Hi there, folks.
As I am writing to you, my home is completely dark. My neighborhood is blacked out due to the monsoon storms we get in Arizona. I'm using the battery power on my laptop for this, I'll have to wait for the power to come back so I can publish this on the internet. Yes, folks, no electricity, no internet.
There are some do's and don'ts to surviving a blackout. After the power has gone off:
1. turn off and unplug your electronics.
2. turn off your air conditioner
3. turn off the light switches around the home.
The reason for this is a simple one: once the power comes back on, you don't want to have another blackout because of how many things you have on pulling amps out of the circuits. The other reason is that a lot of times with the return of electricity, can come power surges through the wires which can fry the internal wiring for anything plugged in. This is where surge protectors and battery back-ups for computers come in handy.
Also, please keep in mind that when the electricity is out, so are the cordless phones. Cell phones may or may not work, dependent upon whether the cause of the blackout didn't also take out the cell phone towers. Having a land line phone with at least 1 corded telephone hooked up is also a must in blackout situations. Any kind of an emergency could happen during the blackout, this should be a part of every person's preparation.
That said, there is a "reason for my success" in a blackout. With preparation and maintenance, you can get through a blackout with relative ease.
One secret: the flashlights. Not only having flashlights in your home is a must, making sure the batteries are charged and ready to go is another must. Also, there are different types of flashlights, but there is a type, made by Coleman (there may be other brands like this, but this is the brand I have) that have a dual function. Yes, it's a flashlight, however if you pull on the handle, a clear plastic tube appears that transforms your flashlight into a lantern. Coleman no longer carries the exact model I have, however they do have a newer model that can be found here.
Another secret: candles. Having a supply of candles and matches is also a must. Using candles that are scented might be great, but please consider the fact you will not have airflow in your home, so the smell might be a bit overpowering. It's better to stick with regular candles.
Another secret: if you have a long-term blackout, you may want move your mind set from temporary to more permanent. Yes, the blackout is inconvenient, however there are people who live just fine without electricity. Think Amish. The Amish communities shun the more modern conveniences, but yet live rather well. How do Amish people handle long periods of no sunlight? Oil lamps. One tip with oil lamps, as well as candles, make sure to keep the room you use them in is ventilated.
There are also a number of other appliances and items the Amish people use that are non-electric. Decker did some research on this when we were first married, and we found a store that has an online catalog as well. This store caters to the Amish, as well as non-Amish who are looking for alternatives when supplying their homes. This includes solar panels as well. The store is called Lehman's, and is a great place to find oil lamps as well as other items to supply your home for emergency situations. Lehman's can be found at http://www.lehmans.com/.
One more thought: If your entire community has lost power, that can also mean the water treatment plant supplying your water could have lost power as well. Keeping 10 - 15 gallons of water per person in your home will give you potable water to use in emergency situations.