Power outages can be seriously obnoxious. No Internet, no TV, no lights. On top of that, they can be dangerous, especially in the cold. A prolonged outage is always a danger during a serious storm, no matter the kind. And while it might not happen, you always want to be prepared.
Obviously the biggest hurdle you'll face during a power outage is going to be lack of power. And keeping your phone/laptop/tablet charged isn't just a matter of convenience, sometimes it's your only two-way connection to the outside world.
The best solution, of course, is to be prepared. If you have battery packs or other sources of portable power, charge those suckers up. If you don't, it's all the more important to keep your gadgets topped off when a blackout's impending. Make sure you don't burn through half your battery playing Angry Birds only to have the lights go out as you're reaching for a charger. And stock up on good old fashioned AAs and AAAs too. You might not be able to run your phone on them, but a AA-powered mini-flashlight is going to beat the hell out of wasting phone battery on illuminating the way to the bathroom at night.
If it's too late to prepare, you've still got some options. Remember that your car—so long as it's full of gas and reachable—is pretty much a giant gas-powered battery. With a cigarette-lighter adapter, you can charge up your gadgets with ease. But please, make sure the exhaust isn't blocked.
With a little foresight and the right gadgets, you can milk all kinds of power directly from the car's battery, so long as it holds out anyway. Likewise, it never hurts to get a 2-outlet lamp-socket so you can siphon sweet, sweet power from emergency lighting if for some reason it comes down to that.
Chances are a power outage is going to take out your primary heating source, and that can be pretty rough. Fortunately there are some things you can do to get ready ahead of time:
- If you've got a fireplace, take a minute and admire it. Isn't it just great? Ok, now make sure you have some stuff you can actually burn in it; tinder on up to logs, preferably dry. Check for some firestarters too, if you're no outdoorsman. Make sure that chimney ain't blocked though.
- Go round up all your blankets and get some more if you have the chance. Not only are you going to be wrapping yourself in these suckers, but you're also going to want to hang them up in front of windows, especially if you have big/drafty ones. And while you're digging through the drawers, better pull out those long johns. No one cares if you're looking sexy. It'll be dark.
- Don't burn charcoal inside (duh) or try to heat your house with a gas oven unless you would like to risk being on fire.
- And it won't keep you warm, but turn your faucets on to a drip so those pipes don't freeze.
This is all prep. Make sure you round up a bunch of canned goods before the storm hits. Unlike summer storms, you can stock up on frozen goods and keep 'em outside your door, but it's important to remember you'll have to heat them up. If you've got a gas stove, then lucky you. If not, keep in mind that things like boiling water might prove problematic. Hooray for lukewarm canned soup. But hey, at least you won't starve. And if, by chance, you rely on an electric can opener: stop it. Get a real one.
Water water everywhere. Staying hydrated might not seem like that big of a deal since the emergency at hand involves a whole bunch of it falling from the sky in a conveniently non-flooding type form, but you can't be too careful. You'll want to have one gallon of drinking water per person per day. And on top of that, you'll also need water for washing dishes, washing parts of yourself, and washing your excrement down the toilet.
Sure, melted snow can be a great source of water for this, but you'll have to melt it. Obviously an electric stove won't be much help there, and even if you've got a gas one, it's best not to have to rely on it when you can just, you know, get more water ahead of time. Fill up that tub.
Last and—let's face it—probably least, you should make sure you have something to do. Board games and non-electronic books are always a good bet if you have lighting (which you should). A deck of cards can also go a long way. It's also wise to prepare for conversation with whatever human beings may happen to be in the vacinity. Brush up on your small talk, or big talk.
Just like getting through anything, getting through a power outage is 99 percent preparedness, so just take a cool five minutes to sit down and really think about what you're going to need to accomplish, if and when the lights go out. So long as you're not an idiot, you should get by just fine.