Preparing For Short Term Power Outages

by Lorenzo Poe

Survival seems to be the current hot topic. Everywhere you look self-proclaimed experts are willing to tell you all you need to survive the upcoming apocalypse of whatever scenario they can imagine. Most of their tips are tied to more and better equipment.

I do think that it is important to prepare for the future, but knowing what to prepare for and how to start are always tricky. I am no fortune-teller just an old country boy who has been around several blocks in my day. I grew up in an area often hit by hurricanes and lived through one of the most active periods on record. While serving in the US Army I lived in the northeast through several winters. I have slept out in tents in 10-degree weather, in tents in 110-degree weather, sand storms, lightning storms and some disasters of a man-made nature.

I grew up in a rural area as the son of parents who lived through the Great Depression. As such we already lived to maximize the things that we had but whenever a storm approached we had certain things that we had to do in case of power loss. Hopefully, you will find this plan an easy way to prepare.

Most survival guides try to talk you through surviving major apocalyptic events from financial system melt down to electromagnetic pulse. This guide will attempt to help you make a plan for any disaster you may face.

The most common scenario most of us will face is a 3-day local power disruption.

Whenever there is an indication that something could disrupt power don’t just run out to buy milk and bread. There are several things that you can do at home to help you prepare and make your life better.

I tend to use ‘Hurricane’ as the general cause of short-term power outages but this can be adapted to any anticipated event of short-term duration.

Secure an adequate water supply.

You will need a gallon of water per person per day. This is as easy as buying a case of water per person sheltering with you. This is drinking water only for people who are not performing manual labor. Persons performing manual labor will need 1-2 quarts of water per hour in the heat and 1 quart per hour in the cold. This is just water for drinking only; it does not take into account water for cooking or personal hygiene.

Fill your bathtub with water. This water will be used to flush the toilet. Conserve water by flushing only when necessary. Remember “yellow let it mellow, brown flush it down”.

Toilets in America are flushed by siphon. The goose-neck in the toilet keeps gas and odor from coming into the house. Pouring water into the toilet bowl raises the level of the water above the goose-neck and will cause a siphon action to drain the bowl. You can understand how the siphon works by trying two experiments with your toilet. First, take a cup of water and pour it into the bowl. You will find that almost nothing happens. What’s even more interesting is that you can pour multiple cups of water into a toilet bowl, one at a time, and still, nothing will happen. That is, no matter how many cups of water you pour in, the level of the water in the bowl never rises. When you pour the cup of water in, the water level in the bowl rises, but the extra water immediately spills over the edge of the siphon tube and drains away.

Now, take a bucket of water and pour it into the bowl. You will find that pouring in a certain amount of water at the precise speed causes the bowl to flush. That is, almost all of the water is sucked out of the bowl, and the bowl makes the recognizable “flush” sound and all of the water goes down the pipe. What’s happened is this: You’ve poured enough water into the bowl fast enough to fill the siphon tube. And once the tube was filled, the rest was automatic. The siphon sucked the water out of the bowl and down the pipe. As soon as the bowl emptied, air entered the siphon tube, producing that distinctive flushing sound and stopping the siphoning action.

You can see that even with water service cut off you could still flush your toilet. All you need is a bucket containing a couple of gallons of water. It is not an exact science and you should practice prior to any event so you can do it with a minimum of water and maximum of achievement. Use care because a spill from the toilet onto the floor will waste more water for a necessary clean-up. (Father Fenton, our priest in Afghanistan, lived through Hurricane Katrina just north of Biloxi, Mississippi and told us how several retired priests moved in with him because his house was still habitable. As luck would have it, his small inflatable pool survived and was available to furnish water for toilet flushing. He said that his home suffered more water damage from errant flushing than from the storm.)

And yes you could simply remove the cover of the tank and pour the water into the tank so that you can use the toilet like normal. There are two reasons I recommend not doing that. First, the cover of your toilet is fragile and can be broken very easily and second, water conservation. Everyone’s instinct will be to automatically flush when finished.

Worse than a ‘slop’ over’ from an over-enthusiastic flush, will be a drain clog. Paper products should not be put in the toilet but into a plastic garbage bag for disposal.

Hand cleansing should be accomplished with hand sanitizer.

Fill plastic bottles with tap water and cram them into your freezer. The more full your freezer is the longer it will stay cold. Block ice will also last longer than cubed ice in an ice chest. A stand alone freezer will keep food frozen for up to 3 days if you leave the door closed. A freezer compartment above your refrigerator will not last that long. Avoid opening the door as long as you can.

After thawing, these bottles of water will be available for drinking.

Gather your food supplies.

Once a Hurricane Warning has been issued, its time to prepare your food. Any food items in your refrigerator needing cooking should be cooked now and returned to the refrigerator or placed in an ice chest. Boil your eggs, bake your potatoes, fry your steak.

Leftovers that are in your refrigerator can be placed in an ice chest with ice so that you can keep your refrigerator closed.

The ideal food for short duration power outages are foods that take little or no preparation. Peanut butter sandwiches, spam, deviled ham, and other canned items that are tasty cold straight from the can. And that is how they should be eaten, straight from the can without a plate or bowl. Water conservation is still the key so avoid dirtying anything that needs washing. Spoons and forks can be licked clean and wiped off then washed later. You could use paper plates and bowls with disposable utensils but chances are that your garbage service will be off schedule so try to minimize your waste.

Providing three meals a day for even short durations will not give you a large variety to choose from when picking foods that can be eaten cold, straight from the can but by adding seasoning and small snacks such as trail mixes and cans of fruit they don’t have to be unpleasant.

As an alternative, military style meals, MREs, have a device that heats the meals by simply adding water to a heater pack. These meals can be expensive, have a shelf life that is limited to a few years and in my personal opinion, the main meal portions taste terrible cold.

Proper clothing

When you know in advance that a storm/event will likely put you out of power, wash all your dirty underwear. Clothes can and should be worn more than once in these situations but for health and well being change your underwear daily when possible.

