Keep Our Service Free-Donate

Thursday, October 20, 2016

How to Prepare for a Blackout or Emergency, Get Free Electricity, Hookup a Home Generator

Poor Man Survival

Self Reliance tools for independent minded people…

ISSN 2161-5543

A Digest of Urban Survival Resources


What to Do During a Blackout (And How to Prepare for One)+Easy Generator to Home Hookup, Free Emergency Electricity


   Winter is approaching for many of us and with it, inevitable power outages…the time to prepare is NOW.  Here are a few tips to get you started.

A couple weeks ago, after a storm in Northern Minnesota, some friends of ours were without power for 3 days and lost about 40 freshly cut fish fillets they had stocked in their freezer, along with a trash-sackful of other food.

In the rain-drenched Pacific Northwest, my mom and her husband have a generator which automatically comes on when the grid goes down. It gets used on a regular basis; the reality of where they live is that you’re going to lose power a few times a year.

While you may think that blackouts are few and far between, and you don’t need an article to tell you what to do and how to prepare, the reality is that they’re a pretty common occurrence. Because of the United States’ aging infrastructure, our rapidly increasing population, and a growing number of extreme weather events, the number of major grid failures (more than 50,000 households affected) in our country is doubling roughly every four years. In the early 2000s, large-scale grid outages occurred about 45 times per year, or around 3 per month across the entire country (surprising how low it is, isn’t it?). Now, there are large-scale outages almost daily.

Power outages are not an emergency that is geographically confined. Everyone, in every part of the country (and world), experiences them. The desert Southwest, tornado country, hurricane country (we’re coming up on hurricane season now!), and everywhere in between.

In order to come out the other end of a power outage safely and comfortably, there are things you can do before, during, and after the electricity goes out. Follow the tips below, and your neighbors will be coming to you asking for advice the next time the grid goes down.


Before a lengthy power outage ever occurs, there are some steps you can take to ensure that when (not if) it does happen, you’ll be ready, and emerge out the other side with no, or minimal, harm done.

Have a stash of emergency supplies that includes a few outage-specific items.

Having a stash of emergency supplies on-hand at home is crucial no matter the dire scenario. There are a few things though that are related specifically to power outages that you should have handy, perhaps even in multiple places in the home/garage.

  • Flashlights + batteries. Read our primer on flashlights, and get yourself at least a couple. Having at least one of the hand-crank, emergency variety is recommended, as they don’t require batteries.
  • Radio. Either battery-powered, or the hand-crank, emergency kind. With TV and wifi down, radio could be your only source of information during a power outage. If it’s battery-powered, be sure to have extra batteries stashed away.
  • Cash. ATM, credit card, and POS (point-of-sale) machines are likely to be down for the count. Having some cash on hand for needed transactions will be handy (even if backup electricity systems are in place for some companies).
  • Non-perishable foods. While always good to have on hand anyway, a supply of non-perishable, non-refrigerated foods (meals, too) is a necessity for lengthy power outages. If you have a gas stove, keep some food stocked that you can cook exclusively on a stovetop like soup and pasta. (Keep in mind that most modern gas stoves get their flame from an electric starter; you can start them with a match, just be careful.) If you have an electric stove, you’ll want to always have a stash of things like jerky and meal replacement bars. Or if you have a camp stove, you can use it to boil water for dehydrated meals.
  • Bottled water. A blackout can compromise a city’s water purification systems, especially if the outage is prolonged. If your water becomes unsafe to drink, you’ll want to have some bottles of it available. Consider establishing a long-term supply as well for especially dire and prolonged emergencies.

Have extra batteries for computers/phones, or, separate charging solutions.

With as much as our world relies on computers, phones, and the internet of things, having backup systems in place for your electronics is a good idea. Extra computer/phone batteries are pretty cheap (except for Apple device owners…) and obviously easy to store and pack. Solar charging solutions are good for Apple device owners, as well as for those who wish to provide yet another layer of redundancy.

If you have a generator, know how to operate it and have extra fuel on hand.

Generator safety could be an entire article of its own (generators are one of the leading causes of carbon monoxide poisoning, especially during disasters), but for our purposes, if you have one, know how to safely and properly operate it. Don’t wait until the power is out to read the manual.

Also be sure to actually have the fuel on-hand for when an emergency occurs. Many are fueled by gasoline; some are propane powered, and solar models even exist.

Know how to use your manual garage release.

If you have an electric garage door opener (you probably do), it’s not going to work in a power outage. And the door won’t open manually unless you pull the release cord. It’s extremely easy, but something a lot of people have never learned.  

Have a backup solution for essential, electrically-operated medical devices.

If you require one of these devices, contact the manufacturer — they are sure to have procedures in place for when the power goes out. You should also contact the electric company and let them know you have essential medical devices in the home; you’ll get priority for restoration during power outages. It should also be noted that if you have a needed medical device, it’s prudent to invest in a generator that automatically turns on when the electrical grid goes down.


