How to Survive a Summer Power Outage

(Psst: The FTC wants me to remind you that this website contains affiliate links. That means if you make a purchase from a link you click on, I might receive a small commission. This does not increase the price you'll pay for that item nor does it decrease the awesomeness of the item. ~ Daisy)

Author of Be Ready for Anything and The Blackout Book

Sometimes people think that a summer power outage is easier to deal with than a winter one. After all, in the summer, you don’t have to worry about freezing to death, which is a very real threat during a long-lasting winter outage.

However, a summer power outage carries its own set of problems. Foremost are heat-related illnesses and the higher potential of spoilage for your food. Even if you aren’t convinced that hardcore preparedness is for you, it would still be difficult to argue against the possibility of a disaster that takes out the power for a couple of weeks. Basic emergency preparedness is important for everyone, not just us “crazy preppers.”

Just ask the people who lived through the Derecho of 2012 how unpleasant it was

Severe, fast-moving thunderstorms (called derechos) swept through Indiana, Ohio, Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey, and Washington DC. Millions lost power, an estimated 4 million for an entire week. As if a week-long power outage wasn’t miserable enough, that part of the country was in the midst of a record-setting heatwave during the time period.

Also keep in mind that summer stresses our fragile power grid to the max, as everyone increases their usage of electricity to try and keep cool with air conditioners and fans. This ups the chances of an outage even when there’s not a cloud in the sky.

Back in 2003, a software bug caused an extremely widespread power outage in the middle of August. It was a very hot day, and increased energy demand overloaded the system. Because of the issue with the software, engineers were not alerted of this, and what should have been a small local outage turned into an event that took out power for over 10 million Canadians and 45 million Americans. I remember this one clearly because the little sub shop beside my workplace gave away all the perishable food that they had out at the time before it spoiled and I took home fresh sandwiches for my girls’ dinner that night. We sweated uncomfortably through the next two days until the power was restored.

Beware of dehydration and heat-related illnesses

On of the most serious concerns that sets apart a summer power outage from that of other times of the year is the heat. When you don’t have so much as a fan to move the air around, heat-related illnesses and serious levels of dehydration are strong possibilities. From my book, The Prepper’s Water Survival Guide, here’s an excerpt from the chapter on dehydration:

Dehydration is the state that occurs when you use or lose more fluid than you take in, and your body doesn’t have enough water and other fluids to carry out its normal functions. Your electrolytes are out of balance., which can lead to increasingly serious problems.

Symptoms of electrolyte imbalances include dizziness, fatigue, nausea (with or without vomiting), constipation, dry mouth, dry skin, muscle weakness, stiff or aching joints, confusion, delirium, rapid heart rate, twitching, blood pressure changes, seizures, and convulsions.

Dehydration can lead to very serious side effects, including death.

Following are the most common dehydration-related ailments.

Heat cramps: Heat cramps are painful, brief muscle cramps. Muscles may spasm or jerk involuntarily. Heat cramps can occur during exercise or work in a hot environment or begin a few hours following such activities.

Heat exhaustion: Often accompanied by dehydration, heat exhaustion is a heat-related illness that can occur after you’ve been exposed to high temperatures.

There are two types of heat exhaustion:

  • Water depletion. Signs include excessive thirst, weakness, headache, and loss of consciousness.
  • Salt depletion. Signs include nausea and vomiting, muscle cramps, and dizziness.

Heat stroke: Heat stroke is the most serious form of heat injury and is considered a medical emergency. Heat stroke results from prolonged exposure to high temperatures—usually in combination with dehydration—which leads to failure of the body’s temperature control system. The medical definition of heat stroke is a core body temperature greater than 105°F, with complications involving the central nervous system that occur after exposure to high temperatures. Other common symptoms include nausea, seizures, confusion, disorientation, and, sometimes, loss of consciousness or coma.

Dehydration can lead to other potentially lethal complications.

The Mayo Clinic offers the following examples:

  • Seizures: Electrolytes—such as potassium and sodium—help carry electrical signals from cell to cell. If your electrolytes are out of balance, the normal electrical messages can become mixed up, which can lead to involuntary muscle contractions, and, sometimes, loss of consciousness.
  • Low blood volume (hypovolemic shock): This is one of the most serious, and sometimes life-threatening, complications of dehydration. It occurs when low blood volume causes a drop in blood pressure and a drop in the amount of oxygen in your body.
  • Swelling of the brain (cerebral edema): Sometimes, when you’re taking in fluids again after being dehydrated, the body tries to pull too much water back into your cells. This can cause some cells to swell and rupture. The consequences are especially grave when brain cells are affected.
  • Kidney failure: This potentially life-threatening problem occurs when your kidneys are no longer able to remove excess fluids and waste from your blood.
  • Coma and death: When not treated promptly and appropriately, severe dehydration can be fatal.

How to Treat Dehydration

People who are suffering from dehydration must replace fluids and electrolytes. The most common way to do this is through oral rehydration therapy (ORT). In extreme cases, fluids must be given intravenously. In a disaster situation, hospitals may not be readily available, so every effort should be made to prevent the situation from reaching that level of severity.

Humans cannot survive without electrolytes, which are minerals in your blood and other bodily fluids that carry an electric charge. They are important because they are what your cells (especially those in your nerves, heart, and muscles) use to maintain voltages across cell membranes and to carry electrical impulses (nerve impulses and muscle contractions) across themselves and to other cells. Electrolytes, especially sodium, also help your body maintain its water balance.

Water itself does not contain electrolytes, but dehydration can cause serious electrolyte imbalances.

In most situations, avoid giving the dehydrated person salt tablets. Fresh, cool water is the best cure. In extreme temperatures or after very strenuous activities, electrolyte replacement drinks can be given. Sports drinks such as Gatorade can help replenish lost electrolytes. For children, rehydration beverages like Pedialyte can be helpful. (Source)

Here’s some more thorough information on heat-related illnesses, how to prevent them, and how to treat them.

