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Lights Out: Preparing for Long Power Outages

.                        Opportunity 4 You


Flashlight in Emergencies

O4Us are set up so that there is no stress to try and complete a phase by a set date. It is far more important that you complete each phase. Therefore, no dates or suggestions of how long a phase should take have been given. Everyone’s situation is unique. It is more important that the phases be worked into your schedule so that you complete the phase, no matter how long it takes you and your family. Every phase you complete will bring you one step closer to being prepared for an emergency.  It is also important that you include your entire family (no matter how young) and that you celebrate when you have completed this O4U. Even the youngest children can be given simple tasks so that they will feel proud of the final accomplishment.

Whether you believe that global warming is the cause of the natural disasters that are becoming more dangerous every year or not, the fact remains that natural disasters are becoming more intense. Areas throughout all countries around the world are being affected by these intense natural disasters.


To prepare in advance for a power outage. If you wait until the emergency actually happens, not only will you cause yourself more stress, but you also might be unable to access critical information that you will need.

  • What would you do if your electricity went out and was out for several days, or longer?
  • Is all of your emergency contact information in your computer?
  • Or is it in your SmartPhone or iPhone? Are you aware that cell phones/SmartPhones, iPhones, etc., will not work during a power outage?
  • What will you do if you answered “yes” to either question and you need your primary care doctor? How will you find that number? You could dial “O” for the Operator; however, because that service is rarely used anymore due to technological advances, the only way you will be able to get assistance from the Operator is if you pay for the service in advance. If it is night, and therefore, dark, how will you read your credit card number to the Operator?


Power outages can occur from a variety of reasons. Most of the time, power companies are able to re-establish electricity within a few hours; however, major catastrophes such as Hurricane Sandy, Hurricane Arthur, Hurricane Katrina, tornadoes, wildfires, terror attacks, solar flares, etc. can cause the power to be out for days or even weeks. An extended power outage can mean being extremely cold or hot and, in some cases, can be a threat to your health and/or safety. Minimize those threats by advance preparation and knowing what to do when the lights go out. And stay out.


You and your family will be prepared for many types of emergencies so that you can remain as safe and comfortable as possible until life returns to normal



Phase 1 –         Prep for Family Meeting

Phase 2 –         Family Meeting / Choose Tasks

Phase 3 –         Locate Emergency GO BAGS and Assemble Supplies, Equipment, etc.

Phase 4 –         Family Meeting: Assemble Emergency Kits

Finale –             Drill to Make Sure Everything is Covered


Phase 1 – Prep for Family Meeting

Family Meeting

The best way to get total buy-in from your entire family is to find ways for every member of your family to be actively involved in gathering important information and then putting all the puzzle pieces together to form a completed puzzle. However, in order to have a productive family meeting, you will need to prepare some items before the meeting.

  • Decide the best day or evening to hold the family meeting when everyone will be available
  • What is their favorite food? Serve that item (or those items) so that you can get down to the business at hand rather than dealing with “I do not like that”.
  • Decide the tasks that will need to be done in advance of an emergency. Break that list down so that each member of the family will have one task
  • You can try listing the items on a paper to pass around and let each member of the family decide what they want to do
    • Do NOT assign the tasks because you will get push back
  • Have a backup plan in case family members cannot agree on the task they want to do so that all tasks can be covered.
    • Consider putting one task on a small piece of paper, folding it into small squares, and putting it in a basket so each member of the family can pick one folded piece of paper from the basket, which will be the task they must complete
    • This should be a backup plan of action because this is like assigning a task to each member, which means everyone will be less willing to participate



  • Decide how much food and water will need to be assembled for 5 days for each member of the family and each pet. This includes breakfast, lunch, and dinner for each person and the number of meals for your pets depending on how often they normally eat each day
    • Cats will also need kitty litter
  • Complete the blank Health Information Form for each member of the family and pets such as doctors, specialists, pharmacies, veterinarians, insurance companies and policy numbers, etc. If you need a template to use as a guide, see the form at the end of this O4U.
  • Pet friendly facilities: If you have pets, be sure to have a copy of their current vaccinations because if you must evacuate, you will need this info. Also, have the names and contact info of hotels that permit pets, both in your area and also 25+ miles away from your current location
  • First Aid kit: decide what items need to be included in a first aid kit. You can start with a purchased kit; however, keep in mind that it will need to be personalized by medical issues that the different members of your family has (arthritis, asthma, allergy meds, etc.)
  • Lights Out Kit or Go Bag: decide what items should go into a “Lights Out Kit” or “Go Bag” and where to get the items. Location of items can be purchased online or in brick and mortar stores.
  • What Steps to Take As a Major Storm is Approaching: Determine what type of storm is headed in your direction. That person will be the one to pull the appropriate emergency preparedness information that you have previously assembled.
  • Kitchen Kit: what items will go into an emergency kitchen kit? If you have a camping stove and fuel, you will be able to heat food items. You could check out freeze dried foods such as what is sold by Authorized Boots, Prepare Wise, or Camping Survival. Include trash bags, paper towels, etc.
  • Create an emergency GO BAG for each family member. Someone who wears contacts or glasses will need those supplies, meds need to be included, teens and women will need sanitary provisions, cash and coins, personal hygiene items, emergency radio (AM/FM Radio, flashlight, crank operated and batteries), etc.