Check to see if it’s just a flipped breaker switch.

When you notice the power is out in your home, first check your electrical panel and see if everything is in order there. If a switch is flipped off, flip it back on, and check for power. If nothing comes back on, or the panel looks fine, check to see if it’s just your home. In most neighborhoods, it’s easy to tell if the outage is confined to just one home (at least at night). Are exterior lights on? Are rooms lit up from TVs, computers, and lamps? Are night lights on?

If it’s just your home, call your electric company and they can send someone out. If it’s a wider area, you can often check your electric company’s website to see a map of the outage, a reason, and a prognosis for returned service. (We did this during our power outage; it’s pretty incredible the amount of info you can get online! (We used our phone’s 4G service.))

Use flashlights, not candles.

While candles look pretty, don’t use them as your primary source of light during a power outage. One or two for ambiance is fine, but lighting candles all around the house is quite a fire hazard. Will you remember to blow all of them out when you hit the hay or when the lights come back on? Will Fido knock one over with his wagging tail? Too many variables there. As stated above, have flashlights (and/or battery-powered lanterns) on hand in multiple places in the home, and don’t be afraid to use them.

If a power line is down near your home, do not approach it.

Pretty self-explanatory. Call your local non-emergency police number to report it.

Keep fridge and freezer doors closed as much as possible.

Keep your food cold! You have limited time to do so anyway, so any opening and closing of the door simply reduces your window for not having to throw out your perishables. In the fridge, food is okay for 4 hours in a power outage; in the freezer it’s good for 24-48 depending on how full it is (the fuller the better). When the power goes out, if you’re so inclined, you can transfer fridge items to the freezer right away to preserve things a little longer.

Turn off or unplug anything that was on during the outage.

When the power comes back, it can surge at first, causing damage to appliances and electronics. And if not outright damage, it can screw with programming and software. When the power went out in our neighborhood, I had to re-program the garage door opener because it wouldn’t close all the way. Be aware of those sorts of things and switch most everything off.

It is a good idea, however, to keep at least one light (or a plugged-in radio) turned on so you know when the power is

Avoid travel by car, if possible.

If stoplights are out, traffic will be congested, and more dangerous.

Check with local authorities about water safety.

Water filtration and sanitation services can be halted when the power goes out. With reserves and backup systems, it often only goes bad if the power is out for an extended period of time. If you’re concerned, check with local authorities as to your water’s safety, and if there’s doubt, you can throw water in a pot and boil it for a minute on your gas stovetop or camping stove. Or stick with the bottled variety.

Be prepared for the weather.

Update: Get outside and hang out with your neighbors! 

Believe it or not, just a day after this article originally published, I had another significant power outage which lasted from about 4pm to 7pm. Since it wasn’t nighttime, I wasn’t able to check other people’s power situation by just snooping out my window. I looked outside, saw my neighbor across the street also outside sort of looking around, and I decided to head out there as well. We confirmed that both our houses didn’t have power, and then, funny enough, more neighbors from the cul-de-sac came out. What started as simply checking on how far the power outage extended, turned into a lovely later afternoon of hanging out with neighbors and shooting the breeze. So when the power goes out, don’t just stay holed up in your abode, but get out there and interact with some people!


Throw out unsafe food.

Use a thermometer on any foods and beverages that you can. Throw out anything above 40 degrees. Also use your nose; “when in doubt, throw it out.” Better to throw out something questionable than eat it and get sick.

Wait a few minutes to plug electronics/appliances back in.

This protects against any surges that happen when power is restored, and also puts less stress on the electrical grid. Think about it: when power comes back on, all those appliances and electronics and even lights instantly come back on, putting quite the strain on homes in the area, and the electrical infrastructure itself. By waiting just a few minutes, you’re not only helping the grid, but ensuring greater longevity for your appliances.

Re-stock your emergency supplies.

After a lengthy power outage, you’ve used up flashlight batteries, fuel for your generator, your stash of non-perishable foods…now you have to re-stock it all for the next outage. Also take note of what you didn’t have that would have been handy. Maybe you thought that cranking an emergency radio wasn’t very effective, and you’d rather just have double the batteries you had last time. Perhaps you realized you didn’t have enough non-perishable goods on hand. Or maybe you simply need to buy a couple of board games to better pass the time when your laptop’s not working! Do a post-mortem of the event, and ensure that next time you truly have everything you need.

Source:  The Art of Manliness


Part II

Easy Generator to Home Hook Up

A generator is a core component to many people's emergency preparedness plans. (Maybe you have a cool charcoal powered or a multi-fuel generator.) However many fail to think through how exactly they will power the items they want to run when the grid is down.

In June of 2012 my family experienced a 10 day power outage. It was eye opening. It was 100 degrees during the day with periods of heavy rain. I had to run a sump pump to keep my basement dry, a refrigerator, freezer for food preservation, a portable AC unit in the living room to protect my infant, we charged phones, and ran the wifi router. I had power cords everywhere. It was a pain. I decided then and there I would find a better way.

