A power outage can be a minor inconvenience, a threat to health and safety, or anything in between. But unlike the natural disasters that often precede them, blackouts aren’t relegated to specific regions the way earthquakes, hurricanes, and tornados are—just about everybody can experience one, especially now that extreme and unpredictable weather is pushing the limits of electrical grids.
Even without counting major events, government statistics suggest that the average utility customer experiences about one outage per year, and that outages last two hours on average. Basic preparations for these average blackouts aren’t expensive, so it’s generally worth it for most households to take a few precautionary measures—a surge protector to safeguard your media center, for example, and headlamps to keep your hands free in the dark. For longer blackouts, whether they last a few days during wildfire-prevention efforts in California or stretch more than a week after a hurricane, extra backup power can prevent food from spoiling, keep medical devices running, provide power for fans, light, or space heaters, and help phones, laptops, and tablets stay charged and connected to the outside world.
We have additional guides to general emergency preparedness and bug-out bags, as well as lists specific to readiness for hurricanes, earthquakes, and wildfires. But this list covers all the best options for power and lighting—whether you’re preparing for a planned outage, anticipating the aftermath of a natural disaster, or looking to be ready for the next blip that affects your utility. That said, should a power outage leave you without adequate heating or cooling options for an extended period of time, be sure to seek out a shelter.
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