For the past few months, I have been planning out my first blog post for the semester— “A Knight’s Guide to: A Productive Spring Semester.” What I was not planning on was gale force winds, single-digit temperatures, inches of snow and a major power outage. These unforeseen circumstances left many Gannon students without electricity, heat and hot water. Students were caught off guard with the power outage, and were left using the temporary amenities Gannon provided. While Gannon is hoping students don’t have to go through this again, there is no way of knowing if another power outage will occur. To ensure you don’t have to go multiple days without needed resources, here are some tips and product suggestions to help prepare you in case of another power outage.

Lights Out, Supplies In

In this list, some supplies are more necessary than others, but all of these items are good to have in case of any emergency, not just a power outage. Plus, we live in the 21st century, so all of these items can be sent directly to your mailbox. Even if you don’t have a car on campus and don’t always have access to a store, we have got you covered!

I don’t know about you, but I am always freezing in the winter even when I do have heat! Extra blankets are always a good item to have because they can be used at other times besides a power outage. If you were to lose power and heat, having multiple blankets to cover up with will help keep you warm until the heat returns.

In a previous blog post, A Knight’s Guide To: Surviving the Erie Winter, I talked about stocking your shelves with foods that will not go bad and don’t require any electricity to prepare, so if the power goes out you will still have food to eat. Luckily for you, we are in Erie so many stores will deliver your groceries to you if you don’t have access to a car.

Batteries are a practical item to always have on hand. During a power outage, they can come in handy to keep for flashlights, battery-powered lights, radios, clocks and more working. Amazon offers a multipack of both AA and AAA batteries, so you don’t have to worry about buying the wrong kind.

The flashlight I have linked is a rechargeable flashlight. Growing up, my family had one of these and I remember how well it worked during power outages. When you are not using it, you plug it into an outlet to charge. If the power goes out, you remove it from the outlet and are able to use it.

This is another great item to have at all times. There is nothing more annoying than going to class without a charger and your phone dies. I guess the only thing more annoying than that would be losing power and having your phone die. So, purchasing a portable charger may be a game changer for you, and you will be prepared for any electronic battery situation. There are a variety to choose from, some more expensive than others, so I suggest looking at the reviews before purchasing one!

If you’re looking for something that is guaranteed to charge your phone, or even your laptop, a portable power station may be the way to go. However, these can be more expensive. Make sure you have covered the necessities before splurging on a more expensive power station. If you have a power source for your laptop, but no food to eat or nothing to keep you warm, you may run into some trouble. Battery packs are a great alternative for portable power stations, but they may not charge as fast. Either way, both electronic power sources are great options for you to explore!

This one kind of goes without saying— you should always have a first aid kit on hand. You never know when you’re going to need a band aid or some Neosporin. During a power outage, it’s especially a good idea to have one in case someone gets injured and medical personnel can’t tend to them right away. While a first aid kit might not be able to do nearly as much as a paramedic, the supplies inside can make do for the time being.

I know what you may be thinking… radios are so 1980. While they may not be used on a daily basis, they can be relevant during a power outage because you can pick up signals from other locations that still have power. If your phone were to die, you would be able to get updates through the radio. Plus, you can always tune into 90.5 WERG, Gannon’s nationally-recognized radio station, and listen to some of the Best Rock on the Radio.

  • Extra Clothes

If you are staying in your dorm, apartment or house during a power outage, you are likely to already have extra clothes on hand. But, if you are staying elsewhere for the time being, you should have at least one pair of extra clothes. If you were to get wet, you would want to change your clothes so you won’t get cold. Also, if you don’t have power for a few days, you would want to eventually change your clothes to freshen up!

EnLIGHTening Tips

Power outages can happen for a number of reasons and have a range of severity, but there are still some rules of thumb to follow no matter the cause or duration of them.

  • Avoid the area around downed power lines, especially bodies of water (i.e. puddles, creeks). The water could be electrically charged, and it could shock you.
  • Try to conserve as much energy as possible.
    • Keep your refrigerator and freezer closed to trap the coldness and preserve your groceries.
    • Don’t use your phone or electronics for unnecessary business— save them for emergencies.
  • If the outage is prolonged, use nature’s refrigerator by putting perishable items outside (if it’s cold enough outside).
  • Unplug your appliances and electronics from the wall to avoid a power surge and damage to your items.
  • Do not use a gas stove to heat your living space because there is a risk of Carbon Monoxide exposure if the stove is on for a long period of time.[PPM1] 
  • Memorize people’s phone numbers in case your cell phone dies and need to contact someone on another device.
  • Have your backup items charged (battery pack, flashlight) and be prepared (have non-perishable food items, batteries and other supplies listed above on hand).

Brighter Days Ahead

We are all hoping another power outage doesn’t occur, but you never know when nature is going to take its course. All four seasons in Erie can bring about a power outage, so it’s better to start preparing nowrather than when you are least expecting it. Most of the supplies listed above are practical, everyday items that are good to keep on hand, so in my opinion, it’s a win-win situation! Stay warm, stay safe and stay prepared, Knights!