Top 5 Must Haves for Your Blackout Kit

dmuthMost Americans laugh off the threat of power outages, believing the power will come back on in a few minutes… but as many of us have experienced first-hand, sometimes these blackouts can last hours or even days.

Have you ever had to endure a blackout that lasted waaaay longer than you expected? I have. And here’s the thing, I wasn’t prepared. It was a real mess.

And sure, flashlights are important in a blackout, but there are a lot of other items that are equally, if not more important. That’s why I’m not wasting a spot on my top 5 for flashlights or hand-crank radios. You already know these items are important and you hopefully have these on hand for any number of other emergency scenarios.

These are items that may not immediately come to mind when you think “blackout.” Here are my top 5 items to have in a longterm blackout. Let me know if you’re surprised about which items did or didn’t make the list:

1. Emergency Blankets – Emergency blankets are at the top of the list for two reasons 1) extreme hot or cold temperatures can be dangerous 2) a high percentage of blackouts occur as a result of inclement weather, especially winter storms. Even though you may have a gas furnace, your thermostat may require electricity. If that’s the case, then temperatures in your home may fall quickly.

2. Carbon Monoxide Detectors – Of all the unforeseen threats of a blackout, CO is one of the most dangerous. Many people will immediately get creative and fire up their fireplaces, camp stoves, and space heaters at the first hint of a power outage, which increases the likelihood of dangerous carbon monoxide levels inside the home exponentially.

A good battery powered carbon monoxide detector can save your life in blackout scenario. If it goes off, open the windows and doors and get out immediately.

3. Water – Don’t wait until an emergency to find out that your community’s water service depends entirely on electricity… and that you consequently have no water to drink or clean with. Water is a must in every survival scenario. I recommend a 30 day supply of drinking water, plus water for hygiene.

In a blackout scenario, 30 days is a stretch. Just shoot for 1 gallon per person, per day. That will cover drinking water, hand washing, and dish washing in a pinch.

4. Cash/Hard Copies – We live in an increasingly cashless society, where many of us go days with absolutely no actual cash in our wallets — just a bunch of cards. If power is down in your area, cash will still spend.

In fact, it’s a good idea to take a moment and think about all of the important day-to-day information that you have stored online (this may include addresses, passwords, account numbers, medical information, etc.).

If you lose your internet connection, you won’t be able to retrieve any of this critical information for a long time. You won’t be able to look up addresses, phone numbers, or pull up a Google Map. So it’s critical that you have this info stored someplace besides the “cloud.”

5. Marine Grade Cooler -Most survivalists get caught up in the gadget/power side of a blackout that they miss the critical food safety issues. Even in a fairly short power outage, the food in your refrigerator can reach unsafe levels and spoil. With a bag of ice and the next item on this list, you can make sure your food stays safe.

Use ice and bags of frozen vegetables to keep perishable foods cool in a high-quality cooler. It doesn’t have to be a YETI, but many of the cheap coolers out there are just junk. They barely keep ice frozen for 12 hours in moderate weather.

What did I leave out? Let me know in the comments section below!


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  1. I didn’t see flashlights, extra batteries, or candles (and lighters) in your article
    Considering the things that have happened and do happen, one might do well to re-examine their kitchen cabinets for the least used cabinet that is in reach of kids (who may be at home during a blackout and with a parent(s) absent, or even a disabled or elderly family member who could never reach a top cabinet (e.g., above a refrigerator or stove); and then there is also the baby-sitter who may have no idea where emergency equipment is stored in the house.. Use that cabinet for flashlights, maybe large-print directions of what to do, along with some basic food, water, and stuff that is readily handy. And if you use a cabinet and have any visually impaired family member, paint that cabinet red or yellow (I’m sort of joking, but maybe not. One could also apply some sort of material that can be felt with fingers, for example, for elderly with eyesight disabilities. Many people attach those toe “corn” circular stickies (with a hole in the center around the corn) to the buttons of remotes, microwaves, and all sorts of things so that the visually impaired know what buttons to push.


