Thinking about building a blackout kit? In this article, I’ll go over some of the preps we have in place to make life a little more bearable when the power inevitably goes out.
This is the second and final post in the two-part series of – Building A Blackout Kit. See part one here: An Emergency Generator.
I believe all of us have had the power go out where we live. Even a completely self-sufficient person living off the grid (Which I am not) will likely face a power failure at some point. Part of being prepared includes being ready for the juice to stop.
Building A Blackout Kit Takes Planning
We need a plan to follow when working on improving our preps and building a blackout kit is no exception. Whether you’re the type of person that needs a detailed spreadsheet or you jot things on a Post-it® note, I’m going to help you build that kit.
Keep It Simple
Remember, we’re building a blackout kit, not going off-grid. Going off-grid is a noble goal but an entirely different discussion.
If you’re just getting started, think flashlights and batteries, not solar panels and windmill.
I also want to mention that I’ve been doing this for years so if you’re new, please don’t get discouraged if it seems like I have a lot of stuff. My hope is to encourage others but I also understand that my tendency to go overboard can overwhelm some people.
Okay, I’m speaking from painful experience here so trust me when I say, quality counts. Avoid buying that $7 gadget you see on Facebook and research anything you’re going to count on in an emergency.
Flashlights – Speaking Of Quality
I have a drawer full of junk flashlights I’ve wasted my money on. I’m sure there are even more that have been thrown out. Now when I buy a flashlight, I want a quality tool that is dependable and will last.
I’m not saying spend a hundred dollars or more on a flashlight, which you can easily do, but I do recommend buying a tool that won’t fail you when you need it the most. The same goes for batteries, by the way.
Does your blackout kit need to stay in just one location?
Something to keep in mind when building a blackout kit, everything doesn’t have to stay inside an actual kit, bag, or bin. You just need to know exactly where it is and have immediate access to it.
The tiny Olight on the far right is attached to the bin we use as our blackout kit. The third from the right is my EDC flashlight. The Bolder flashlight clips onto my bedside gun safe.
I do recommend you keep an inventory sheet, including locations of items not inside the actual blackout kit itself.
- Anker Bolder LC30 Flashlight
- NEBO SLYDE KING 500 Lumen Rechargeable LED Flashlight Bundle with SLYDE Holster (Camo)
- NEBO SLYDE KING 500 Lumen Rechargeable LED Flashlight Bundle with Lumintrail USB Adapter
- Olight I3T EOS 180 Lumens Dual-Output Slim EDC Flashlight
- Streamlight 66608 250 Lumen Microstream USB Rechargeable Flashlight
Lanterns – Battery Operated Lanterns
Tip: Prepare your most common rooms for hanging battery-operated lanterns.
Strategically place these hooks in logical yet inconspicuous areas on the ceilings of common rooms in your home. Don’t forget the bathroom/s.
- Etekcity Camping Lantern Battery Powered Led Lights with AA Batteries
- RAYOVAC SP4D-KBB 65-Lumen Sportsman Krypton 4D Area Floating Lantern
- Rayovac Sportsman LED Camping Lantern Flashlight, 300 Lumens Battery Powered LED
- Goal Zero Torch 250 Flashlight, Lantern and USB Recharger with Integrated Solar Panel
Battery Operated Radio
Information is critical in every SHTF situation. We’re already being left in the dark during a power outage, we don’t want to be left in the dark when it comes to information.
Small radios are great for tossing into a bugout bag or backpack but if you can get your hands on an older battery-operated radio with shortwave you should have more options as to information sources. Keep an eye out the next time you find yourself at a yard sale or flea market.
Don’t forget, if you own a car, it probably has a radio.
- RunningSnail Emergency Hand Crank Self Powered AM/FM NOAA Solar Weather Radio with LED Flashlight
- Sangean ANT-60 Short Wave Antenna
Don’t Forget Candles When Building A Blackout Kit
Finally, something inexpensive. When you just start building a blackout kit. I purchased a case of plain white, odor-free candles for $12/case from Dollar Tree. I ordered them online and picked them up in town to avoid shipping costs. If you don’t have a Dollar Tree in your area, I bet you have something similar.
Building A Blackout Kit? Don’t Forget Your Phones & Devices
We need a way to charge our devices, right? Ways to charge our phones are a must when building a blackout kit. Our phones can do anything from finding critical information to being a flashlight. Most of all, you can call someone, like the police or fire department, if you still have cell service.
- Every charger I have in that photo is outdated. Research newer options.
Advanced – Building A Blackout Kit 2.0
The following almost became part three but I want to keep everything together. I’ll be as brief as I can. These are important but not required steps in building your blackout kit, in my opinion.
My Charging Station
I know I just covered charging your devices for building a blackout kit above but I just have to mention this.
Okay, I made this device charging station for our convenience, not in building a blackout kit. During the little three-day power outage we just had this charging station turned into one of the most popular areas in the house.
