7 Last Minute Things Before The Power Goes Out (The Prepper vs ‘Others’)

Filed under ‘Lifestyle’, given the many potentially significant differences between the preparedness-minded (some say ‘preppers’) and the mainstream public (‘others’). Lets compare 7 last minute things that each might do, prior to knowing that the power is going to go out.

A hypothetical causation. It’s winter. The forecast calls for a major snow/ice storm. Winds will be gusting. They’re saying that tree limbs and power lines will be coming down from the weight of snow and ice coupled with high winds. They’re saying to prepare for up to several days without power.

What will the typical prepper do? What might the mainstream public (‘other’ person) do?

In no particular order, and for your consideration (and amusement)…

7 Last Minute Things A Prepper Might Do Before The Power Goes Out From Impending Winter Storm

  1. Check the generator for adequate supply of gasoline, and for proper function (e.g. start it up and check), ensure you’ve got the right cords ready for transfer switch or manual hookup.
  2. Get the flashlights/headlamps out of drawers, battery check (get more if needed), get out the hurricane lamps and/or candles, check lamp-oil supply, matches/lighters at the ready.
  3. Get out the battery-powered AM/FM/SW radio, battery check, NOAA weather alert radio – verify batteries are working.
  4. Gas up the snow blower, shovels at the ready, get salt/ice-melt for walkway if needed.
  5. Double check spare 20lb propane tanks are full (e.g. for BBQ/cooking needs and/or Mr.Buddy Heater portable indoor heaters).
  6. Start thinking about meal plans for several days without power or functioning refrigerator. Double check existing food pantry that all is well in that department.
  7. Pick out a book or two for reading by candlelight during the evenings.

Of course, the preparedness-minded lifestyle is synergistic with readiness. The example list above could be just about any logical sensible last minute checks. Point being, there’s likely not any hurried trips to ‘the store’ involved out of necessity. Rather, a calm approach to the upcoming power outage.

7 Last Minute Things Others Might Do Before The Power Goes Out

  1. Run out and get bread, milk, and eggs (because that’s what you always do before a storm, right?).
  2. Make a run to the liquor store to ensure plenty of booze is on hand.
  3. If able, run out to get Fireworks for the lights-out Block Party
  4. While out, stop and pick up plenty of D-cell batteries for the Boom Box
  5. Then stop at the pot-store to ensure plenty of weed on hand, and then zip over to the 7-11 for party-size bags of Lays
  6. On the way home, pull in and grab 6 Dozen Dunkin Donuts for Breakfasts.
  7. Finally, after getting home, call Domino’s to pre-order deliveries for Pizza and Cheese Sticks for while the power is out (they do that, right?)

Add your own thoughts in the comments below…

[ Read: Indoor Emergency Heater For Power Outages ]

[ Read: Winter Survival Gear For Your Vehicle ]

64 Comments

  1. Very thick ice coating on everything, part of a tree collapsed while I was checking on the ponies damaging a fence line.
    Had to put on the big ice spikes to get around this morning.

    Lastminute yesterday was extra feed for all the animals, put on tractor chains, fill my car tank, junkfood run.

  2. Sadly enough, I like to drive around with a legal pad and a pen to take note of where the power is on or off, what the stores look like on the inside, etc. If I buy anything, it is usually fresh fruits and vegetables due to their limited shelf life in general. During power outages, the stores are generally tossing most of the meat and fish due to fears of lawsuits from folks eating spoiled meat and fish. During the last Ice Storm we had, my wife had a type of psychosis where she would not let me pull out a prime rib roast to cook and eat. I ended up tossing it when the power came back on. We were both mad for different reasons: I hate wasting food. She was mad at God for the ice storm and the Public Utilities for not restoring power. These days, I rarely buy big roasts for her because she never cooks them. (I tend to cook these against her wishes) One of the rules of prepping: Buy what you eat and rotate your stocks.

  3. On the prepared side i would add, check the chain saw is ready with an older chain. If you have to get a tree off a fence, building etc. don’t want to cut any ice with my new ones. Stock plenty of wood inside.