The proper clothing for a short duration power outage will simply be your normal seasonal clothing. Keep in mind that in any season you may be spending more time outside so add a season appropriate hat and sun screen to your normal wear. Winter or summer you will need Chapstick, Blistex, something. (see Poo Poo Broussard on youtube)

Make sure that you have good quality rain gear including boots for all members of the family.

There are gloves for all purposes and all purpose gloves. My personal choice is leather working gloves for general work, welder’s gloves for work around a fire and good quality wool inserts for my leather gloves for winter work.

Shelter is key to survival.

In most cases during power disruptions of short duration, the best choice is to shelter in place. This can be comfortably accomplished in any season with a little planning.

If your power-out event occurs in the summer opening all the windows and doors of your home that have screens will get you by in the same comfort our ancestors had. An alternative would be to set up a screen tent or canopy in the back yard. I also keep several different sprays that kill mosquitoes as well as the Deet types that repel them.

Winter events can likewise be handled by moving everyone into a single room, sealing it from all drafts, and setting up a tent. Insulate the tent floor with blankets and additional blankets can cover the top and sides of the tent. Good quality sleeping bags and comforters can keep you warm to zero degrees. Sharing a sleeping bag or comforter can increase the body heat available to warm the sleeping bag/comforter.

Do not use open flames in or near a tent. A good quality lantern/ oil lamp kept lit while everyone is awake can help warm a small, draft free room but warm foods, high in calories can warm you from the inside. If you do use a lantern/oil lamp be sure to have a battery-powered carbon monoxide detector.

The trick to sleeping warm in winter is to use the bathroom prior to climbing in your sleeping bag, eating a small, high-calorie snack and dressing correctly.

The correct way to dress for sleeping in a sleeping bag is to strip down to shorts and a t-shirt. Sleeping bags are warmed by body heat. Clothes such as sweats or pajamas trap your body heat close to your body and don’t allow your sleeping bag to function as designed.

Additional things to help are, pick a temperature appropriate bag, wear a knit cap, cover your face with a towel or t-shirt and do not exhale into your sleeping bag. If your feet do not reach the bottom of your sleeping bag, fold the bottom under so you don’t heat that portion of the bag. Wear warm socks if you suffer from cold feet. I have a pair of shorts, a t-shirt and a clean pair of socks that I keep in my bag. I put them on just before getting into my bag at nights. Clean clothes and a clean sleeping bag are warmer than dirty ones. A sleeping bag liner can add up to 15* of warmth to your bag. Simply adding a sheet or insulating the bag from the ground can add another 10*. For additional warmth, place a wool blanket or comforter on top of your sleeping bag.

Three to five-day disruptions of power are not insurmountable challenges. With a little planning and almost no skill, anyone can do it. Plan and prepare so that you can do it with as much comfort as possible.

Chapter One of my new book coming out in Spring 2018.

Also Read:


  1. JP in MT says:

    For us, 3-day “emergencies” are just a long weekend. We go to an “undeveloped” camp site and avoid the stores for a week or more. It is a good practice for us and fun.

    We are always looking for ways to improve our ability to make resources last longer, stretch/replace our water supply, make innovative meals from stuff that fits in a 1’x2’x3′ cabinet.

    It’s the longer ones that worry us. And the neighbors who are totally unprepared for a “3-day weekend” after 7 days. I can’t possibly stock enough to take care of others for an unspecified length of time, no one can. Yet most people have abdicated the responsibility for their families safety to some (usually the nameless “they”) government agency, and when “they” fail to show up and take care of them, it automatically becomes “my” problem and I “have” to help them.

    • JP,
      Unless these people are disabled or relatives, you don’t have to do anything. My neighbors are all rural prepared folks; but, perhaps you should talk to yours and inform them that as adults, they, not you are responsible for their own well being. I don’t want to sound hard hearted; but, as adults we take care of our own, and perhaps a small survivable event will wake them up.

      • JP in MT says:


        Trust me, I know. And the few that know how I think also know that if they don’t have an invite now, they best not show up.

        DD1, hubby, and 2 GS’s are the only relatives that would be “dropping by” and are already part of the plan. The others are 600+ miles away. It would take a lot of forthought for them to get here.

      • JP,
        I understand exactly. DSS1 lives only an hour away and would be welcome as would DSS2 who lives 2+ hours away and is a former Marine Scout Sniper. Both boys were scouts and we all did a lot of camping and shooting together in the past. My DD however, who would be welcome lives a 15+ hour drive in the Boston area and although she keeps some preps on hand, I suspect she would unfortunately be pretty much on her own.
        Our immediate neighbors include several very skilled farmers, and a firefighter paramedic, an NP (Nurse practitioner) and an RN (who is a niece).
        MAG members if they needed to come here would also be both useful and welcome.

  2. Halfway Homesteader says:

    A great article! Im of the firm belief that we’re all far more likely to see a localized disaster involving a short term grid down event than any other long-term collapse scenario that gets bandied about. I don’t live in hurricane country, I live in “massive thunderstorms that form out of nowhere with little warning and roar through the mountains venting there rage” country. These storms knock out power quickly, and living in a rural area, we are the last priority for restoration for the power company. That means at LEAST once a summer, we can expect no power for 7-8 days. I cannot recommend having a manual transfer switch with a generator and at least 50’gallons stabilized gas enough. They are safe, easy to install if you’re willing to take 3 hours or so, and get the lights and power to essential appliances/rooms immediately without stringing 100 ft extension cords everywhere. I just installed one for myself, and I couldn’t be happier about it. I think with the transfer switch and the minimal wiring, I was about $300 bucks in for it. Worth every penny, ESPECIALLY if you stock up on and freeze large amounts of meat.

    • Halfway Homesteader,
      I agree that TEOTWAWKI is more likely as a personal or local event. Even some long heavy duty extension cords, power strips, and a generator with fuel is better than many have and should be considered a minimum.

  3. Gordon Rottman says:

    Something simple, but often overlooked. Make sure ALL family members know where flashlights, lanterns, candles, lighters, and matches are. Its difficult enough to get them in the dark even if they know where they are. You might not be home when the lights go out. Even 6-8 year olds should know. And don’t move them around. Keep them in the same place with some on both floors if two-story.

