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Could We Survive a Long-Term Power Outage?

I have spent weeks without electricity due to power outages. This led me to take an interest in the vulnerability of the electrical grid.

If the power is out for a couple of hours, you'll likely be fine. But what if the outage lasts a long time?

If the power is out for a couple of hours, you'll likely be fine. But what if the outage lasts a long time?

It's Not Just the Lights That Go Out

When people think of the power going out the first things that usually come to mind are TV, lights, computer, and internet. A typical response might be, "I can just read a book or play a board game. It's not a big deal."

If you're experiencing a power outage right now, skip to the bottom of this article for some practical advice on how to get by until the power comes back on.

Our Society Depends on Electricity

The truth is, we rely on electricity much more than we realize. Even if you live "off the grid," as I did for years, you are still living in a world and a society that is deeply dependent upon electricity.

If the power is out for a few hours, we have all experienced that; of course you'll be fine. Maybe you will be a little bored and inconvenienced, but if the outage is lengthy and widespread, the consequences can be much more severe, even deadly. What would happen if the electricity was out for a week?

What Happens if the Power Grid Fails?

Last winter we had a little taste of what widespread power outages would be like. Here in my little foothills town, we had unusually heavy snowfall. Over the course of the winter, the total days without power came to more than 20, with one outage lasting for eight days.

Since we are on a well with an electric pump, if the power is out the water is out. People who live in town and are on city water didn't have that problem, but many municipal water systems are automated. If the power is out long enough even the city folks will run out of water. Many homes are all electric, so as soon at the lights are out they have no heat, no hot water and they can't cook.

Some well-prepared people who live in areas where there are frequent power outages have generators. However, most generators run on diesel fuel or gasoline. If the power is out, gas stations can't pump gas. Once generators run out of gas, those people will be in the dark too.

If you have a battery-operated radio, you might be able to get some news for a while, but if the grid goes down you probably won't be able to get a station.

If you have a landline phone, it might work, but your cordless phone won't. If you don't have an old-fashioned phone to plug into the wall you're out of luck. And, while your cell phone will not go out immediately, the circuits will soon be overloaded with panicked callers, service will get more and more spotty, until the central switching facility finally runs out of power backup, and it goes completely dead.


It is bad enough when all the food in your refrigerator and freezer have spoiled, what about when the same thing happens at the local Safeway? The store has probably been closed the whole time anyway, because their scanners don't work. Even if you could find a store open, if you don't have cash what are you going to do for money? ATM machines won't be working; maybe they'll take a check.

Emergency Services

Traffic lights will go out, too. That's not too much of a problem in a small town, but in a big city it could be a major calamity.

Communications for police and fire departments can be compromised. Without their phones and internet they are forced to rely on their car radios. When a whole city loses power, authorities usually close the airport. If your city has electric trolleys and trains those will not be running.

Cities Run on Electricity

Modern high-rise buildings depend on electricity to keep them habitable. Many don't even have windows that open, so without mechanical ventilation and air conditioning they will soon become unbearable. Then there is that classic situation of people stuck in elevators.

Another problem in large cities is looting; it is almost inevitable in these situations. A lengthy power outage can have a huge economic impact, too. It is impossible for modern commerce to continue without their computers and phones.

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All of those are bad things, but it could get much worse.

Nuclear Power Plants Need Electricity for Cooling

There are 104 nuclear power plants in the United States.

Cooling is a very important part of producing nuclear power. Spent rods need to be kept cool and contained. If they overheat, they can cause explosions and fires. If the core is allowed to overheat, it could cause a nuclear meltdown. If the containment structure of the plant is damaged radiation will leak out into the environment.

In the event of a power outage, nuclear power plants automatically shut down and the backup generators kick on. In the U.S., nuclear power plants are required by federal law to have redundant safety systems. They have at least two gigantic generators to take over the job of cooling the reactor. However, the generators require fuel; if supplies run short they will have to be trucked in to keep the cooling system going.

