10 Things To Do When Your Power Goes Out

It’s funny how things come to a screeching halt when there’s a power outage.

People get bent out of shape and find it hard to manage life.

I smile because I wonder how the pioneers ever survived – back before the days of Benjamin Franklin when everyone had to draw their water from a well, carry it from a river instead of just turning on a faucet, or pump their water one push at a time.  I wonder how they adapted their evening schedule to using oil lamps or just going to bed when the sun went down.



Of course, we’re not used to having to survive without electricity.  Our homes aren’t set up to function without power to our freezers and refrigerators.  It’s understandable that it becomes an inconvenience to do without electricity.

Yet an inconvenience doesn’t have to grind everything to a screeching halt.

I remember the days when our kids wished for the power to go out – because they thought it was so much fun.   I consider that a compliment even though I sometimes got weary of going without current for days on end. (I think the longest we were without current was when Hurricane Fran came through in August of 1996.  We lost power for four days, which wasn’t as difficult because it was summertime. In my teenage years, we lost current once for five days – in the dead of winter.)

Yet I think that we would do well to make it a fun time instead of a time to lament. Use the opportunity to build memories and incorporate a newness in your schedule!

You’re going to be without current, so why pout about it?  I have never known pouting to bring the power back, so why waste your energy?Plus, no kid likes to live with a mopey mom. Kids will follow your lead and be excited if you are or they’ll join you in complaining about being without electricity.  You choose.

Here are a few things you can do when you think there’s a chance you might lose power.

When our kids were small, I kept a tub with essentials in the event we lost power, especially unexpectedly. Things I kept in that tub were disposable plates and a roll of paper towels, hand sanitizer, batteries for flashlights and candles with matches.  When the current went out, I wasn’t scrounging around for wet wipes or hand sanitizer or candles. After I had a few candles lit, I had time to get out the lanterns and flashlights.

power battery 2

If you know bad weather is coming with the possibility the current could go off, plan ahead.  How you will fix food for your gang depends on whether you have a gas or an electric stove.  If you have a wood-burning fireplace, hot dogs and marshmallows (smores!) are a hit with kids. Either way, there are some things that are a no-brainer, especially if you live in the country where power lines seem to go down more readily.

Making It Easier

Water and Hydration

Draw water.  You’ll need water for drinking and for flushing.  A bathtub full of water can be used to flush toilets.  A 5-gallon cooler of water will keep your family hydrated – or you can invest in bottles of water  if you prefer.

Food and Snacks

Have food on hand that’s easy to fix.  If it’s cold outside, you can keep sandwich fixings in a cooler  so you won’t need to keep opening the refrigerator door.  You can fix some food ahead:  pudding, jello, or finger jello.  You can also purchase already-made jello.  Keep snack items like graham crackers, pop tarts, or yogurt on hand. Kids can snack on cereal, crackers, and peanut butter.  Dare them to come up with their own concoction.  (That’s right.  Forget about calories for a day or two.  Everyone will survive.)

Easy Come, Easy Go

Use disposable items. Stock up on cheap cups, plates, plasticware and bowls.  While I routinely used cloth diapersfor my babies,  I had plenty of disposable diapers on hand for travel, church, and when the lights went out.

Cleanliness is Still Next to Godliness

Hand sanitizer in bathrooms makes “washing up” easy.  Wet wipes are another option. I had one container for each bathroom and one for the kitchen.  If you have a gas range or other ways to heat water, you can use that for sponge baths or wiping counters as well.  When we lost power for days on end, my mother brought snow in and let it sit in a warm spot in the kitchen.  In a few hours, we had water we could use.

Lights, Camera, Action!

If you are stocked with batteries, flashlights are fun for kids to use.   We have several oil lamps and keep oil stocked so we never run out.  You can give each child a glow-in-the-dark stick for his bedside. Battery operated candles can be in each child’s room during the night. They can be set to operate for four or twelve hours. I wish we had had these when my kids were small!
power flashlight

Making It Fun

power oil lantern

Darkness Doesn’t Have to be Boring or Scary

photo credit: Amy Burkey and a few of her kids

Put puzzles together or color as a family by lantern light.  (You might find this a fun activity even when your lights are on!  Turn out the lights and turn on the lanterns).

Darkness is Conducive to Games

power battery candle

Using candles or lanterns, play table games or Hide-and-Seek!  You can purchase inexpensive balloons and bracelets or glow sticks that will glow for hours in the dark.  What a fun, inexpensive treat for kids to use when nighttime has come and it’s time to settle down!

power tent

Reading in the Dark

Storytime and extra books on hand are a great idea.  We used to visit the Library if we were expecting bad weather.  Armed with some good reading, my kids were anxious to lose current.

Making It An Adventure

photo credit: Amy Burkey and troops.

Allow your kids to build a castle and “defend” it.  Let them build tunnels using blankets and chairs – and give them have their own flashlight or battery-operated candle inside! In a few days,  you can have your house back to normal. Sure, it will be a mess at the time, but your kids will look back fondly and wish you’d lose current more often!

Be a Thermostat and Not a Thermometer

When the power is out, you can choose to be part of the storm or be the calm in the middle of the storm.  The thermostat sets the temperature of the family – and you can make it fun or difficult.  Create a warm, fuzzy- feeling environment and everyone will be happy, including you.

Remember the Prayer of Serenity

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change (losing power); courage to change the things I can (making it fun; changing my attitude) and the wisdom to know the difference.”

Be the difference when the power goes out you’ll never regret it, and your family will call you the best!

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