The risk of a power outage in the hot summer months is a real threat that is worth preparing for. A power outage in the heat of summer is not only uncomfortable, but it can also be deadly.
How do I prepare for a summer power outage? Carefully analyze critical needs that require electricity. In addition, consider these important steps that might make all the difference in your ability to be comfortable when the electricity fails in the heat.
- Store plenty of water and stay hydrated.
- Keep no-flame alternative lighting charged and ready to go.
- Be ready to stay cool using creative cooling methods.
- Stock shelf-stable, easy-to-prepare foods.
- Prepare grid-down outdoor cooking options.
- Acquire backup power for cell phones, communications, medical equipment and other critical needs.
- Be ready to keep refrigerated and frozen foods from spoiling.
We have learned through sad experiences that extreme temperatures can occur anywhere. It can be especially dangerous in areas that are unaccustomed to extreme temperatures.
In this post, we will explore how to prepare for a summer power outage and share a few helpful tips to stay cool without power.
#1 – Store Water at Home
Warm weather increases your overall water requirement. Ideally, you will have access to running water but when the power goes out, you just can’t depend on anything to work properly. A supply of clean drinking water can make all the difference in your ability to both stay hydrated and be cool.
We recommend that you store a minimum of 2 gallons of water per person per day for a minimum of two weeks. Learn more about storing water for emergencies in these articles.
- How to Store Water for Emergency Preparedness
- Tips for Storing Water in a 55-Gallon Plastic Barrel
- Emergency Water Filters: Guiding You Through the Maze
- Making Water Safe to Drink: 7 Disinfection Techniques
- Emergency Water: 17 Potential Sources
- How to Store Water So That It Never Needs to Be Rotated
- Emergency Water Storage: WaterPrepared Storage Tank Review
#2 – No-Flame Emergency Lighting
The summer months have long days which reduces the need for lighting but does not eliminate it. Dark is dangerous. It is important to purchase a few reliable sources of emergency light.
We recommend not using any type of flame lighting such as gas lanterns, wick lamps, or candles due to the heat that they produce. You are going to be doing everything you can to stay cool, and we don’t want to add any unnecessary heat to the house.
Traditional battery flashlights and lighting devices work well as long as you have plenty of batteries stored. Glowsticks are a favorite with kids and can turn a disaster into an adventure.
My favorite lighting devices are solar-powered. Hybrid Light creates high-quality solar lights in a variety of styles including lanterns, flashlights, headlamps, and task lights. Most of them have the additional benefit of being able to charge your devices and cellphones.
You can explore the vast possibilities of emergency lighting in these posts.
- Brilliant Ideas to Literally Light Your World in a Power Outage
- Emergency Lighting – Recommended Products
#3 – Tips for Keeping Cool During a Power Outage
One of the best ways to stay cool is inside of an airconditioned building. A power outage eliminates that option without backup power. Air conditioning requires a significant amount of electricity and many backup systems do not have the capacity to provide that energy.
We have collected some ideas to help you stay cool when faced with times of extreme heat. It is not just an issue of comfort, but can truly make the difference between life and death.
Drink plenty of cool water, even if you do not feel thirsty. Avoid caffeine and alcohol because they are dehydrating. Caffeine is a mild diuretic. Alcohol blocks the release of antidiuretic hormone which results in increased urination. Your body eliminates more water than it gains when you drink alcohol.
You may want to include sports drinks, juice, tea, and other beverages with your food supply to make sure that you have plenty of good beverages to encourage hydration.
Move the Air
A gentle breeze can make a big difference in keeping you cool. You can take advantage of natural ventilation by opening a window on one side of a room and another on the opposite side of the room to allow the cross breezes to cool down the house in the evening or early morning.
Battery or Solar Powered Fans
Sometimes nature needs a little bit of help and fans are awesome for moving air. Battery-powered or solar-powered fans could be helpful with moving air when the power is out. Fans can be used near a window to exhaust hot air to the outside and bring cooler air inside.
- Rechargeable Battery Powered Portable Clip-on Fan
- Solar Powered Camping Lantern and Ceiling Fan
- Western Harmonics Solar Floor Fan with 100-Watt Solar Panel
Fans require little energy to run and can easily be powered by a portable battery bank. Fans are most effective if you can create a cross breeze by opening a window on each end of the home. Keep windows closed during the heat of the day. When the outside temperature drops below the inside temperature, use fans in the windows to draw cooler air inside. Early morning is usually the ideal time when temperatures are lowest.
Homemade Evaporative Cooler
A battery-operated fan can be used to create a little homemade evaporative cooler. Just direct the fan toward a wet hanging towel and enjoy the cool air.
