In many parts of the country there is still terrible winter weather, and unfortunately this will be likely to continue for months. Even more unfortunate are the inevitable power outages that plague the country during winter blizzards. With each additional storm and each drop in temperature, we grow more susceptible to power outages. However, we mustn’t see loss of power as the total end of the world. Believe it or not, there are some amazing opportunities that come with the limits that not having power gives us. Here are 15 activities you can do to put a positive light (no pun intended) on surviving the next power outage. (Note: invest in some good flashlights for most activities!)
When was the last time you made the time to read an actual book? There is always another excuse in the way that you make time for instead of catching up on reading. Because of no power, you may not be able to do too much, especially without WiFi, light, etc. All you need is a book light, headlamp, or flashlight to enjoy a great story with something that has infinite battery life. You also exercise your imagination with experiencing new worlds, views, and perspectives. It’s even more fun to involve other people and read stories aloud to your children, friends, or family so you can experience the book together!
Unlike video games with online friends, this is another thing that won’t require a power source or internet connection. There are thousands and thousands of different board games in the world, and if you collect enough light sources and interested players you can have yourselves a regular game fest. It’s nice to have a reason to put aside work every once in a while and enjoy playing again. You can even play solo games to pass the time, hone your skills, and just plain relax and keep morale high by having fun.
13. Talk it out
A storm rages outside. The lights blink, then the power cuts out to blackness. You peer up from your computer, phone, laptop, tablet, book, or other device or project. Other creatures emerge, blinking in the darkness. Who are these creatures? Other humans! Power outages will make it so you end up needing to spend time in the same area with your friends and/or family. This will set up a good chance to converse, share memories, tell tales, make up stories, and just chat face-to-face. (Or voice-to-voice if you’re in the dark.) Once you get a good conversation going, you’ll be surprised with how much you can learn about each other, bond, and pass the hours.
12. Play with lights
This is especially popular among younger children, but it’s still entertaining enough for all ages! Flashlights and other light sources are something that you’re going to have around and will be using anyway, so why not incorporate them into an activity while you’re waiting for power to return? Chase each other’s flashlight beam in a game of flashlight tag, or draw letters or trace shapes on the wall or ceiling. You can also learn how to make certain shadow puppets, or act out a story with kids with shadow puppets. Play a game of flashlight freeze; where you dance in the dark, and as soon as someone shines the flashlight on someone, they have to freeze (if not, they’re out!) The possibilities for messing around with lights are endless! Get creative and see what light games you can come up with.
11. Build forts
One of the best things as a kid was to create elaborate forts and tents in your living room to hide out and play in. Why does that have to stop now? Power outages, particularly in cold weather, give need for people to bunk up in the same area for warmth and to share light sources. Collecting every bit of snuggly blankets, pillows, and sheets and making a rad fort in your living room is a fun activity to pass the time, work together in a group effort on a common goal, and keeping warm moving around and working. Then, after, you get to reap the rewards of a warm, fun space to illuminate with your light sources and spend time waiting out the weather. A living room camp out will remind you of nostalgic times and offer a closed, warm space to hang out in.
10. Learn something new
Something you’re guaranteed to have whilst waiting to resume a regular, power-filled life is time. In this day and age it’s almost an unheard of commodity, so when we do find ourselves with extra time, it’s best to make use of it in improving oneself as a person. Now is the perfect time to put effort into learning something new, be it studying another language, learning how to juggle, how to play chess, how to French braid, or how solar power works. (Knowledge that may come in handy for the future.) A wide range of anything in the world you have always been curious about is available to pursue, (permitting you don’t need power/Internet to learn it.)
Something else not on a screen that you can do to pass the time is to write, as in, pen and paper write. Tap into your creative juices to write a story, catch up on letters or postcards to loved ones, record free-flowing thoughts into a journal entry, or write notes back and forth for fun with family and friends. Even something as simple as a to-do list will occupy your hand and help clear and organize your mind for the future. Whilst you’re making lists…
8. Make a list for next time
Suppose you’re caught in the midst of a severe power outage and discover thing after thing you need in this semi-emergency. Maybe you run out of batteries for your flashlights, can’t find a single candle, have no stored food or water, no first aid, hand sanitizer, sleeping bags, no cooler to store food from your fridge, and no alternative way of charging your phone. Take stock, make a list, and create a storage shelf for non-perishable food, water, and any and all supplies you find you are in need of. This way if you lose power again, you can make the most of the outage and live, nay, thrive through it with much greater ease! If you do find yourself already well-prepared, keep in mind what you use up and need to replace. (For example re-charging or changing batteries, replacing used foods, propane, water, matches, etc.)