    • Gordon Rottman,
      I have battery flashlight nightlight combinations that plug in the wall as night lights; but, on power fail stay illuminated. You grab one from the outlet and have light. Another Harbor Freight purchase is a 36 LED Solar Security light. Keep it turned off & the solar panel in a window & it will provide light when needed. Electronics and LED bulbs on an UPS means that quite often on a power outage, we don’t realize it except for the UPS units chirping. And a free HF flashlight in a pocket.

      • And I forgot the one interesting battery powered light that is mounted to the wall near the bedroom door under one of the smoke detectors. It listens for the alarm chircp from the detector and comes on to illuminate the room and guide you to the door at which point you can grab it and take a light with you.

  4. Jesse Mathewson says:

    Thank you for this awesome article!

  5. Jesse Mathewson says:

    MD not sure what switch got thrown, but now cannot make comments…easily-

    • What’s it doing?

      • MD, What it’s doing is odd.
        As you type lines into the comment box the
        area below containing the information: Name, etc, shift out of view and.go off the page and disappear.

      • MD,
        Adding one more line to the post above this one and the Post Comment button has disappeared out of sight.

      • MD &
        If you left at least one of the text boxes visible, positioned the cursor there at the end of the name, etc. and hit enter, it would also post.
        I’m using a desktop with multiple monitors and as of this moment, the site is back to it’s good old self and all appears to be working well again.

    • JP in MT says:

      Jesse: I found that after I type my comment, the “post comment” button gets covered.

      Just tab down and they will move up.

      • Jesse Mathewson says:

        Doesn’t work on mobile devices, and have had issues on computer

      • JP,
        If you watch as you type, the Post Comment slides out of view. Type more lines and then Website, email, name also slide out of view. I posted this to the host so he knows about this odd behavior.

      • BlueJeanedLady says:

        JP, Jesse, OP, and any other inquiring minds,

        Just as an added note to this subject, I’ve had the same problem finding the “post comment” option while using my laptop in the last few weeks. (Just FYI, I don’t use the smart phone or tablet for posts / comment replies – only my laptop – so can’t attest to how those separate devices issues works for me, at all.)

        I, too, JP, have discovered – and eventually figured out by trial & error – that the “fill-in-the-details” and “post comment” options can and do still “disappear” the longer my typed posts / replies become (which wasn’t an issue a mere few weeks ago). None-the-less, I just got lucky with such “trial and error” as I had nothing else to make me consider such an option.

        As JP in MT mentioned, if I keep “tabbing” down after typing an original post or reply post, these options eventually “reappear” and then I can post via the “post comment” post as once was more obvious & easily accessible. Not like it was before by a long shot (much easier before all the recent changes) but I guess I got lucky in trying to figure out via trial & error how to work around such for now so I’m glad for that!

        My only remaining issue (since most has been returned to near the same format as it once was) is that I can no longer see (or figure out) how to access the simple [bold – italics – block quote – link] options we’ve all been using for several months now before all the most recent changes. (Noting the original options before some of the more recent – and somewhat mysterious options – most recently available in particular that first appeared a short while back which have also since – at least from my view – disappeared.) Yes, all of those options are “gone” / “hidden” to me now, too, and I’ve not yet been able to “trial & error” figure out my issues with these options as of yet. Any hints? Any help? Any suggestions for me to resolve this perplexing issue?

        I really liked the [bold – italics – block quote – link] options that I can no longer find. Are they gone completely with all of the most recent changes or am I just not finding such, to date? Any kind help / hints / advice for finding those options once again is / will be very much appreciated in advance.

        Keep taking care, all, and thanks again for any advice / explanations / suggestions concerning these issues that are / were causing me or anyone else some confusion – that anyone better learned & experienced can suggest for my (everyone’s) better understanding / knowledge / use of such for good & friendly conversation among all using this site with good intentions. ~BJL~

  6. Billy T says:

    We are so averse to water shortages that we have an additional water setup consisting of 55 gallon barrels of water and a Shurflo 12 V water pump powered by a solar system, battery backup. We merely turn the main breaker off and connect the water pump via hose to a hose bib. Open the hose bib valve and power the pump up. Flow and pressure are lower, but still 4 gallons/minute at 40 psi is a very minor inconvenience. Of course we have to switch barrels as they empty and it is not an unlimited supply, but those are minor. BTW, we have our own well. If we were on a municipal water system, would also have to close the main water valve coming into the house.

    • Billy T,
      In AZ you have problems I don’t have. Here we have a good well, a creek now almost overflowing, and some rudimentary water catchment. Your heat would kill me; but, here the cold can do the same. You just have to adapt to your surroundings.

  7. Poorman says:

    Solar camp lights are cheap and the led ones will last about 6 hours. I have about 10 of them which would get me through a few nights even if I couldn’t recharge them. Could run the generator a few hours a day to keep the fridge and food cold. Wood stove for heat. I do these 2 and 3 day power outage a few times each winter. Sooner or later ya get to the point that they don’t really disrupt you life.

    • Jesse Mathewson says:

      Amen to that, Wobaos solar lanterns run about $9 apiece shipped and have around 8 hrs of life- Hybrid Solar power flashlights are 2 for $12 – win win win and yes I have tested both to destruction, reviewed the Hybrid Solar flashlight awhile back with others, will do a full review for both the above shortly.

    • Poorman ,
      Those Harbor Freight Solar Powered security lights also work well and last at least 8 hours on a charge.

      • poorman says:

        Ohio Prepper
        I have those in my bathrooms. Lights come on at night when you walk in due to motion. I take them outside every week or so and let them sit in the sun to recharge. Also have stickup battery operated LED lights in the bedrooms for when power goes out. After 25 years in the mountains it takes about 10 min to set up the cables from the generator so the fridge,TV,satellite and computer are up along with the lights in the living room. At that point you don’t even notice the power is out. Store enough gas to run the genny for about a week non stop if needed or about 6 weeks if I only run it for a few hours a day to keep food frozen. Bought my lights on Amazon as its about an hour drive to Harbor Freight for me.