The World Health Organization offers this oral rehydration solution recipe:

  • 3/8 tsp salt (sodium chloride)
  • ¼ tsp Morton Salt Substitute® (potassium chloride)
  • ½ tsp baking soda (sodium bicarbonate)
  • 2 tbsp + 2 tsp sugar

Add tap water to make 1 liter. You can optionally add a sugar-free drink flavoring powder of choice to taste.

Store lots of water

One of the best ways to avoid the heat-related problems above is to store lots of water.

You can’t always rely on the faucet in the kitchen. In the event of a disaster, the water may not run from the taps, and if it does, it might not be safe to drink, depending on the situation.  If there is a boil order in place, remember that if the power is out, boiling your water may not be as easy as turning on your stove. If you are on a well and don’t have a back-up in place, you won’t have running water.

Each family should store a two week supply of water. The rule of thumb for drinking water is 1 gallon per day, per person.  Don’t forget to stock water for your pets, also.

You can create your water supply very inexpensively.  Many people use clean 2 liter soda pop bottles to store tap water.  Others purchase the large 5-gallon jugs of filtered water from the grocery store and use them with a top-loading water dispenser.  Consider a gravity fed water filtration device and water purification tablets as well.

Because water is kind of my thing lately, you can find lots more information on this topic HERE.

How to keep cooler during the blackout

This is easier said than done when it’s 105 and you can’t even run a fan. Here are some ways to keep a little bit cooler when the grid is down:

  • Get battery-operated fans. (And lots of batteries.) A battery-operated fan can help cool you down, particularly if you get yourself wet first. They’re reasonably inexpensive and work well, although I recommend spending a bit more than for the cheap ones at the dollar store. This one is big enough to reach more than one part of your body at a time and can help you get to sleep. 6 D batteries will run it for about 40 hours. These tabletop fans are rechargeable (so you will either need an off-rid way to recharge them or you’ll need backups), these handheld fans have a misting option (also rechargeable) and these handheld fans are powered for up to 8 hours by 2 AA batteries these handheld fans are powered for up to 8 hours by 2 AA batteries.
  • Stock up on cooling towels. I picked up some these cooling towels for use when I was working outside in the garden. I was stunned at how well they work. All you do is get them wet, wring them out, and give them a snap, then they cool you down, no power or refrigeration required. You can use them over and over again. They also come in these bands that can be worn around your head or neck.
  • Channel your inner Southern belle.  Slowly fan yourself with a handheld fan. Mint juleps are optional.
  • Keep hydrated.  Your body needs the extra water to help produce sweat, which cools you off.
  • Change your schedule.  There’s a reason that people who live near the equator close down their businesses and enjoy a midday siesta.  Take a tepid shower and then, without drying off, lay down and try to take a nap. At the very least, do a quiet activity.
  • Play in the water.  Either place a kiddie pool in a shaded part of the yard or use the bathtub indoors. Find a nearby creek or pond for wading or swimming. (Note: Playing in the water isn’t just for kids!)
  • Soak your feet.  A foot bath full of tepid water can help cool you down.
  • Avoid heavy meals.  Your body has to work hard to digest heavy, rich meals, and this raises your temperature.  Be gentle on your system with light, cool meals like salads and fruit.
  • Make sure your window screens are in good condition.  You’re going to need to have your windows open, but fighting off insects when you’re trying to sleep is a miserable and frustrating endeavor.

Scott Kelley from Graywolf Survival has super-easy instructions for making your own air conditioner that will help cool down one room as long as the power is still on. His design doesn’t require ice, it’s VERY budget-friendly, and he offers suggestions for alternative power, as well. It’s a must-read!

Be very conscious of food safety

If a power outage lasts for more than 4 hours, you need to err on the side of caution with regard to refrigerated and frozen food.  Coolers can help – you can put your most expensive perishables in a cooler and fill it with ice from the freezer to extend its lifespan. Whatever you do, don’t open the doors to the refrigerator and freezer. This will help it to maintain a cooler temperature for a longer time.

According to the Red Cross, if your freezer is half-filled and is not opened the entire time that the power is out, the food in it will remain sufficiently frozen for up to 24 hours. If it is completely filled, your food should remain safe for up to 48 hours.  If the worst happens and your freezer full of meat does spoil, keep in mind that most homeowner’s and renter’s insurance policies will pay for their replacement, but unless you’ve lost a whole lot or your deductible is very small, it may not be worth making a claim.

I strongly recommend the purchase of a digital refrigerator thermometer

This has many kitchen uses, but in the event of a disaster is worth its weight in gold for determining food safety. I have one of these in the fridge and one in the freezer.  You can use your thermometer with this chart (print it out so you have it on hand in the event of a down-grid emergency) to determine the safety of your food.  (The chart is from

