Whether it’s a bad storm or a downed utility pole, power outages can strike at any time. While most only last for a couple of hours, a prolonged power outage presents a whole host of obstacles. Here’s how to make sure your home and your family stay safe next time you lose electricity.
- Stay far away from downed power lines and any debris those power lines are in contact with; they have the capability of delivering a fatal charge. Wait for your utility company to take care of the problem.
- If flood waters in your basement are covering utility outlets, do not step into the water. Call your utility company and have them turn the water off at the meter.
- If using a generator, make sure nothing is plugged into the generator when you turn it on. Operate generators in well-ventilated, dry outdoor areas.
- While power is out, be sure to turn off all electronics, otherwise your circuits could overload when power is restored. Leave one light on so that you’ll know when power is back.
- For lighting, stick to flashlights not candles to avoid fire hazards.
- Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible. According to the American Red Cross, an unopened refrigerator will keep foods cold for about four hours. A full freezer will keep the temperature for about 48 hours (24 hours if it is half full) if the door remains closed.
- Avoid traveling, especially at night. With traffic lights and street lamps out, driving becomes hazardous.
When power returns, continue to avoid downed power lines and examine food carefully. Throw anything away that you suspect may have gone bad while unrefrigerated. If you hadn’t done so already, make an emergency supply kit with dry food, water, batteries, flashlights, blankets, etc., so you’ll be well-prepared next time the lights go out.