The lack of electricity for cooling is what caused the biggest problems at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex after the 9.0 earthquake and tsunami in Japan on March 11, 2011. The long-term effects of that disaster are still not fully understood.

These systems in the U.S., and most of the world, have usually functioned extremely well so far. However, in a situation where the generators are damaged, and the roads impassable, the results can be devastating. I don't want to be too much of an alarmist, these plants are designed to be very safe, but they are also designed to function in a world that has electricity.

Water Treatment Plants Need Electricity to Pump Water

I had not thought about this before, but I had a comment that reminded me. If a water treatment plant needs to move water uphill, they need electricity for their pumps. They do not all have backup systems in place.

On August 18, 2018, in the city of Olean, New York, approximately 45,000 gallons of untreated sewage was discharged into the Allegheny River by a sewer lift station. The discharge was caused by a power outage.

How to Deal With a Power Outage: Practical Tips

  • Keep Food Cold: When we were out of power for up to eight days at a time, I took all the dairy products and meat out of the refrigerator, and put them in a big plastic tub with a lid and set it outside in the snow. That kept it very cold. I also filled two big stockpots with snow, packed in as tight as I could get it, and put them in the refrigerator to keep vegetables and other things cold. It worked pretty well.
  • Keep Things Clean: We have propane for heat and cooking, I kept some big pots of water warming on the stove for dishes and washing up. It is easier to keep thing clean if you don't let it pile up. We even got desperate enough that we filled the bathtub with water heated on the stove for baths.
If you have snow or rain you can catch the run-off for washing or flushing toilets.

If you have snow or rain you can catch the run-off for washing or flushing toilets.

Summertime Power Outage

We had the power go out for about 12 hours one night in June. I had solar powered garden lights outside. They are self-contained, no wiring necessary. They also have a sensor on top, so when it gets dark, they come on. I pulled some of them off the stakes, brought them indoors, and set them on their tops in each room of the house.

They don't make a very bright light, but at least you can see where you're going, and you don't have to worry about leaving a candle burning.

Solar lamp used for emergency light

Solar lamp used for emergency light

Emergency supplies for power outage

Emergency supplies for power outage

The candles in glass burn for a long time (about 12 hours), I got them at the Dollar Store. The little red lantern thing is a liquid candle; they burn for 50 hours each, but are somewhat hard to find. You can get them on at Amazon. I prefer the ones with plastic shades, like the ones in the photo. I feel like they are safer than the ones with just a naked flame.

Keep some emergency supplies around; you never know when you'll be left in the dark. Here are a few ideas.

  • Flashlights
  • A good supply of fresh batteries
  • Candles (long burning ones, in glass)
  • Lighters and/or matches
  • Propane or kerosene lanterns with fuel
  • Fuel for your generator if you have one
  • An old-fashioned phone that plugs in to the wall
  • Car charger for your cell phones and mobile devices
  • Water - I keep at least 25 gallons in containers in the garage
  • Battery powered radio
  • Canned and dry food enough for several weeks at least (that's bare
    minimum really, the more you have the longer you can hole up at home)
  • Food for your pets or other animals

If you put your candle or lantern in front of a mirror, you can almost double the amount of light you get from it.

Prepare Your Home for a Power Outage

There is not a lot we, as individuals, can do about keeping the power grid safe. However, we can make sure that we are as prepared as we can be for a loss of electricity at our own homes. Making sure you have the bare essentials on hand will make your family safer and more comfortable in a power outage.

Past Power Failures

Northwest U.S. and Canada: August 14, 2003

On August 14, 2003, the electricity went out in a large swath of the Northeastern United States and Southeastern Canada.

The blackout affected the states of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Vermont, Michigan, Ohio, and Massachusetts. About 50 million people were without electricity, some for as long as two days. Eleven deaths are attributed to the outage, and it is estimated to have cost 6 million dollars.

Federal authorities ruled terrorism out almost immediately, but they took longer to figure out what had caused the problem. The verdict—hot power lines sagged into trees and switched off, causing other lines to carry the extra burden. They couldn't handle the load and tripped a cascade of failures. Systems that should have given an earlier warning of the growing problem failed. The U.S.-Canada Power System Outage Task Force concluded, after a three-month investigation, that a combination of equipment failure and human error was to blame.

