Some tips and tricks I have used to be prepared for power outages. Some of the tricks are specific to Android and some specific to UK.
Power outages are rare but inconvenient. They also tend to happen more frequently in specific places where the local power cables are overhead and feed through / near trees. So some here will have experience many outages, and others none.
I am predicting power outages will increase in frequency and duration and so more people will be encountering. The primary reason all trace back to the cause and effect of global warming. Global warming is real, all it takes is a thermometer and taking notes over a global basis over time.
Warming oceans will evaporate water faster which then falls in increased rain and causes stronger winds around the rain.
Warmer weather causes the electrical wires to heat up, that increases their internal resistance so they then heat up more from electrical heating and so a cascade failure of melting metal and blowing fuses.
The move away from fossil fuels is growing reliance on electricity as gas heating and fuelled cars is squished down. It will be many years before the energy situation improves, long enough this advice will be relevant.
- Store electrical energy to operate devices during outages.
- Store cold water to keep food chilled during outages.
- Minimalism to allow to flee a bad situation, temporary home.
A power outage may be caused by a local event which not only disrupts power but is a threat to life so you may need to flee. So shrinking down to basic kit will allow to pack something to flee with and shrink the space you need to live in temporarily.
For me the core to minimalism is Android and clothing choices.
Android supports larger screen devices, a 8" - 12" tablet are commonly available such as from Samsung, Huawei, etc. So recommendation is get a larger Android device. , ideally one which has plenty of memory and storage and/or has a SD slot.
In my case I have a Huawei Mediapad M5 10.8 and 8.4 tablets, 3 years old, you can’t really buy these now but it was my choice at the time.
Bluetooth keyboard / folio keyboard. Anker used to sell bluetooth keyboards, I don’t think they do now, so get a keyboard approximately the width of your tablet so it becomes laptop-like. I am typing this on my Huawei 10.8 tablet with a backlit bluetooth keyboard sourced locally on Amazon.
These tablets are charged by USB-C and be recharged off 10W to 30W dependent on the device, but the point being they will charge off an entry level Powercore. My tablet will charge from 5V or 9V which is within a Powercore 18W such as the 20000 PD.
Then own 2 or 3 Powercore which you use regularly (e.g. to keep phone going when out walking) and you rotate between them to verify they are still working. I have 2 20000 and 3 10000 and a 26800 so 100Ah which is enough to keep two people’s devices going for days.
What brings power down can bring Internet down so don’t rely on the Internet for entertainment. Download offline media. All of NetFlix, Amazon Prime, BBC, etc all have apps with download capability, keep a few day’s worth of media stored so not bored while waiting for help.
What I do is use “Get Iplayer” which works on Android, Linux, Windows, etc, which creates from BBC a MP4 or TS file which you can store to watch. It is easier to download on a Windows / Linux system and then copy to Android’s storage / SD, but you can use OverLand Android app and follow the get iplayer install instructions and download on Android via a type of Linux. Complex topic, PM me for help.
Stored electrical energy
Recommend own multiple Powercore to operate phones , tablets, headphones, flashlights. Multiple allows for some of them to fail and you still have some working, and you rotate between them to verify they work.
I do not recommend a Powerhouse, it is not minimalist, heavy to grab’n’go in a fleeing scenario and if it fails then it’s a brick.
Most Anker Bolder flashlights are rechargeable. I have LC40, LC90, LC130 flashlights, some allow the batteries to be charged in a separate charger for the 18650 or 26650 cells.
I also recommend to invest in Eufy stick-on lights as they use regular AAA batteries to come up at night, and they last months, they sense movement and will come on as you approach. Liberal sprinkling around the home will make it hard to stub your toes.
I recommend you own a 2nd chest freezer to store lots of frozen food. This pays for itself as you bulk buy and store food. The frozen food together keeps itself cold.
If you don’t own enough food then put bags of water and freeze, this bulks out the contents so it lasts longer during an outage. The water melts and you drain out of bottom of chest freezer.
