The power can go out for any number of reasons, but the strong winds and downed trees associated with hurricane season are major culprits this time of year.
The Atlantic hurricane season lasts from June through November in the Northeast, and the 2020 season is supposed to be especially active, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
If you find yourself without electricity, try to stay calm and take a few precautionary steps before figuring out what to do next.
You can combat annoyance, boredom and other inconveniences brought on by power outages by focusing your attention on tasks ranging from creative to constructive. Though you may not remember a time without it, there are still plenty of things to do without internet.
What to Do Right Away
When the power goes out, the first thing you should do is check your breaker box. This way you’ll know if there’s a problem with your breaker or if an outage has occurred. If a breaker was tripped, one or more switches may be turned off. Simply turn them back on and see if the power returns.
Reach out to your neighbors or, if the weather is iffy, peek outside to see if anyone else has power. Whether it’s just your house or the whole neighborhood that’s been affected, try to notify your power company with a call or text. Although you’ll likely receive an automated message, it should give an estimate for when power will return.
Let loved ones know your power is out. This way, they’ll be aware of your situation and know to check in with you from time to time. Try not to overuse your phone – you can save your battery by switching it into low power mode.
Other Precautionary Steps
Change into seasonal clothes that will keep you comfortable. A summer day with no air conditioning can get hot. Change into light, loose-fitting clothes to stay cool. If it’s colder when you lose power, layer up with a hat, socks and a sweater to stay warm.
If you lose power during the day, take advantage of any natural light to gather supplies you may need later, like flashlights, batteries and candles. If you’re using candles, keep them on sturdy surfaces, out of reach from kids and pets. Have a fire extinguisher handy just in case.
Consider collecting some tap water in a bathtub or sink. This could be used to wash hands, flush toilets or, after being boiled, for cooking food. Also, make sure your pet’s bowl is full of fresh water.
Unplug major appliances and devices – except the fridge – in case of a power surge. You don’t want your valuable devices being damaged. Also, try not to open your fridge or freezer.
“The refrigerator will keep food cold for about four hours,” according to Ready.gov. “A full freezer will keep the temperature for about 48 hours.”
If you suspect your power is going to be out for more than four hours, consider eating some perishables, like dairy products, before they can spoil.
During hurricane season, one of the most common claims are losses related to power outages. An often overlooked coverage related to prolonged power loss is food spoilage coverage. “Refrigerated food spoilage coverage is an important coverage that many members may not have on their policy,” said Scott Richards, regional manager of AAA insurance sales in Rhode Island. “Basically, it covers the cost to replace the items in your fridge if the power goes out.”
Speak to an agent to learn more about homeowners insurance from AAA and to add this coverage to your policy.
Things to Do Without Internet to Pass the Time
Once you’ve taken as many precautionary steps as you can, you’ll probably want other things to keep yourself occupied. Whether you’d prefer to be creative, constructive or a little bit of both, there are various things you can do without internet and all your devices to stay entertained during an outage.
If you’re looking to make the most of your time without power, consider doing something productive.
Focusing on your health is one way to stay busy. Do some light exercise or stretching. These kinds of activities can last anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour. Just try not to break into too much of a sweat since you might not be able to shower for a while.
Taking some time for self care is important. While you may not be able to indulge a long, relaxing bath, you can still have a screen-free period to refresh your mind and body. Do some meditation. Then move on to some primping: apply moisturizers, pluck your eyebrows, file your nails, etc.
Power outages are also great excuses to clean. Although you won’t be able to vacuum, you can dust, sweep or wipe down windows, mirrors and other surfaces around your home.
If you’d like to be constructive but not as physically active, consider doing things you don’t normally have time for, like organizing. Sit down and sort through old paperwork or a junk drawer. Look through cookbooks or magazines for new recipes or ones you haven’t tried in a while.
Finally, you can use this valuable unplugged time to plan for the future. Work on your budget or start your meal plan or shopping list for the next week. This is also a great time to do an inventory of your nonperishable foods.
Fun, Creative Activities
One of the best ways to stay entertained when there is no internet is to have fun. For some, this could mean getting creative. Try writing a short story or journaling. If you need inspiration, read – which is another great way to pass the time. Get crafty in ways that aren’t too messy. You can knit or crochet, draw or color, scrapbook or make a vision board.
There are also tons of classic games that don’t require power. You can do puzzles or play games like chess, checkers or other board games. A simple deck of playing cards can lead to plenty of kid-friendly games like go fish, rummy and slapjack to more adult games like poker. If you find yourself on your own, or if no one else wants to play, there are also single player card games like solitaire and its many variations.
Depending on the season, sunset can arrive anytime between 5 and 8 p.m. in the Northeast. Just because it’s dark doesn’t mean you’ll have nothing to do when the power is out.
While you can still do many of the tasks listed above with the help of flashlights, lanterns or candles, the following activates take advantage of the dark.
Play games like hide-and-seek, flashlight tag and charades in the dark. Use your preferred light source to make shadow puppets. If you have little ones, set up a tent or pillow fort and pretend you’re camping. Play 20 questions, recall fun tales or make up ghost stories. If you have a portable DVD or Blu-ray player, consider watching a movie.
Finally, head to bed early when the power goes out. It’s always a good idea to catch up on sleep, and it’ll be dark out anyway.
Power Outage Checklist
Prepare for your next power outage ahead of time by making an emergency kit and safeguarding your home.
When assembling your power outage emergency kit, consider these supplies:
- Unscented candles. You’ll also want matches or lighters.
- Flashlight(s). Make sure you have extra batteries, too.
- Battery tester. See which batteries will keep you flashlights bright.
- Glow sticks. They’re sufficient sources of light and fun for the kids.
- Crank or solar-powered lantern. Another alternative light source.
- Radio. Great for getting emergency alerts or listening to music.
- Portable charger. Keeps your cellphone and other devices charged.
Install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors with battery backup on all levels of your home. This is especially important for people who use generators or gas stoves.
If you use a generator when the power goes out, keep it outside and away from windows. Be careful when using a fireplace for cooking or warmth, and keep a fire extinguisher nearby. Do not use a gas stove to heat your home.
Go to AAA.com/Insurance to speak to an agent today.
Read more about how to prepare for natural disasters.