Power outages can be caused by many things. Power outages 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.
Minimize the impacts of outages by preparing ahead of time:
- Take inventory of the items you need that rely on electricity.
- Plan for batteries and other alterative power sources such as a portable charger or power bank.
- Have flashlights for each family member.
- Keep mobile phones charged and gas tanks full. Maintain an adequate supply of fuel if you own a portable generator.
- Keep a supply of nonperishable food and water.
- Talk to your medical provider about a power outage plan for medical devices powered by electricity and refrigerated medicines.
Be Safe DURING
Consider the following during a power outage:
- Disconnect appliances and electronics to avoid damage from electrical surges.
- Keep freezers and refrigerators closed. The refrigerator will keep cold for about four hours. A full freezer will keep the temperature for about 48 hours. Use coolers if necessary. Use foods that do not require refrigeration.
- Avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. Generators, camp stoves, or charcoal grills should always be used outdoors and away from windows. Do not use a gas stove or oven to heat your home. Review general safety and usage guidelines for portable generators.
- Go to a community location with power if head or cold is extreme.
- Check on your neighbors. Older adults and young children are especially vulnerable to extreme temperatures.
Carbon monoxide - the "Invisible Killer". This gas has no odor or color and is very dangerous. Each year people suffer from illness or even death due to carbon monoxide poisoning. Never use a generator, grill, camp stove or other gasoline, propane, natural gas or charcoal burning devices inside a home, garage, or any partially enclosed area. Place the unit away from doors, windows and vents that could allow carbon monoxide to come indoors.
Avoid using a generator in a wet area - this can cause shock or electrocution.
Connect appliances to generators with grounded, heavy-duty extension cords to prevent electrical fires.
Don't fuel your generator when it is running. Turn if off and let it cool. Adding fuel to a hot motor is a fire hazard!
Did you know that heating equipment is one of the leading causes of home fire deaths? Half of home heating fires are reported during the months of December, January, and February. Practice safe heating methods during power outages:
- Keep anything that can burn at least three-feet away from heating equipment, like the furnace, fireplace, wood stove, or portable space heater.
- Have a three-foot “kid-free zone” around open fires and space heaters.
- Never use your oven to heat your home.
- If you have gas appliances, install and maintain carbon monoxide alarms to avoid the risk of CO poisoning. If you smell gas, do not light appliances and leave immediately. Call your local fire department or gas company.
- Have heating equipment and chimneys cleaned and inspected every year by a qualified professional.
- Remember to turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed.
- Make sure the fireplace has a sturdy screen to stop sparks from flying into the room. Ashes should be cool before putting them in a metal container. Keep the container a safe distance away from your home.
- Test smoke alarms once a month.
Food Safety During Power Outages
Your refrigerator will keep food safe for up to 4 hours during a power outage. Keep the door closed as much as possible. Discard refrigerated perishable food such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and leftovers after 4 hours without power.
After a power outage, never taste food to determine its safety. You will have to evaluate each item separately - use this chart as a guide. When in Doubt, Throw it Out!
A full freezer will hold a safe temperature for approximately 48 hours (24 if it is half full and the door remains closed). Food may be safely refrozen if it still contains ice crystals or is at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below, however, its quality may suffer. Use this chart as a general guide.