Frozen food complements dried and tinned food. If the outage is longer you’d consume chilled then frozen then dried then tinned food. As frozen food takes a few days to defrost, I never keep more than say 4-5 days of days of frozen food in so it is never wasted. Combined with dried and tinned food I aim for 10-20 days of food, which covers the most common worst case scenario including feeding others who didn’t stock-up.
Just prior to a known storm approaching, turn the power up on the freezer to make it colder, it will then last longer through an outage, then turn it down after storm passes.
Place the most expensive food near bottom and less expensive food near top, as the freezer warms up the top will defrost first. So typically that’s frozen meat at bottom, then frozen vegs, then frozen bread at top, and if your freezer is not full then add bags of ice near bottom to slowly defrost and if they do actually melt then drain the water through drain hole at bottom.
I don’t recommend relying on a Powerhouse or a generator to operate freezer / fridge. Latent heat of water means as water changes from frozen state to liquid state is equivalent of 200Wh of stored electrical energy per Kg of water. It is far less cost to simply store cold via frozen water than store electrical energy to operate a compressor to keep something cold. If you eat the defrosting food first, you don’t actually waste money, just prioritise what to eat so to not waste most. Freezers operate around -18C and take some time to get to 0C and will stay near 0C as water changes from solid to liquid state.
Cooking / heating
Regular camping cooking equipment you use for camping will work for bar’b’que and for emergency cooking. I prefer alcohol (meths / denurated alcohol) fuel stoves as it is safer for indoors use and storage but camping gas fuel is also viable. I keep about 2 weeks of fuel - storage outdoors in case of accident. Most of the fuel would be used on the frozen food at the time it is defrosted, but some on dried / tinned food.
Another good option is to store dry wood and be able to heat and cook via wood. This is more of an option in rural situations than dense urban. Chances are you already can and are using wood or can’t. Where I live wood is not practical but I can burn wood after my alcohol and gas is depleted.
If an outage occurs in winter you risk dying from cold, or more commonly just find it unpleasant.
- Wool baselayers. Wool is warming, keeps warm when wet, and can be worn for days before you’re smelly.
- Synthetic mid / overlayers. Synthetic keeps warm when wet, and shakes dry or dries in sun.
- Down insulation. This is warm and is lightweight and packs small but it doesn’t like wet so needs to be packed in a drybag.
- throw your warm clothing spread out over bedding for warmer sleeping and put on in morning, they will be less cold that way.
This is an exceptionally rare scenario, but keep a bit of food, water, some baselayer and insulation in a dry bag in backpack, with some of your Powercore and a Bolder flashlight - packed. Keep by the door you’re most likely to flee via. If you have a vehicle, consider storing in that.
- Android supports PiP - Picture In Picture - where a small window is displayed from a background app.
- PiP can be used in Chrome, Firefox and some media players
- Split screen allows to see two apps concurrently.
- This allows to watch background media while doing something else. e.g. Walk listening to an MP4 file.
Example screenshot, the main screen is Chrome and the right image is Firefox playing full-screen then moved to Chrome so Firefox moves into PiP, this works better usually than app which doesn’t let you play in background, eg. UK iplayer , channel 4, ITV, doesn’t let you app background play buy Firefox does.
Once you’ve created all these systems, the chance of an outage or a need to flee is tiny.
But you can use more commonly in fun ways
- A larger tablet can be easier to use outdoors in the summer
- Camping stove for camping or outdoors cooking
- A large frozen food ownership will on average lower food costs, buy food when cheaper and consume when food higher cost, so saves money.
- Flashlights for winter walking.
- Wool and insulating clothing saves money and makes it pleasant to go out in almost every condition so no fear of weather.
If you prepare for the worst but hope for the best you will:
- be relaxed. You know you can handle most situations, so don’t worry.
- save money. All of these ultimately lower costs. e.g. warm clothing means lower winter fuel bills.
- better able to help others. It is more probable someone else has a bad day than yourself, but you have the capability to help them.