Phase 2 – Family Meeting / Choose Tasks

Start the meeting by showing several quick videos so that you can get everyone’s attention. Below are two excellent examples.

NOTE: for young children, these videos might be scary. However, the point of this exercise is to be prepared BEFORE an emergency happens.

Also, show handouts like these below to show kids how they can have a better idea of what they can do to help be prepared:

  1. Explain the tasks that will need to be completed so that your family can be prepared in case an emergency does arise. Ask if family members want to each take a task or if they would be happier picking tasks out of a basket.
  2. Who will do the following? Keep in mind that these lists must be very thorough. Have each person who will take on the task do a mental walk thru their day from the time they get out of bed until the time they go back to bed and make notes of everything they do. Keep in mind that electricity will not be working and therefore, it will be important for each family member have entertainment activities they can do with no power
    • Make a list of food and water for 5 days? Include food and water for pets, too.
    • Who will complete a health info form for each family member and each pet
    • Locate pet friendly facilities (if you have pets)
    • Make a list of items needed for a first aid kit
    • Make a list of items that will go into a Lights Out Kit or Go Bag and where to get the items at the best prices
    • Make a list of the steps that should be taken when a major storm is approaching
    • Make a list of items that will go into a Kitchen Kit
  3. Determine what date everyone thinks he/she can complete his or her task and schedule the next family meeting for after that time. At the next family meeting, everything will be assembled. Ask everyone what food items they would like to have at the next meeting. Food should be easily assembled with very little cleanup, even if you order pizza or subs to be delivered.
  4. Designate one location in your home where everyone will put their information and items. Explain that everyone will assemble everything at the next meeting.
  5. Have dinner and bounce around ideas. It is extremely important that everyone’s suggestions be considered. Keep this meal an event that everyone looks forward to the final family meeting, which is when everyone will actually assemble all of their items
    • Ask everyone what reward you should each have or what type of celebration everyone would like for when you complete this preparation. Again, to get their “buy-in” they will need to be actively involved in all of the decisions.


Emergency Go Bag

Phase 3 – Locate Emergency GO BAGS

Consider using canvas shoulder bags for your GO BAGS and label each bag with the family member’s name, including your pets.

Shoulder bags are easier to carry several items if you can carry them on your shoulder or across your chest.

Finally, consider using canvas because it is sturdy and will withstand a lot of weight. This is not the place to cut corners. The very last thing you will want is to have your emergency GO BAGS fall apart when you need them the most.


Phase 4 – Family Meeting: Assemble Emergency Kits

  1. This family meeting will be when everyone assembles the GO BAGS or LIGHTS OUT kits.
  2. Arrange for even the youngest of children can be actively involved. They need to feel needed and involved in helping their family if an emergency ever does arise.
  3. Communication
    • Emergency hand cranked NOAA weather radio, with flashlight and smartphone charger with cables.
      • Although cell phones and smart phones will not work during a power outage, as cell towers are re-established, you will need a way to charge your phones, which is why I chose a hand cranked setup.
      • Also, my concern is that batteries wear out quickly so I got hand cranked flashlights like this, and this.
    • Your emergency kit will also need the phone numbers of power companies, doctors, pharmacies, etc. all stored in Ziploc bags so the info does not get wet.
  4. Lights. Do NOT use candles. When you are out of your normal routine, you will not be focused on watching candles to make sure they do not catch on fire.
  5. Decide where the emergency kits will be stored. Every member of the family must know where that location is and what their task will be in the event of an emergency.  Even very young kids can have tasks assigned so that they feel needed.


Finale – Drill to Make Sure Everything is Done and CELEBRATE!!!

  1. Briefly conduct a walk through to make sure all items have been appropriately covered.
  2. Assuming that everything is completely covered, your celebration should be next. Make this a fun event and you will find that your family will be more willing to participate in more Opportunities 4 You in upcoming months.


Updated: June 18, 2018 — 11:26 am


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