    Nonprepared, plenty of frozen pizza, chicken nuggets and ice cream as a treat. Where is the nugget on a chicken? No need to worry about anything outside i will have a couple days off to do any of that. I can always heat the house while I’m cooking my pizzas in the electric oven. Besides i have a quarter tank of gas. Plenty to get to the store and i will just swing by the station on the way back. Its so handy to use a credit card in this weather, don’t have to walk inside.

    1. country – There is nothing wrong with frozen convenience foods, especially when you are under stress and trying to sort other issues. Modern chest freezers draw very little power, easy to keep them running. My little propane camp oven cooks pizza better than the home oven does. If it goes long term, then I’d start pulling out some buckets and make like Betty Crocker.

      1. Tmac – My point was these people have not thought nor care about any alternative to grid electricity. I have heard people talking, if you have plastic you have money. A secondary source of heat, power or food from scratch, they would much rather have their starbucks and dependency on society.

        1. Most never learn because people like you eventually see a need and do something about it, they never have to actually suffer and deal with it alone.
          But if people like you didn’t help and they knew you could/can and didn’t you’ll hear it later.
          Expectation of other peoples resources, gimme dat!
          I bet they wouldn’t do the same for others in same situation unless it’s someone else’s resources they were using again like any good lib.
          It’s all good when it’s other peoples money.

          1. Horse – This is sometimes a benefit to living in a megalopolis, especially California. Neighbors don’t talk to each other and mere socializing is considered to be not minding one’s business. Generally, this kind of sucks. But I am a very self-sufficient guy and frankly I am relieved of all guilt from turning away the gibs.

            The great woman Margaret Thatcher nailed it: “The trouble with socialism is eventually you run out of other people’s money.” Or in this case, preps.

        2. country – Oh ya ya ya, those types, they’ve got lots of cryptocurrency too. Ask about a power outage and they’ll whip out the phone. Try to lead them to enlightenment and they’ll stammer about matching USB drives, or something. Mention that pudgy kid with the bushy afro who just lost $40B and they get quiet. OK so I get to keep my Red Barons and the iced Belgian Trippel then right? I don’t want any problems.

    2. – country,
      I was once told that if the nugget on a chicken was the last part over the fence, it got a boost. Personally, I would tend to believe that.
      Do agree with the old chain on the chainsaw, though. My part of the world, we don’t try to stock wood inside, we want it to freeze and kill off the bugs living in the wood. Cannot recall but one storm in the last twenty years that had enough snow to pose any problem to retrieving enough wood for the fireplace. That one was only six-foot drifts. (West Texas, you know)

      – Papa S.

      1. Papa
        I didn’t phrase that very well. What i should of said was inside or close enough so that you aren’t trying to carry wood on ice or snow. Perhaps the chicken is somehow related to fish patties. I have cleaned a lot of fish and never found fish stick or anything square.

  4. Winter temporary outage expected: Do all pending laundry. Fill all buckets with water for animals. Bring in more wood. Check with group members to see if everyone has fuel, food, water, warmth, light handy. Grid collapse? Doing a bit every day to get ready for that.

    1. Anony Mee, I like your list. “Check on group members” yes. Neighbors as well. As the Apostle James wrote, “Faith without works (of kindness) is dead (faith)” .

  5. Have a neighbor, down the road a ways. He is NOT prepared for anything. Older couple and they have kids/grandkids visit routinely. They’re both retired school teachers. Nice enough people, just clueless. Lived here 10-12 years now. We’re prone to grid-down from ice storms. Longest was 13 days and another for 9 days. They have a wood stove, but rarely use it. They were here when we had a 2 day outage.

    I convinced him to buy a generator about 7-8 years ago. I doubt he has any gasoline. Maybe some mower gas??? His wood pile would fit into 3-4 wheelbarrow loads. A few days/nights at best. In winter temps, those folks will become desperate within a week. You can lead a horse to water………

    Decisions would have to be made. I did NOT adopt these folks. They are NOT my responsibility. I’ve tried to convince the man to stock up a little bit. He’s oblivious. Has no idea that his furnace won’t work without electricity. Tried to explain it, but it fell on deaf ears. Oh well.

    1. Also had a similar conversation about a year ago. Fellow said he wasn’t worried about power outages because they have a gas furnace. I asked if they also had a ventless heater. No, just the furnace. I tried to explain it wound not work without electricity and his repeated answer was its gas. I think he believed i was a little dense.

