How to Stay Safe During a Power Outage
The winter season often brings less than favorable weather, which can result in a variety of problems including power outages. While power outages might not seem like the worst thing in the world, extended power outages can affect the community and economy as a whole.
During power outages, communication, water, and transportation get disrupted. Businesses, grocery stores, ATMs, and gas stations are also closed. Food may spoil and water can become contaminated, as well as prevent the use of important medical devices.
With all of this in mind, there are many things you can do before, during, and after a power outage to keep you and your loved ones safe.
Preparing for a Power Outage
If a power outage looks possible, there are some things to do to prepare.
- Take inventory of items that run on electricity
- Speak to your medical provider about a power outage plan for medical devices or medications that require electricity.
- Stock up on batteries or other ways to generate items that run solely off electricity.
- Sign up for local weather alerts and monitor warning systems.
- Install carbon monoxide devices at each level of the house and store backup batteries.
- Review your supplies and have flashlights, extra batteries, non-perishable food, and water on hand.
- Keep mobile phones and other electric equipment charged and gas tanks full.
Survive During a Power Outage
- Keep freezers and fridge doors closed. Your fridge will keep food cold for about 4 hours. A full freezer can keep the temperature for about 48 hours.
- Make sure to ration out food that does not require refrigeration. This will be the only food you have left if your other food spoils.
- 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. All of this will help avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.
- If the heat or cold is extreme, locate a community center.
- Turn off or disconnect appliances, equipment, or electronics. Power may return with momentary “surges” or “spikes” that can cause damage.
Be Safe After a Power Outage
- Throw away any food that has been exposed to 40 degrees or higher for two hours or more. Any food that has an unusual odor, color, or texture should be thrown away as well.
- If the power was out for more than a day, discard any medication that has to be refrigerated, unless the drug label says otherwise. If you or someone’s life depends on the medication, consult a doctor or pharmacist.
- Once the power comes back on, avoid any exposed wires or down telephone lines in the street. To be safe, call your local electric company to report it.
Overall, power outages aren’t dangerous themselves, but they do have lasting effects that can be harmful. The best things you can do to keep you safe is to prepare for the worst, have enough supplies on hand, and stay alert.