      • poorman,
        It seems that great minds think alike, as in we think out of the box on how to make functions we need inexpensively. My only beef with the HF security lights that I have is that if they are switched on then they always come on at night and them brighten up when they detect motion. I would have expected full off and on; but, perhaps that’s a different or earlier model. In any case, they make life a little easier for little money.
        Our Harbor Freight is about 45 minutes so we collect coupons and make a trip every few months when we have a big enough list to fulfill.
        On other thing that works well for the Satellite, small flat screen TV, and our cordless telephone (yes we still have a land line) base stations as well ad several computers, are some small UPS units. I also keep some 110V LED light bulbs in standard lamps plugged into thos UPS units so we rarely even notice a power glitch except for the UPS units chirping.

      • And poorman,
        I keep the one I use in the house charged at all times by placing the solar panel in a window. The wire between the solar panel and the LED panel is several feet long, so if you can place the solar panel in any window, it may keep things charged indefinitely.

  8. good article. I know it’s summer but fall and winter is nearer than you think, Just think ahead.!What with a bad wheat crop and gardens are not as good as they uusally are, THINK

  9. New Englander says:

    Thank you so much for this article. We’ve been without power for up to 10 days during the winter in New England & apparently we didn’t use the sleeping bags correctly – we bundled up vs. wearing tees and shorts. Thank you for sharing this important information!

    • New Englander,
      For extra heat in a sleeping bag, add a wool or fleece blanket or two inside the bag. The bags are often nylon; but, adding that extra layer can feel more cozy and add to the insulating heat capture effect of the bag.

  10. cndnate says:

    Good article covering the important basics, and good tip on bathroom before bed!
    To be super comfy (why not?) in the winter a mr. buddy can go a long way off 1# cyl.

    I’m thinking about writing an article about back up generators of various kinda – would anyone be interested in that?

    • Almost There says:

      Yes. A backup generator article would be great. Thanks.

    • Doug Hisington says:

      I would definitely be interested in an article on generators.

    • Labgirl says:

      I would definitely like to hear reviews about back-up generators and even portable generators strong enough to keep a freezer going.

      • Labgirl,
        While I haven’t reviewed a lot of generators in a while, I have a Champion 3500/4000 Peak still NIB I purchased about 2 years ago. Portable is a little confusing, since at 90 pounds I see it more as luggable. I purchased it on the recommendation of a friend and MAG member who is a farmer, (primarily dairy) who has used one successfully for years to power all kinds of farm equipment including his home and barn during a power outage. I got mine at the local Tractor Supply on sale for about $250 without the wheel kit that would I’m sure make it much more portable. I was still using my old military surplus Onan 3500 watt and ended up being in the position to buy the Generac, so this one is still NIB. The links below are for reference only since this thing is sold at many places including Cabelas and probably the big box stores.
        Champion Power Equipment 3650W RV Ready Portable Generator (Not for sale in CA)
        For around $300.00
        Champion Power Equipment 3500W RV Ready Portable Generator with Wheel Kit
        For around $375.00
        The specs say it is usable in 49 states and the link above shows the one where it may not be purchased and a state I suspect surprises no one. In the manual it states the following:

        The engine exhaust from this product contains chemicals known to the state of California to cause cancer, birth defects, or other reproductive harm.

        It of course is a bad engine since it uses gasoline instead of magical fairy dust to run, as stated here from the manual.

        This gasoline generator is powered by a 196cc single cylinder, 4-stroke OHV engine that produces 3500 running watts and 4000 starting watts..

        The specification state that it can run up to a 15000 BTU air conditioner and it has multiple outlets and power available as follows:
        • 30 amp 120 volt AC twist lock
        • 30amp 120volt RV receptacle
        • 20 amp 120volt duplex outlet

        And finally, up to 12 hour run time at 50% load with the 4 gallon tank.
        It’s relatively quiet @ 68 dB at 23 ft. which is only 8dB above normal conversation.

        I’m not trying to sell this product and have no interest in it except as a happy user, and while it may not be a Honda, it still fills the hole for a lot less cash than a Honda.

  11. Earl Pensyl says:

    Harry the Hat:

    I had a whole house generator installed last summer with an automatic transfer box. A couple of years we had a storm that lasted for about 15 to 20 minutes. My township lost over 100 trees and some of the areas lost power for a week or more. It cost me about $7,500 for a Generac 16 Kw model.

    • Earl Pensyl,
      Good investment.
      I had my 16KW propane powered Generac installed last November 2. It was $6695.00 installed including tax. I have two 1000 gallon tanks and a 500 in the tank farm with another 1000 to be installed in the next few weeks. It runs 5 minutes every Wednesday to keep everything loose and lubricated; but, since then has only run to power the house once for about 45 minutes. With much of my equipment & some LED bulbs on UPS units, I barely noticed it starting and stopping except for the chirp of the UPS units.

  12. Good article!! Thanks. A good chance to work on ancestor’s survival skills: Practice cooking outside over a fire, drying clothes, washing clothes in a pot of hot water and maintaining a bed of coals. Instead of the iron skillet you purchased at a flea market, try cooking directly over the fire with a spit or rod over the fire; baking with tinfoil etc. Might be fun, but will certainly open the eyes to basic survival and the practice needed.

    • truthnoapology,
      I think you have ancestry cooking a bit backwards. They had cast iron but no Tin Foil or more likely Aluminum Foil. Dutch ovens are fun and you can cook meat directly on the coals or on a stick like you would a hot dog or marshmallows.
      If you take corn on the cob, peel back the leaves and add some oil &/or water, you can close the leave back and cook directly on the coals. Lots of ways to skin that open fire cooking cat.

      • poorman says:

        Corn will cook better if you soak it in water for about 1/2 hour first to get the husks moist. Its about the only way I eat corn anymore. i do it on the grill that way but dead on the coals would work also.

      • poorman ,
        Soaking it would also work; but, another way to prepare it is to husk it, boil in water until soft and then cut off the kernels. You then lightly cook (fry) in a pan with a little salt and oil or butter. It gives it a bit of crunch without being tough.
        You can also skip the boiling step.

    • truthnoapology,
      guessing your mom is a brit.
      my english mom calls it tin foil. [ no in was harmed in the making of this foil.]