      1. Country, sounds like my neighbor who said they werent worried about outages because they had solar.
        Grid tied solar.
        With no backup at all.
        Didnt know it would go dead with everything else grid tied.
        Other neighbor has a backup battery, A backup, one, tesla, it ran their house for a whopping 35 minutes. Power was out for 4 days.

    2. Plainsmedic, you just made me think about looking up where all of our county emergency shelters are located. Then I can direct the ‘unprepared’ neighbors to go there. I think perhaps you can do the same? I would certainly help a neighbor with an immediate need, but long term? You’re right, you did not adopt those people. And I stopped trying to convince others last year. I see the finger of God in separating people now. Many folks (like us) are preparing refuges for His people, whether we know it or not (includes our families). After all, why do we all have this inner urge to prepare? I think it is God-given. JMHO.

      1. DJ5280, I feel you are correct in that our need to prepare and live a “renewable” lifestyle is God given and driven. We will have friends and family that will rely on us assisting them for any long term period. And we will do our best to help those who cannot help themselves. We work together now to achieve some level of caring for our families with clean food and water and the ability to complete daily tasks without modern conveniences. But I do not foresee us helping those who refuse to help themselves now. We are all given choices and one household cannot manage caring for everyone around them.

  6. Winter storm and a generator? I hope you aren’t counting on propane without a source of external heating for the tank. If you’re running a 20-pounder on anything 6kw or above with <60F ambient your tank will freeze up and the generator will shut off.

    1. Hey Tmac,
      I assume that’s not an issue with 500 gallon tank(s)? Just the little ones right? I really don’t have much experience with using lp for a generator, but it’s in my plans if needed.

      1. Plainsmedic – You are correct, it’s all about heat transfer, a 500 gallon tank should have no problem at all.

    2. Good comment. Made me look up the issue about freezing up. Some guys suggested using warm water in a tub of water. Some suggested using an electric blanket. These were moonshiers.

      Everyone mentioned that it was the regulator that would probably freeze up due to a volume-pressure-demand condition. So as you noted, a 6kw generator might demand too much propane flow. Interesting issue since I bought a 6kw dual fuel inverter generator.

      Still pondering whether to use tub of warm water or an electric blanket as a backup when the volume gets low in the 20 pounder.

  7. Great subject, great timing. The USB-IF has greenlighted the latest USB-C PD specification at 240 watts delivered at up to 48 volts. That kind of power can keep freezers running. Bloody convenient to have a stack of palm-sized power bricks on a shelf, swap them out once a day. BTW we have arrived at the market saturation sweet spot for lithium battery chemistries. Buy them cheap now, but don’t go crazy with it. Air-Aluminum power packs are coming up soon with a nearly infinite shelf life, just add water to make juice. Lotsa juice. Way more stable than lithium too.

  8. Not much to do for me. All the things listed are always ready as I lose power for days at a time every winter. Longest was 13 days. About all I do is check on some of the older people around me to make sure they are ready

  9. Fill several gallon jugs of water and place them outside to freeze. When the power goes out place two in you fridge, one at the lower shelf and one at the top shelf. Keeps your fridge cool. Rotate the jugs outside.
    This is good advice for those who live in an apartment and have a balcony. I would enjoy an article on how to advise apartment dwellers. Many of us probably have younger members of the family who live in apartments.
    Load the wood box. When I designed our house (1978) I had an outside door to the wood box in the living room. It has been great!
    Using the hand pump in our laundry room, fill a couple of pails of water and set them in the bathrooms.
    Set up the two burner kerosene stove.
    Set up a broom and scraper at the house door for clearing the solar panels of snow and ice. It is a 100 kw. and keeps the lights on, coffee pot, washing machine and microwave working. It is separate from the power lines.
    Call friends and let them know they can come over if need be. Most will thank me and say it won’t be necessary.
    Most people dread a short term power outage but I quite enjoy it.

    1. As a kid I’d always get excited about the power going out, was fun.
      Nowadays it’s still interesting but rare where I am, in the 8 years here I think an hour was the longest outage and usually no more than rare flickering.
      Everything is done, has been done over and over for a very long time.
      All habit are normal except I charged the battery on my big generator, not to use it but so it didn’t freeze (Ken, thanks for the reminder)

      I noticed crews out 2 days ago cutting trees back from power lines.

