It’s hard to believe widespread electricity hasn’t even been around for 100 years. In fact, it wasn’t until the 1930s that most families finally got their city and suburban houses lit up.
Fast forward to 2014, and it’s impossible to imagine what life would be like without the prospect of electricity — well, for the most part. After Hurricane Sandy struck in 2012, more than 8 million houses lost power for at least a little while. And residents in the hardest-hit areas were without power for more than a week.
For the most part, we can never be certain as to when we’ll lose electricity. Some storms are great indications of what might turn out to be power loss, but just as often as not, those storms come and go and the lights are still on.
While you can’t be sure when the lights will go off, you can take steps to prepare yourself in the event that they do. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some things you should keep in mind to make sure you’re ready the moment your lights shut off.
- Do a Check
Did you just lose power? First things first: Go check your fuses and circuit breakers to make sure the power outage isn’t local to your own home. If you look outside and see your neighbor’s lights are on, there’s a good chance there’s something wrong with your electrical system. If you don’t know how to fix it on your own, you can always call in the switchgear pros.
- Gather Your Supplies
If your neighbors have all lost power too, there’s a good chance the outage is one that’s widespread. Assuming this is the case, it’s time to get out the blankets and light a fire in the winter. In the summer, it might be time to strip down to your thinnest layer of clothes once the AC is killed.
- Know Where Your Stash Is
To make sure you’re able to survive an outage comfortably, be sure to stockpile some supplies that will help you remain comfortable in the event you lose power. According to the Red Cross, you’ll want to put together an emergency preparedness kit that has one gallon of water per person per day, non-perishable food items, flashlights and batteries, a first aid kit, sanitation and personal hygiene products. It’s also a good idea to fill up your gas tanks if you have time before a huge storm touches down.
- Find Assistance
If conditions stay bad for awhile, you might have to search out the local churches, schools or community centers where supplies are being given out to those in need. Back when I was a kid — it wasn’t that long ago, mind you — we lost power for a week. So we bunked at the local church for a few nights. They gave us water and food. They also had a generator, so we were able to watch some Disney movies on a VHS player. But I digress. In any event, it’s best to know where these kinds of locations are nearest you.
- Entertain the Kids
Last but not least, you’re going to have to figure out a way to keep the little ones entertained. So stockpile some of those old-fashioned games — like Monopoly and Risk, for example — and grab a bunch of glowsticks. Or read books. Or get your kids some coloring books and encourage them to get to work. You can also find all sorts of ideas for entertainment here and here.
At the end of the day, here’s what you’ve got to keep in mind: An enormous majority of the human beings who’ve walked the earth never had access to electricity. They had no idea what it is. And they lived just fine without it.
So remember: You’ll be fine if your lights are off for a few days.