When Many people think about a power outage and what can result in no power in an area, they usually think about hurricanes and other natural disasters as the sole causative agents.

However, there are several other reasons why there might be no power within your state, town, or general residential area. That's why no matter where you reside, knowing what causes a power outage and how to be prepared for it can help you and your family be one step ahead of the situation. In this article, the various reasons for a power outage will be explored as well as survival skills that can help you be prepared for such situations.

The 3 Types of Power Outages

A natural disaster, an emp, or residents overloading the grid is enough to cause a power outage. The level of severity of the power outage can vary. Generally speaking, there are three main types of power outages.

Permanent Faults

Despite how severe the name might make it sound, it's a power outage caused by a fault along a power line. Whenever this fault is repaired or cleared, power will be restored. When caught in this situation, it's important to unplug your electric devices. This doesn't in any way assist in fixing the problem but rather, it's to your benefit, to protect your electronic gadgets.

Brownouts

Brownouts are less severe than permanent faults. They are characterized by a drop in voltage which can cause appliances to stop working and lights to dim, hence the name "brownout". It's a partial power outage.

Brownouts are not likely to damage your lights or other electrical appliances, but it is still vital to power off your appliances. Additionally, unlike in the case of a permanent fault, doing this may help to rectifying the problem, lightening the load on your circuit breakers.

Blackouts

Of all three types of power outages, the blackout takes the cake in being the absolute worst. A blackout is a total loss of power. Depending on its cause, the time of repair varies. It might not seem like it due to the uncertainty attached to when power will be restored, but you must turn off your electric appliances to protect them from damage caused by a sudden electric surge when the power does turn back on.

What Can Cause Power Outages?

Nobody likes the discomfort of the dogged heat in the dead of summer. During the months of summer and other extreme weather conditions, the power that is being consumed in people's homes is admittedly much more than average. The same works for during winter. When much of the population is turning on space heaters and furnaces, the same overload on the grid will happen

This might cause an overload on the local power supply and as a result a resultant power outage. But there are other reasons why you might experience power outages like:

Severe Weather or Other Natural Disasters

Severe weather conditions are admittedly one of the major causes of a power outage. And it's not always caused by the extremity of the weather itself, but instead as a result of the extreme weather. For example, a heavy gust of wind bringing down a power pole or blowing a transformer, causing a permanent fault outage.

Equipment Failure

Like most man-made devices, the components that are responsible for bringing electricity to an area might fail at any time. It can be damaged as a result of age or other factors.

An example of a component that is prone to damage is a transformer. Depending on the severity of the damage, it might lead to any three of the types of power outages.

Fallen Trees and Other Wildlife Interference

Power lines close to your building are susceptible to damage caused by fallen trees, branches, or other kinds of wildlife interference. A power outage can suddenly happen as a result of any kind of interference.

No items found.

High Energy Demands

Like we've already mentioned, too much power being used at once is enough to cause a brownout or even a worse, a blackout, within a that local. A good example is everyone turning on their air conditioning on a hot day or heaters on a cold day.

Damage from Construction or the Public

Sometimes, power outages might be a result of public interference. There have been instances where the power lines were taken down by people doing simple activities like yard work or by a car colliding with pole.

Even a crew working at a construction site with all their expertise can accidentally take down an important power structure. There are also more deviant ways people can cause power outages like vandalism, for example.

Cyberattacks & EMP’s

Although these occurrence aren’t nearly as common it's still very possible. A rogue group might decide to cause a power outage in a country just to disrupt the activities within that area. Solar flares have been known to affect the grid from time to time too.

Planned Outages

Sometimes the cause of a power outage isn't random or unforeseen, it might be planned. For various reasons, there might be a decision to cut off power in an specific area. These reasons include rolling outages, maintenance outages, etc.

How often these planned outages happen depends on factors such as the age or configuration of the system, time of year, and so on. After the routine checks have been completed, power is usually restored pretty quickly.

No items found.

8 Preparedness Tips

Most of the time a power outage will happen unexpectedly. And as a prepper, you should be ready for the instance that power is lost within your area. Being prepared will keep you calm and lower the probability of you or your loved ones hurting yourself when there's suddenly no power.

Preparing ahead doesn't have to be too complicated as there are very simple ways you can ready yourself and members of your family for a power outage.

Here are 8 ways you Should prepare for no power:

1. Initial Power Outage Preparedness Kit

In the instance that the power goes out, instead of scrambling for items you might need to be comfortable in the dark, you should have a designated kit specifically for that purpose.

Having a bag or a drawer where you keep important items that you can use to get you and your family some light is the first concern.

This power outage kit should be in an easily accessible place and everyone within the house should know how to get to it.

2. Define a Power Outage Family Response Plan

The worst thing that can happen during a power outage is for everyone in the family to start panicking and scrambling blindly in the dark. They may end up hurting themselves. That's why you need to come up with an effective response plan that you can run your family through.

This plan should also include teaching them where to access the emergency kit as well as emphasizing the need for everyone to stay calm and together until an alternate light source has been implemented.

3. Have a Flashlight for Each Resident and Plenty of Extra Batteries

With or without a power outage, a flashlight is an essential part of any household. You'll find it especially handy when there's no power. That's why your kit should include a flashlight for every member of the family. Have them set in multiple locations would be even more beneficial.

