Keeping the Lights on in the Darkness

Keeping the Lights on in a Power Outage

Written by Cheri Stirling

Hey there,

It’s time for part three of our power outage series! This week, how to fortify our homes in the case of an extended power crisis. Our homes have so much that rely on electricity. So as we prepare, we need to think about what we need to keep our families safe and their needs met.

What are things we rely on that need power?

I looked around my home this past week, and tried to count the things that we rely on that need power. It was all the things, basically. We use our electronic devices like the iPad, TV, and computers everyday. We use our stove, fridge, freezer, washing machines, dryer, dishwasher, air conditioners or heater, our water pump… You get the idea.

So the next thing we thought about was do we have a backup plan if the power went out? We are blessed to have a gas stove in our home, so for short term power outages, we can still cook, and just wait it out. But for longer term blackouts, how do we keep our household running?

When the power goes out, it’s a good idea to fill your bathtub. Water gets turned off when there is no power, and you’re going to want to keep your stored water for drinking. By filling the tub, you will have water for washing, and flushing the toilet.

Next, keep the freezers and fridges closed. Wrapping them in a newspaper or old quilts can help retain the cold in the fridge (Do this after the power is out for a little bit, because it allows the heat from the power to dissipate.) allowing the food to last longer. For more tips for cooking and preserving food during a power outage check out our post, Feeding Your Family in a Power Outage.

Our next concern is probably staying cool in the summer or warm in the winter. For tips and information about keeping your home safe, check out this post. (Coming July 7, 2022)

How will we light our home?

After we have taken care of the basics of water, food, and keeping our home a safe temperature, we need to worry about light. Here we have lots of options:

Flashlights + Lanterns

The most obvious that most of us of us have thought of is having some flashlights or lanterns on hand. There are several kinds of flashlights out there, and you probably even have a bunch lying around your home right now. The question is, are any of them working, or have good batteries? As we are preparing for a potential outage, go around your house and make sure your flashlights have a designated home, whether that’s one in each major room, or all together. Check to make sure you have working batteries in each flashlight, and that you have extra batteries for each. If you find that some of your flashlights or lanterns have become a crypt for your batteries, replace it.

Solar Lights

Many lanterns now offer solar options! This is super helpful because they can recharge without power, so you have an extended light source. If you have yard solar lights, you can also bring those in in the evening to light the home, so you can save your flashlight battery life.


A more traditional way to light our homes is to have candles. Candles burn for various times depending on the wick, wax type, and size. Tea lights (the 1″ candles) will burn for about 2 hours. Votive candles (the taller little candles) will burn for between 4-6 hours depending on the brand. Pure beeswax candles tend to burn longer than other wax candles. If you have little ones in your home, you may want to get candle holders to protect them from the open flames.


Another traditional light source in the home is a fireplace. This doubles as a heat and light source if you have one in your home. Some companies have developed table top fire pits that could also be used for light, cooking, and heat.

Glow Sticks

A more modern light source is glow sticks! These do not emit high amounts of light, but they are very transportable, easy to use, and inexpensive. There are different kinds, such as the kid friendly bracelets, to the brighter emergency preparedness sticks. Emergency glow sticks will glow for up to 12 hours.

Oil Lamps

One more option you may want to consider is an oil or kerosene lamp. These can burn for a long time, and emit more light than a candle. A quart of kerosene can last up to 45 hours!

Do we have alternatives for medical devices?

Another important consideration we should take is whether we have medical devices that our loved ones need power to run. I have three siblings who have Cystic Fibrosis, and their vest machines and nebulizers run on electricity. If your family members have medical devices, looking at generators or battery operated options for this kind of an emergency.

How do we communicate with loved ones?

What about our family members who don’t live close by? Emergency experts recommend trying to contact our loved ones during non-peak hours on the internet or via phone call or text. We can use battery-packs our our cars to recharge our phones. For those who are closer, we can use two-radios or walkie talkies. Some people get Hamm radio certified to be able to communicate, and assist emergency personnel.

A Few Other Concerns to Think About:

How will that affect our sump pump?

The sump pump prevents flooding in your homes’ basements and crawl spaces. But most run on electricity. Find out if this would affect you, and prepare to prevent potential flooding, so that your home doesn’t succumb to more damage!

How can we protect our appliances and devices when the power returns, or in case of surges?

When the grid is down, power can become unpredictable. Unplug appliances and electronic devices to avoid damage from power surges as electricians work to restore the electricity.

Do we have a back up clock or way to keep time?

Do you have a solar or manual clock in your home? With the power out, smartwatches, digital clocks, AI Devices (such as Alexa, Siri, or Google), or cellphones may not be available, and if you want to keep time, having a more traditional method of keeping time may be important.

Next week we’ll be covering ways to heat and cool our homes, so be sure to set a reminder!





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