Power outages don’t happen too often, but when they do, you’ll want to make sure that you, your gadgets, and your house are prepared. Here are some things to keep in mind when the lights go out.

Have Alternative Heating & Cooling Sources

During the middle of summer or winter, the heat and the cold temperatures outside can quickly make their way inside if your heating or cooling system isn’t running for an extended amount of time, which is why it’s important to have alternative methods for heating or cooling your house if the power remains out.

During the winter, make sure you at least have some extra blankets available to keep warm, and on top of wearing warm clothes, it doesn’t hurt to wear your gloves and hat either.

If your heating system is out of commission, you can usually go without it for a couple of hours, depending on how well your house retains heat. But it’s a good idea to have some alternative heat sources available if need be.

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Propane heaters are a popular option, but while indoor-safe models exist, they can still be dangerous. Burning propane creates carbon monoxide buildup, and while most propane heaters come with built-in oxygen sensors (like this one), they’re probably not great to use in your living room.

Instead, you could get a battery-powered generator and plug in an electric blanket, which not only uses less power than a heater, but it’s much more efficient at keeping you warm, and depending on what generator you get, it could power an electric blanket for hours.

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with the classic fireplace, provided that yours is ready to go and you have wood to burn. Otherwise, you’ll have to get creative with the options above.

If it’s summer out and your power goes out, make sure you have fans available to circulate air and create breezes. Obviously, these require electricity, but you can get battery-powered fans for pretty cheap. Granted, they’re pretty small fans, but it’s better than nothing. Plus, if it’s not too terribly hot outside, maybe even open some windows.

Get a UPS for Your Electronics

Ever been working on something only for your computer to shut down because the power went out? It can be really frustrating if you didn’t save your work beforehand, and even worse if it corrupts your hard drive from not shutting down cleanly. This is where an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) can come in handy.

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UPS units work like a typical surge protector, but with a built-in battery that can power your computer for a few more minutes after the power goes off. You won’t be able to do much work on that battery, but you’ll have just enough time to save your work and gracefully shut down without problems.

UPSs also have other advantages too, like being able to charge up your smartphone if the battery gets low, as well as powering anything else that might need a bit of juice while the power’s out.

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Which type of UPS you need depends on your computer setup, but we’ve recommended this CyberPower 1500VA model in the past, and it’s still remains a good choice.

Keep Flashlights Around the House

There’s nothing more inconvenient than having the power go out at night when you can’t see a thing. Strategically placing flashlights all around the house ahead of time can be beneficial.

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Granted, your phone probably has a flashlight feature that you could use…if you have your phone with you. Besides, that feature drains battery, which is at a premium when the power’s out. Flashlights will often give you more light, or you could even get a battery-powered lantern that provides bright light in all directions—which is great if you want to light up a whole room.

Just make sure to periodically check that all of your flashlights work and have fresh batteries in them a few times a year. The worst time to discover that a flashlight doesn’t turn on is during a power outage.

Know How to Use Your Garage Door’s Manual Release Lever

If your power goes out and you want to leave the house, your garage door opener won’t work. However, every garage door has a bypass that allows you to open it by hand using the manual release lever.

The manual release lever is the quick-release lever that connects your garage door opener to your garage door, and it’s located in the center at the top of the garage door where that giant spring is. Connected to that lever is a red pull cord. Pulling on this will release the lever and disconnect your garage door opener from your garage door so that you can open it the old school way.

Many newer, more expensive garage door openers will come with battery backups, and they’re usually good for a few rounds of opening and closing your garage door without needing power from the house, but if you don’t have one of these, then it’s wise to get to know the manual release lever.

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Craig Lloyd is a smarthome expert with nearly ten years of professional writing experience. His work has been published by iFixit, Lifehacker, Digital Trends, Slashgear, and GottaBeMobile.
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