San Diego: September 8, 2011

A major power outage on September 8, 2011, left 5 million people without electricity from the west coast, east to Arizona, and from Mexico north to Orange County, California. The outage lasted for up to 15 hours. The National University System Institute for Policy Research estimated the economic impact of the power outage to be between $97 million and $118 million.

Although the Arizona power company said the outage appeared to have been associated with an employee replacing a capacitor at the North Gila substation near Yuma, why this routine task would cause a failure was unknown. Whatever the reason, had the system performed as it should have, the outage would have been confined to the Yuma area. So it appears that it was possible a combination of human error and equipment failure.

In the Worst Case Scenario, Would We Survive?

Of course there would not be many people who would die during a short-term outage. Maybe a few people who need life-sustaining medical treatment. More if it's during a heat wave or severe cold weather.

During a longer-term and more widespread outage, people would run out of food and fuel. There would be looting, and before long anarchy would reign. People who were better prepared would stand a better chance of surviving.

If there were a nuclear disaster, of course that would take out a lot more people. Still, in my opinion, even if every nuclear reactor in the world experienced a Chernobyl-level meltdown, it would not kill all of the people on the planet, nor would it render the earth unable to sustain life.

The world would be changed for sure; it would have a huge impact on every aspect of human life. Still, there would be humans here to rebuild and start again.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Questions & Answers

Question: What would happen if the world lost electricity tomorrow?

Answer: I think I've covered most of what our immediate concerns would be. Nuclear plants would be of huge concern. Of course, if it was the whole world, there would be nowhere to look for help. And, if it lasted forever, it would certainly change our lives, if we could even survive it. What do you think?

Question: Do you have any idea if the natural gas service was interrupted during an outage?

Answer: It is my understanding that some, but not all, natural gas is pumped by electricity. So, it may, or may not be affected by a power outage. Usually, if the outage is short-term, the gas will stay on. The longer the outage, the more chance of interruptions in gas service.

Question: Can one live without sewer lift station pumps?

Answer: You bring up a good point. Not every area depends on pump stations to get rid of their sewage (some have gravity on their side) but those that do would have serious problems. But, of course we could live without them. People lived without sewage treatment for hundreds of thousands of years.

Question: You mentioned that if the power went out, Nuclear Power Plants would require electricity in order to cool the Rods. Are there no ways for the plants to seal the rods in such an instance as a power outage?

Answer: I am not an expert on nuclear power, so I can't really answer your question. I assume that the people who design the nuclear power plants are doing their best to make them as safe as possible.

Question: What would happen to online money if all of the power went out?

Answer: It would not be available as long as the Internet is out. If power was never restored (which seems unlikely), your guess is as good as mine.

© 2012 Sherry Hewins


Sherry Hewins (author) from Sierra Foothills, CA on February 06, 2020:

I hope it was helpful.

your mum on February 04, 2020:

i needed this for homework

Sherry Hewins (author) from Sierra Foothills, CA on June 27, 2019:

Mayor McFubar, There are plenty of things for us to be afraid of. I do try to be prepared, but I don't spend a lot of time being afraid.

I have mixed feelings about keeping a lot of guns around. If I have the firepower to mow down my neighbors when they try to get to my stockpile, they may have the same firepower.

I think it's better to lay low and not advertise that you have anything they want. Easier done if you don't live in a big city.

Sherry Hewins (author) from Sierra Foothills, CA on June 27, 2019:

Rodney, I don't know any communities that are supplied exclusively by wind or solar power. You could set up your own system with batteries. That way you are completely independent of the grid. I do know some families who have done this.

Rodney Eaton on June 24, 2019:

what would be the best place to go during a long time power outage in us? Some where communities are supplied by solar, wind or hydro power?

Mayor McFubar on June 16, 2019:

Imagine power out for three, four, or five days in a row - in a major urban environment. The looting and rioting would be catastrophic. Then people, while the world is safely turning and everything is fine, have the nerve to suggest that "nobody needs an "assault rifle" that holds 30 rounds in a single magazine".

