For those who are just beginning to prep, the task of doing so may seem overwhelming. Plainly said, there is so much to do, and so much to learn. It can be difficult to determine where to start.
For others, the obstacle may be a reluctant significant other. Sometimes it’s hard to get both of you on board to the idea of prepping. (Mental images of tin foil hats maybe?)
For some others, the roadblocks are simply time and/or money.
In all these cases, the solution may be to just start small…and to start by preparing for the common everyday emergencies. For example, every household should have emergency supplies on hand such as a first aid kit and a fire extinguisher. Even the persons most skittish to the idea of the prepping lifestyle would have to agree with that. As for another idea to start with? Every household should have a “blackout box.”
A “blackout box” is just simply a box, basket, bag, (or what-have-you,) that has in one spot several items you would want quickly on hand if the lights went out for a short period of time. Everyone has occasional blackouts, right? (That is, unless you have a generator or other alternate power in place…but that’s another story…)
So what should be in a “blackout box?” That really depends on your personal circumstances. You should put in there what you think you and your family might need. There is no need for this to be complex or expensive. In fact, you probably already own all, or most, of what you think you might need. You may just need to gather these items together from around the house. Other items that you don’t readily have on hand can be easily picked up at a dollar or discount store. The purpose of these items is not to last through a longer power outage. This box is just meant to be the go-to kit when the lights go out for just a short time. If in the event that the blackout extends longer, the items in your “blackout box” can be used to gather and access other supplies you may have stored with which you would need to get through a more significant emergency.
First, start with a box or other container in which to put your blackout go-to items. No need to buy anything here….you could easily repurpose something like an old shoebox or a tote bag for the job.
Next, in the dark, you would need light. Put in your kit some cheap flashlights, preferably one for each member of the family. Be certain to store extra batteries. Also, check the batteries regularly to make sure they are still good. You may also include a small backpacking lantern or some headlamps which would prove very useful to keep both your hands free. Another form of light you may want to include would be chemical light sticks. These would be especially useful if you suspect a gas leak as anything electronic (including flashlights) could ignite the gas.
There are other items I would include as well. Besides extra batteries, another good power source to include in this kit would be a USB power bank. One or more of these could provide a temporary solution to recharging cell phones or other electronic gadgets if the power went out. Matches would also be a good addition to your kit to light candles, fires for heat, and so forth. Other items to include could be an extra manual can opener, and a written list of emergency contacts.
Speaking of emergency contacts, how do you intend on contacting others? In a short term blackout, a cell phone would be an obvious choice, but what if that wasn’t an option? If you have a landline phone, then you may use that if you own a corded telephone. Cordless telephones usually need power to operate, so they do not work in a blackout. Therefore, a corded telephone is another good possible addition to a “blackout box.” You may read more about that here.
The final thing that I will recommend including is a radio…one that is either battery-operated, solar, or hand crank powered. This would provide a means of obtaining news, information, and other updates for your area. I would highly recommend one which doubles as a weather radio. If you desire information from a greater geographical area, there are even some small battery-operated shortwave radios on the market which you may consider including.
As you determine what other items you may want to incorporate into your kit, think about what you and your family would need within quick reach if the lights were to go out. Finally, place this “blackout box” in a centrally located place in your home where it can be easily accessed by everyone. You may even consider placing a few smaller kits around different areas of your household. Also, you may want to attach to the “blackout box” a list of items that you are including in your kit to review every now and then to make sure everything is good to go. Again, the purpose of this kit is not to get one through a serious long term emergency…or even a day. The purpose of this kit is to help you through a common short-term blackout, and to help you have the means to gather other supplies stored for a longer emergency if you were ever faced with one. In any case, having a “blackout box” would give you some level of preparedness you can work towards, even if it’s a small start, and that’s a basic enough start that even the persons most reluctant to prepping can agree with.