      • wasp,
        I don’t think that being a Brit has anything to do with the term tin foil since my parents used that term back in the 1950’s & 1960’s. The reason I think is that from the late 1800’s until the early 1900’s aluminum was unavailable, since the extraction from bauxite ore was complex and time consuming and rolling it into thin sheets was a process that also came later;but, tin was available in sheets of ”tin foil” and even after aluminum foil was available, people often called it tin foil, which is easier to pronounce, LOL.
        I think one of the real giveaways for a Brit would be their mispronunciation of Aluminum as Aluminium LOL.
        This is just my opinion and could be wrong since there are some folks that think I need a tin foil hat.

  13. Good read, thanks. I never got the long term survival off the ground but can certainly make it for the short term. Necessities like back-fed generator, gasoline, food, water, flashlights and batteries. Oh and not to forget a small wine cellar to brave the storm with. Not in a flood zone but power outages are inevitable. Not ready for the big one but can certainly last a short term and protection by S&W for the uninvited. What is your opinion of storage term for water? Thanks.


    • Dale,
      A wine cellar? Have you by chance read Malevil by Robert Merle.
      Being lucky enough to be in the wine cellar at the start of WW 3 could be a blessing, assuming it’ stocked with more than wine, LOL

      • AXELSTEVE says:

        Living in the N Calif wine country most of my life. I can guess that many(wine cellars) are more like bunkers,safe rooms or pantries. They are just called wine cellars due to zoning and op sec reasons.

      • AXELSTEVE ,
        I understand how the term ”wine cellar” is utilized; but, my whole point is that another good prepper / TEOTWAWKI / SHTF book is ”Malevil by Robert Merle”
        It’s well worth the read and a wine cellar plays a central role.

  14. MD, good article. In 2009, DGD and I (70+ years) were iced in with no power for 23 days. The following year, I was snowed in with no power for 21 days. Last year, I had an Ashley wood stove installed. By age of 80, I might need a little extra heat!! It can be done. Set up for any event this area has to offer except a tornado destroying the house. Working on that when heat breaks. My job now though is supervising. I have to leave the hard work up to the younguns.

  15. BlueJeanedLady says:

    Hummm! Good article. Hello everyone.

    Maybe I just live at the right place for the right time for at least us at this particular time, to-date but general “power outages” (and we have several, mostly very short term – 1 to 8 days – of actual power outages each year due to thunderstorms / high winds / tornadoes / blizzards / ice storms) that rarely disrupt water or natural gas services.

    My guess is that the local water / gas plants must have super-duper generators to keep operating with minimal “power” (electricity) to save the majority of city residents any less discomfort for most random – yet naturally occurring – weather issues. (I’m thinking I DO need to research that better, as well. This article was a good heads’-up for that thought, so thanks for that reminder!)

    Regardless, I keep what I call my “tornado kit” (although it’s used for all of the above mentioned natural weather issues when necessary) on a hook in the pantry for an easy “grab and go” or “grab and use” bag if we experience a short term electrical power outage incident or need to head to the cellar because of an approaching “tornado” or media issued “tornado” warning.

    In this, “tornado kit” bag I have the very basics needed in a smallish city environment when facing a potential weather disaster – many items, (flashlights / batteries / candles / matches / wind-up radio / small hand tools / several water bottles / a fold-up water bowl for the pets / some non perishable food items / a very basic first aid kit & any necessary life saving meds recent prescribed for either the people or pets, etc.,) to aid us if we might end up trapped in the cellar for a few hours or slightly more. (Yes, I also have a shrill whistle to help alert any rescuers if actually trapped, too.) Luckily, to date, please knock on wood for any silly, superstitious future well being – just ‘cuz – at this point, we’ve never had to spend more than a couple of hours in the cellar until a tornado threat either hit nearby or completely passed leaving us unharmed, mainly with only minor property damage.

    Due to our particular circumstances we actually replaced our electric range with a gas powered range a few years back so we can cook some food for eating during an extended blizzard type, power outage event without much to fret about. I really wanted a fully gas powered, stove top / oven / range unit but those things are mostly beyond reasonably priced these days as all the newer – more reasonably priced – well branded, current day models only offer the stove tops that can be operated without electricity as the ovens in these ranges need electricity to operate all the “bells & whistles” for the oven that I really didn’t want in the first place. UGH! But so it goes and so it went.

    Oh well, at least in our current situation with the newer gas, stove top range we can at least light up the gas stove top with matches for at least some food prep and some ambient heat while we gather in the large kitchen which is also an area of the house we tend to gather most often anyway. Oh well, again. You do what you can with what you have, don’t you and isn’t that often the best?

    Honestly, I’m still of the old engraved mindset than when a storm is pending to be one of those first thinking about heading to the grocery store at the last minute for an extra gallon of milk, loaf of bread, a dozen eggs . . . but the reality is – these days with a fully stocked pantry – a lot of canned items that could even be eaten without fully heating / cooking and with an adequate amount of stored water – even if the water and natural gas locally obtained resources failed for a short while, that we and our pets could live reasonably well without such for several weeks, spring, summer, winter or autumn. Still working toward longer term survival solutions but I’m reasonably comfortable for where we are at, for now.