7. Get a jump on other plans
While it is of course important to be prepared for minor emergencies such as power outages, it’s also important to be prepared for other, more simple situations. Once you’ve prepared enough for other, more dire conditions, you can turn your attentions to planning for other things in everyday life. Things like planning vacations, parties, birthday presents, holidays, work projects, future errands, and more. What are you getting for a couple for their upcoming anniversary? What flavor cake does your BFF want for their party? What will be your itinerary for a planned vacation? What do you need to get at the grocery store? The simplest thing is not excluded from thinking ahead. Your future self will surely thank you.
6. Go out
Not only will packing up to leave your powerless home be a nice change of scenery from facing bleak hours in the dark, waiting for power to return, it will give opportunity to use water, heat, light, chargers, and other devices and services. Find somewhere that has power, such as a friend’s house, library, store or mall, community center, coffee shop, or anywhere else that is willing to share their space and services. See if you can use their heat, lights, bathroom, and Internet to keep in touch with work, friends, and family. A shower, a check on vital emails, or a hot meal will seem like a luxury and will tide you over to last until the power outage is over. Getting out of your house will also give you chance to talk with other locals about news, see if anyone is in need of help, and even to explore new places in your city, state, or town.
5. Play music
Power outages, besides being a huge inconvenience for not having light, heat, water, and WiFi, brings something else awful to your home: unbearable silence! No hum of the house working, no sounds of people working, no familiar clanking around the kitchen, no buzz of fans or heaters—just crazy quietness. Combat this with the sweet sounds of music! Whether it’s blasting old favorite tunes to have a dance (and/or singing) party, playing an instrument, or just plain singing out loud, filling your cold, soundless space with the happy, joyous sounds of music will certainly brighten moods and keep morale up while opposing the noticeable lack of the house’s regular rhythm.
4. Fix something around the house
While you’re stuck in your house, now is the best time to take a look around at your abode and see what needs to be done that you’ve been neglecting in your busy, everyday life. After an assessment you could probably come up with a dozen things you’ve been wanting to work on in your home, (i.e., framing new pictures, re-arranging furniture, dusting the top shelves, alphabetizing your movies, clearing out your closet, putting up a shelf, fixing a squeaky door…the things in need to be done will pop up right before your eyes!) Grab some tools or cleaning supplies and tackle those projects to improve your home and make it ready to welcome the power back on.
3. Get creative with food
Chances are that food in storage in your fridge and freezer will start to thaw. This is the case where you either need to use it, or lose it. Experiment with unusual food combinations or make up new recipes to use up outdated food, or cook fridge food ahead of time and store for use later in the week. No harm ever came from trying new soups, stews, and casseroles! This way you’ll get to go wild with new food, use up food that would otherwise go to waste, and not go hungry in the meantime! See if any other friends or neighbors could use up food before it spoils as well, or, host a crazy-themed potluck of made-up foods with neighbors to collectively get to use food before it goes bad.
2. Arts and Crafts
A little productive creativity or handicraft is the perfect distraction to pass time while producing something in the meantime. Whether you want to brush up (pun intended) on your painting, do some drawing, or make other handmade crafts, it will be something that you can look back at after the power outage and see that something good was created out of the lack of power. There are thousands of kinds of arts and crafts genres out there to explore. Just find what you’re most interested in, gather any supplies you’ll need, and go to town creating art.
Sleep: poor man’s time travel! Why not take this chance to “catch up” on your rest? I doubt any of us get enough sleep to run our busy lives. When all else fails and you’re out of options for activities, it’s too dark or cold, or you don’t have any of the resources available to you to do any of the ideas listed above, it’s time to get comfortable, warm, and cozy and have a good nap. It’ll be nice and dark already to aid sleeping with more ease, and you’ll wake up refreshed, to find plenty of time has passed, and, hopefully, awoken by lights coming back on!