Power Outage Preparation
Few people realize how essential electricity is until they experience a power outage. Although many power outages may only last a few hours, individuals and organizations should be prepared to be without assistance for 72 hours or longer. If your power goes out, check your home's circuit breakers or fuses first. Your power could be out because a circuit has tripped or a fuse has blown.
- KEEP EMERGENCY SUPPLIES ON HAND INCLUDING:
- Flashlight with fresh batteries
- A portable, battery operated radio or television
- A NOAA Weather radio for warnings
- A wind-up or battery-powered alarm clock
- Water and nonperishable food - Canned Fruit, Powdered milk, Peanut Butter, Bread & Crackers
- If you have a baby - extra diapers and other infant care items
- First aid kit
- Essential medicines and prescription information
- Extra pair of glasses, hearing aid batteries, extra wheelchair batteries, oxygen, medication, catheters, food for guide or service dogs, or other special equipment you might need
- Have either a cell phone or hardwire, single-line telephone. Cordless phones will not work without electricity.
- If you have an electric garage door opener, find out where the manual release lever is located, and learn how to operate it. Sometimes garage doors can be heavy, so get help to lift it. If you regularly use the garage as the primary means of entering your home upon return from work, be sure to keep a key to your house with you, in case the garage door will not open.
- Protect sensitive electric equipment, such as computers, VCRs and televisions, by installing surge suppresser or other power protection devices.
- Make sure your smoke alarms have fresh batteries. Even those alarms that are wired to your home's electrical system should have a fresh back-up battery.
- Have an emergency plan in place, including back-up power supply, if a member of your household depends on life support or needs other medical equipment.
During an Outage
- TURN OFF ELECTRICAL ITEMS - Protect appliances from possible power surges when electricity is restored. Unplug appliances and computers, if possible, and turn off nonessential lights. Turn off any heat-producing electric equipment such as toaster ovens, electric stove tops, or hair curlers. Leave one light fixture on so you know when power is restored.
- KEEP FOOD COLD - Perishable foods should not be held above 40 degrees for more than 2 hours. If a power outage is 2 hours or less, you need not be concerned. Do not open the refrigerator or freezer. An unopened refrigerator will keep foods cold enough for a few hours. A freezer that is half full will hold for up to 24 hours and a full freezer for 48 hours. If it looks like the power outage will be for more than 2-4 hours, pack refrigerated milk, dairy products, meats, fish, poultry, eggs, gravy, stuffing and leftovers into your cooler surrounded by ice. If it looks like the power outage will be prolonged, prepare a cooler with ice for your freezer items. Utilize DRY OR BLOCK ICE to keep food in freezer or insulated container longer. Never handle dry ice with your bare hands or place directly on top of food. The extreme cold can cause burns.
- WATER - Discontinue nonessential water usage. Do not drink cloudy or dirty water. Don't be alarmed if the chlorine level is higher than normal. Notify water officials of low or no water pressure.
- COOKING - Never cook with charcoal indoors.
- STAY COMFORTABLE - During hot days, stay cool indoors and drink plenty of fluids. In colder weather, keep outside door openings to a minimum and use blankets, sleeping bags and extra clothes to help stay warm. Dress in layers and wear a hat. Cover drafty windows and doors with blankets. Close off doors and stay in the room with your heat source. If the room has openings without doors, use blankets to cover them. Be extremely careful when using alternate heating sources. Some are not approved for indoor use and could be a fire or carbon monoxide hazard. Make sure your fire extinguisher is charged and working.
- HELPING CHILDREN COPE - How you react to a power outage gives children clues on how to act. If you react with alarm, a child may become more scared. When talking with children about an outage, be sure to present a a realistic picture about what has happened and the expected outcome. Your calming words and actions can provide reassurance. Concentrate on your child's emotional needs by asking the child to describe what they are feeling. Listen to what they say. Although children need you in case of emergency, they need you for play too. Encourage them to participate in games, arts, crafts and reading. Keep flashlights, notebooks, magazines, colored paper and markers, and tape readily available.
- POWER LINES - If you can see any power lines on the ground, stay at least 10 feet away from them as electricity might still be flowing through the lines.
- USE FLASHLIGHTS - Use flashlights instead of candles to reduce fire hazards.
- MONITOR RADIO - Do not call 9-1-1 to ask about the power outage. Listen to the news radio stations in your local area for updates.
- ANTICIPATE TRAFFIC DELAYS - Use extreme caution when driving. Intersections should be treated as four-way stops when traffic lights are out. Anticipate long traffic delays in areas where the power is out.
- CHECK ON NEIGHBORS - Check on elderly or medically dependent neighbors.
- LIFE SUPPORT EQUIPMENT - If someone in your household uses life support equipment, make arrangements for a back-up power supply. Know how to start or connect a backup power supply for essential medical equipment or move them to a location where power is available. Create a network of relatives, friends or coworkers. Discuss your disability and ask for their assistance in an emergency. Arrange for someone to check on you in an emergency.
- GENERATORS - A portable generator can be a valuable tool during power outages - but it can also be EXTREMELY DANGEROUS if not installed or used correctly. If you own a generator NEVER PLUG INTO ANY ELECTRIC OUTLET IN YOUR HOME. Generators that are not isolated can feed back into our electrical system and possibly electrocute anyone coming in contact with those wires. If you don't have a double throw transfer switch installed, plug appliances directly into the generator using a properly sized extension cord. For more information about generators please read our FACTS ABOUT PORTABLE GENERATORS.
After an Outage
- If you are not at home and would like to check to see if power is restored, call your home to see if the answering machine if operating.
- If a storm has damaged trees on your property which need to be cleared, don't try to remove those tangled in power lines. Stay away from any downed lines (no matter what type) and notify us about them immediately.
If you think that electric power has been restored to your area but your home is still without power, Please call our 24-hour dispatch center at:
1-800-844-4832 ANY OFFICE, ANY TIME