Food Categories Specific Foods Held above 40 °F for over 2 hours
MEAT, POULTRY, SEAFOOD Raw or leftover cooked meat, poultry, fish, or seafood; soy meat substitutes Discard
Thawing meat or poultry Discard
Salads: Meat, tuna, shrimp, chicken, or egg salad Discard
Gravy, stuffing, broth Discard
Lunchmeats, hot dogs, bacon, sausage, dried beef Discard
Pizza – with any topping Discard
Canned hams labeled “Keep Refrigerated” Discard
Canned meats and fish, opened Discard
Casseroles, soups, stews Discard
CHEESE Soft Cheeses: blue/bleu, Roquefort, Brie, Camembert, cottage, cream, Edam, Monterey Jack, ricotta, mozzarella, Muenster, Neufchatel, queso blanco, queso fresco Discard
Hard Cheeses: Cheddar, Colby, Swiss, Parmesan, provolone, Romano Safe
Processed Cheeses Safe
Shredded Cheeses Discard
Low-fat Cheeses Discard
Grated Parmesan, Romano, or combination (in can or jar) Safe
DAIRY Milk, cream, sour cream, buttermilk, evaporated milk, yogurt, eggnog, soy milk Discard
Butter, margarine Safe
Baby formula, opened Discard
EGGS Fresh eggs, hard-cooked in shell, egg dishes, egg products Discard
Custards and puddings, quiche Discard
FRUITS Fresh fruits, cut Discard
Fruit juices, opened Safe
Canned fruits, opened Safe
Fresh fruits, coconut, raisins, dried fruits, candied fruits, dates Safe
SAUCES, SPREADS, JAMS Opened mayonnaise, tartar sauce, horseradish Discard if above 50 °F for over 8 hrs.
Peanut butter Safe
Jelly, relish, taco sauce, mustard, catsup, olives, pickles Safe
Worcestershire, soy, barbecue, hoisin sauces Safe
Fish sauces, oyster sauce Discard
Opened vinegar-based dressings Safe
Opened creamy-based dressings Discard
Spaghetti sauce, opened jar Discard
BREAD, CAKES, COOKIES, PASTA, GRAINS Bread, rolls, cakes, muffins, quick breads, tortillas Safe
Refrigerator biscuits, rolls, cookie dough Discard
Cooked pasta, rice, potatoes Discard
Pasta salads with mayonnaise or vinaigrette Discard
Fresh pasta Discard
Cheesecake Discard
Breakfast foods –waffles, pancakes, bagels Safe
PIES, PASTRY Pastries, cream filled Discard
Pies – custard, cheese filled, or chiffon; quiche Discard
Pies, fruit Safe
VEGETABLES Fresh mushrooms, herbs, spices Safe
Greens, pre-cut, pre-washed, packaged Discard
Vegetables, raw Safe
Vegetables, cooked; tofu Discard
Vegetable juice, opened Discard
Baked potatoes Discard
Commercial garlic in oil Discard
Potato salad Discard
Casseroles, soups, stews Discard

Other methods of preserving food

Another way to combat the potential losses of a long-term summer power outage is to use other methods for preserving food. Canning and dehydration are not grid-dependent and can save you a whole lot of money and prevent a mess of rotting meat in your freezer.

If a power-outage looks like it’s going to be lasting for quite some time, you can be proactive if you have canning supplies on hand and a propane burner, and you can pressure can your meat outdoors to preserve it. (Here’s how to pressure can roasts and chicken.)  If you decide to get one, THIS PROPANE BURNER is probably the closest one to a kitchen stove out there. It works well for keeping your product cooking at a steady temperature. Don’t cheap out on this purchase, or you will stand there in front of this burner for a long, frustrating time and still end up with food that has not been canned safely. Be very careful to supervise the canning pot: you don’t want the pressure to drop to an unsafe level and you want to keep kids and pets away from this project.  Added bonus – when you have a propane burner like this, the sky is the limit as far as cooking in a power outage.

Some stuff is the same as prepping for any other power outage

Many preparedness concerns are the same, no matter what time of the year your power outage occurs. Here are some of the basic things you need for any power outage:

Food and a way to prepare it

There are two schools of thought regarding food during a power outage.  One: you need a cooking method that does not require the grid to be functioning.  Two: you can store food that doesn’t require cooking.

If you opt for a secondary cooking method, be sure that you have enough fuel for two weeks.  Store foods that do not require long cooking times – for example, dried beans would use a great deal of fuel, but canned beans could be warmed up, or even eaten cold. In the summer you don’t want to rely on a cooking method that heats up your house, so look to things like outdoor barbecues or solar cookers.

  • Learn more about building your pantry HERE.
  • Click HERE for a short-term food storage list
  • Click HERE to find a list of meals that require no cooking.

Sanitation needs

A common cause of illness, and even death, during a down-grid situation is lack of sanitation.

For cleaning, reduce your need to wash things. Stock up on paper plates, paper towels, and disposable cups and flatware. Keep some disinfecting cleaning wipes and sprays (I don’t recommend using antibacterial products on a regular basis, however in the event of an emergency they can help to keep you healthy.) Use hand sanitizer after using the bathroom and before handling food or beverages – there may be a lot more germs afoot in a disaster.

Look at your options for sanitation

Does your toilet still flush when the electricity is out? Many people discovered the hard way that the toilets didn’t work  when the sewage backed up in the high-rises in New York City in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. At our cabin, the toilet won’t flush without power because the pump is electric.

If you are on a septic system, with no risk of the toilet backing up into the house, simply store some water for flushing in the bathroom.  (At the first sign of a storm, we always fill the bathtub for this purpose.)  Add the water to the tank so that you can flush.

If this is not an option, check out THIS ARTICLE, which explains how to take care of potty needs if the toilet won’t flush and you live somewhere that you can’t just go out in the back 40 to do your business.


Lighting is absolutely vital, especially if there are children in the house. Nothing is more frightening than being completely in the dark during a stressful situation. Fortunately, it’s one of the easiest things to plan for, as well as one of the least expensive.

Some lighting solutions are:

Other options are long-burning candles or kerosene lamps,  but during a summer outage, they would be less desirable, since they add heat to an already overly warm situation.

First Aid kit

It’s important to have a basic first aid kit on hand at all times, but particularly in the event of an emergency.  Your kit should include basic wound care items like bandages, antibiotic ointments, and sprays.  As well, if you use them, keep on hand a supply of basic over-the-counter medications, like pain relief capsules, cold medicine, cough syrup, anti-nausea pills, and allergy medication.

If you want to put together a more advanced medical kit, you can find a list HERE.

Special needs

This is something that will be unique to every family. Consider the things that are needed on a daily basis in your household. It might be prescription medications, diapers, or special foods.  If you have pets, you’ll need supplies for them too.  The best way to figure out what you need is to jot things down as you use them over the course of a week or so.


Nothing grates on a parent’s nerves more than a refrain of, “I’m boooooredddd.” Many kids are accustomed to almost-constant electronic entertainment, so the loss of that can be quite stressful.