  3. A firearm may be necessary in extremely long power outages. Drag it out of your secure storage, inspect it, load it and keep it handy. There are a lot of bad guys out there that will take advantage of a bad situation and steal your supplies and other stuff.
    Sometimes the mere presence of a firearm is enough to scare away the bad guys.

    Most folks cook with electricity or a gas stove that uses an electric spark to ignite. These will not function in a black out.
    A Coleman Camp Stove is a good investment. We moved from Florida to East Texas in 1992 and being prepared for Hurricanes, we were basically prepared when ice storms shut the power down. In the first one I experienced in 1994, I was the only one around who could make coffee, boil water, cook, etc. My neighbors quickly became good friends. Hurricane lanterns gave us plenty of light to cook by, read by and play cards by.

  5. I have the bottom of my freezer completely lined with milk cartons and liter drink bottles filled with water. Keeps stuff cold quite a long time during power outages and is usable and potable water in a long term crisis after the food is used or spoled.

  6. TV said Waco didn’t have bread in their stores as their trucks came from Dallas and
    they were iced in. Just thought I’d let you know. No ice here, but NW of town, they got it, but not like farther North. jrl

  7. We just had one and its winter and below freezing at night, in fact last night -2 degrees. So you better have matches or lighters to light your Coleman and kerosene lanterns, candles, Coleman type stove, old fashioned coffee peculator, warm hats, gloves, long johns, warm coats, warm pants, first aid supplies, supplies of prescription drugs-and non prescription drugs, sleeping bags or plenty of blankets, coats for your pet, extra food and water for at least a week, generator with extra gas. Nice to have cards, board games, books to read, dutch oven to cook outdoors, briquettes, extra kerosene, extra fuel cylinders for your lanterns, etc.

  8. Uhhhhh READ the article! He CLEARLY states why he left flashlights off the list!

  9. I highly suggest everyone get a CB radio, GMRS walkie talkies, and/or ham radio stations so you have communication capabilities. No guarantee your cellphone will work in a power outage.

  10. Double up (or more) on prescript. drugs, if you can, and otr (off the shelf )aids. MOST important, VITAMINS, TO GO WITH THE GROCERY’S YOU EAT. you can eat lite and still stay healthy.

  11. My handgun was stolen and since then liberals are restricting purchase of firearms now. Baseball bat is also useful. I have one under bed. Two times men have tried to rape me. I didn’t need firearms to defeat them. All I needed was willingness to swing hard towards face.

  12. Trish, if your gun was stolen, you need to be sure you have changed all the locks in your house. I would put all my energy into getting another gun, even if you have to go to another state to do it. Hopefully you do not live in the Northeast where gun control is getting criminally out of control. I also keep a steel baseball bat right near my S&W Bodyguard and my Remington 12 gauge. And they’ll have to get past my lab/wolfhound mix first. A big male dog is a great protector for the family. That’s just me. The male members of my household have their own weapons. I’m a 61 year old grandma. NOBODY’S going to take me by surprise. God bless you dear and stay safe!

  13. Most gas stoves can be lit by a match even if the electric spark is not working. You just light the match first, turn the gas on and put the match immediately to the burner. Don’t let the gas escape more than a second or two or you will have a bit of a flare up. Believe me, I’ve done it for years with stoves that lost their “sparking” ability.

  14. A power inverter. You can turn your car into a silent “generator” if you’ve got one. You can power lighter items by just plugging into the cigarette lighter, and if you’ve got one that’s 800kW or more, you can plug it directly onto the battery and use it to power your fridge. You’d need one that’s at least 1500kW or more to power heaters,griddles and such, but I don’t know what that would do to the battery.