I mean, you got to laugh at mankind's sense of entitlement in the world. Like everything is always going to be hunky-dory for everyone, all the time.

Personally I have a generator, enough fuel to run a fridge on and off for a week. Plus fresh water for six months for a family of two. Plus guns and ammo to keep the whole castle from getting pillaged by hungry peasants. Even after all that I don't feel well prepared for a real if TSHTF type scenario. Of course living in fear is bad too. But living with no fear... whew! I don't see how some people do it.

Sherry Hewins (author) from Sierra Foothills, CA on February 24, 2019:

I think some of us could. Maybe not all of us.

Sherry Hewins (author) from Sierra Foothills, CA on November 13, 2018:

All that is pretty technical for me. I don't have a CB radio. You do bring up a good point though.

Sherry Hewins (author) from Sierra Foothills, CA on November 13, 2018:

Thanks Sandy, True, if the power stays out long enough the land line will quit working. As for the mirror, it may not actually be creating light, but is it redirecting the light so it is more useful.

Sandy Estabrook on November 13, 2018:

A couple of misnomers.

As kids we used to say, when the power goes off the phone still works. That's True. The old phones however run on DC and eventually the phone company backup batteries will be dead. In those days, the power was never off long enough to find out.

Where you say "If you put your candle or lantern in front of a mirror, you can almost double the amount of light you get from it". That would be getting extra free light and you know you dont get something for nothing. What you are doing is trading the extra light from going behind the mirror, and focusing it forward like a light house.

Sandy Estabrook on November 13, 2018:

Is there any sure fire way for any communications in a disaster? Survival communications yes, but only for those who prepare. And you probably wont be able to call your out of state relatives. We started this discourse mentioning CB radio - That would work. So would Marine VHF radio even Ham (amateur) radio. One or all would work for your purpose AKA local or long distance. We'll explain the differences.

Our first priority in a disastrous event will probably be communications. We will want to contact loved ones elsewhere, which will probably be impossible unless by prearrangement. But it should be comforting to know there will be others NEAR BY out there like you that you can communicate with. Again that's only if they have planned ahead for such an eventuality.

The easiest is CB and it doesn't require household power. It simply plugs in your car's cigarette lighter socket (while the car battery is still charged). A magnetic antenna easily affixes to the roof with wire running through your window. There are 40 AM channels to use in the 27 MHz spectrum and it's range is about 10 miles. It's limited to 4 watts and prone to static. When atmospheric conditions are right, this service can go thousands of miles but nothing you can count on or plan for.

Now we come to Marine VHF. The units are readily available at any marine supply store. This service has its own protocol and use for marine applications only (in normal times). Each FM channel of the 80 available are assigned for specific use. A walkie talkie model has a power of 5 watts and a line of sight range of 4-6 miles. Console models for boats are 25 watts and have a line of sight range of 25 miles. They too can be easily operated in your car and powered by it's 12 volt system. They operate in the 156 MHz range with FM modulation and are clear of static but work best in straight line use (over water or flat field - not in a city or in the mountains)

Note: As with any walkie talkie, you'll have to have batteries available. And some use charge-up batteries unique to that model - stay away from that type. You can always barter for batteries.

Lastly Ham (Amateur) Radio. No doubt the best simply because of the wider range of frequencies to suit atmospheric conditions And uses in addition to AM & FM also SSB (single side band) transmission to extend its range. Add to this some frequencies allow 1000 watts of power so transmission's world wide are common. The Big However is, you have to be a bit technically minded to use this service. Although morse code is no linger needed you would still need a license (in normal times). As for power, on the long distance frequencies a large antenna is requires and a lot of power so a generator would be necessary. Their high bands - 2 Meter (144 MHz) are very however popular in portable applications.

NOTE: One thing about radio there is no IP address. In other words you don't have the identifying number associated with an internet connection. A broadcaster is anonymous. But if you are always transmitting from a fixed antenna, your location could be triangulated.

