How to prepare for a power outage

Do you have everything you need in case the power goes out?

If you suddenly lose electricity in your home, do you know what to do? Plan ahead well enough and you will!

It's hard to say with certainty what will happen when the power goes out, since so much depends on each specific situation. An outage could last a few minutes or over night. It could knock out your heat or (literally) leave you in the dark. It could even happen while you're out of the house, leaving quite an inconvenient surprise to come home to.

Let's assume, though, that a serious outage could occur that forces you to rely on the contents of your own home. Here's a quick five-point guide for what to do before you get to that point:

1. Charge your phone/computer/tablet!
One of the most important things you may have to do if the power goes out is make some calls, whether it's to the power company, management services or just friends and neighbors. For all of these, your phone will obviously require some juice. And don't neglect your other digital devices you might need either.

Of course, if your power is out, it's going to be pretty difficult to charge your phone – but not impossible. Batteries or portable charging devices are a good idea to keep handy in your home precisely for these types of situations. Also, consider carrying a spare charger with you if you go somewhere else during your home's outage.

Along those same lines, you may also want to have someone nearby, like a next door neighbor, to check in with in case something goes wrong. Even if both you and your neighbors lose power at the same time, you can work together until the situation is fixed.

"If your neighbors lose power at the same time, you can work together until the situation is fixed."

2. Stock up. On everything.
Food, water, medical supplies, you name it – it doesn't hurt to have extra supplies on​ hand. Food should be nonperishable and easy to prepare and eat without any heat (since there's a chance you won't have any, especially if you have an electric stove). Water is probably a bit easier to store, but make sure you keep a good amount of it just in case.

Other good things to have ready will include first aid kits, fuel for your car and batteries for anything in the house you'll need to run. Which reminds us…

3. Don't use candles.
What's wrong with candles? Fire, that's what's wrong! Seriously, though, battery-powered light sources are a safer bet and will also allow you to conserve energy a little better (there's no on or off button for a lit candle).

We aren't saying you can't keep candles in your home just in case, but avoid them as a light source if at all possible, since the fire risk might not make them worth it. If your power is gone, you have enough things to worry about without having to smell for a fire!

"Have emergency supplies set aside for your pets and a plan to get them to safety."

4. Remember your pet!
As the American Red Cross points out, your pet is a part of your family, and you wouldn't forget a family member in an outage, would you? Following their directions, you'll want to have emergency supplies set aside and a plan to get them to safety if the power goes out when you're not home. Your neighbor can lend a hand here, too.

5. Be water-wise.
Know in advance how much you depend on electricity for running water in your home. This could vary, and you'll want to have a good idea of what you can and can't do. Reader's Digest said it's easy enough to get your toilet working as long as you have a bucket and some extra water ready to go.

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