Be Prepared for Outages
A number of circumstances can cause power interruptions, and damage from severe weather can cause outages that last for days. Making plans now can make riding out a prolonged power outage safer and more comfortable.
Before an Outage
- Build or restock your emergency preparedness kit, including a flashlight, batteries, cash, and first aid supplies.
- Charge cell phones and any battery powered devices. Make sure you have alternative charging methods for your phone or any device that requires power. If you use your car to re-charge devices, do NOT keep the car running in a garage, partially enclosed space, or close to a home, this can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Know where the manual release lever of your electric garage door opener is located and how to operate it.
- Keep your car’s gas tank full-gas stations rely on electricity to power their pumps.
During an Outage
- Only use flashlights for emergency lighting, candles can cause fires.
- Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed. Most food requiring refrigeration can be kept safely in a closed refrigerator for several hours. An unopened refrigerator will keep food cold for about 4 hours. A full freezer will keep the temperature for about 48 hours.
- Take steps to remain cool if it is hot outside. In intense heat when the power may be off for a long time, consider going to a movie theater, shopping mall or “cooling shelter” that may be open in your community. If you remain at home, move to the lowest level of your home, since cool air falls. Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing. Drink plenty of water, even if you do not feel thirsty.
- Put on layers of warm clothing if it is cold outside. Never burn charcoal for heating or cooking indoors. Never use your oven as a source of heat. If the power may be out for a prolonged period, plan to go to another location (the home of a relative or friend, or a public facility) that has heat to keep warm.
- Turn off or disconnect appliances and other equipment in case of a momentary power “surge” that can damage computers and other devices. Consider adding surge protectors.
- If you are considering purchasing a generator for your home, consult an electrician or engineer before purchasing and installing. Only use generators away from your home and NEVER run a generator inside a home or garage, or connect it to your home's electrical system.
After an Outage
- Throw away any food that has been exposed to temperatures 40° F (4° C) for 2 hours or more or that has an unusual odor, color or texture. When in doubt, throw it out!
- If food in the freezer is colder than 40° F and has ice crystals on it, you can refreeze it. If you are not sure food is cold enough, take its temperature with a food thermometer.
- Contact your doctor if you’re concerned about medications having spoiled.
- Restock your emergency kit with fresh batteries, canned foods and other supplies.
NEVER go near downed power lines
- A downed power line can still be energized and can cause other things around it to become potentially hazardous. A fence or guardrail touching a downed line can be energized for several thousand yards and it poses a threat to anyone coming into contact with it.
- Stay away from puddles of water that could be in contact with downed lines. Encountering these can be as hazardous as coming into contact with the downed power line itself.
- If you are driving and come upon a downed power line, stay in your vehicle, warn others to stay away and call 911.
- Also when driving, be careful at intersections where traffic lights may be out. Stop at all railroad crossings and treat road intersections with traffic signals as four-way stops before proceeding with caution.