When The Power Goes Out, These Hacks Will Keep You Safe

Power outages can be a real headache. Depending on the time of year, having no power in your home could leave you in a house-sized freezer or oven. Worse, if the power stays off late into the night then, you’re left alone in the dark. What do you? Where there’s a problem, there’s almost always a solution. From power crayons to mirrors, to portable chargers, here is everything you need to know to continue functioning without power!

Hide Important Items In An Air Tight Space

fixing a dishwasher
Anya Semenoff/The Denver Post via Getty Images
Anya Semenoff/The Denver Post via Getty Images

This hack is important if you live in an area where the power outage you’re experiencing is caused by a flood. To make sure your most important items stay dry, put them in an airtight space. We recommend the dishwasher.

While that might seem counter-intuitive, your dishwasher is perfectly sealed when closed. And during a power outage, it’s not like you can accidentally turn it on. Just remember to take everything out once the lights come back on!

Turn All Switches To Off And Unplug Everything

flipping a light switch
H. Armstrong Roberts/ClassicStock/Getty Images
H. Armstrong Roberts/ClassicStock/Getty Images

If you do not have surge protectors throughout your house, then this hack is non-negotiable. There may be times during and outage where power may turn back on suddenly and briefly. If you have anything plugged into an outlet, it could create a spark followed by a fire.

The same rule applies for any switches in the on position. Make sure they are turned off, or the energy source might spark from being suddenly turned on improperly.

Fill Zip Lock Bags With Tap Water

use tap water to make ice
Lino Mirgeler/picture alliance via Getty Images
Lino Mirgeler/picture alliance via Getty Images

This power outage hack only really works if it’s cold outside. When you can, fill plastic zip-top bags or empty jugs with tap water and leave them outside in the cold. If the temperature is low enough, the liquid will freeze.

Once you have these giant ice cubes, put them in a cooler or washer to keep perishable items stay cold. This is also a great hack if you don’t happen to have enough ice on hand before the power goes out.

Crayons Can Be Used As Candles

crayons can be turned into candles
Danny Gohlke/picture alliance via Getty Images)
Danny Gohlke/picture alliance via Getty Images)

Here’s the situation: the power is out and you have no candles. Do you have crayons lying around? If you do, they can be used as a great candle substitute to provide light, and here’s how.

Melt the bottom part of the crayon until you can stick it onto a paper plate. Let it dry in place. Once that’s done, go ahead and light the top of the crayon. Once lit, it should stay that way for a few hours.

The Best Battery Hack

aaa batteries can be hacked to be aa
PA Images via Getty Images
PA Images via Getty Images

One of the worst realizations during a power outage is that the batteries in your flashlight are dead. If your flashlight takes AA batteries, and the only new ones you have are AAA, this is what you can do.

Take a small ball of tin foil and place it in between the device and the negative side of the battery. This should, in turn, power your flashlight for the rest of the night in a pinch.

Stay Low

the first floor of a house
Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post via Getty Images
Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post via Getty Images

If you cannot leave your house during a power outage but it’s unbearably hot inside then you need to stay low. If you live in a multi-story house that means staying on the first floor. Hot air rises, so the lower you can get the cooler it will be.

Another trick to staying cool is to wear as few layers as possible, and only wear light-colored clothing. Dark clothing absorbs heat while light clothing reflects it.

Create Light With A Headlamp And Water Jug

water jug headlamp
Chastity Mason/Pinterest
Chastity Mason/Pinterest

As the sun sets and it gets darker inside, keeping your house lit becomes vitally important. If you have a water jug and headlamp we have the perfect hack for you. Fill the jug with water, the put the headlamp on it facing inward.

The light from the headlamp will reflect through the water and provide you with needed light. This works best with a gallon jug. The more jugs and headlamps you have, the more light you can create!

Do You Have A Carbon Monoxide Detector?

a carbon monoxide detector and a toy car
Neil Godwin/T3 Magazine/Future via Getty Images
Neil Godwin/T3 Magazine/Future via Getty Images

Easily one of the most overlooked aspects of power outage safety is to make sure you have a carbon monoxide detector. The longer the power stays out, the more natural gases can invade your home at increasingly dangerous levels.

The good news is that most modern homes come with carbon monoxide detectors already installed. As long as yours is battery powered you should be prepared. If you live in an older home, check to see if you have one and install one if necessary.

Portable Chargers Are A Must

portable chargers are great in a blackout
JACK GUEZ/AFP via Getty Images
JACK GUEZ/AFP via Getty Images

Having cell phone service available to you during a power outage can be vital to stay informed. The key is making sure your phone stays charged. Portable chargers are a great way to make sure you can charge your phone.

If you don’t get service during an outage, a portable charger is still a great thing to have. Even if you can’t make a call, most cell phones come with a flashlight tool among other nifty apps.

Use Mirrors For Extra Light

a mirror reflecting light
Universal History Archive / Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Universal History Archive / Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Mirrors as objects are not light sources, but they can reflect and amplify light. This is a great hack to combine with your jug lamp if you have portable mirrors. You can also aim a flashlight at a mirror and see how much light amplification occurs.