Keep a box of off-grid entertainment supplies in an easy-to-access place. Make one up for the different members of the family. Make these items things that the kids are not allowed to play with at any other time so that they are novel and interesting when the time comes to use them. Include things like

  • stationary supplies
  • notebooks
  • pens and pencils
  • sharpeners
  • crayons or coloring pencils
  • markers
  • glue sticks
  • glitter
  • puzzles
  • activity books
  • games
  • stickers

Make it a treasure trove! Be sure you include all of the supplies needed for each activity because it’s hard to find things when your home is only lit by candlelight. Here are some more ideas for power outage fun.

Any other suggestions for a summer power outage?

Have you been through a summer power outage that lasted longer than a couple of hours? Do you have some suggestions to add? Please share them in the comments section below.

About Daisy

Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, adventure-seeking, globe-trotting blogger. She is the founder and publisher of three websites.  1) The Organic Prepper, which is about current events, preparedness, self-reliance, and the pursuit of liberty; 2)  The Frugalite, a website with thrifty tips and solutions to help people get a handle on their personal finances without feeling deprived; and 3), an aggregate site where you can find links to all the most important news for those who wish to be prepared. Her work is widely republished across alternative media and she has appeared in many interviews.

Daisy is the best-selling author of 5 traditionally published books, 12 self-published books, and runs a small digital publishing company with PDF guides, printables, and courses at SelfRelianceand You can find her on FacebookPinterestGabMeWeParlerInstagram, and Twitter.

Picture of Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, globe-trotting blogger. She is the founder and publisher of three websites.  1) The Organic Prepper, which is about current events, preparedness, self-reliance, and the pursuit of liberty on her website, 2)  The Frugalite, a website with thrifty tips and solutions to help people get a handle on their personal finances without feeling deprived, and 3), an aggregate site where you can find links to all the most important news for those who wish to be prepared. She is widely republished across alternative media and  Daisy is the best-selling author of 5 traditionally published books and runs a small digital publishing company with PDF guides, printables, and courses. You can find her on FacebookPinterest, Gab, MeWe, Parler, Instagram, and Twitter.

Leave a Reply

  • Excellent article. The heat can play havoc on one’s body. Two family members have had dehydration and it is not a pretty picture. One member of my family was elderly and had a real problem with dehydration. This was part of the reason she passed away. This stuff is serious. Thanks for sharing.

  • Hi –
    I’m new to your site – this is great! I read somewhere earlier on your site, and cannot find now where you blogged on this – about buying a 12V deep charging marine battery for recharging cell phones and laptops. I checked these out, and learned from the saleswoman she knows a guy who uses these in conjunction with solar panels, to charge devices.
    I wonder, can you explain in detail how you use the battery for charging devices? Because it appears that there may be a specific process to properly hookup to this sort of power. I could buy a battery, but then I’d have no idea at all how to utilize it. Thanks!

    • if you have a 12 volt battery you can charge all 1.5 volt rechargeable batteries, just line up 8 of them on series + to – and + t – and then hook to battery. take a paper towel tube and slit it, roll it tighter so it fits d or c or aa or a batteries semi snug then tape it. then tape the – wire to the negative batter y and positive to the other end of the stack. leave on there for a while if one gets hot replace it with another and dispose of it. It helps to put a small flashlight bulb in parallel with the batteries. it will get brighter as the batteries get more charged

    • Hello Renee

      The better option are Lion solar batter banks! Companies like Ecoflow and Bluetti make out of the box very powerful solar generators that can be portable and carry up to 2kWh’s I own the first gen Ecoflow 1300 that will a lot of devices for days or even weeks depending. on the load.

      Once your empty plugin any solar panel and charge it back up. 12v deep cell tech is obsolete outside of marine application. So many better options.

  • Thanks Daisy.
    I read this article and there are some good pointers – including using solar panel for bugout bag. He doesn’t utilize the 12V marine battery though (something more for use at home base), so am not sure just where I read about it, and will keep looking.
    Love your site! Thank you ~R

  • I’ve benn told conflicting advice on wether to keep all windows and shutters closed or air out my condo on the beach due to power failure for approximately 3 months.
    Mainly moisture and mold concerns.
    Thank you in advance for any tips!

  • My grandparents, after they retired, worked in their garden starting at dawn and worked for only a hour or two and back to the house. This was 50 years ago, in the deep south, and they had no air conditioning. Dawn is the coolest time of day that you can see outdoors.

    Great article, Daisy!

  • Here is an easy way to check if freezer has “lost its cool.” When I am going to be away for several days I put a penny on top of the ice in an ice cube tray on top of the frozen food. When I return if the penny has sunk to the bottom of the tray, I know the freezer as defrosted.

  • Where I live it’s not uncommon to lose power for a significant time due to hurricanes or thunderstorms. We’re in the country, so it’s a deep well and septic. For water I have a number of used forklift batteries and a 300 watt solar rig to keep them charged.The solar charge converter has USB and 12 VDC outlets to take care small devices, and I acquired a 12VDC ranch pump along with a mil-surp 200 gallon potable water bladder. The bladder goes in the attic, I connected the feed line to the house plumbing, and the ranch pump will keep the bladder filled. So normal water pressure at the faucets, and with a hybrid propane/solar hot water heater, we’re goo to go from that perspective.

  • I enjoyed your article but have several ideas of how to stay cool which you did not post. These suggestions have saved me thousands of dollars because I no longer use my air conditioning much and I live in Sacramento. Here is what I do to stay cool:
    1. Wear damp clothes.
    2. Sleep under damp sheets.
    3. Hang laundry to dry in front of any areas in which the sun shines directly…my drying rack stays in my family room on summer mornings.
    4. Spritz myself with water during the day (I put essential oils in it:)
    5. Sit on the tile instead of in a chair. They do that in Vietnam where there is not AC. Tile wicks the heat from your body at a remarkable rate. They sleep on tile for that reason.
    6. I wash my hair just before I expect it to be hot.
    7. After I wash my hands I wipe them on my arms and the water cools me down.
    8. Water in a metal pan on tile stays cool…that helps in a power outage.
    9. Save some insulation sheets for such times or move potted plants or do whatever it takes to shade windows from the outside in a power outage.