Sherry Hewins (author) from Sierra Foothills, CA on November 01, 2018:

I don't know where you live, but that has not been my experience. Usually, when the power is out I have not been able to get gas.

Thomas on November 01, 2018:

Each gas station have an emergency power generator, so it will be capable to pump gas for it and for clients.

jimlilwolfe on September 18, 2018:

Lots of good points there.i've been slowly working at getting whats needed for candles n oil lamps during the winter,seeing how they put out heat as well.flashlights n lanterns during the all i need,at least for a generator for the fridge n freezer.oh yeah.i've been looking for the solar sidewalk lights with a on/off i keep them turned off when their not needed for light.

Svetla on April 22, 2018:

Being out of the US , I imagine the only problem will be getting my money transfered through internet. Other than that, I am cool not having any power in the mountains.

Water is everywhere and so as food - certain plants can be eaten along with snails .

I will not miss the phone cable and electricity which I trained myself to do without for 2 months.

I have 3 wood burning stoves and live in the mountains so heat and cooking is not a problem!

I think people need to have a power outage drills and training that will prepare them for the real black out. Just like a fire drill or a flooding emergency.

And dont forget, people can live without electricity if they have a plan and a brain to execute it!

Start doing your homework!

IMPORTANT. Crime is high and I suggest you stay home during these times of power outage!

Having a naseball bat by the door wont hurt either!

Start training yourselves!

Jason B Truth from United States of America on December 30, 2017:

Sherry? I'd say that this Hub of yours is a good campaign to keep landline telephones in existence. I've read about phone companies wanting to do away with landline telephones, but doing so would be the biggest mistake that any of them could make. Additionally, I'd have to say that your article is a good campaign to bring back all the payphones that have disappeared from public places through the years. I remember having to use one up the street after I came home to my apartment in New York City to found out that my landline telephone service was out so many years ago. I didn't have a cell phone back then. It was my only way of contacting the phone company to report the problem, because I didn't really know any of my neighbors; and in New York City, you just can't go knocking on a neighbor's front door to ask them if you can use their telephone. Nowadays if someone's portable landline phone goes out because of an outage and the cell phone system is overwhelmed, going to the nearest payphone to make an important phone call may be the only option they have.

Sherry Hewins (author) from Sierra Foothills, CA on November 12, 2017:

Wow Rheo. Where are you, and how are you getting along?

Rheo on November 12, 2017:

52 days abd counting.

APTeacherMan on June 01, 2017:

We just had a major power outage in Memphis--183,000 people without electricity for multiple days. I was out for 4 days. I used a GE Enbrighten D-Cell lantern for light in the evenings. This lantern uses 4 D-Cells or 8 D-Cells. With 8, it will give you 400 hours of illumination if operated on low. You could actually get 8 hours a day for 50 days. Low is plenty of light to read by. Its made in China but this is a terrific product. However, if the entire USA power grid goes down for 10 days, we are back to the stone age.

Sherry Hewins (author) from Sierra Foothills, CA on January 27, 2017:

DzyMsLizzy - Dry ice is great for keeping things frozen, as long as the store is open! It sounds like you are pretty prepared with your generator.

Liz Elias from Oakley, CA on January 27, 2017:

Hmmm...we've experienced power outages here and there, but nothing very long term; maybe half a day at most.

Your tips are spot-on, though. But I was annoyed the couple of times such an event happened while I was shopping; everyone got booted from the store. I thought to myself, "What? No one knows how to use a pencil and paper anymore to tott up items?!" It was back then, in the mid-1970s or early 80s that I came to the conclusion that we are far too dependent upon our electrical gadgets. It has only gotten worse since then!

We have a generator, but it is small, and would probably power only the main refrigerator, and not the large freezer. However, the fuller the freezer, and the less it is opened, the longer things will stay frozen, or at least at a safe temperature. Dry ice is another option; it does not snow where we live.

