Power outage season is here in the Pacific Northwest, and it has already been brutal. There are lots of reasons why we lose power around here. We have a lot of trees, but with the high winds and above-ground power poles in most of the city, it means we have tree debris everywhere, or we have trees down, and that all wreak havoc on our systems. So we lose power, internet, etc. This author was without power for 55 continuous hours over winter break (and has lost it another time as this piece was being written), and here are the takeaways from those experiences:

  • When the power first goes out, you may just need to get your bearings and check on your people. Kids (and honestly, others) can get very scared to be stuck in the dark. Make sure everyone is okay and that everyone has a flashlight if it is dark (more on the supplies later).
  • Next, we like to make sure that all the animals are accounted for. If you have a prolonged outage, you may need a Plan B for the animals, depending on their needs. We have a leopard gecko that we had to keep warm and who eventually needed to be taken care of by a family member that had power. Dogs and cats are probably happy to snuggle up with you during the outage. 
  • You also want to check on neighbors. This is especially important for those in our community that may be alone or that may need some extra assistance. See if they are okay and if there is anything you can do to help them. 
  • Be sure to report the outage to the power company. It is important for them to know what they are dealing with. They will have a power outage map as well. The truth is they are doing their best, but when there are a lot of outages happening, the information you may get can be inaccurate. Just take the situation with a grain of salt…it really could be a lot sooner than you think or, unfortunately, even longer. 
  • Keep the refrigerator and freezer shut as much as possible. You want to try to save your food. Theoretically, your refrigerator will stay cold for about four hours, and your freezer can stay at the correct temperature for up to 48 hours. If you have a prolonged outage, you may need some backup plans. An ice chest with some ice can be an excellent alternative for some of your items. If you live in a neighborhood that loses power a lot, you may want to invest in a generator. We have a generator that we ran intermittently to keep the temps maintained. Costco sells a whole-house generator that may be a good option for some of us. 
  • If the power is surging (going on and off), it is a good idea to unplug your electronics. Those surges can fry your possessions. Fancy espresso maker? Unplug it. Your big new screen tv? Unplug it. Better to be safe than sorry. 
  • If it is cold, be sure to find a heat source. You should be bundled up as much as possible. Did you get slippers and a robe for the holidays…throw them on! Layering will be key! A fireplace is a great choice if you have one. If you don’t, there are some propane heaters approved for indoor use, be sure to check the specifics for any heater you may purchase. There is a risk of carbon monoxide poisoning if you have the wrong kind of heater running indoors. This risk is also why you don’t try to heat your house with your gas oven either. 
  • During this stormy season, you really want to keep your phones, tablets, and computers charged. You may not get service, but at least you are prepared … just in case. Also, it is handy to have power packs ready to go if you need them. 
  • Collect some of your kids’ favorite items. Blankies, toys, games, cards, colors and paper, and a book. Set up some battery-powered lamps and let them be able to do what makes them happy. Try to make it lighthearted and find the moments of fun and adventure. It can feel impossible to see the bright side (pun not intended but appreciated), but for your kids’ sake, help them have the courage to ride out the storm together. 

It can feel daunting when losing power keeps happening. There isn’t much we can do about the outages, but we can better prepare ourselves for the next storm. 


  • Candles – Regular and battery-powered. The battery-powered ones are great to leave in high-traffic areas. Have a few going in the bathroom and the kitchen.
  • Heat source – Make sure it is safe for indoor use.
  • Flashlights and Headlamps – Have one for everyone in the family…you cannot overbuy. 
  • Extra batteries – Keep a well-maintained stock of a variety of sizes.                                  
  • Blankets – Cuddle Up Buttercup!
  • Charged Phone – Keep that phone juiced!
  • Power Packs – Here is a backup power source if you didn’t keep your phone charged. 
  • Weather Radio – Let’s get old school! This can help you track the storm.
  • Cooler – Help cool down food if needed.                                            
  • Generator – This could be the best option for your family living in the Pacific Northwest.