    It takes as much energy to evaporate a cc of water as it does to raise it from the freezing point to the boiling point. It takes a TREMENDOUS amount of energy to evaporate water so any small amount will pull energy from the environment…or from your body…to change the state of liquid water into a gas. Off topic but of interest, it puts an enormous amount of energy to change water into ice…hence the wonder of placing water jugs in areas you don’t want to freeze. Evaporation cools the environment (ice on the outside of BBQ gas tanks) and freezing warms the environment. Ironic.

    Also, I think that dehydration needs more emphasis. Every emergency-room nurse has lots of stories of healthy, young people who have permanent disabilities due to a brief spell of dehydration. My daughter went into an emergency room that had no sitting room even outside and was on an IV in less than ten minutes. Special. She had experienced stomach flu starting at 8 am and I came home at lunch. They said that if I had gotten home an hour later then she would probably have had permanent damage. She did not know that less than four hours of flu could permanently handicap a person. Neither did I and it was the grace of God that I even came home for lunch. Then there was the young man who went hiking in the Sierra and forgot his water bottle on a summer day and by that afternoon had lost the use of one of his kidneys forever. The body shuts down major systems to keep the fluid it needs in the core. This is not widely published yet it happens rather frequently. I keep packs of electrolytes designed for children in all my emergency packs. Ij think that people’s stories of such permanent life-changing handicaps which resulted from brief but severe dehydration need to be promulgated….especially young people because most only think of this dramatically affecting those already frail.

    I have enjoyed your emails for years. I thank you and wish you and your daughter well:)

    • Thank you so much for that excellent advice. I’m so glad your daughter is okay!

  • watch craigslist for a old camper or RV for a few hundred bucks. Take the stove and fridge out of it, ensure they work.
    set up a propane survival kitchen in the garage. Buy or get from craigslist propane bottles and keep them full. I have one in my kitchen and a 20 gallon talk lasts a year. The propane fridges take about a quart a day so they eat up the propane….but you can save some food. fill all empty space in you freezer with milk jugs full of water. use these in your propane refrigerator to conserve or in a cooler. Run your generator 1 hour in morning and one at night and freeze back up the jugs.

    • Just a thought here concerning propane. Don’t EVER take a propane container indoors, very bad idea. I have seen many people do this, if there is a leak, the propane being heavier then air will stay at floor level or go into a basement. If the propane finds another ignition source, it will likely explode. If one is using propane any type of ventless heater indoors, think ahead and get a rubber hose made up so the container can stay outside. Imagine the propane container leaking while you are sleeping – BOOM. BTW – I was a propane professional for 17 years.

  • Hi Daisy, great article as always, jam packed with great info.

    Just thought I would let you know this paragraph is double posted:

    Be very conscious of food safety.
    One way to take a terrible situation to an even worse one is to get food poisoning, which is bad enough during times with moderate temperatures.

    If a power outage lasts for more than 4 hours, you need to err on the side of caution with regard to refrigerated and frozen food. Coolers can help – you can put your most expensive perishables in a cooler and fill it with ice from the freezer to extend its lifespan. Whatever you do, don’t open the doors to the refrigerator and freezer. This will help it to maintain a cooler temperature for a longer time.

    According to the Red Cross, if your freezer is half-filled and is not opened the entire time that the power is out, the food in it will remain sufficiently frozen for up to 24 hours. If it is completely filled, your food should remain safe for up to 48 hours. If the worst happens and your freezer full of meat does spoil, keep in mind that most homeowner’s and renter’s insurance policies will pay for their replacement, but unless you’ve lost a whole lot or your deductible is very small, it may not be worth making a claim.

    • It’s worth the effort to have potable water in gallon and half gallon milk jugs 3/4 full around to stow in the freezer as it gets emptied. This creates the fullness needed to maintain lower temps. Like having the ice chest effect in your fridge and freezer.

  • I have eaten Caesar Pizza left out for hours above 40 F and have never been sick. Himmmm…… Well it is a processed food DEAD anyway.

    According to the WAP Society, it is important to add sea-salt to your water to restore electrolyte balance on hot humid days. Yeah, that’s it, just SEA SALT.

    They also talk about Hayman’s water. (Water used by farmers to drink in the old days while bailing hay, etc). Others have their own formula. One just adds AC Vinegar, Honey and powdered ginger. I might add a wee bit of salt to it.

  • BS on those keep and discard rules, lots of food will stay good for several days at 50-55 degrees.
    Just look at or smell it and if its bad throw it.
    Food lasts a lot longer than the current weak minded people think.

  • Re: “Make sure your window screens are in good condition. You’re going to need to have your windows open, but fighting off insects when you’re trying to sleep is a miserable and frustrating endeavor.”

    Great article! Excellent advice!

    If your power goes off or the air conditioner stops working, you will want to OPEN your windows. Having your screens in good condition is important.

  • Two observations. We need to start paying attention to dust. The drought in the the Southwest is starting to spawn dust bowl conditions. Masks of some sort may be the only protection, silicosis isn’t simply dirty, it is dangerous. In the 1930s visibility was so poor that people got lost within a quarter mile of their own house.

    Secondly, one way to cool down is to place your forearms in a sink and run cool water over your wrists and forearms. I have no idea where the idea came from, but it does work

    • Also cooling towels or ice packs to forehead/neck/armpits/wrists/ groin/back of knees
      These areas have large blood vessels close to surface of skin and will help with cooling down body

  • Daisy, keeping with the Red Cross numbers…if your freezer is 3/4th full of dozen solid food and it is stored in a previously air conditioned/insulated storage unit. Would you think that 36 hrs is safe? There is no smell or “juices” present. Thanks!

  • Here is a thought on what I do on a daily basis….I keep the fridge at 33-34 degrees and the freezer at minus 10. This buys extra time in case of an outage, until I have to crank up the generator…everything also lasts longer and stays fresher.

  • Here are some random thoughts in no particular order:

    Native American Indians didn’t have air conditioning. Dressing like they did (or like a beach bum, if you prefer that label) in the hot summer helps a lot.

