elements that you will need are water, food, shelter, and some form of protection. Some of the supplies that you should begin to collect include:
– Extra batteries
– A generator
– Candles and flashlights
– A water purifying system
– Enough non-perishable foods to last for multiple weeks (or months)
– Multiple radios
– Entertainment in the form of games and books
– A supply of cash
Take a Look at Specific Safety Concerns
The supplies listed above should be collected by every family no matter their location. Once you are positive that your family has everything necessary for survival, you will then want to consider what specific safety concerns could affect you and your community. Variables such as nearby dams, industrial plants with chemicals, and local crime rates will dictate exactly how you craft your survival plan and what gear you must collect. You and your family must also take the time to train with these items and learn how they work so that you are as prepared as possible no matter what takes place.