These 5 Power Outage Lifehacks Could Come In Handy Next Time You're In The Dark

Going through a power outage isn't a good thing by any means, but there are several ways you can be prepared besides having a lot of candles and some fun board games. Outside of basic suggestions like having a generator on hand, there are other ways that will help you survive an outage. This includes things you might already have, like a cast-iron pan for cooking or blackout curtains. As the push continues to a more electric world — including cars — it'll be important to be prepared for random outages. Although the existing power grid is constantly being upgraded, we've seen firsthand how devastating things can get when it fails.

It doesn't hurt to be ready in the event that you're the next person to lose power, and there are many cost-effective ways to get it done. As a bonus, many of these hacks will be beneficial even if you're not in a blackout.

Cook with a cast-iron pan

Using a cast-iron pan makes it difficult to go back to a standard one, and that's not even accounting for how much it comes in handy without power. Where the cast-iron option reigns supreme is its ability to be cooked over an open flame with ease, and that's part of why you see a lot of people take them camping. You can cook just about everything you can dream up in these pans too. Anything from pizza, steak, burgers, and breakfast scrambles can be made in them — making them much more versatile than a basic non-stick pan. You can use a cast-iron pan over an open flame from a firepit or on your grill top, meaning it's very important to have one in an emergency.

They can also be transferred to an oven after being cooked on your stovetop, but that's something that only people with electricity will be able to take advantage of. The bottom line is that a good cast iron pan will last a long time and serve you very well with or without electricity.

Get solar panels or lighting

Even if you're not planning on installing an entire solar panel on your roof, you can opt for some solar options in or around your household. It can be something as simple as some lights in your yard that'll light up without electricity. While lighting like that is nice, it doesn't make much of a difference being outside while you're in the darkness. However, you can just take your outdoor light out of the ground and bring it inside. It'll be fully charged and can be used to get around your house in a pinch if you don't have other light sources handy.

Having a flashlight or candles is probably a better long-term option during a blackout, but solar lights will work fine if those aren't available. If you're somebody who likes landscaping, you might already have a few of these lights in your yard.

You could also purchase a portable power station, which is like a giant version of a cell phone power bank. Several models have an optional external solar panel add-on you can stick outside to recharge the power station while the power is still out.

Utilize your washer

It might seem odd, but your washer will still be useful even without power. Instead of stuffing it full of clothes, stock it with ice and put your frozen food into it. If you have one, your washer is likely in your basement, so you have the added bonus of it being in the coolest part of your house. Your washer will have plenty of space to fit the contents of your freezer, and it'll also be able to drain itself once the ice begins to melt. If your power isn't out for too long, the washer will work as a great alternative to your freezer.

The downside is that getting your freezer emptied out and put into a washer could be a hassle, but it's much better than having to replace everything by having it thaw. You probably won't have to resort to using a washer if your power is out for an hour or so. If you're going through a prolonged outage, you now know a good way to save your food. 

Freeze water bottles

If you have frozen water bottles in the freezer at the time you lost power, it'll actually help you keep your food frozen for longer. You won't want to have full water bottles, however, as they will expand as they freeze. The idea behind this is although the freezer will no longer be working, the water bottle will act as a giant block of ice. It's not going to last you forever, but it'll be more than enough if you're only without power for a little while.

This method also requires no cleanup since the water from the ice melting stays in the bottle. As long as you're not repeatedly opening your freezer when the electricity is out, you should be able to get a lot of time out of the frozen water bottles, as the cold won't be escaping as fast. If you're opening and closing your freezer often, the washing machine might be the route you want to go.

Close (or open) your curtains

If you lose power in the summer months, that means no more air conditioning. It's about to get really hot. One way you can help prevent this is by blocking off your windows with curtains. If the sun is beaming into a room, you'll want to get those windows covered with blackout curtains if you can. Closing off rooms you're not in can also help keep the air circulating where you want it to be.

Alternatively, if you lose power in the winter, you'll want to find a way to keep your heat in. It actually works similarly as you'll want to keep the curtains closed to keep heat in. Of course, you'll want the sun to come in this time around, so keep them open during the day. At night when the sun is down and it's chillier, that's when you'll want to close them to help keep heat in.