Most power outages will be over almost as soon as they begin, but some can last much longer – up to days or even weeks. Power outages are often caused by freezing rain, sleet storms and/or high winds which damage power lines and equipment. Cold snaps or heat waves can also overload the electric power system.
During a power outage, you may be left without heating/air conditioning, lighting, hot water, or even running water. If you only have a cordless phone, you will also be left without phone service. In other words, you could be facing major challenges. Everyone has a responsibility to protect their homes and their families.
You can greatly lessen the impact of a power outage by taking the time to prepare in advance. This involves three basic steps:
Find out what to do before, during, and after a power outage.
Make a family emergency plan, so that everyone knows what to do, and where to go in case of an emergency.
Get an emergency kit, so that you and your family can be self-sufficient for at least 72 hours during a power outage.
Planning for a power outage will also help prepare you for other types of emergencies. After reading this guide, keep it in a handy spot, such as in your emergency kit.
Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible. First use perishable food from the refrigerator. An unopened refrigerator will keep foods cold for about 4 hours.
Then use food from the freezer. A full freezer will keep the temperature for about 48 hours (24 hours if it is half full) if the door remains closed.
Use your non-perishable foods and staples after using food from the refrigerator and freezer.
If it looks like the power outage will continue beyond a day, prepare a cooler with ice for your freezer items.
Keep food in a dry, cool spot and keep it covered at all times.
Electrical Equipment During a Blackout
Turn off and unplug all unnecessary electrical equipment, including sensitive electronics.
Turn off or disconnect any appliances (like stoves), equipment or electronics you were using when the power went out. When power comes back on, surges or spikes can damage equipment.
Leave one light turned on so you’ll know when the power comes back on.
Eliminate unnecessary travel, especially by car. Traffic lights will be out and roads will be congested.
Caution: Carbon Monoxide Kills
Never use a generator, grill, camp stove or other gasoline, propane, natural gas or charcoal-burning devices inside a home, garage, basement, crawlspace or any partially enclosed area. Locate unit away from doors, windows and vents that could allow carbon monoxide to come indoors.
The primary hazards to avoid when using alternate sources for electricity, heating or cooking are carbon monoxide poisoning, electric shock, and fire.
Install carbon monoxide alarms in central locations on every level of your home and outside sleeping areas to provide early warning of accumulating carbon monoxide.
If the carbon monoxide alarm sounds move quickly to a fresh air location outdoors or by an open window or door.
Call for help from the fresh air location and remain there until emergency personnel arrive to assist you.