Sherry Hewins (author) from Sierra Foothills, CA on December 11, 2012:

The cabin sounds heavenly. It's a lot different living without electricity when you are set up for it. When it suddenly goes out it sends a lot of people into a tailspin. I'm happy to share my idea about the solar lights. We actually bought ours for a party, to use as little tables lights outside after dusk.

John Connor from Altamonte Springs on December 11, 2012:

Some of the best days of my life were when I worked (during the summer months) for Kimberly Clark in Longlac, Ontario. I and a few others stayed at a cabin on a lake outside of the town. The cabin was off the grid; there was no electricity. We adapted to it seamlessly even though we were teenagers or early 20 somethings.

My family and I have survived week long power outages on rare occasion in Florida. We have about 30 solar patio/pathway lights around our well shaded front and back yard. It never crossed my mind to bring some of them in to help elluminate our house... Thank you for that most brilliant idea!

Sherry Hewins (author) from Sierra Foothills, CA on May 16, 2012:

Thanks for your comment Saba82. You remind us of how lucky we are in the US to take things like electricity for granted. I hope things get better in Pakistan. I would love it if you would write a hub about your experiences. I'm sure lots of people here would be interested.

Saba82 on May 16, 2012:

Power failures...well it has become a part of our life in "aditip" has narrated his/her childhood experience i remembered mine...i use to catch fireflies during the power failures which lasted for 1 hour daily and in winter we all sit together listening to stories and solving riddles and that hour passed easily.......

but these days....i wish i could bring back the past and those good old days....

due to our current political situation...power failure duration is 18 to 20 hours...i parade all day and night towards the my family and kids can have a good night's sleep and a comfortable day...i wish and can only pray for the betterment of my country...

there are many things and experiences which i want to share but due to lack of time...may be some other time...

aditip from Tunisia on April 11, 2012:

Power failures were part of normal life in India, in our small town. It was the fun hour or two we had as children, playing darkroom or giving our homework a miss. I don't remember if we ever panicked or planned ahead, mom was always prepared for it. We could sit outside and gaze at stars or share ghost stories, in summer times.In winters, we huddled around grandma and listened to stories from Indian mythology. Your topic made me wee bit nostalgic...I miss those days , when life was simple, friends were many and stress was unheard of.

Rochelle Frank from California Gold Country on April 11, 2012:

Now I know you are a real foothill dweller. I've written a couple of hubs on the same subject with similar experiences. I'd like to put in link to this.

Cheryl A Whitsett from Jacksonville, Fl on February 29, 2012:

Yes we are but I moved to Jacksonville so not to many storms come our way. However if they did I would know how to survive very well with no lights

Sherry Hewins (author) from Sierra Foothills, CA on February 29, 2012:

Thanks for commenting Author Cheryl, it's a real wake up call when you have a long power outage like that. I'm so glad you got through it, I bet you're prepared now!

Cheryl A Whitsett from Jacksonville, Fl on February 29, 2012:

I lived without electric for 3 weeks when Hurricane Wilma hit Fort Lauderdale. You become very creative for sure. Thank God for our gas grill so at least we could cook.

Sherry Hewins (author) from Sierra Foothills, CA on February 26, 2012:

Thanks for the comment whatmattersmost, In a survival situation I'm sure I would give up on the fish.

whatmattersmost on February 25, 2012:

Never thought about the candle in the fish tank idea. I like it. I don't know how it would work for a long term power outage (say massive solar flare), but I think after a few months saving your fish would be the least of your worries! AGH! Still, very creative... like it!

Sherry Hewins (author) from Sierra Foothills, CA on February 25, 2012:

DA STRANJA, I would be looking forward to reading your hub on the subjects. I'm sure you have a whole different perspective on things. We Americans are so spoiled and take things like electricity for granted.

Demas W Jasper from Today's America and The World Beyond on February 25, 2012:

The national power grid is dotted with concerns for "life expectancy" issues and the promised energy changes haven't scratched the surface of this immediate concern. Another source of jobs for the unemployed ignored by those who make politics rather than leadership their life's "work."

