National Preparedness Month 2015: Power Outage Safety



The fourth week of National Preparedness Month is dedicated to power outages, and we're here to share some tips on what to do before, during, and after a power outage.


How to safely prepare BEFORE a power outage

The scariest part of a power outage is not knowing how long it will last - and if you don't prepare in advance, you may put your entire health and livelihood at risk. We often take for granted how strongly we rely on electricity, and in the terrifying-but-possible scenario that we are without power for an extended period of time, quite a bit could go wrong. Heed these tips to ensure you're ready, if the lights should suddenly go out:

  • Emergency Kit - As always, make sure your emergency kit is well-stocked with medical supplies, non-perishable food items, flashlights and batteries, etc.
  • Cell Phones or battery-powered devices - If at all possible, try to keep all electronics you may need in an emergency charged and ready to go.
  • Garage Door - Just in case your car is in the garage when the power goes out, make sure you know how to manually release it so you aren't stranded.
  • Your Car - Keep your car's gas tank full, as gas stations rely directly on electricity to power their pumps.
  • Local Emergency Plans - Know about the emergency plans that have been established in your area by visiting your state or local website for information on cooling and warming shelters.
  • Medical Devices - If you rely on any sort of medical device that is battery-operated or power-dependent, determine a back-up plan in advance by contacting your physician.


What to do (and not do) during a power outage:

  • Emergency Lighting - Only use flashlights for emergency lighting, as candles can cause fires. Just be sure to have plenty of batteries stocked!
  • Food Storage - Try to keep your refrigerator and freezer doors closed for as long as possible. An unopened refrigerator will keep food cold for around 4 hours, and a full freezer will keep its temperature for about 48 hours.
  • Temperature Regulation -
    • If it's hot outside, take steps to remain cool such as going to a local movie theater, shopping mall, or cooling shelter, that may not let the heat in easily. You may also go to the lowest level of your home, since cool air falls. Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing, and drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration.
    • If it's cold outside, layer on clothing and try to find a warming shelter or somewhere that does have heat to stay warm. Never burn charcoal indoors or use your oven as a source of heat.
  • Protect Electronics - In the event of a momentary power surge, consider adding surge protectors to your home to protect your computers and other devices from damage.
  • Generator - It is a good idea to have a generator to help in the event of a power outage, but be sure to consult an electrician or engineer before purchasing and installing. Only use generators away from your home - never run it inside your home or garage, or connect it to your home's electrical system.


After a Power Outage

  • Food - Throw away any food that has been exposed to temperatures above 40 degrees Farenheit for 2 or more hours, or that has an unusual odor, color, or texture. If you have any doubts, throw it out. Similarly, if you have any food in your freezer that is colder than 40 degrees and still has ice crystals on it, you can refreeze it.
  • Medications - If you're concerned about the safety of any medications that remain after the outage, consult your doctor or a local pharmacist for advice.
  • Safety Kit - Be sure to restock your emergency kit with fresh batteries, canned foods, and other supplies, so you are prepared in case another emergency situation arises.


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