When the Power Goes Out: From Flashlights to Family Fun

By Kathryn M. D’Imperio

For a young child, a “blackout” can be a very different, fun, and exciting adventure filled with flashlights and games to play. As adults, power outages rouse a stark reality that a storm impacts so much more than our mood and our plans. We find ourselves wondering how to keep from losing all the food in our refrigerator and freezer (or more, for those of us with a second fridge), if we’ll run out of bottled water, and what to do in case of an emergency.

When the power goes out, it pays to have a few items on hand to keep your family safe and comfortable. You should also have a plan for what to do in the event your home sustains damage or becomes suddenly unsafe. A storm can really be beautiful to watch, especially during the long rainstorms of spring or the sudden and tempestuous storms of the summertime. So first things first, prepare your home and your family for the possibility of a power outage, and then find a few ways to spark some fun!

Blackout Basics for Survival

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the weather may be severe? Do you think of food, warmth, communication, safety? Do you think of all the laundry waiting for you, all the things you hoped to accomplish with power, complete and utter boredom? Any and all of these things are very real and relevant considerations. Thinking about each of them individually can help you to become more prepared before
the storm arrives.

Light – Above all, a flashlight or lantern is your very first necessity when it comes to preparing for a possible loss of power. Consider truly reliable flashlights like the Maglite brand and a lantern designed to work for hours on end. The Coleman® Quad™ LED Lantern makes a great choice for a family or large household, since it has four detachable LED lights so that you can each have a mini lamp or spread the light throughout the home. Keep candles and matches on hand as well, but be cautious in their use as you don’t want to chance starting a fire in your home.

Food – If you know a big storm is coming, you can prepare foods that can be enjoyed warm or cold ahead of time. Consider meals like sandwiches, homemade Stromboli, or even a turkey roast or ham in a Crockpot that can potentially stay warm enough for one or two meals, even without power. You can even plan a fun thunderstorm party with your family (and friends if you like) with a veggie tray and dip, fruit tray, cheese and crackers, and more. If you have a grill, what are you waiting for? You can cook almost anything on the grill with a little determination. (Just make sure you have propane or charcoal before the storm hits.) Be creative and don’t forget the desserts! Bake these ahead of time so you don’t miss satisfying your sweet tooth.

Warmth – Keep blankets and warm clothing in an easily accessible location to ensure no one becomes uncomfortable due to the loss of heat. If you have a fireplace or woodstove, you can rest easier knowing your family will remain warm and comfortable. Also, much of the body’s heat is said to escape through the head and feet, so be sure to wear warm socks and a nice winter hat if you start

to feel a chill.

Alternate Source of Power – Loss of power can mean loss of communication, a very real concern for a lot of people. Be sure to charge your cell phones, tablets, laptops and any other important devices as early as possible, and keep them plugged in when not in use. Try to avoid draining the battery if you can help it. Your family might benefit from a generator or a battery backup (uninterruptable power supply). Use the generator to keep your fridge cold or to keep your devices charged for emergency communication. Depending on the size and wattage of the generator, you might be able to power a whole room, a single floor, or the entire home.

It is also wise to fill your car with gas and fill any gas cans prior to the storm, especially if you have a gas-powered generator. This way, if your whole town loses power and no one can fill up at the pump, you won’t be stranded.

Family Fun during a Power Outage

Once you’ve covered your bases for safety and comfort, make sure to plan something fun for your family to enjoy together in light of the power outage. Consider these enjoyable family activities to make some memories despite the weather.

• Play some board games or cards by lantern light or candlelight. Split into teams and make it a competition until the power comes back or until bedtime, whichever comes first.

• Even though you can’t watch movies, consider acting them out, giving clues about a specific movie until someone guesses, or playing a game like Charades.

• Tell ghost stories, passing a flashlight to signal who has to tell the next story. Best story of the night wins a prize. If you have young children, tell them fairytales and other kids’ stories, making up characters for each person in your family.

• If the roads are safe enough to drive, consider going somewhere as a family – perhaps to a movie or out to eat, provided they have power.

• During daylight, try working on a hobby or other activity together – painting, sculpting with clay, scrapbooking, or some other fun DIY project.

• If you have young kids, build a tent or blanket fort with chairs, sheets, and sofa cushions. Give each person a flashlight and pretend you are camping.

Surviving the Storm

We’ve seen it time and again – April showers so often turn into thunderstorms that knock down power lines, causing thousands of people to go without electricity – for hours, if not days. Electricity often tends to be one of those things many of us may take for granted on a daily basis, not thinking twice about our hot shower, dinner preparation, or keeping our food and drinks cold.

Take the time to prepare a kit of blackout supplies as well as a plan of action in the event of an emergency during the power loss. Whether you choose to do something fun or simply stay safe and calm despite the power outage, you can use these tips to ensure your family is always comfortable and never left in the dark.

Follow @LehighValleyMarketplace on Instagram