      1. Why do I enjoy a power outage? No appointments. No meetings. No shopping to do. Just relax. Of course, this is if it is only a few days without power.

  10. – During the Valentine’s freeze here in Texas, I was still going to work. Seems I was one of the few who knew how to drive in snow. Stopped by Walmart for something DW wanted and was talking with the clerk at the checkout. Said the lady just before me was complaining that without power, her house was getting cold. She thought it would probably run her bill up a bit, but she was going to buy an electric heater for her living room.
    I asked the clerk what was she going to plug it into? She laughed and said, you know, I didn’t even ask.

    – Papa S.

  11. Fill the tubs – especially if you have a well pump powered by electric.
    Cold outside? – consider outdoor storage for fridge and freezer.
    Pull out the kit – blankets, games, etc
    Get ready for some unofficial ‘family time’

  12. Just lost power, I got that giddy excitement from my earlier days, hope it lasts a while.
    The ice was bending the trees here fairly badly.
    May have to remove some for the ice damage next week.

  13. Now you have just made me want a donut, some potato chips, and a nice vodka drink. After I go outside to collect the eggs, milk the cow, and come back in to make bread. Good one, lol.

  14. The list and comments everyone made also fit lights out from a hurricane. It is a comment on humanity that the unprepared or maybe unaware seem to be the same everywhere in the country.

  15. Good idea about putting frozen gal. plastic jugs in the refrigerator. Like an ole ‘ice box’. Much better than nothing. I’ve done it to fill empty freezer space because it takes less power to keep everything frozen.
    We finally installed a whole-house generator along with a buried propane tank. Got tired of dragging out a portable genny and having to fuel it up several times a day and then go out hunting for gasoline. Now when the power goes out I don’t even have to get up out the recliner. In ten seconds the genny outside fires up on its own. How showers, anyone? I have a small Honda genny and a solar generator for backups as well as a woodstove and a good supply of firewood. I will put the blade on the tractor if significant snowfall is forecast and check the chainsaw to be sure its ready. Thats about it.

    1. Whydah – What is the capacity of your buried tank and how long is it projected to run your house (when power off) till empty in the dead of winter? Just looking for a guesstimate.

      1. Its a 500 gal. tank. It can only be filled to the 80% level, so now you have 400 gals. The generator runs a ‘self test’ for ten minutes weekly. We had to run it for 2.5 days last winter after a storm took out electrical power. It was topped off this Fall and, considering the 2.5 days and weekly test runs the tank was only down 10%. So, would it last 8 days running 24/7 or thereabouts? Maybe a bit more? It doesn’t have to run constantly. I can manually turn it off and on to make it last much longer.

        1. One more thing. The generator will not run the emergency heat on the furnace. It does run the heat pump and everything else in the house. A special switch must be installed on the furnace so that the emergency heat will not come on while the generator is running.

    2. For chest freezers I like to fill 1 gallon zip lock bags with water and interleave them with frozen goods in the freezer. The liquid water in the bag squishes around all voids and air gaps, surrounding the food, then it freezes solid. This way you are only occupying space that would otherwise be unusable and eliminating air gaps will allow everything to stay cold much longer.

    3. @Whydah I have the old “ice box” for the cabin . While I’m swapping in Yeti blocks right now, gallon jugs and zip locks freeze just the same. Although in an emergency I can set the case of beer outside on the porch right next to the cabin door. But I gotta be careful at 20 below or I get crunchy beer. But rotating the frozen blocks into the ice box works really well. BTW I’m 5 days a week in my remote cabin working at my retirement job. I have power delivered to the end of the driveway. But I don’t have a line run to the cabin yet. I thought I would need it this winter. But I’ve just found too many other important things to do than run the wire. I don’t even miss the power. Some solar, run the genny every few days to keep the lights on. I charge my laptop at work so I can watch a show or read this forum at night. In reality I’m power down 5/7ths of my life right now. :-D

  16. Ken, #2 on your Others list could might as well be on the Preppers list too. It is on mine. Although, on the other hand, making a “run to the liquor store” is not something I’d really need to do immediately. The whiskey doesn’t freeze and it doesn’t go bad either. Good barter value too in grid down.