A generator transfer switch is the legal and proper way to power your home with an emergency generator. There are three main types: automatic, manual transfer sub panel and a breaker interlock. Each has varying degrees of complexity, benefits and expense.

Automatic transfer switches will sense a power loss, start your standby generator and automatically move your load to the generator. These are awesome - but very expensive and require a full time dedicated standby generator.

Manual transfer sub panel switches are good option. They are less expensive than the automatic transfer switches (Starting around $300) and can be used with a portable generator. They typically only cover a few breakers which was problematic for me.

Breaker Interlock is the option I chose. It is National Electric Code compliant and is in my opinion the least expensive and most flexible option. My setup cost was just under $150. In this setup you use a breaker to energize your existing breaker box. Switching it on is easy and safe. My wife did an unassisted dry run in under 5 min - which included getting the generator out of the building.

The breaker interlock system has come in very handy for us. We can turn on overhead lights, wash clothes and keep our food cold, charge our phones, run the internet and much more....all while keeping our doors and windows closed and no tripping on extension cords!

I am not an electrician. After much consulting and over sight from a licensed 25 year Master Electrician I believe these instructions to be correct and accurate for my jurisdiction. Electrical codes vary from place to place. In my place of residence home owners are allowed to do their own electrical work if it is up to code. You are responsible for any code violations, permits or awesome good stuff that comes from doing a project like this.

I've listened to and have even seen people using a double male plug to energize their house during a power outage. This is dangerous.

·         It is an electrical code violation.

·         It is illegal in most places.

·         It is a fire hazard. The power created by your generator is generally greater than the rating for the receptacle, wire and breaker.

·         If you don't disconnect your main breaker it can shock the power company linemen - and you will get sued.

·         You can easily get shocked because the male plug prongs are exposed.




If your power ever goes out, which at some point it will, don’t just sit there and rely on batteries until the utility company saves you. Here’s a way you can have enough power to charge a mobile device or a radio to keep you safe and informed—in case of an emergency.

This secret has to do with a secret power source in your home that’s always live, even during blackouts.

I’m talking about that phone jack right under your nose.

You probably noticed that nearly every time the power goes out, the landlines are still up and running.

That’s because the phone company maintains their own backup power system, and all the power the phone needs comes from them. Even when the phone isn’t in plugged in, a constant DC signal of about 50–60 volts runs through your phone jack.

Today, you’re going to learn how to use that underutilized electricity . . . even if you don’t currently have a landline service set up.
There are five (somewhat) simple steps to follow. For step-by-step instructions and an instructional

video, visit the link below.

Emergency power:



Yours for another revolution,

Bruce ‘the Poor Man’

Additional Resources

The Anatomy of a Breakdown

The Prepper’s Blueprint: The Step-By-Step Guide To Help You Through Any Disaster

Prepper’s Home Defense: Security Strategies to Protect Your Family by Any Means Necessary

Contact! A Tactical Manual for Post Collapse Survival


You may have heard the rage about the new cell phone service provider that offers free talk, text, and data. It’s called FreedomPop. 

We look at one of the few truly free credit score options. Credit Karma not only gives you your credit score for free, but they break it down to let you know what to do to improve your score.

Tips of the Week

This tip comes from one of our writers, Charles. He's working on a story now about the Dash App. Install a simple device in your car and it turns it into a smart car. You can monitor on your phone everything from gas mileage to engine temperature to real-time diagnostics. Oh, and when the engine light comes on, Dash will decode it for you so you know what's really going on.

8 Fall Chores You Can't Afford to Ignore (Consumer Report): "Fall is the best time to get your house in order because come winter, small problems can turn into expensive nightmares.  The following tips can save you thousands of dollars in repair costs."
Fidelity Study Finds Millennials are Moving Back Home in Droves (Consumerism Commentary): "Ah, millennials. They are the first generation to grow up with iPhones, FaceTime, and GPS apps. Most of their banking is done online and, thanks to Amazon, the majority of web purchases arrive at their doorstep within 2 business days. They hit the generational jackpot when it comes to convenience and ease, it would seem. And now, according to a new study from Fidelity, they are also very likely to still be receiving financial help from their parents, even if they’re 'out on their own.'"


Arm Up System-Defense Without Regulation
PM’s Guide to Home Defense

It is a crazy world out there with plenty of violence and everyone knows you that under most circumstances, police usually arrive after the fact. Your rights to defend yourself are often under attack, even for non-lethal self-defense tools…Includes book and 3 bonus CD ROMS


{Note:  We also offer a Three Set CD-ROM-only version at a lesser price for those with limited budgets]

Support our efforts by shopping my storefront…

A Smoking Frog Feature, Shallow Planet Production


1 comment:

Dave said...

We have a lot of power outages where we live and you've shared many, many good tips and resources-thanks!