    Long story finally finishing – we are reasonably good-to-go with the occasional, naturally occurring short term power outages and that helps us sleep better at night, too! Wishing you each at least the same as you can & might be too, if so motivated! 🙂

    Keep taking care all and stay safe & smart. ~BJL~

    • BlueJeanedLady,
      We haven’t had a power outage lasting more than about 10-12 hours in at least a decade and the last real tornado outbreak was in November of 2002. As a trained weather spotter I was one of those out watching the storm and the tornado that came within about 1-2 miles of my home. It was kind of scary; but, since it was to my northwest and heading to the northeast, I knew I was safe from my training.
      A lot of gas plants use their own gas to run gas operated engines to run their pumps and if the water district uses natural gas operated generators, then that combination would last a long time without any issues other than perhaps cost. It might be worth a phone call; but, if you get some pushback, that would also be normal, since in this new age of potential terror attacks officials could be a little wary of giving out any infrastructure details.
      Your tornado kit is a good idea and when you mention media issued warnings, there may be a better way, and that’s am NOAA weather radio with SAME (Specific Area Message Encoding). You enter the state and counties of interest and it will alert if there are watches or warnings in your areas of interest.
      Your whistle is a great idea as would be a cell phone or a cordless phone if you use a landline.
      Good for you on the gas range. I would suggest you get a Kill A Watt and measure the amount of power used by your range and oven power a few days time. They can be purchased for about $20.00 or in some cases (like ours), borrowed from the local library. I think you will find that the igniters do not use much power, so if you get an inexpensive computer UPS unit and insert it between the wall outlet and the range power, you should be able to use the oven for most or all of an outage. Since you have a gas cook top, you also need to get a few terra cotta flower pots to keep on hand. Inverted over a burner on low heat, they will heat up and radiate heat into the living space increasing that ambient heat significantly. We have 4 burners on the kitchen cook top and 4 pots. Also, since the pots are fired ceramic, you can’t heat them enough to do any damage, and the drain hole on the inverted pot acts as the chimney so there is no incomplete combustion and things remain as safe as if you were simply cooking. The only warning is that these get really hot, so care must be taken not to touch them. When we moved in here in 1984 as a rental, there was an old electric range; but, when we purchased in 1986, one of our first purchases was a new gas range which we still have, primarily because it still works and it has pilot lights for everything, that as I suspect you know, are now impossible to get.

      thinking about heading to the grocery store at the last minute for an extra gallon of milk, loaf of bread, a dozen eggs .

      Please resist turning into one of those French toast people, since I know you are better prepared than that. Mindset is everything.
      One suggestion to you and all of the pack is to stop prepping once in a while for just a moment and revisit not only where you are; but, how far you have come. Prepping is a journey and while we will most likely never find the end, we should look back once in a while and see how far we have traveled. It’s usually farther than you imagined and that helps you sleep at night.

      • And if anyone is interested in that 2002 Tornado that came close to my homestead, here are some photos to look at:
        You can click on any image to get a large photo.

      • BlueJeanedLady says:

        Hello again, OhioPrepper,

        Thanks so much for the additional information you noted in response to my comments. As far as the NOAA radios,

        Your tornado kit is a good idea and when you mention media issued warnings, there may be a better way, and that’s am NOAA weather radio with SAME (Specific Area Message Encoding). You enter the state and counties of interest and it will alert if there are watches or warnings in your areas of interest.

        I have heard of these but have never really done too much research on them. Guess I should look into just that more, too!

        DH & I are probably a little too dependent on the local media warnings but – since we live in what has been long-labeled as the traditional Tornado Alley for his full & my almost full lifetime – one thing we are relatively confident with the local weather coverage during tornadic condition coverage is that the reliable ones do (both TV & AM / FM radio) tend to use the most up-to-date radar systems and are most often very accurate with their tornado predictions – even as some may be delivered with very short notice – which is, unfortunately, the very nature of the destructive weather beast called, tornado.

        The one area that we’ve noticed with these seemingly well equipped local media assets that is, IMHO, less improved is that in the last few decades some / most have become “overly cautious” – sometimes insanely so, too often creating unnecessary panic – and start issuing “warnings” with merely potentially dangerous cloud formations instead of using the old standard of just issuing “watches” with the potentially dangerous cloud formations before an actual sighting or touchdown of a tornado to issue an actual “warning” – – – Which, of course, this overly excited practice of calling “a cloud” an actual “warning” can & does lead to undue panic from those less familiar with living years and years in Tornado Alley. UGH! Sigh …

        Then again, more sighs, my guess is that each radio station / TV channel does / has become more aggressive with their “Take Cover, Now” messages to supplement their CMA / CYA (cover my @$$ / cover your @$$) recorded files for legal liability’s sake. Again, more sighs…

        Regardless, OP, thanks for the NOAA radio reminder, I’ll look into that more as per your wise suggestion.

        Also, as you kindly stated / suggested,

        Your whistle is a great idea as would be a cell phone or a cordless phone if you use a landline.

        is not a bad idea at all . . . I mostly keep the shrill whistle easily accessible because tornadoes are also known to knock out cell towers and topple landline telephone posts & wires / cables as well. Ice storms can & have done the same damage to some cell towers and many a telephone pole, too. Thus, my ever trusty (very loud, very shrill, non electric, non battery operated, totally manual), old lifeguard whistle remains a good buddy to keep close for many an unwanted weather incident! 🙂

        Ha, OP! I did grin with that cell phone / cordless phone idea though as DH can rightfully tease me when I often have multiple & sometimes odd back-ups for my back-ups AND unlike me, his cell phone is constantly attached to his body (mine could be anywhere in the house and I probably wouldn’t think of grabbing it before heading to the cellar in an emergency situation anyway). I DO feel I’ve at least accomplished something potentially helpful by keeping the whistle in my easy grab & go “tornado kit” if trapped in the cellar after a tornadic event – – – So that’s my story with the whistle and I’m sticking to it! Ha, ha, ha!

        Oh yeah, more thanks! I’ve read / know about the terra-cotta clay pot usage for heat distribution also but had completely forgotten about such. We have several extras in rotation – in the garage – awaiting another plant potting opportunity so I’m good-to-go with that idea, too!

        Now – – – if anyone else is reading and I’m making them feel fearful or overly fretful about living anywhere near Tornado Alley (many red states, by the way, and much lovely & fertile land to live upon, too) just stop feeling fearful right now! Ha! Okay? Okay! Really, the awful incidents do not occur that often (at least repetitively in the exact same location) and often they aren’t that terrible to endure if you are at least semi-prepared. It’s just that they are what they are – can be very frightening &/or dangerous – and this is the weather beast I know best about concerning most localized natural weather disasters – – – So there I go.

        IMHO, it simply pays to recognize the fury mother nature can release at whim and become semi-prepare / self educated to understand what helps you and yours avoid the worst of her wrath – at least in your home locales – when possible. 🙂

        Thanks again for your suggestions, OP.