    Propane has its own rules for both usage and storage. There’s a reason why mobile homes that rely on propane bottles keep them outside, and connected with long tubing through to the kitchen stove. Your home insurance agent can tell you how far away from your non-mobile house you must keep propane bottles stored, so that in the event of fire there’s no risk of a house fire causing even a lone propane bottle to explode and demolish that entire house. In that case, your insurer would claim you violated their rules and would refuse to cover your claim. I’ve heard of a typical required distance being about 30 feet away from the house as a minimum, but assume your insurance agent may have a different minimum number requirement.

    Solar cooking has a wide variety of choices to consider — portable or non-portable (from backpackable to vehicle-only transportable), slow or fast cooking, dirt cheap DIY or retail pricing, and a blizzard of designs to choose from. There are folding panel cookers, box cookers, parabolic cookers (some even made like umbrellas for fold-up portability and global travel), fresnel lens cookers, and double wall vacuum tube glass cookers, There are even a couple of box cooker brands that have an electrical power backup option — which doesn’t help during a power outage, but otherwise is tremendously versatile 24/7 year around for both learning and cooking production.

    Some are low heat for slow cooking; some are high heat for grilling, boiling water or even distilling.

    Solar comes with the “2/3“ feature. Depending on your latitude, about 2/3 of your days year around will have sunny days suitable for solar cooking. You can get more precise numbers with a simple online search which should ask “how many sunny days in a year does ____ city have?” where you fill in the nearest large city to where you live to get the best approximation. That answer will tell you roughly how little propane (or other such cooking fuel) you could get by with by using solar cooking on the available sunny days — until or if the power is restored. Hopefully, you won’t have to cope with a many moons long power outage like Puerto Rico faced.


  • Poisonous hand sanitizer

    Just this year (2020) the FDA has become aware of well over a hundred different brands of hand sanitizer (many made in Mexico) that contain deadly methanol — often not disclosed on the labels. There is a complete list of those brands as of August 4, 2020 in this USA Today article:

    Long term usage tip for the coin on top of ice in your freezer

    Since power outages usually don’t come with warning announcements ahead of time, when one happens it’s TOO LATE to set up that freezer container, fill it 3/4 with water, give that time to freeze, and then put a coin on top of the ice. Opening that freezer then is the LAST thing you’d want to do. So how to set this up in advance….?

    Many months (or years) ahead of time, choose your container wisely. You want one that has a tight fitting LID so that over a few months the ice won’t evaporate and drop your coin to the bottom. So fill up that container (maybe a Tupperware style container with a little flex so the ice won’t break the container) about 3/4 full of water, let it freeze, then place your quarter on top of the ice, and then snap the lid on tight.

    That way your warning system of a freezer power outage can remain active for years and years — without the ice evaporating. That way, if you were gone on a trip or had to evacuate for whatever reason, when you were able to return home you could check that ice & quarter container to see if there had been enough of a power outage to zap your frozen foods — even if the power later had come back on.


  • These are all good ideas in this article.
    —We live in the southern Arizona desert. What we do on a regular basis in warm weather is to open all windows and doors at night, letting the house cool down to the outside overnight temperature. First thing in the morning we close everything up, including the blinds and curtains to trap the cool air inside.
    —As the outside temperature rises about 5-10 degrees per hour, the temperature inside the closed up house only rises about 1-3 degrees per hour. This helps to keep the electric bills down by having the cooling systems start later in the day. If you are dealing with no electricity, then it will also help to keep the house from heating up too quickly during the day.
    —We changed out our incandescent light bulbs years ago to cut down on the heat in our house by using fluorescent and then LED bulbs that don’t emit that much heat.
    —We also have an electric range on our screened-in back porch that we use in the summer to keep the cooking heat out of the house. We also use our crockpot and induction burner out on the back porch for cooking in the summer. If there is no electricity, then we would use our other methods of cooking outside (sun oven, BBQ, fire pit, propane stove, etc.).

  • Years ago when I first read this article I didn’t click on the recommended fridge thermometer link to see the details. This morning when I clicked on it I noticed that you have to open the fridge or freezer door to read the temperature on that Unigear brand thermometer — exactly what you don’t want to do during the early stages of what you hope will be a very short term power outage.

    Instead .. there are multiple brands of wireless thermometers with sensors for inside your fridge or freezer and readable meters that can even be several feet away so you don’t have to open the fridge door to read the temperature.


  • If you do your planning on the assumption that a long term power outage is possible (especially since there are rumors of an intentional cyber attack later this month), your preparations can easily handle the more frequent short term outages. So let’s consider the longer term issues.

    Since you might have to get by on whatever fuel you can have stored at home for a while. Conserving that fuel by making it “stretch” as long as possible makes sense. One way to do that is via thermal cooking. See this description about it:

    That method has the outstanding advantage of needing heat to be applied for only a few minutes, after which the slow cooking process can take place over several hours without dipping into your stored fuel supply. Amazon and eBay are both useful sources of related books and well-insulated thermal cooking pots. An online search about thermal cooking is even quicker.

    In addition to that concept, solar cooking can have a place here. Even though night time and occasional overcast skies don’t cooperate with solar it’s still available roughly 2/3rds of the year. And for days when the sun is only available for a short time, that’s not a problem if you’re ready to go with the thermal cooking method.

    India has a long history of solar cooking (which goes back to ancient times) issues hybrid solar box ovens to some units of their army. Those ovens have an electrical backup for use at night or during overcasts so they can cook with or without electrical power. Theirs are called the Tulsi. There is a more expensive equivalent in the US called the Sun Focus which has the same hybrid features.

    There are also DIY Fresnel lens solar cooker designs on YouTube. They can build up high heat very quickly which again is perfect for thermal cooking when sunlight might be intermittent.

    These are just a couple of examples of solar cooking gear. There are several others for the inquiring mind.All of them have a legitimate place in prepping for a summer (or winter) power outage, long or short.


