Shine Light In The Dark: How To Survive A Power Cut

You might not be afraid of the dark, but since most things now run on electricity, power cuts should be treated with caution. You no longer just have to deal with the boredom of sitting in the dark while the battery on your devices runs out; you have to make sure the food in your freezer doesn’t defrost, figure out how to keep everyone warm or cool depending on the season, and fish out your battery powered radio so you know when the power will come back on. Some power outages are usually sorted as soon as they’ve begun, but some can go on for days, or even weeks. Whenever the next outage strikes, or however long it takes, you’ll be prepared to see it through with these useful tips.

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Prepare in advance

You never know when a power cut might strike, so you need to have a few things on hand in case it does. If you live in a home with an electric cooker, you need to have a backup method of heating food and water; a camping stove is ideal, although a barbecue grill will work quite well, but do not bring it into the house. Remember to have plenty of fuel on hand for your camp stove or barbecue in case the blackout lasts several days. You should also check out which kind of water supply in your home; if your water supply is pump-driven, it may give out in a power failure. Put aside many gallons or liters of drinking water. Fill your bathtub or pails with water for flushing the toilet, washing, and so on. Make sure you stock up on non-perishable food just in case the power is out for longer than you’d prefer. Finally, make sure you always have a large supply of batteries stored away somewhere, and you have at least one flashlight ready to go.

Check out the situation

When the electricity first goes out, go to your neighbor’s house and check if their lights are off too. If your neighbor’s power is still on, check your own circuit breaker panel or fuse box. If the problem is not a breaker or a fuse, check the service wires leading to the house. If they are obviously damaged or on the ground, stay at least 10 meters back and notify your electric supply authority. You should also notify the electric supply authority if your neighbor’s lights are off, because now you know it’s not just limited to your house. Once you’ve done this, turn off all your electrical devices, appliances, and tools at the source, so there is no damage from a power surge once the power is restored. Listen to the radio to find out how long the power will be gone and make the necessary preparations.

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Cook your perishables first

If the temperature rises, take anything out of the refrigerator and eat it before spoilage occurs. However, the air in the fridge will remain cold for a limited amount of time, even after the power goes out, so you should try to avoid opening the door as much as possible. Only take out the ingredients you need, then put them back in the fridge quickly. With any luck the power will come back before you have to dig into your tinned food.

Let there be light

Eventually it will get darker outside, so you need to have several sources of light in the house to avoid hazards such as tripping or bumping into walls. Try to avoid bringing regular candles into your home; they are a toxic source of indoor air pollution and can be just as dangerous to your body as secondhand smoke. In fact, paraffin, the main ingredient in most candles, is actually made from petroleum and needs to be chemically bleached and deodorized before it’s “safe” to burn inside your home. If you’re going to opt for candles as your source of light, then you should invest in organic candles made from beeswax, vegetable wax or soy-based waxes that are natural and safe, and produce a cleaner burn without toxic chemical contamination. However, you’re better off avoiding candles altogether and just getting some flashlights and plenty of batteries. Use candles only as a last resort if you didn’t get quite enough batteries to get through the blackout.

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