All I did was unplug the single 120-volt input into an extension cord and the generator took care of the rest. This is something that I could have just as easily attached to my car inverter or bench batteries (below).
The charging station keeps our phones, tablets, headsets, earbuds, radios, GPS, flashlights and spare batteries charged up. It even charges the Olight I have fixed to my Hellcat.
I’ve mentioned batteries a little but having fully charged rechargeable batteries make sense as well. At least for your most used batteries.
Some of the less used batteries may not seem as important but I recommend having a backup or two of everything you rely on. Use a CPAP machine? If they use batteries (I have no idea if they do), you’d want spare batteries to run it. Need to check your blood sugar? Batteries. Electronic thermometer? Batteries.
- COZIA Floating Shelves Wall Mounted Storage Shelves Rustic Wood Decor Set of 2
- USB Wall Charger, Anker 60W 6 Port USB Charging Station
- Anker Wireless Charger, 2 Pack PowerWave Stand
- Anker Soundcore Life Q10 Wireless Bluetooth Headphones
- Olight PL-Mini 2 Valkyrie 600 Lumens CW LED Tactical Flashlight Magnetic Rechargeable
- Multi-Use Vehicle Charger with Dual USB Ports and Dual 12 Volt Sockets
- SDBAUX Retractable Multi USB Charging Cable 3A, 4 in1 Fast Charger Cord Connector
- Bapdas 150W Car Cup Power Inverter DC 12V to 110V AC Converter with 1 AC Outlet and 4 USB Ports
Indoor LED Lamps
This was another upgrade completely unrelated to building our blackout kit but they came in tremendously handy. They use just a little electricity, light up a room, and can be moved where it is needed.
Off-Grid Ways To Cook – Yes, This Is Part Of Building A Blackout Kit
We’ll need a way to cook if the power outage takes out your primary method. I wish I had a wood-burning stove with cooktop but at the moment our indoor stove operates on electricity.
Not a problem, I have alternatives. Keep in mind, there are other alternative methods of cooking. These are just what I have.
Gas (Propane) and charcoal grills, Propane griddle (I LOVE my Blackstone), electric smoker (Needs the generator), and a dual gas (propane) stove.
Don’t forget things like a hand-operated can opener, a french press or percolator for coffee. Maybe a hand mixer, grinder, or tea infuser. I won’t go into garage tools, we’ll be here all day long.
- Secura French Press Coffee Maker
- FORLIFE Brew-in-Mug Extra-Fine Tea Infuser with Lid
- KitchenAid Manual Can Opener
- The hand spice mixer is junk. I’m not linking to it.
Inverters – Electricity From Your Car
A quality inverter may be an option if a generator is simply out of reach for you right now, whether it cost, availability or location (Renting a room or small apartment, for example). While a car inverter is not an ideal replacement, it can keep your food from going bad short term, as long as you understand what you’re doing and have the right equipment.
I have both generators and inverters for backup power and I’ll be working toward solar power in the next year or two. This might be a little overkill depending on your situation and priorities.
I cannot go in-depth here so do your research but I do want to talk a little more about refrigerators and inverters.
First, refrigerators and freezers draw a lot of electricity and need about three times the wattage to start them. You know when you’re sitting there and everything is quiet and you here your fridge kick on? That drew up to three times the wattage that it takes to keep it running. It is only drawing that load for a second but you must have the proper size invertor in your blackout kit to handle that peak draw to save your food.
Second, too big of an inverter and your passenger car (including pickups and SUVs) will quickly die from a dead battery. The smaller your car battery and alternator, the faster you drain everything.
Third, you obviously need a vehicle to run your inverter and the engine MUST be running.
Personally, the cost of a small generator doesn’t seem that much more than a decent inverter and it does so much more without the risk of killing your car battery. For that reason, I keep an inverter as a backup to a backup and not as my primary backup power plan.
While it’s not an invertor, I also have, in my car kit, a small portable car battery booster. It does have a couple of USB ports on it, which is why I’m including it, but it has failed to start a car for me two out of three times. For that reason, I’m not recommending or linking to this device.
As you can see, I also don’t throw out batteries we’ve replaced if there’s any life left in them. I keep them maintained and charged. They may come in handy should we begin running out of ways to charge our devices.
- Cobra CPI890 Portable Power Inverter – 800 Watt Car Charger, 2 Grounded AC Outlets, 12 Volt 2.4 Amp USB Port
- BESTEK 150W Power Inverter 12V to 110V Voltage Converter Car Charger Power Adapter with 2 USB Charging Ports
- Ginsco Dual USB Charger Socket Power Outlet 2.1A & 2.1A
Wrapping Up Building A Blackout Kit
I have more to cover but I don’t want to make building a blackout kit seem any more complicated than I already have.
Go slow, take your time, and start simple. There’s no reason to spend tons of money on your power outage preps and please don’t go into debt buying anything linked to or recommended on this website.
Stay safe, aware and prepared,