What Supplies Do You Need When the Power Goes Out?


Power outages range in severity from a minor inconvenience of a few hours to a serious situation spanning several days. Unfortunately, there is no way to predict the circumstances or duration of an unexpected power outage. As such, having emergency supplies that meet the needs of a short-term power loss or a long term, widespread outage is essential. Keeping such supplies at the ready ensures essentials are covered.

Emergency Drawer for Short-Term Outages

  • For short-term outages, your supplies needed to fit in a kitchen drawer or other central location. Items kept in a centrally located kitchen drawer are easier to find in the dark. Supplies to keep in an emergency drawer include a flashlight, batteries, candles and matches, a first aid kit, two or three cans of chafing fuel, a manual can opener and a hand crank or battery-operated radio.

Supplies for a Preparedness Kit

  • An emergency preparedness kit provides essentials for long-term power outages. Typically, such kits should provide supplies for three to seven days without power. The American Red Cross recommends including the following in an emergency preparedness kit: all supplies listed for an emergency drawer; blankets, kerosene heaters or other heat sources and associated fuels for winter outages; coolers to save perishable foods; ice packs to extend cooling for refrigerated foods; one to two gallons of bottled water per person, per day; non-perishable foods to last three to seven days; a seven day supply of any prescription medications; a multipurpose tool; personal hygiene and sanitation supplies like baby wipes and hand sanitizer; extra cell phone batteries or chargers; copies of vital records and important documents like insurance policies; disposable table wear; extra cash; and pet food.

Special Needs to Consider

  • Elderly adults, people with ongoing medical conditions and infants require special needs when considering emergencies such as loss of power. Infants will need more water for formula, the ability to clean and sterilize bottles, as well as additional supplies such as diapers. Elderly adults and those with medical conditions may require back up power from a generator to run medical equipment. Such considerations should play an important role in assembling a preparedness kit or emergency drawer.

Storage of Preparedness Kits

  • When possible, storage spaces for preparedness kits should be a cool, dark room such as a closet or a basement. Basements subject to flooding, however, are not a good storage choice. In terms of containers for stored goods, sealed metal cans and airtight plastic containers are the best storage mediums for canned foods and dry goods. Food supplies should be rotated to prevent spoilage or out of date supplies, regardless of where or how stored. Ensure any fuels for cooking or heating appliances are stored in accordance with manufacturer recommendations.

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