I lived off the grid for a couple of years in New England. During that time there were some major power outages. I barely noticed since I didn't depend on the grid anyway, but for many people it was a real disruption to their lives. Electric heat was out as were any electric stoves and refrigerators. Most people wouldn't have water since everyone was on a well run by an electric pump. That was in addition to the lack of lights and other things that are often taken for granted. Even little things like making a pot of coffee become difficult if you are used to using your programmable electric coffee maker. Would you have the tools to get by until power is restored?
Surviving a Power Outage
What would happen if we had a major power outage like we had up north some years ago? What would you need to get by besides your cache of food and water?
If you lose power during the winter, you will absolutely need to keep warm. If you have electric heat, this can be a major factor in whether or not you can stay in your home. Even with oil heat, the thermostats often require electricity to work. I've always tried to have a wood stove in my house whether it was the main source of heat or just a backup.
If you just need spot heat or if it's not too cold, I love the Mr. Heater propane heaters. They are safe for indoor use as they have a automatic shut off if they are tipped over or the oxygen is depleted. It can be used with a one pound propane tank which makes it really portable, and also can connect to a 20 pound tank. I would not, however use them while sleeping.
There are direct vented propane heaters like the Rinnani which are safe but rather pricey for someone on my budget.
Unless you happen to have a propane refrigerator, one major concern is preserving food. I've tried many systems including the Zeer pot, an evaporation cooler, which did not work well for me. It was designed to work in a dry climate and it was too humid where I was.
Most people resort to coolers. I developed a system in the winter in the north of leaving the cooler on the porch in the daytime to cool down. At night, when it was really cold, I brought it inside. Things stayed as cool as a fridge without freezing. In the summer, however, you would have to use ice Block ice will last much longer than the cubes.
These unusual coolers are a lower profile than most, making good use of space. They also stack and come in a varity of colors. Perfect if you have a lot of food you are trying to save from your refridgerator
If you have a gas stove, you should be fine. If you have an electric, you will need another way to cook. There are all kinds of camping stoves but I like something a bit more substantial. If you have a gas grill, you can use that, but if it takes actual charcoal, it will take a long time to get it to cooking temperature and be hard to control.
I like this style of outdoor cooker that attaches to a 20 pound tank of propane gas. It also comes in a two and even three burner cooker.
I have used both the butane and alcohol stoves and they do indeed work great. The advantage to that type is that they can be used indoors. The drawback was the cost and availability of fuel. A 20 pound tank of propane gas at this writing costs me $15 and lasts about 3 to 4 months.
Radio and Emergency Lighting
I’ve always been a little leery of the hand crank lights and radios. Many of them don’t work well and wear out quickly. Yet it is the one way to have emergency lighting and radio that doesn’t depend on batteries that can wear out.
I did some research to find the best rating on this emergency radio. This one has AM and FM as well as 2 shortwave bands and a LED emergency light.
I've used solar garden lighting indoors and been amazed at how much light you can get from them in the right setting. If you're having a winter storm, however, you might not get much sun. Still, I think this WakaWaka light is worth the investment since it takes such little sunlight to power it. It has rave reviews from campers and preppers alike.
One thing you really don’t want to be without is a non electric can opener. In fact, you will want more than one. I’ve had them break and been left with trying to cut through a tin can with a knife. Get a good one that won’t hurt your hands.
An essential item in my kitchen is a non electric coffee maker. I depend on my coffee to start my day and this stainless steel percolator does the trick. It's not breakable and doesn't need paper filters. You might decide to use it every day.