During a power outage, any increase in light available can be a lifesaver, especially if you need to go into a room with no windows for any reason.

Sanitation Supplies Will Help Keep Germs At Bay

a man using wet wipes
Christopher Polk/Getty Images for Interscope
Christopher Polk/Getty Images for Interscope

Without proper sanitary preparations for a power outage, the spread of germs can be greatly increased. Look at it this way, if you have no way to properly wash your hands or clean dishes to eat off, its impossible to keep sanitary.

To protect yourself, family, and friends, keep plenty of soap and hand wipes in your emergency kit. And keep water specifically for your toilet if you begin experiencing sewage problems.

Have A First Aid Kit Ready

applying first aid
BSIP/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
BSIP/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

When a natural disaster causes a power outage, first responders can take a long time to… respond. Who knows how many emergencies they have been called to. This is just one of the reasons you should always have a fully stocked first aid kit at your house.

While a first aid kit can’t help with serious injuries, it can help with minor cuts and illnesses. If you live in an area where disaster strikes more than others, we recommend getting first aid certified as well.

Keep Coolers Nearby

cooler with food
Eva Marie Uzcategui/Getty Images
Eva Marie Uzcategui/Getty Images

One of the most inconvenient parts of a blackout is having all the food in your freezer or fridge go to waste. Instead of having to throw it all away, get coolers filled with ice as quickly as you can to save it.

If it’s hot inside your house, keeping a cooler with ice also means you can keep your drinks cold. If you don’t have a cooler, you can also fill any insulated spot, such as a washing machine, with ice.

Have Emergency Water On Hand

have emergency water on hand
Matthew Horwood/Getty Images
Matthew Horwood/Getty Images

While keeping a supply of emergency water in your house may seem logical, you would be surprised how many households don’t. If you live in an area that has a high chance of yearly blackouts, this water can save your life.

The longer an outage lasts, the more contaminated your normally safe water supply can get. This is the number one reason for keeping a supply of water jugs or water bottles around “just in case.”

This Is What Should Be In Your Emergency Food Supply

a canned food supply
BSIP/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
BSIP/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Just like you should have an emergency water supply, it is also important to keep an emergency food supply. One the power is out, your fridge and freezer will preserve food for two days if you’re lucky.

Any food in your emergency supply should be non-perishable. This can include a variety of canned food and Meals Ready to Eat. Food prepared this way will stay shelf-stable, sometimes for years, meaning you won’t go hungry in the dark.

Keep A Battery Operated Radio Around

a boy listening to a portable radio
H. Armstrong Roberts/ClassicStock/Getty Images
H. Armstrong Roberts/ClassicStock/Getty Images

When the power goes out, you can still use a battery-operated radio to get important emergency information. An NOAA Weather Radio is suggested by the American Red Cross, but as long as it’s battery operated you should be good to go.

Listening to the radio can let you know how dangerous your area is becoming and if rescue workers are on their way. Once you have your information, you can even see if you are in reach of any FM stations that still have power and are playing music.

Stockpile Battery Operated Fans

image of battery powered fans
HOANG DINH NAM/AFP via Getty Images
HOANG DINH NAM/AFP via Getty Images

For the most part, portable fans need to be plugged in to be used. If you can find them, buy battery operated fans in case of emergency. That way, if your power goes out in the middle of the summer, you can place the fans in front of open windows to help circulate air.

Taking this precaution could help prevent heatstroke in extreme conditions, and it is easy to overlook if you have central air conditioning.

Go To Someplace With Temperature Control

patrons buying popcorn at a movie theater
Chris Ratcliffe/Getty Images
Chris Ratcliffe/Getty Images

Depending where you live and what season a power outage occurs, it might not be safe for you to stay in your home. Temperatures outside, cold or hot, will magnify themselves within your walls.

The good news is that most malls or other major retail spaces will have power generators and be able to control their temperatures. There’s never a better time to check out the latest movie when it’s over 100 degrees in your house and you can’t turn your AC on!

Keep Plenty Of Batteries Around

a collection of batteries
Rosemary Calvert/Getty Images
Rosemary Calvert/Getty Images

Instead of having to use hacks to turn AAA batteries into AA batteries, the best thing you can do is make sure you have a stockpile of all the sizes of batteries you might need.

Each battery-operated device like a flashlight, fan, or radio probably takes different size batteries in different numbers. The best way to stay safe during a power outage is to stay prepared, and having every batter you might need ready is one of the first and easiest steps you can take.

Board Games And Playing Cards Will Keep You Occupied

a family playing cribbage together
Joe Amon/The Denver Post via Getty Images
Joe Amon/The Denver Post via Getty Images

In today’s technologically driven world, it can be easy to forget to have simple pleasures laying around like board games and playing cards. Who wants to play Monopoly when you can play Mario Kart instead?

When the power goes out and you don’t have technology-free games, you’ll find yourself with nothing to do. Having board games or cards can help pass the time while you wait with your friends or family for everything to come back on.