Small battery powered fans can move air in your personal space and make you feel cooler even when the power is out. Fans will not prevent heat-related illness when temperatures are in the 90s or above. Do not blow extremely hot air on yourself. It can increase the risk of heat exhaustion. Use fans to provide circulation.
Our friend, Morgan, at Rogue Preparedness created a video showing how she built a DIY Bucket Evaporative Cooler. You can watch it here.
Wear cool lightweight clothing around the house. Outside clothing should be loose, lightweight, and breathable. Cotton or linen will work well. Cover as much skin as possible with long sleeve shirt and pants. It will protect the skin from the sun and act as an insulator from the heat while wicking sweat away from the body. The right clothes will keep you much cooler.
Wet sweat bands on your head and wrists can help reduce body temperature. Commercial cooling collars or towels work well. Cooling scarfs are soaked in water and then wrapped around your neck, forehead, or wrist, keeping you cool for several hours as the water evaporates.
A variety of specially designed cooling hats, vests, and bandanas are available online. Wear a breathable hat with a flap, or neck cover. A wide brimmed hat will also offer good protection from the sun.
Sleeping in the heat can be incredibly miserable. Our friend, Kathy, dampens her top sheet and pulls it over her. The moisture in the sheet pulls the heat out and makes it much more comfortable to sleep. During severe heat, she will get up in the middle of the night to remoisten the sheet so she can comfortably sleep through the rest of the night
Another way to accomplish this is by purchasing cooling bedding. I don’t understand how it works, but it is really cool and comfortable. Our kids who live in Arizona love this bedding.
- Elegear Arc-Chill Cooling Blanket
- Elegear Cooling Pillow Cases
- Elegear Arc-Chill Cooling Sheet, Mattress Pad
Fill a spray bottle with cool water to spray your skin. Remember to spray your face and wrists. Mist your sheets with water before going to bed. The benefits of the spray are increased when using a fan.
Take a cool or slightly warm bath to lower your body temperature.
Stay Indoors or in Shady Places
Stay indoors in a cool place during the hottest parts of the day. The lowest level of a building tends to be the coolest. Basements are ideal. Sometimes it may be cooler outside under a shade tree than it is inside a building.
Eat Cool Potassium Rich Foods
The best diet for hot weather includes salads, sandwiches, fruits, vegetables, and cool (not ice-cold) beverages. Foods that are rich in potassium have a natural cooling effect on the body because potassium functions to regulate water and mineral balance throughout the body.
Take It Easy and Avoid Direct Sun
Slow down, take frequent breaks, and avoid strenuous activities. Exercise increases your core body temperature. Avoid direct sun. Work or exercise outside in the morning before the sun comes up, or at night when the temperatures cool down.
#4 – Stock Your Pantry
A well-stocked pantry is essential when preparing for any kind of emergency. You will want to make sure that you have a few special items on hand when you are preparing for a summer power outage.
Stock up on your favorite hydrating beverages to encourage your family to stay hydrated. Ready-to-eat packaged foods that do not require any preparation are also a good idea to eliminate the need to cook in the heat.
Learn more about stocking your prepper pantry in these posts.
- 3 Months Supply of Food: Amazing Peace of Mind
- Long Term Food Storage: Creative Solutions to Build a Critical Asset
- The Difference Between Short-Term and Long-Term Food Storage
- We Survived on Food Storage and Garden Produce for 90 Days
#5 Grid Down Cooking Options
Summertime is a great time for outdoor cooking. If you plan correctly, a summer power outage can be a great excuse for a barbeque. Basically, you need to prepare by acquiring your favorite cooking device and safely storing enough fuel to outlast the disaster.
These articles might provide you with some great ideas and help you get ready to cook during a power outage.
- Solar Ovens: Cooking with the Sun in an Emergency (and Every Day)
- Charcoal: Inexpensive Fuel for Outdoor Emergency Cooking
- 30 Day Grid-Down Cooking Challenge – Lessons Learned and Fuel Usage
- Thermal Cookers: Powerful Solution for Efficient Emergency Cooking
- Canned Heat – Safe Fuel for Indoor Emergency Cooking
- Emergency Cooking – Recommended Products
#6 – Backup Power for Critical Equipment
What do you absolutely need power for to be safe and comfortable? Do you have medical equipment that needs power? How about a small refrigerator for insulin? Do you need backup power for communication equipment?
Essential backup power can be easily provided with a battery bank/portable power station and solar panels if you figure out your needs in advance. A fuel-powered generator is also an option worth exploring.
The EcoFlow RIVER Pro is a little power station that has the ability to expand the storage capacity with additional batteries. It is a really handy little unit.
