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Power Outages: Be Prepared

Family with flashlightYour electric service is generally very reliable; however, extreme weather conditions and other factors can lead to a temporary loss of power. To keep your family safe and comfortable during an outage or other emergency, it's important to be prepared. Here are some tips:

  • Create an emergency preparedness kit, including a flashlight, batteries, cash and first aid supplies.
  • Maintain supplies of healthy and filling snacks that don't require refrigeration, such as dried fruits, nuts and protein bars.
  • Make sure you have alternative charging methods for your phone or any device that requires power.
  • Purchase ice or freeze water-filled plastic containers to help keep food cold during a temporary power outage.
  • Learn about the emergency plans established in your area by contacting your state or local emergency management agency.
  • If you rely on anything that's battery-operated or power dependent, such as a medical device, have a backup plan.
  • Maintain backup generators according to manufacturers' recommendations and store an adequate supply of fuel in a safe place.

During an outage, monitor local radio stations or online sources for reports about power restoration. Disconnect or switch off appliances and electronic equipment that were running when the power went out. Avoid opening refrigerators and freezers to save cold air and preserve food longer.

Staying safe

Follow these measures to ensure the safety of you and your family during and after an outage. 

Generators. Operate backup generators safely by following manufacturer's instructions. Don't attempt to connect your generator to the electrical system; it can backfeed to outdoor utility lines and injure or kill utility service personnel. An automatic transfer switch—installed by a qualified electrician—will help to ensure safe operation.

Refrigerated foods. Discard any perishable items in your refrigerator or freezer that may not be safe to consume. A refrigerator keeps food at a safe temperature for up to four hours during a power outage if it remains closed. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends discarding foods such as meat, poultry and eggs if they've been above 40°F for more than two hours. 

For more tips and resources, see Power Outages from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Image source: iStock

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