        Oh – I almost forgot, OP, thanks also for the gas oven idea of,

        I think you will find that the igniters do not use much power, so if you get an inexpensive computer UPS unit and insert it between the wall outlet and the range power, you should be able to use the oven for most or all of an outage.

        Do you have any good web site recommendations for me to learn more about this “inexpensive computer UPS unit” that could be used to help convert the oven part of my range to usefulness in an electrical power outage? Any website suggestion(s) you have would be appreciated – and I could probably take it from there – as I’ve never heard of this idea before – – – Yet, if it works, it sounds great! 🙂

        Keep taking care and staying smart and safe everyone! ~BJL~

      • BlueJeanedLady,
        I’ve lived at the edge of tornado alley for most of my life and have been a trained weather spotter for about 40 years. While we don’t get the tornado activity one gets in places like Kansas, we do still get the occasional killer storms and the NOAA weather radios are an important piece of equipment to awaken you in the middle of the night when storm activity has sneaked up on you. There are many radios available with different features and the one we have is the Midland HH54. It’s main advantage from our perspective is that it can be purchased with a battery pack and charging cradle. The radio normally stays in the charging cradle for operation plugged in and sitting in some corner of a room on a shelf. It is fully functional and will alarm with a loud alarm when areas of interest have warnings or watches; but, it can be removed from the charging cradle and will still function fine for hours on the charged battery pack. One night when there were a lot of alerts I once saw the DW half sleeping in one of the recliners with the radio in her lap. That way when an alert came in, she didn’t have to get up to silence it and listen to the alert announcement.
        When I first started as a weather spotter it was pretty much the exclusive purview of ham radio operators who could get messages relayed to the local NWS office about things happening on the ground that their radar cannot see; but, with the ubiquitous use of communications now available to anyone with cell phones and internet anyone can now become a spotter and I would highly recommend the free training if for nothing more than better understanding how super cell thunderstorms and tornado activity works and in understanding, be a little less fearful. Also, at these training sessions you can often find out what local amateur radio repeaters are used for local Skywarn nets and by adding these frequencies to a scanner, keep up with local on the ground activity during storms and other events or just during normal times.
        If you go to you can navigate your way to your local area and be able to find local spotter classes and generally watch the radar images produced by NWS.
        Locally my weather radar can be displayed from both Wilmington Ohio (near Dayton in the southwest or Cleveland in the northeast and being in central Ohio I get radar coverage from both of these from different directions.
        Between radio and internet there are a lot of ways to keep abreast of things going on around us and information is probably as important as any other prep.

    • Grammyprepper says:


      We suffered through many winter power outages by simmering water, or better yet, soup on the gas range. Adds heat and humidity to the air! I prefer that over running the oven, which my parents/grandparents did!

      • BlueJeanedLady says:

        Thanks, Grammyprepper,

        I’ve used the ole “pot of simmering water” on even the old electric stove even when the power is still on to add a bit of humidity into the dry winter household air but have to agree that a slow simmering pot of soup on the gas range when the power is on OR off would be a lot more yummy to eat for supper! 🙂 Thanks again for the reminder / idea! Keep taking care, okay? Okay! ~BJL~

      • BlueJeanedLady,
        And don’t forget the Terra Cotta pots, since eventually that soup will be done and ready to eat. OTOH, the Bear Creek mixes all require you to bring 2 quarts of water to a boil and that could be yet another reason for soup, LOL.

  16. Chloe in Maine says:

    Very good article. A great mind refresher to us that get busy with other aspects of life. I like setting up lists for things. Having a Check List and Step by Step list of what to do in situations keeps me at the ready. Having three floors to the house (attic is renovated) I keep flashlights at the ready as well as fire extinguishers. And because I have pets, I have slings and ropes upstairs in case of having to lower them out. If one of the big trees comes down it could block the way out.
    I hear some neighbors talk about how they fear things could go bad but I don’t see them doing any prepping.
    Growing up in the White Mountains of New Hampshire and enjoying the outdoors, you appreciate having spent the few extra dollars for the better things. Sleeping bags have comfort zones and like it was stated you can gain heat with the liner or blanket. I’ve got what I call my summer bag (40 to 50 degree comfort) and then two winter bags one to “0” degrees and one to -20 degrees). Some think that was a bit drastic but winter hiking and camping can get a tad chilly. I made it a point that no matter which bag I have, I keep a bivy bag with it. It keeps things protected and adds extra heat.