    • Lewis- great suggestions for cooking. I’ve used a solar oven and it works well. In addition, a large Fresnel lens can bring water to a boil to purify it or can even start a fire for cooking.

  • We went thru’ a week long power outage from ‘just’ a summer storm in 2003 – two weeks before hurricane Isabel took out power in a larger area around us. We were lucky, and the power company handed out dry ice a couple of times during this. As a result, we didn’t lose any food. Our water also remained on, as the city we then lived in had deep reserves of emergency gas to run generators to keep that and the sewers going. It was hot and steamy, but not at all overwhelming since we hung out outside in the shade, could cook on a camp stove, etc.

    For Isabel, we lost power only for one day . . but we were able to buy both dry and ‘wet’ ice from an ice cream company that day in case it lasted longer.

  • We’ve been without house power about 15 months now. I do have an extension cord from a shop so there is power to a fridge, a lamp and the TV. I also have multiple generators, and fuel available. Opening windows to create a cross draft helps cool excess heat build up in my mobilehome. Wet towels hung over curtain rods at windows and open doors also helps. I do have good storm doors on both outside doors.
    Recently we’ve just had about 6 weeks of about 100° days. No fan or air conditioner. We’re both seniors. It has been hard on us. A cool shower helps. Spraying water on bed sheets helps. My husband had a serious UTI with a fever. Trying to keep him properly hydrated was impossible with him so sick. He reached a point where his body couldn’t regulate it’s temperature. It wasn’t yet hot in the earIy AM when he passed out. I called a neighbor to help get him back to bed. His fever soared. His body was incredibly hot. I bathed him with cool water. But I ended up calling 911. His fever was 104.6°. The day was also hot and the bedroom heated up to 101° with a room full of emergency responders. At the hospital they stared an IV started an antibiotic once the urine test were back.
    He spent most of a week in the hospital cIose to sepsis. Now in a rehab he’s working on regaining strength before coming home.
    The heat made it that much harder for a senior to regulate his body temperature on top of being sick.
    The Northwest and East are heating up while here thankfully the Southwest has cooled down over 20°.
    At 74 I drink a lot of water when it’s hot. I work outside early and late with staying out of the sun through the hottest part of the day. I sort tools or put things away in the shop or sheds so I stay out of the sun. Today I sorted seeds i’d set out to plant. Some I won’t be using this season. Some I’ll plant for Fall. The rest get put away for next year. It’s just I have to stay out of the mid day sun. Walking from shed to another isn’t bad because there is always a little breeze but I can’t stop and work in the sun. Inside or in shade are the aim or take a break in mid day.
    Don’t be too proud to get help if things are beyond what you can fix. A fever in a heatwave is dangerous. I couId have cooled my husband by packing him with all the frozen food but the source of the fever wouldn’t have been touched. It took IV antibiotics to even start clearing it up. In a SHTF situation I guess you could have tried fish meds. As for staying cool or warm there are a lot of ways to go about it. It’s also important to maintain good health when weather hits extreams. Children and seniors are the most vulnerable.
    We heat with a rocket stove that can burn wood, wood chips, or gravity fed pellets. I cook on it in winter. A heat activated fan circulates the warmth. We add warm covers to the bed, dress in warm layers, eat hot meals.
    In hot weather much is simp ok y reversed. Dress in cooler, thinner, or less. Sleep under less covers or just a damp sheet. Eat cool meals. Lots of fruit and salads. Cook outside. Drink cool or cold liquids. Water, juices, ect. Without refrigeration or ice at least drink what you can that is cool. We buy small jars of mayo and make sandwhiches from chicken, tuna, ect. You can eat that way without refrigeration at any time of year.

    • We keep 22 gallons of water stored in the kitchen. In the shed where I have rabbits I store 12 to 15 milk jugs of water for rabbits, chickens, and ducks. I open screened windows to drop the temperature for the rabbits. Chic I ensure and ducks are on the process of getting a new pen with a tarp roof. Inside will be a small chicken coop and a shipping crate hut for the ducks. I build that a little at a time this summer. I work in the evening before dark. When that’s completed a chainlink dog run with some sun and wind shelter will be the new home for the rabbits. Also I needed the pen. Beside the pen will be a small storage room for feed and critter water. In winter I carry. Jugs of water out to the critters from the kitchen where I also store their water.
      We have two wells, one on commercial power and the other has a manual winch. Eventually I plan to have a solar powered pump there.

  • I think it’s worthwhile to be obsessive about always coming home with a full tank of gas in your car. I can only speak for myself, but I won’t rely on an electric vehicle, ever.

  • I read this morning that New Orleans 9-1-1 services are out which underscores the importance of being prepared to fend for yourself because emergency services aren’t always going to be available.

  • One thing I learned during a power outage 2 weeks ago was that bottled water labeled “purified with added minerals” upset the digestion of a few of us with a more sensitive system. This was after 2 days of drinking no other water. Now the bottled water labeled “spring water” did not do this.
    Finding places to store water in our small house, large family set up is difficult.

  • Daisy, I agree and actually think a power outage during the summer is more dangerous than a winter outage, especially the longer it goes on.
    In personal experience, the most we’ve ever been without power is 3 to 4 days. Whether a line was down or transformer went down, the cause doesn’t matter as much as the effect. We were more prepared for a winter loss than a summer one when we lived in the mountains as we already had alternate heat sources, independent of the furnace. A Franklin stove in the main bedroom and the living room. With the propane stove in the kitchen, between the three stoves, we weren’t in danger from the cold. We also had oil lamps and flashlights. Water would have been a problem, as the well pump was down during the outage, but we had sufficient stored for the short duration. Had it lasted longer, it would have been more serious. Immediately following, we increased our water storage 4 X. Things that needed to stay cold went out on the porch.

    The outage during the summer only lasted 3 days, but it was hot when it occurred, and pretty miserable for us. Foods that needed to stay cold, I ended up running to town and buying as much Ice and styrafoam coolers as I could find. There was still some food I didn’t trust., so it was tossed into the mulch pit.