DA STRANJA from Nigeria on February 25, 2012:

Yeah, useful hub there; great work. But I think erratic power supply or outright outage is no new thing to us in Nigeria (Africa); it's been here before I can call "Papa", we have most of these measures in your article in place and we're coping.

But truly a community without power is liken to lifeless. Maybe I'll come up with a hub to help and fit into my own environment and situation too someday.

All the same; good work Hewiin.

Sherry Hewins (author) from Sierra Foothills, CA on February 23, 2012:

Wow landscapeartist, that is quite a story. What an amazing experience. Thank you so much for sharing it here.

putnut from Central Illinois or wherever else I am at the moment. on February 23, 2012:

ours went out for only 22 hours, but it was a change, to say the least. Thankfully, we heat with wood, but my outside unit has a blower, so I got a power inverter and hooked it up to the pickup to get us by, and we didn't freeze.

Roberta McIlroy from Ontario, Canada on February 23, 2012:

Here in Ontario, we lost power for 2 weeks during the ice storm of '98/ My family and I lived in Kingston at that time and authorities were shipping people to the schools to stay during the power outage. We, on the other could not go because that very morning our dog had her first litter of puppies. We could not move them that soon and especially to a crowded auditorium.

So, we grabbed as many quilts as we could and covered the windows. We brought in our kerosene heater and camping equipment. We used emergency candles for light. Neighbours came with supplies, and stayed with us. With everyone banding together to live in one unit like we did, we were never in short supply of food, water, or heat. We kept out of our fridges and freezers as much as we could, which allowed the food to stay colder longer. When someones food started to thaw out, we put it all together in a stew. It fed everyone on our block. The total of people that remained in their home on our block was about 20 to 25.

It is easy to live that way.

When we were kids, my mom would carry pails of water from a nearby stream to our home everyday for 4 years straight. We had no running water, no facilities, and only a wood stove to heat the house. She chopped wood every day to keep us warm and dry.

Sherry Hewins (author) from Sierra Foothills, CA on February 21, 2012:

I know what you mean Trsmd. As I briefly mentioned in my hub, I lived "off the grid" meaning no electricity at all for 10 years. It can be quite easily done when you have things set up that way.

Trsmd from India on February 21, 2012:

Sherry, I felt that at least some awareness came to the mind of people about the power of electricity. In modern days, our entire activity from toilet to bed is surrounded by electricity only, when there is now power, everything will be hampered. But in India, most of the states suffering from acute power, and daily compulsorily 5-6 hours power cut announced, they have accustomed to live with proper planning. Thanks for sharing:)

Sherry Hewins (author) from Sierra Foothills, CA on February 21, 2012:

Thanks for commenting ib radmasters I suspect your are right about needing a better plan, that power outage San Diego had last year was a good example of how the system can fail.

Brad Masters from Southern California on February 21, 2012:


Interest subject and interesting hub.

Here in Southern California we have been pretty lucky on not having any real blackouts. But when Grey Davis was Governor we had a real problem.

I do believe that with ten million electricity hungry people here we need to have a better plan.

For here solar panels are a good deal because of the amount of sunlight that we get here. It is not a nationwide solution, but it helps.

The country is not being proactive with energy and water.

They could do better but they say it is too expensive, well it won't be any cheaper tomorrow.


Sherry Hewins (author) from Sierra Foothills, CA on February 21, 2012:

Thank you MissKatieLynn, it sounds like you are well prepared. I really appreciate you reading and commenting.

mrshadyside1, you're right, country folks seem to weather these things better, I know San Diego had a really hard time being without power for just 12 hours. Thanks so much for your comment.

mrshadyside1 from Georgia on February 21, 2012:

Very well written!

Here in Georgia we usually lose power about twice a year,we have a lot of freezing rain in winter,and the heavy thunderstorms in the spring.All of my life.that I can remember,we have kept oil lamps and propane for back-up heat along with wood for the fireplace.Country folk can survive and all.

As you stated in your excellent hub the economic loss and public services are at the most risk.The infra-structure of the sagging from age and is working above the capacities it was design to handle.Scientists have warned the federal government that everything from satellites to the power grid should be re-enforced and backed up with fail safes due to solar flares and storms.

