A few years ago, the American Society of Civil Engineers released a report saying that the United States experienced over 3,500 power outages, each lasting on average 49 minutes.
A simple power outage can disrupt communications, close retail businesses, cause food spoilage and of course, leave you in the dark at home.
With all this in mind, we thought it smart to compile a list of 10 fun things to do when the power goes out:
- Make a bonfire
- Read a book by candle light
- Board games
- Make jewellery
- Do some acro-yoga
- Carve avo seeds
- Power on your solar generator
- Install a solar system
In a few moments we will go into a bit more detail on each fun activity, but before we do so, we would like to shed some more light on the power outage phenomenon.
Different types of power outage
A power outage can be categorized into three different occurrences, each having a direct relation to the duration and effect of the blackout:
- A transient fault is a loss of power most commonly caused by a fault somewhere along a powerline. Power to your home will be automatically restored once the fault is found and repaired.
- A brownout is a sudden drop in voltage in a nearby electrical power supply. The term brownout was coined due to the fact that lights will dim when the power supply experiences a voltage sage. Brownouts cause equipment to perform poorly and sometimes even incorrectly.
- A blackout equates to a total loss of all power supply to an area and is regarded as the most severe form of power outage that can occur. Blackouts which are caused by a power station tripping are known to be fairly difficult to recover from quickly. These types of power outages can last for a few minutes or potentially up to a few weeks, depending on the nature of the blackout and the configuration of the electrical network
There is also a phenomenon known as rolling blackouts. These power outages occur when electricity demands exceed supply. A rolling blackout is put in place to allow some customers to receive power at the required voltage at the expense of other customers who get no power at all.
Rolling blackouts are a common occurrence in developing countries, such as South Africa, where a rolling blackout I known as load shedding. Generally these blackouts are scheduled in advanced per district but can occur without warning.
However, rolling blackouts have occurred in developed countries, for example in the California electricity crisis of 2000 – 2001. This occurred when government deregulation destabilized the wholesale electricity market.
Blackouts can also be intentionally implemented as a public safety matter, for example in the event such as to prevent a gas leak from catching fire. Additionally, blackouts have been voluntarily implemented to prevent wildfires around poorly maintained transmission lines (such as during the 2019 California power shutoffs).
Power outage average time per country
System Average Interruption Duration Index (SAIDI) is a common reliability indicator used by electricity power utilities. SAIDI is the average power outage duration that each customer experiences and is calculated with the following formula:
For a complete list of all the countries and their SAIDI, please see below:
(2013 if not named)
|Finland**||5.4||138 with major e.||30.9|
|Norway*||5.1||144 with major e.||37.4|
|Estonia||1.3||378.5 with major e.||13|
How to protect yourself during a power outage?
Prepare for the power outage
We recommend that you create a long inventory list of the items that rely on your home being powered by electricity. To avoid being left completely without power, it is best you plan for batteries and an alternative source of power like our solar generators can provide. It is also always best to have a flashlight located in a permanent section of your house, so that if the power gets cut at night, you know where your source of light is.
Inform yourself on your medical needs
It is best that you speak with your doctor about the possibility of a power outage and how your medical devices will be powered in such an event. When it comes to medicines being stored in the refrigerator, find out how long these medicines could be stored at room temperature before going bad.
It is always best to have a decent amount of non-perishable food stored somewhere in your basement. If the power is cut, make sure you do not open the fridges/freezers in order to prolong the amount of time the food inside can stay cold. A freezer filled with food, will keep its temperature for around 48 hours before starting to defrost.
Safety with your appliances during a power outage
It is also smart to install carbon monoxide detectors with a special battery backup in all the central locations/levels of your home. You want to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning at all costs. Gas generators, camp stoves and charcoal grill should always be used outdoors, or in an extremely ventilated room at least 20 feet away from windows. Never use a gas stove top to heat your room, it wont work and could causes a potentially dangerous situation. Also, make sure you turn off/disconnect all your electronics when there is a power outage. When the power returns, it is possible it does so with momentary surges or spikes that can cause damage.
10 Fun things to do when the power goes out
1. Make a bonfire
Okay, this only works if you have an area to make one, a fire place also counts. But if you dont have an area to make one, consider building a fire pit in your backyard. Here, check out this video on how to do so.
There is just something special about the age old idea of fire. Our ancestors have been making fires since the beginning of time (more or less) but interestingly, sitting by a fire even has health benefits.
According to research carried out by the University of Alabama sitting by a fire can decrease your blood pressure.
2. Read a book by candlelight
We all enjoy reading books from time to time, but reading a book by candlelight has a different air to it. It's as if you step back in time and become immersed even deeper into the story of your book.
Besides increasing your vocabulary, reading a book has many benefits, such as aids sleep, increases empathy, alleviates depression, strengthens the brain and prevents cognitive decline to name but a few.
The best thing about painting is that it doesn't matter what you paint, you do not need to be a Rembrandt to make use of an easel. Painting is an expression of your soul and subconscious mind and can foster creative growth.
4. Board games
Today, there are so many board games on the market you couldn't get through all of them even if you tried. But that means you have an almost unlimited amount of options when it comes to playing a board game.
Make use of board games like Monopoly (the renewable energy version) or games like Chess, Scrabble, Clue or Risk. Playing board games during a power outage is a great way to bring the entire family together.
5. Make jewellery
Take the time to make your friends or loved ones some jewellery during a blackout. There is nothing that speaks friendship/effort more than a giving someone a gift that you made yourself.
Some ideas would be walking along the beach and collecting unique looking shells to make into a bracelet or necklace when the power is out.
6. Do some acro-yoga
This point is a joy for couples, acro-yoga is extremely fun and can be practised by people of all fitness levels. Not only will it create a stronger bond between you and your partner, it will also increase your core strength and build muscles in your legs, arms, and chest.
Take a look at this video to give you an idea of how it works. Always make sure you practise in a safe location away from any sharp objects.
7. Carve avo seeds
If you have an obsession with avocados, stop throwing away the seeds inside of them. A great activity to do during a power outage is avo seed carving. An avo seed is made mainly of fatty acids and carbs in the form of starch and dietary fiber, which creates a very soft type of wood (perfect for carving).
Once you have had fun carving out interesting shapes you can leave your avo seed to dry. After a couple of days you will be left with a pretty cool pendant, perfect for necklaces!
Of course, this ones a no brainer. When a blackout occurs, chances are your entire district has no power either. This means the sky will not be affected by light pollution. During a power outage the stars should be incredibly vivid, do some shooting stars spotting with the kids or loved one.
9. Power on your solar generator
If you are adamant that you have power during a power outage then there's no doubt you are on the correct website. Browse our selection of solar generators. This one for example, will give you all the power you need during a blackout and will ensure all your most important electronics will have the electricity they need.
10. Install a solar system
Okay it may be abit hard to install a solar system during a power outage. However, it may be the perfect time to look into installing one,. With a solar system installed you will no longer need to worry about blackouts. We published an article on solar panels which may just be of interest to you if you're thinking of getting your home to go solar.
We hope after reading this article you have an better idea of how power outages occur and fun things you can do should you be involved in one.
For more information on the current areas affected by power outages check out Power Outage US.