What To Do If There Is A Power Outage
A power outage may:
- Disrupt communications, water and transportation.
- Close retail businesses, grocery stores, gas stations, ATMs, banks and other services.
- Cause food spoilage and water contamination.
- Prevent use of medical devices.
How to Protect Yourself During a Power Outage
Go to a community location with power if heat or cold is extreme.
Sign up for email updates about coronavirus from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Check with your local officials for locations of cooling or warming centers. Locations may have changed this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Try to bring items that can help protect you and others in the cooling or warming center from COVID-19, such as two masks for each person aged two or older in the household, hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol, and cleaning materials. Review the CDC’s guidelines for “Going to a Public Disaster Shelter During the COVID-19 Pandemic.”
Preparing for a Power Outage
Take an inventory of the items you need that rely on electricity. Plan for batteries and other alternative power sources to meet your needs when the power goes out, such as a portable charger or power bank. Have flashlights for every household member. Determine whether your home phone will work in a power outage and how long battery backup will last.
Know Your Medical Needs
Talk to your medical provider about a power outage plan for medical devices powered by electricity and refrigerated medicines. Find out how long medication can be stored at higher temperatures and get specific guidance for any medications that are critical for life.
Have enough nonperishable food and water. Keep freezers and refrigerators closed. The refrigerator will keep food cold for about four hours. A full freezer will keep the temperature for about 48 hours. Use coolers with ice if necessary. Monitor temperatures with a thermometer. Throw out food if the temperature is 40 degrees or higher.
Using Appliances During Power Outages
Install carbon monoxide detectors with battery backup in central locations on every level of your home. Avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. Generators, camp stoves or charcoal grills should always be used outdoors and at least 20 feet away from windows. Never use a gas stovetop or oven to heat your home. Turn off or disconnect appliances, equipment, or electronics. Power may return with momentary surges or spikes that can cause damage.
Returning After Power Outage
- When in doubt, throw it out! Throw away any food that has been exposed to temperatures 40 degrees or higher for two hours or more, or that has an unusual odor, color or texture.
- If the power is out for more than a day, discard any medication that should be refrigerated, unless the drug’s label says otherwise. Consult your doctor or pharmacist immediately for a new supply.
HOW TO HAVE LIGHT IN A POWER OUTAGE
- It’s best to use flashlights or battery-powered (LED) lanterns to use in case of a power outage rather than candles to prevent accidental fires. Attach a strip of glow-in-the-dark tape to your flashlights to make them easy to find.
- Headlamps are very helpful for every family member. These enable you to have both hands free to do tasks, and family members can be more independent. You can even read a book in bed while wearing one. Stock up on straps, too, to strap the headlamp to a gallon of water. By strapping the headlamp onto the jug with the lamp’s front facing the inside, the light reflects off of the water and can illuminate more of the room.
- Avoid using candles or an open flame as a light source, as it could be a fire hazard, particularly if there are children or pets in the home. While romantic, they can tip over too easily in an emergency situation. However, if this is all you have on hand, just be careful not to leave candles or fuel-lit lamps unattended. Use secure candle holders. Empty food cans half-filled with sand work great. Be sure to also have a supply of lighters or matches to light your candles with.
- Your cell phone could be used for light—for as long as the battery lasts. Drastically increase your battery life by plugging your phone into a portable USBbattery pack.
HOW TO STAY WARM IN A POWER OUTAGE
- Select one room in which people—and pets—can spend most of their time together. Pick a room with few or no windows on the south side for maximum heat during the day and layer up with warm clothing.
- Drape all windows with blankets, comforters, or quilts. Uncover south-facing windows during the day to let in the Sun’s warmth.
- Never burn charcoal for heating or cooking indoors. Never use your oven as a source of heat.
- Make a list (in advance) of shelters and hotels that allow pets, in case you need to evacuate with yours.
COOKING AND EATING WITHOUT POWER
- Open your refrigerator or freezer door only when absolutely necessary. Plan ahead to minimize the time the door is open.
- If the door stays closed, a refrigerator without power will keep food safe for four hours. A full freezer will keep its temperature for 48 hours (or 24 hours if half full). Store food outside if the temperature is cold enough (40 degrees or less). Monitor temperatures with a thermometer.
- Keep ice packs in your freezer for use in coolers or your refrigerator in case of an outage.
- Eat foods you are know are safe from spoiling. Good examples are canned foods, such as vegetables, beans, and soups.
- If you have one, cook on your woodstove. Heat canned soup and boil water for tea and instant coffee.
- Have potluck dinners with your neighbors and take turns hosting. You’ll be eating better and getting to know your neighbors at the same time.
- If the weather allows, cook on your outdoor grill—but only outdoors. Due to the possibility of fumes and fire, never use an outdoor grill indoors. Here are a few great recipes and tips for the grill.
- If it’s cold enough outside, fill clean plastic milk jugs with water and put them outside to freeze solid. Put these jugs into coolers, which can serve as temporary refrigerators for food supplies.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU LOSE YOUR WATER
- When extreme weather threatens, fill up your bathtub with water (for washing and flushing). Note:If you expect temperatures to drop below freezing in your house, avoid filling up the tub, as you could end up with a frozen (and cracked) bathtub.
- In cold climates, pack fresh snow in buckets and bring indoors to melt.
- In winter, keep pipes from freezing by turning on a slow trickle of water. Protect water pipes from freezing by wrapping them with layers of newspapers and then plastic wrap.
- Keep your vehicle’s gas tank at least half full! Gas stations rely on electricity to power their pumps.
- Never drive across power lines outside. Never!
- To avoid damage from falling branches, plan ahead and don’t park your cars under trees. If possible, remove any potentially hazardous or weak-looking branches well ahead of storms.
- The best way to get through a power outage is to avoid it altogether. Investing in a home generator can save you a lot of time and stress during emergency outages, as it can keep your heat and light running when you really need it.
- However, NEVERrun a generator inside a home or garage, or connect it to your home’s electrical system to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Today, we also rely on technology for communication and safety. Keep cell phones charged.
- If the power is out, dim the brightness of your phone and turn off wifi to save battery life. Also switch your battery to low power mode under settings.
- Turn off or disconnect appliances and other equipment in case of a momentary power “surge” that can damage computers and other devices.
- We also recommend a surge protector to safeguards electronics from the harmful effects of power surges and voltage spikes. A power surge is a spike in the electrical current flowing through the wires of your house. They can damage common appliances, sensitive AVelectronics, and computer equipment.