    During cold outages, you can layer more clothing on. During hot weather, you can only take off so much (especially in urban areas).

    So, given a choice, I’ll take a winter outage over a summer outage. We were more prepared for winter and adapted better IMHO.
    It helps that we’ve lived in Colorado all our lives, and so we’re used to cold winters.
    As I’ve gotten older, summer without A/C I don’t tolerate well at all.

    Hopefully, they’ll get the power back on for those folks hit hardest by Ida.

    • -Bemused Berserker,
      I have been through more than a few hurricane related power outages.
      And the occasional snow/ice storm related ones.
      I too would take the winter ones vs the summer ones.

      When I was a volunteer firefighter in SC, for some reason our home fire calls would go up during prolonged power outages, mostly related to people using candles.

  • I was in Alexandria, Virginia in July 2012 when the derecho hit. Even in a high end suburban area, we were without power for 96 hours. I slept in the basement, which is not an option for many who live in the South ( like Florida). We fortunately had a gas hot water heater, so had hot water to bathe. Did our cooking on propane and charcoal grill. Good thing to have is a good size cast iron griddle. Lodge makes a good one with a combination flat side and ribbed side. One thing which will run out FAST is ice. All the 7-11s and grocery stores were out within day. If you are in an area where power outages are likely and you can afford it, a portable generator is good to have on hand. It can run your refrigerator and a fan or two, even a small A/C for the bedroom. Make sure you have gas cans/gas on hand. Within a day of hurricane landfall here in Florida, all the gas stations were out of gas. You can fill your cans way ahead of time and if you then don’t need the gas, just put it in your vehicles’ tanks until gone.

  • If it’s really hot drinking just water and no food to go with it can definitely lead to dehydration due to electrolyte imbalance. My dad was a doctor and told me many tourists ended up showing up in hospital dehydrated after drinking lots of water and no food. The solution is either eating small amounts of food (most savoury snacks are fine for this) or drinking something with electrolytes. It doesn’t have to be a sports drink, most fruit juices are good to prevent dehydration, and carbonated drinks without sugar are usually good enough. (I say without sugar because most carbonated drinks with sugar contain such vast amounts of sugar that they can dehydrate you somewhat – this is deliberate, to make people keep drinking more and more).

  • Your articles have saved me during this disaster, although I did learn a lot during Katrina. Everyone has made fun of me for my stockpiling over the past 16 years. I always have at least 50 Gallons of bottled water. When I use one, I replace it. Then I fill the old bottle with tap water for flushing, etc. I’ve been storing those in my she shed to avoid extra flak. I purchased 5 battery operated fans and tons of batteries. I also bought a butane stove and extra cans of butane from Amazon. I found some inexpensive, expandable, lanterns that run on two AA batteries. Have at least 6 months of non- perishable food.
    Thank you Daisy for all your expert advice!!!!

  • Preaching to the choir.
    OTOH: Sometimes the choir needs a good preaching to.
    Worth a copy and paste. (again)

  • Daisy—thanks for some wonderful info…I just bought 2 Royal Berkey Filters …one for me and one for my daughters family. How is your dog doing? I am thinking good thoughts and sending prayers your way for you and your beloved dog

  • I was in the 2012 Derecho and as an old man weather geek I have yet to see anything outside of a hurricane remotely like it. I was lucky to have lost power for only a couple of days. \

    The heat and management of it and Hydration were priority one! Having spent time in California’s inland empire prepared me for cold neck wraps and foot soaking in a real world environment.

    The saving grace was a cheap D battery powered fan that moved a good volume of air to evaporate cool! I have 1.3 kWh solar charged battery pack now that runs anything AC!

  • Excellent article! Under the “Lighting” section it says, “Lighting is absolutely vital . . . it’s one of the easiest things to plan for . . . [stock some] flashlights (don’t forget batteries).”

    I’d like to improve on that idea just a smidge by suggesting flashlights that require only one D-cell battery. They output a decent amount of light and cost under a penny per hour to operate (less than candles). And the lights themselves are on the low end of the price range. You can likely afford to tuck one away in every room of the house as well as the car. If you nose around — Google and eBay as well as brick-and-mortar stores — you’ll find flashlights requiring only one D-cell made by Eveready, Rayovac, Dorcy, and Ozark Trail.

    Many times when a battery lacks the oomph to run the kids toys any longer, it will still generate several hours of light in an LED flashlight.

    To be open and aboveboard about things, a few years ago I published “The New 2000-Hour Flashlight” on Amazon. It contains additional details and suggestions.

  • The article mentions the long cooking time that dried beans require. There is a workaround to cut that time WAY down. Spend some time in advance to clean and then let dry those beans (which does take some non-powered time), and then store them (perhaps for many years) until your need arises. Then per Rita Bingham’s book “Country Beans”, if you have a kitchen countertop grain mill (such as the Country LIving model with their optional bean auger — muscle or motor powered), you can quickly grind just the amount you need into flour in a few minutes. That book explains that bean flour in boiling water only takes about three minutes to become edible. That is a tremendous saving on cooking fuel and cooking time. Such flour if not used will go bad in only a few days (like grains) so the advice to grind only what you need has some reasoning behind it.

    The same thing can be done with stored whole grains and for the same reasons. Without air conditioning, freshly ground grain flour lasts only about a week before turning bad, so again the advice is to grind only what you immediately need into flour.

    Another way to conserve on cooking fuel is to learn how to do thermal cooking in either a properly sized thermos bottle or a larger thermal cookpot. That cuts the amount of time that heat needs to be applied to just a few minutes even though the slow cooking effect usually needs several hours to complete. The how-to of thermal cooking is an easy lookup online including on YouTube.

    Regarding battery types and recharging, much of my gadgetry uses either AA, AAA or D-size batteries. In most cases they can all run on Nimh batteries (which yields 1.2v instead of the 1.5v from alkalines). I use rechargers from Amazon that handle all three battery sizes — two that are AC powered and two that are solar powered. That takes care of any long term power outages for such small gadgets.


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