  17. Only 7 minutes to do what is needed…hmmmm. Hopefully, things are set up so we can pray for a moment before we act. Let the adrenaline settle so we can think clearly and make good decisions.

    Each room has an LED lantern which is my first concern when dark. No tripping, slipping or sliding causing injury. If the natural gas generator did not come on, then the problem is worse than a short (few day) outage. That means LOTS more work stabilizing food and heat.

    Depending upon the time of day or night, we most likely are not going anywhere other than checking on those who may require a check in. If we are out and about, final gas up and feed store run would be done by that person. If vehicles quit working, grab safety bag and safety device(s) and start home immediately. Person(s) at home take care of readying household for grid down until all are home to share the load. This includes animal check as they can sense when things were not right.

    There is never enough time to prepare on the spot so keep your mind clear and think about what is really necessary based on current conditions. This is why you have things ready for just such an emergency.

    1. DAMedinNY, Just FYI, the title doesn’t say there’s 7 minutes left, or 7 minutes to do what is needed. Rather, 7 last minute things (before the power goes out). Just pointing that out for clarity :=)

      1. Ha! I came back to this article and found that immediately…..my brain was off for some reason, which I have been doing from time to time. I blame it on the anesthesia but it has now been long enough it should no longer be an issue. Thank you for the clarification though. :). I was fixated on why only 7 minutes. Hopefully, we are keeping up with our needs on a daily basis so it won’t hurt quite as much.

  18. Timely post. I should have read more thoroughly. Power went out overnight Wednesday. We have 21 trees down or broken on my last count. Including 1 that put a hole through the roof. Just got dug out yesterday. 2 ice storms interrupted by 2 snow storms dropping 18 inches heavy wet snow. 6 trees to cut through on the driveway. We’ve started writing up our after action list of to dos. Having just moved here we’re using that as an excuse for dealing with a rare storm of this type and where we screwed up. But the 1 thing we didn’t think about soon enough is without power the lift station on the septic doesn’t work. Trying to convince DH to set up a bucket latrine. Power likely out another 5 or more days. In town to take a shower and see if we can fill our prep holes. Will post whenever we get power back. Best prep landline with a phone that can draw power from the line. It’s our only connection from our forested valley without power.

    1. We just got power back. It’s 16 degrees and snowing. Spoke to the crew removing trees on the lines. They work 20 hour shifts with 4 hours sleep. They love the double time. He said he dropped 7 trees at the 1st of 2 major breaks on our road. Glad not just for lights but to have power for the well.

  19. A small power inverter that plugs into the power socket in your vehicle (probably best after you start your car, truck, suv, RV, or whatever ), can be a nice supply of AC, USB, USB-C, and 12 VDC for small to not so small devices/needs.
    I’ve seen them from 30 watts and up.
    Somewhere up the line in wattage they connect directly to your battery.
    I’m sure that Ken, with his knowledge of electricity can chime in with additional info and benefits of these devices.
    Helpful for those who may not have a generator, but need a little extra power for the short term.
    They even make 12 Volt appliances such as electric frying pan, and coffee maker, etc.
    Not something that everyone would use everyday, but could mean a lot to someone if they’re needed.
    For instance a 175 Watt inverter that I use has three 110 VAC outlets, one 12 VDC plug in, one USB, and one USB-C port. I purchased a 3-way for the 12 VDC plug, which gives me three 12 VDC outlets instead of one. This cost between $30.00 – 40.00 USD.
    Of course you may be able to opt for your local coffee shop and plug in while enjoying your favorite bean. ☕️

  20. There’s a good post on american partisan dot org on winter preparedness. Also on JWR survival blog site Part I of a guest blog by someone probably south from our area on their lights out experience. As DH and I were reviewing one item we were very grateful for were our battery powered headlamps. And that we had batteries for them.

    1. Mamalark
      I got some rechargeable head lamps from Amazon, are pretty good too, i like them and use them a lot, can plug them into any USB port to charge, i have a couple built into my Jeep in the console so super convenient, try to keep them in pairs so i do end up lightless. Will post link if Ken J deems worthy of repost. 😎🤙🏻

        1. Thank you Ken,
          These are really nice little head lights, super convenient with the rechargeable

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