Having one in an easy-to-reach place will instantly make everyone feel safer. Plus, it's also vital that you keep extra batteries handy incase the power outage lasts longer than a few hours.

4. Stock Plenty of Non-Perishable Food and Water

With a power outage, depending on how long it lasts, there's a probability that most of the groceries you have stored in the refrigerator might go bad. Additionally, the stove, microwave, and oven will not work to heat up your food. That's why you should always stock up on non-perishable food and either an alternate heat source, or make sure the food you have does not require heat to eat.

Do this ahead of time to avoid any kind of rush at the stores. When you're stocking up on water, you should follow the rule of thumb which is "one gallon per person per day". Stocking a bit more water than that is recommended, especially if the power normally goes out during the summer. Excessive heat will make the household more thirsty than normal.

5. Be able to Purify Water and have a Food-Safe Thermometer

Knowing how to purify water is an essential survival skill that every prepper should have. This will ensure you always have the means to have safe drinking water for you and your family.

When the power comes back on use a food safe thermometer to test the internal temperature of the perishable food in your fridge and freezer to determine if they have warmed up too much to save. If you don’t have a thermometer, when in doubt, if it smells or looks off throw it out.

6. Have a Natural or Propane Grill

At some point in time, you're want to cook or heat some of the non-perishable food in your pantry. A propane, charcoal, wood, or even solar powered grill is your best bet for an alternate heat source while the power is out.

Plus, with a grill and the right skills, you can even dry some of your food to increase its shelf life.

7. Have a Backup Power Source(s)

A backup source of power such as a portable charger or a generator can help ensure that you're still able to power your electronics and even some appliances, when there's no power.

Although a gas-powered generator can be expensive there are some portable generators that don’t use gas that are a bit more affordable. During a short-term power outage a pre-charged portable charger should suffice.

8. Have Non-Electric Activities Available

Especially if you have children, having pre-prepared activities that don't require electricity can make sure nobody gets bored during the outage. One positive of an outage, it provides an ideal time to bond without the distractions of cell phones, video games, computers, or the TV. These days, ‘unplugged’ times are hard to find.

No items found.

How Long will the Power be Out? and How to Prepare.

The scale of power outages is basically how long until the issue is resolved, and power is restored to the area.

Usually, especially in the case of severe weather conditions, a power outages and how long it might last will be communicated to the people living within that area via their energy company.

3 Hours

This generally doesn't need that much extensive preparation. Some non-electric activities, some bottled waters, and a flashlight for every family member should suffice.

3 Days

When there's no power for 3 days, a little more prep is needed. First, non-perishable food and plenty of water is a must. A cooler with packed with ice can come in handy to have cool drinks and keep some perishable food like fruits and veggies fresh.

For those who have a generator, keeping the fridge running and a fan or two on the power from the generator would be luxurious. Keep in mind, any gas powered or flame/smoke emitting sources should not be used inside the house. This can cause a build up of carbon monoxide.

If it is during the winter, plenty of warm blankets and outdoor heating sources would be beneficial.

3 Weeks

A 3 week power outage would likely be due to a powerful disaster that covered a lot of ground. When thousands of houses are out of power across different grids extra crews will come out to try to fix the outage as quick as possible. But depending on the damage even extra crews could take weeks to repair all of the power.

For this time frame it would be in your best interest to have a grill that you can use to cook your food and if you can afford it, an alternative source of power. For children, you will want to have some ideas to keep them entertained. Having outdoor games, coloring books, board games, and sports equipment would help keep them distracted. If you live in a place where a pool makes sense, that would be even better.

How about hygiene? Most times, just because the power is out doesn’t mean that the water is contaminated, but it will mean you won’t have hot water. You can have everyone either take cold showers or boil water and split the tub water with 75% cold water and 25% boiled water to make a warm bath. To ensure you don’t burn anyone always complete the warming process and test with the back of your hand before letting anyone submerge in the tub.

Three weeks without power may seem crazy in our modern world, but if the disaster is strong enough, this may just be plausible. And that is exactly what the Prepper Life is about; we want to be prepared for every scenario. It also important to note that runs on grocery stores will likely happen, but to remember trucks with supplies will continue to supply the area with plenty of good. After all most food shortages are caused by panic shopping. Don't be the person that leaves no baby formula for the other mothers in the area.

3 Months

You may be thinking 3 weeks is insane without power, but power outages have lasted months. For example, after being hit by the outer bands of hurricane Irma and then directly hit by hurricane Maria in 2017, Puerto Rico took 11 months to fully restore power to the island.

While that is an extreme case, and often longer time frames occur outside of the US, it is something that is a very real possibility with the level of natural disasters we have seen over the years. Subsequently, multiple months without power will require most amount of preps. Getting an alternative power source if possible is highly recommended to power some of your essential home appliances like the fridge and some fans/ heaters depending on the time of year.

If the outage lasts for months, getting food and water regularly should not be a problem. So don’t think you will need to stock up 3 months’ worth of non-perishables and bottled water for each person in the home. Most stores have generators that will continue to run, and trucks will continue distributing food throughout the downed areas.

Another alternative would be to evacuate to a family’s home that does have power, until your area is restored. This may be especially viable for those with special needs or those who have had history with heat stroke.