I enjoyed your hub,it is very informative and inspires thought.

Katrina from New Hampshire on February 20, 2012:

Here in New England, we constantly get power outages, especially since we seem to experience every type of weather possible. This past Halloween, we were out for about 3 days due to a freak snowstorm, which is nothing compared to many being out for a week or two. Back in 2009, my family and I were out for over a week after the "ice storm" hit us.

Living in New England your whole life certainly gives you experience, so of course we had a generator, and have had it for at least 15 years. It's enough to keep the fridge cold, the microwave going (we cooked a turkey in it, once!) and the toilet flushing (though, no lights in the bathroom!) We have the tv hooked up as well, and a light in the living room - just enough for the necessities. And it's done wonders for us. It's hard to believe there are New Englanders without a generator! It just seems as natural as having a toilet in your house! I guess you can say my family and I are always prepared for anything!

I saw this hub advertised on Facebook, and I was certainly relating to it! I may just have to post one myself about my own power outage experiences. Great article, thanks for sharing!

Sherry Hewins (author) from Sierra Foothills, CA on February 04, 2012:

I agree, my mom was a great example. She went to bed and waited for "life to resume." Thanks for the comment.

BobbiRant from New York on February 03, 2012:

So many people would curl up and resign to the fact the umbilical cord to the power company was severed. Great hub!

Sherry Hewins (author) from Sierra Foothills, CA on February 01, 2012:

Thanks for the comment. I'm glad your lights are back on, I hope they stay that way. So far this winter we haven't had any power outages. It was bad enough my internet went out for 12 hours.

Injured lamb on February 01, 2012:

Thanks Sherry, you are so kind to share this with us especially the preparation for a blackout. Yesterday, my area did have a blackout for about 5 hours long, and you know the rest...luckily, I did keep the birthday used candles...yes, one of the ideas you shared...voted this useful! Cheers!

Freva Dossman on January 31, 2012:

My power was out a lot last year too. It was an adventure the first time it was out for a week, but by the third time it was getting pretty old.

Sherry Hewins (author) from Sierra Foothills, CA on January 30, 2012:

Thanks for the comment noturningback. You could always trip the breaker.

noturningback from Edgewater, MD. USA on January 30, 2012:

Power was out for a five days here in Maryland a while back, read and read some more, talked and talked some more.

It was a great opportunity to interact with each other more frequently. I say kill the power again at least once per year save $ and save a family at the same time!

Thanks for the thought. ?

Sherry Hewins (author) from Sierra Foothills, CA on January 30, 2012:

A wind-up flashlight is a good start. I've seen wind-up ones with the flashlight, radio and cell phone charger all in one. Let's face it, once the power comes back on most of us forget about getting prepared for next time. Thanks for reading and commenting tirelesstraveler.

Judy Specht from California on January 30, 2012:

Interesting hub. Good ideas. The fish tank warmer was brilliant. When traveling I always take a wind-up flash light. It has a charger for a cell phone, but I don't have an adapter.

Sherry Hewins (author) from Sierra Foothills, CA on January 30, 2012:

You're too funny Aaron, well I'm glad you got all the way through it. So did you just see it on Facebook or what? That was the Thanksgiving you didn't make it too or you could have seen it first hand.

Aaron Stahl on January 29, 2012:

Well, I read this whole article without having the slightest clue that you wrote this. Important takeaways:

--I read the entire article

--I didn't know you wrote it while reading the entire article

Very enjoyable. Awesome stuff, Aunt Sherry.

Sherry Hewins (author) from Sierra Foothills, CA on January 29, 2012:

Thanks jesimpki, I appreciate your comment. I was really stressed about my fish getting cold, and I didn't lose any of them in spite of the long power outage. Between that and keeping up with dealing with the food and water situation I was kept pretty busy.

Jeremiah Simpkins from Pulaski, VA on January 29, 2012:

I love the idea of the candle powered fish tank heater! That's a very resourceful method of keeping an aquarium warm.

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