  17. Lorenzo,
    My folks also grew up in the depression and had been through several infamous floods and where we lived we generally had no real power outages; however, there were often numerous ways of heating and lighting on hand and our old gravity flow gas furnace could be operated with a 12 volt car battery.
    I find it interesting that you mention milk and bread; but, you forgot the eggs, LOL. I only mention this addition because a friend a long time ago called these kind of folks the French toast people since they always seem to concentrate on bread, milk, & eggs.
    Here our power outages are more likely blizzard or thunderstorm related; but, like your hurricanes, they make a good example scenario.
    We keep water on hand; and gallon jugs of ice in the chest freezer, plus several gallon buckets with loose fitting lids for general hygiene and toilet flushing which we have had to do numerous times over the years; but, using those would mean a complete system failure or running out of propane for the generator. We still flush with paper products that are always used sparingly, since everything heads in to the septic system and we really don’t want to pump the tank very often.
    We also agree that one should flush directly with the bucket and not fill the tank which is an unneeded step.
    We do also generally keep several cases of bottled water, and have a water BOB (Bathtub Oblong Bladder) that could be filled if needed.
    When you mention a standalone freezer, do you mean a chest freezer? I ask because they do make upright freezers (I grew up with one) that IMHO are less efficient since the cold falls out when you open the door instead of simply staying inside when you lift the lid.
    No hurricanes here, although we sometimes get the tail end of one generating thunderstorms. Most recently tropical storm Cindy dumped a lot of water on us.
    I’ve eaten baked beans, peas and green beans right from the cans and they are not all that bad cold, although it’s generally more like room temperature and once opened the cans may be heated with just a little camp stove burner, some Sterno or even some votive candles. Adding variety is a good thing both for satisfaction and nutrition. One of my favorite straight from the can foods is fish. Sardines in mustard or tomato sauce or pickled herring are inexpensive, store well long term and provide a tasty meal that doesn’t generally even require a can opener, just a fork to eat them with. And don’t forget your salads in a can: V8.
    To make the potable water more useful, we also keep Gatorade powder on hand to help stay properly hydrated. BTW, as I’m typing this, I decided to have some Sardines in mustard, a cheese stick, and some Gatorade for a late night snack, since it made me hungry, LOL.
    I have some MRE’s and heaters; but, for some reason I have a lot more heaters than MRE’s; but, those heaters could generate enough heat to warm up a can with a little work.
    Perhaps it’s the long term prepper in me; but, I could change underwear without washing any for 3-4 weeks, although I would be starting to get down to the more ratty ones by then, LOL. Same for socks that can make you feel a lot better. I’d never heard of Poo Poo Broussard; but, will check him out, thanks.
    For raingear, Frog Toggs and Muck boots fit the bill rather well.
    I have gloves a plenty; but, for cold weather I prefer my wool hunting gloves with the open fingers and the mitten part to cover them. Lets your fingers free when needed and covers them to keep warm.
    Shelter in place is our plan for anything short of a fire or direct strike by a tornado and bug sprays as well as sun block are always kept in the stockpile.
    Your winter plan reminds me of a book in my library. It’s
    Tom Brown’s Field Guide to City and Suburban Survival and is a must read for anyone IMHO. I also have a few buddy heaters and extra propane canisters on hand as well as several ventless heaters that run off of the main propane supply for the house.
    Placing a few candles on a cookie sheet, inverting a Terra Cotta flower pot over the candles with a pencil or dowel under the rim to let in air can provide quite a lot of heat as can inverting a pot over the gas burner of your kitchen range should you be cooking with gas which has always been our choice.
    I have to disagree with stripping down in a sleeping bag. Being in your underwear doesn’t really buy you anything unless you’re doubling up to help keep someone else warm and especially help someone recover from hypothermia which is perhaps the best field expedient treatment for that problem. As for layering bags or folding up the bottom of a long bag, I do agree since the smaller the space to heat, the more efficient the heating will be.
    I have several of the Army Modular Sleep Systems that have several bags with a Bivvy (Bivouac) bag for the outer layer if required and have tested them a few nights in the back yard in both 50-60° weather and 20° weather and find they work great.
    I’ve recently found these checklist type articles interesting as I check off each item, generally multiple times. We installed a whole house generator last November and along with multiple heat sources requiring no electricity and a small propane tank farm, I realize that many of my preps collected over the decades are not needed as desperately as they once were.
    But since we all know that 2 is 1 and 1 is none, many of my backup preps now have their own backups and that is not a bad thing.

  18. Living thru hurricanes, and now living so far out in the country last year’s hurricane left us for a week with out electric. So we intevsted in a Generac propane generator. 22k using 1gallon propane every 17hrs. Faraday cage type material surrounding generator. 500lb pig filled. Pain in the butt to get installed with all the insects but once a week comes on and runs for a few minutes. Water pump, barn everything. We live literally in the woods so trees going down is common even after a thunderstorm so now we are ready.

    • Jeanne,
      We had our Generac 16KW installed last November 2nd and love it. When you say your 22KW uses only 1 gallon of propane per 17 hours, I find that kind of empirical information extremely valuable. Up to now I’ve only been able to go by the rated 1.65 gallons per hour propane use at full load and that’s something neither of us probably do, especially in a power out situation. All we need for absolute power is enough to run the well pump, sump pump, freezer and 2 refrigerators and a few light (LED) and some electronics. You’ve evidently chosen to power your generator from smaller tanks and that advantage at least early on is that you get a good feel for propane usage. Our generator runs off of the tank farm that currently consists of two 1000 gallon and a single 500 gallon tank, with a final 1000 gallon tank being set in the next month or so. All of our cooking and several methods of heating also run on propane as well as domestic hot water.
      Our Generac runs for 5 minutes every Wednesday at noon to keep all of the fluids running and since November we have only had to use it once for a 45 minute power outage, and I nearly missed the event. The reason is what we had set up prior to getting the generator, since we get transients and glitches much more often than full out power failures, so we have our satellite receivers, cordless telephone bases (we still have a landline) and numerous LED lamps connected to small computer UPS units. Initially these would keep equipment running during the glitches; but, now they function for the original intent and the big glitch that now occurs on a power failure. That glitch lasts 15-20 seconds until the generator starts, gets up to speed, and the transfer switch switches in. When I had the power failure all that occurred is that I heard several UPS units start chirping for 20 seconds or so and then get quiet, after which I went to the back of the house and heard the generator running. About 45 minutes later the UPS units all chirped again in unison and I once again listened to the generator that ran for another minute or so and shut off.
      The faraday cage material around your unit is the same as mine and is basically an aluminum shell. I still need to add some whole house transient suppression since the long wiring runs are the place where energy like that from an EMP could get in; but, for the most likely scenarios, this unit should more than meet all of our needs.
      Propane is IMHO also the best fuel for this purpose and others, since it lasts indefinitely with no additives, etc. like those needed for liquid fuels.
      I have a propane article almost finished; but, I’m waiting for the installation of the new tank to get some photos of the installation.
      While our investments are sizeable, I think they are truly one that will pay off in the future, at least for peace of mind. Remember however that you need to change oil and filters (oil & air) every 2 years or 200 running hours and for that we have the consumables (oil and filters) on hand now.

  19. I live in the New Orleans Area. I agree with a lot of what you have said. What we did with out meat when Isaac was approaching was precook all our meat and freeze it in the freezer. I had a large Stainless Steel Bowl. As soon as the power was out all. I was placed in the bowl and it went into the refrigerator. It worked just like a old fashioned ICE box. I also place all the precooked frozen mean into the refrigerator. We ate real good during and after the storm. I have enough antique oil lamps we had plenty of light. We have 3500 Watt Generator that we can start when we need need to. It will run the refrigerator and a window ac unit and lights. Frozen cooked meat takes longer to spoil

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