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Power outages occur frequently. In recent years, power outages have increased dramatically. A person in the Northwest loses an average of 214 minutes per year. Compared to Japan, whose citizens only lose an average of 4 minutes a year, it’s huge. There are a number of reasons for the outages, but they all boil down to an aging infrastructure, more demand and lots and lots of bad weather. You don’t have to believe that there’s an apocalyptic disaster on the way to prepare your home for a power outage.
Whether you live in a warm climate or cold one, insulating the home should be your first order of business. Not only should your walls and ceiling be well insulated, make sure to wrap your pipes and ensure there’s no draft from under the door. Glazing windows to prevent leakage is another added preventative, just as thermal or blackout shades or curtains are for windows. When your home is well insulated, it keeps heat in during the winter months and out during the summer.
Stocking up on plenty of water and food is important, but if you have a yard, you might consider one other option, a hand water pump. There are a number of sites that show you how to put in your own pump and it won’t cost a fortune. When it’s not being used to supply water in a power outage, it can be an inexpensive source of water for the garden. If you have city water, your water may still run. If it does, it may not be clean if the filtering system at the water plant doesn’t work. So, it’s another reason a hand pump is valuable in a power outage.
Planning for heat and a way to cook could be as simple as installing a wood burning stove. These could provide a warm meal in the middle of winter and keep the family warm, if they all moved to one room and kept the doors shut to other rooms.
Toileting and waste disposal can be a problem, particular when flushing isn’t possible and nobody is picking up the trash. Create a plan for both. Sometimes, you just need water to flush, in which case, gray water is a solution. If that’s not possible, there are toilets that use garbage bags for disposal or chemical toilets available. Choosing a spot outside to bury garbage and waste is important. Stacking it is not an option and can lead to illness from contamination.
Having a first aid kit and an extra supply of medication ready for those who use it is also important. Don’t forget the pets. They’ll need extra food, water and any medication necessary too. Besides the first aid kit, batteries, a source of light and simple tools should be part of your kit.
Finally, setting up an alternative power supply, such as solar power is an option. It’s an expensive one if you do the entire house, but may well be worth it. Remember, not all solar power runs when the grid is down. Some that are designed to send power to the grid stop working when it goes. When installing solar power as a backup, make sure you use the right system.