#7 – Keep Refrigerated and Frozen Food from Spoiling
A short power outage doesn’t usually affect your refrigerated and frozen foods if you keep the doors closed as much as possible. Once the power has been off for 12 hours, you might need to use the action plan you are going to create. Your best option is to have backup power to keep them running, but that isn’t always possible. Let’s explore potential solutions to this problem.
Line Bottom of Freezer with Water Bottles
It is less expensive to operate a full freezer than an empty one. If your freezer isn’t full, consider lining the bottom of the freezer with jugs of drinking water. Make sure you leave enough room in the jug for expansion. The water will stabilize the temperature and keep your frozen foods cold longer during a power outage. Once the water is melted it can be an additional source of drinking water.
Prepare to Preserve Meat Before It Spoils
Without backup power, your freezer only has a few days before the food will begin spoiling. Start by eating the ice cream and perishables first. Meat can be pressure canned in mason jars if you have a stove, fuel, lids, and a pressure canner. Pressure canning makes it shelf stable for a year or more.
Frozen fruits can be bottled or turned in to jam and preserved in a water bath canner. Frozen vegetables will need to be pressure canned like the meat. Another option is to dehydrate fruits and vegetables. A vehicle parked in the sun can make a great dehydrator. Just crack the windows a tiny bit. Spread out the fruits or veggies in a single layer on baking sheets and put them in the vehicle.
Purchase Ice or Dry Ice from an Area Unaffected by the Power Outage
A power outage is a good time to seriously explore all options that may be available to you. Do you have a friend in a neighboring town with a little freezer space? You may be able to go to a neighboring town to purchase ice and/or dry ice that will buy you additional time.
Prepare Your Home for a Summer Power Outage
The temperature inside your home can be substantially reduced just by following a few simple guidelines. Start by making your home as energy-efficient as possible. Visit DSIREUSA.org to find rebates and other incentives to help soften the financial blow.
Use Windows to Improve Ventilation
Windows can be used to cool your home if you use them correctly.
- Outdoor temperatures are generally coolest in the early morning. Open windows during the night or in the coolest part of the morning to let the air in.
- Place a box fan in the window to suck cool air into your home. You can also use a fan, or at least open windows near the top of the house to push the heat out. Fans require little energy and can be operated using a backup battery bank/portable power station.
- Create cross ventilation by having windows open at both ends of the home.
- Close windows as soon as the outside temperatures start to rise above the temperature inside the home.
- Windows are a weak point. Keep blinds and curtains closed to increase insulation and reflect heat energy away. Hang blankets or sheets over the windows to increase insulation if necessary.
- Western exposures can add significant heat to your home. Install thermal curtains or blinds in west facing windows, or place aluminum foil over those windows to reduce heat gain.
Seal Up Leaky Areas in Your Home
Check your home for hot air entry points. Apply weather stripping or insulation to prevent hot air from entering.
Design Your Landscape to Cool Your Home
Strategically landscape your home to prevent solar heat from being absorbed through the windows and roof. Temperatures directly under trees can be as much as 25 degrees cooler than air near blacktop. Take special care to protect the west side of the home from direct sun with shade trees and bushes.
Research passive solar home design. Small changes can translate into a higher level of comfort without using electrical devices, and can significantly reduce your cooling costs.
Install a Whole House Fan
A whole house fan can inexpensively push the hot air out of your home and pull in cooler air when outside temperatures are cooler than the inside temperature. The hot air is usually forced into the attic which, in turn, forces the hot attic air out through your roof vents. The result is an efficient way to substantially cool your home at a much lower cost than air conditioning. These fans are generally installed in the ceiling at the highest point of your home.
Our whole house fan uses a direct current (DC) motor, and draws only about 60 watts of energy, which could easily be provided by a small solar back-up power system. It exchanges the air in the home at a rate of 1265 cubic feet per minute.
Consider a small alternative energy system (solar or wind) to produce enough energy to power fans and other critical needs. There are relatively small battery banks/portable power stations available on the market. These systems can be charged using household power when available, or charged by solar or a fuel based generator when grid power is out.
Prepare for Special Needs
Some individuals are especially vulnerable to extreme heat. It may be wise to evacuate the young, elderly or infirm during an extreme heat wave, especially if electricity is unavailable. You may not have to travel far to find a place with tolerable temperatures and electricity.
Carefully consider those in your care and plan for ways to take care of their needs. An air-conditioned shopping mall, library, movie theater, or public building would be a great place to hang out in the heat.
Knowledge and Advanced Preps Make a Difference
Armed with information, it is time to develop your action plan to stay cool and prevent heat induced illnesses. Surviving extreme heat is not always an emergency, for many of us it is an annual event. Taking a few simple steps to prepare for a summer power outage is just good common sense.
Thanks for being part of the solution!Jonathan and Kylene Jones