The Prepper Journal

What to Do When a Circuit Breaker Trips

Most of us take electricity for granted. You get up, turn on a light, switch on the coffee machine, and even take a wash using water heated with an electric element. Before you even start looking at styling your hair or having breakfast you have used electricity multiple times. That is until a circuit breaker trips.

To many it is an essential item, despite the fact, there are approximately 1.2 billion people in the world without access to electricity. Of course, you soon become aware of the issues of living without power when a circuit breaker trips. Your first instinct will probably be to call a level 2 electrician and have them assess and ultimately fix the issue. However, it is unlikely that the electrician will get there immediately. You need to know how to survive when a circuit breaker trips.

One Circuit Breaker Trips

If one circuit breaker trips and the others are fine then you probably have an issue with that specific circuit or the breaker is faulty. The first thing to check is whether the other breakers have tripped. This may not be immediately obvious as one breaker can trip the entire box.

 You will need to turn all the individual breakers off and then turn the main breaker on. Slowly turn each circuit breaker back on. If one of them causes the main breaker to trip again then you have found the bad circuit.

If it is possible to turn all the breakers back on without finding the bad circuit then you may need to think about the last thing you used and try turning it back on. This may cause the circuits to trip again.

It is much easier if your circuit box is already labeled. This will help you to identify which sockets are causing the issue. If you are struggling to identify a circuit then you can take a portable appliance, that you know is working, and plug it into different sockets. Again, you will need to know which circuit breaker belongs to each set of sockets.

Once you have located the bad sockets or appliances you can stop using them until the electrician has fixed the issue. You can proceed by plugging your other appliances into a different circuit.

The Entire Box

The problem can be much worse if the main circuit breaker has tripped. This means you don’t have any power to your home. The first thing to do will be to turn off all appliances in the home and turn the main breaker back on. If the power comes on then you can move through the house and plug or turn each appliance on, one at a time. This will help you identify the appliance causing the circuit breaker to trip.

If this doesn’t help you should turn all the individual circuit breakers off and then turn the main one on. You can then allow power through one circuit breaker to test it. Assuming this is okay you will have to repeat the process with every breaker to find out which one is causing an issue.

Should an individual approach not work then you either have an issue with your main breaker or the power supply is out to your area. The easiest way to verify this is to look at your street. Depending on the time of day you may find street lights are on, signifying that power is present.

Do you know what to do when a circuit breaker trips?

If there aren’t any street lights then you should check with your neighbors to see if they have power. If they have, then the issue is with your home and could be a problem with your main circuit breaker. You are likely to need the assistance of an electrician to resolve the issue.

Should your neighbors be without power then there is obviously an issue with the grid. It is difficult to know how long the power will be out for, which is why you should be prepared to live without power for extended periods of time. It happens more frequently than you think!


The first thing you will need to consider when a circuit breaker trips and the power is out is how you are going to see what you are doing or move around without bumping into things. A good LED headlamp is the obvious answer for moving around. However, you shouldn’t rely on the torch on your phone. This is generally powerful but will quickly drain your battery, rendering your cell phone useless.

It is useful to have a flashlight on hand for emergencies but the best resource for light remains candles. This can illuminate an entire room while lasting for several hours. A small stack of candles can make a big difference to your comfort level without power. 


Your refrigerator will only last a number of hours without power. The more times you open the door the shorter it will last. That means you need to think carefully about when and what to take out of the refrigerator. The same applies to your freezer.

Of course, you won’t know how long you will be without power. This will largely depend on what has caused the power outage. A mistake by the power company is usually fixed quickly while natural disasters can knock power out for days or even weeks.

The simplest solution is to find a source of cold water near you ad keep the chilled items in a bag in the cold water. It will keep them chilled but not frozen. Frozen items that can’t be kept should be cooked and then consumed. 

Cooking & Heat

Cooking will be important, heat is dependent on the time of year although the nights can get cold without heat. The easiest option is to keep a camping stove and gas in your home. You can even choose to have a gas hob fitted in your home. This will give you a way to make hot drinks and cook straightforward meals. Of course, you will need to plan your food, there are only so many meals that can be made on a camping stove.

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Heat is generally more complicated without electricity. The logical approach is to find wood and get a fire going in your fireplace, assuming you have one. The alternative is to create fire just outside your home and hope some of the heat moves into your home.

Of course, if you wish to be fully prepared or know that power outages are a frequent occurrence then the best option is to invest in a portable gas fire and gas canisters. This will allow you to effortlessly heat any space in your home.

Don’t’ forget the heat you generate will also need to be used to create warm water to wash in. While you may be able to survive without a shower, it is better to wash regularly as this reduces the risk of infections and other health issues.

Water Supply

This is one of the trickiest elements and surprises many people. Water is pumped around the pipes and to your home. If there is a serious power outage it is possible that the water pumps will no longer be working and you won’t get any water out of the taps.

The question will then be what water is in the vicinity. If you have a stream nearby the easiest solution is to collect water from the stream, filter it through an old sock or homemade filter and then add a purifier, such as a tiny bit of bleach or iodine. This will kill bacteria in the water, making it safe to drink. Boiling it can also help.

You can collect rainwater or you may need to capture water by creating a condensation trap.


These are not generally too big an issue unless you are relying on a macerator, in which case you can’t use the toilet. However, it should be noted that toilets need water and if the water isn’t being pumped to your home you will need to manually add water every time you want to flush. The easiest solution is to throw a bucket of water down the toilet, it will carry the waste away.


Of course, it is possible to keep a generator and fuel handy, this can help you overcome issues regarding circuit breakers tripping. A generator uses fuel to create electricity. It is efficient, a little noisy, and will only power a limited number of items. You will need to decide which items are most important to you and your survival.

Final Thoughts

Most people don’t contemplate the reality of being without electricity. It can be an electrical fault in your fuse box or with a circuit breaker, or it can be a result of something more serious. But, the simple fact is that, to survive, you only need a few basic supplies and a little common sense.

This will allow you to survive surprisingly comfortably and have a story to tell at the end of it. That’s a great incentive to be prepared.

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