    The recommendation I’ve seen is the 800kW inverter with automatic shut-offs if there’s an overload. They don’t cost much, are portable and you don’t have to run the car for it to work (until it’s time to recharge the battery). Here’s a link to the a few on Amazon.. There’s surely others, and this is just a starting place . . . Good luck!

  15. I am thankful my wife and I live in a COMPLETELY self contained 40ft motor coach [ RV ] .I have added [ solar , and a RO ] system. I also think. you are talking about Watts ,not Kw . 800kw is 800,000 Wts

  16. 1.) blankets or sleeping bags 2.) camp stoves 3.) hand warmer/toe warmer disposal heat packs 4.) food & water 5.) firearms. I always have my kerosene lantern ready & flashlights with lots of batteries. Also candles. I’m glad you mentioned carbon monoxide detector, I’m going to buy one tomorrow. Thanks!

  17. John Q. Public 1776

    I’ve packed away a shiload of those Dollar store Solar pathway lights. Free light , safer than candles.

  18. Great idea John Q !!! Even the cheap ones give a good light.

  19. Another great idea -so simple – thanks

  20. The frozen water should be placed on the TOP not the bottom. Remember, heat rises and cold falls. Without air circulation, the cold produced by the frozen water will only work on what’s below it in a chest unit. If it’s on the bottom it does nothing for the food above it. It’s best to line the freezer if possible by placing the frozen mass on the top around the perimeter or place frozen jugs on the TOP shelf of a vertical unit.

    And don’t open it up to rearrange it after the power goes out! Keep the door CLOSED! If you have enough thermal mass inside it should keep everything cold for a long time. It’s also more efficient to run a freezer filled with stuff than an empty one!

    Science, it’s a wonderful thing! I hope this helps.

  21. On American Blackout one couple obtained some canned goods and then got home to find out they did not have a manual can opener.
    A solar generator will be quiet and keep the freezer and fridge going.
    you tube shows people adding car mufflers and longer exhaust pipes to gas gennys which also allows them the run them inside the garage. They can’t be heard from the front of the house.
    Blackout curtains to keep quiet on the fact you have power when others don’t.
    board games and decks of cards and books to occupy time.
    camping space heater that has a low oxygen sensor.
    Look at everything in your house that runs on electricity and find manual versions.

  22. I have noticed one thing that everyone says but they will pay a lot of money for it. “AA” batteries. The best way to get “AA” batteries cheap is to buy a couple of 9 volt batteries. The kind you use for laterns with the spring on top. When you buy a 9 volt battery, you can open this battery up from the bottom and inside is 32 “AA” batteries and the 9 volt battery only costs around 6 bucks. See what you would pay buying 32 individual “AA” batteries. Just a little secret for us preppers.

  23. The co-op town I live in does not allow solar panels -so when ever I see a good deal on something small that is solar (like on amazon) I pick a couple up. I have a backpack that I got on Home Shopping Network that is solar. You wear it while hiking or whatever during the day and it charges the panel, then at night you can plug in your cell phone, tablet or whatever and charge it. I also have several solar lights – 2 that are very bright and can be worn around your neck on a lanyard or stand up. These particular ones are given to families in 3rd world countries so they have light at night and their children can do homework, etc. I also have a larger one that is a solar powered light, but also gives power via usb to cell phones, tablets, etc., much like the back pack. I encourage everyone to spend a little of their prepping budget on a couple of Solar lights. Research them first and check amazon for good deals. But do it NOW, because you never know when it’s going to happen (shtf)!

  24. about those flashlights; consider the shaker types…. I’ve added two to our stash – a few minutes shaking gives a lot of loght, and they’re not much larger than those using regular batteries. we found ours on “shakelights unlimited”. Price is realistic, and service was truly outstanding ! (no, I don’t work for them).

  25. CB ‘s are grate , but , ham raido’s won’t work if grid is down for they use a repeater tower , CB’s is the only way to go for me .

  26. Yes that’s rite , and in the 6 volt flashlight batteries with the springs on top you’ll finds 8 / D Batteries

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