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Power Outage Safety

Learn how to prepare your home for a power outage and what to do when one occurs.

Sudden power outages can be frustrating and troublesome. If a power outage is 2 hours or less, don’t be concerned about losing your perishable foods. For prolonged power outages, though, there are steps you can take to minimize loss and keep all members of your household as comfortable as possible.

Before a Power Outage

VIDEO: 3 Easy Steps to Prepare

Prepare in Advance

  • Assembling an emergency preparedness kit.
  • Creating a household evacuation plan that includes your pets.
  • Staying informed about your community’s risk and response plans.
  • Educating your family on how to use the Safe and Well website.
  • Download the Emergency App for iPhone >> or for Android >>
  • How to Prepare for a Power Outage

  • To keep your food from spoiling during a power outage, keep on hand:
  • One or more coolers—inexpensive styrofoam coolers work well.

    Ice—Surrounding your food with ice in a cooler or in the refrigerator will keep food colder for a longer period of time during a prolonged blackout.

    A digital quick-response thermometer— With these thermometers you can quickly check the internal temperatures of food to ensure they are cold enough to use safely.

  • Make sure you have access to NOAA radio broadcasts:
  • Find an online NOAA radio station

    Search for a NOAA radio app in the Apple Store >> or Google Play>>

    Purchase a battery-powered or hand-crank NOAA radio in the Red Cross Store

  • Have at least a half tank of gas in your car.
  • Get extra containers and fill them with gas. If power is out for an extended time, gas supply may be limited and lines at service stations long.
  • • Prepare a pet emergency kit for your companion animals.
  • Consider purchasing a generator to power critical equipment during a blackout. Make sure it’s rated for the power you think you’ll need and that you know how to operate it safely.
  • If you have a generator, install carbon monoxide alarms in central locations on every level of your home and outside sleeping areas. This will provide early warning of accumulating carbon monoxide.
  • During a Power Outage

    Staying Safe Indoors

  • Use flash lights in the dark, not candles.
  • Eliminate unnecessary travel, especially by car. Traffic lights will be out and roads will be congested.
  • If you are using a generator be sure you understand the risks of carbon monoxide poisoning and how to use generators safely.
  • Food Safety

  • Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible. An unopened refrigerator will keep foods cold for about 4 hours. A full freezer will keep the temperature for about 48 hours (24 hours if it is half full) if the door remains closed.
  • First use perishable food from the refrigerator. Perishables should have a temperature of 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4 degrees Celsius) or below to be safe to eat. Then use food from the freezer.

    Use your non-perishable foods and staples after using food from the refrigerator and freezer.

  • If it looks like the power outage will continue beyond a day, prepare a cooler with ice for your freezer items.
  • Keep food in a dry, cool spot and keep it covered at all times.
  • Electrical Equipment

  • Turn off and unplug all unnecessary electrical equipment, including sensitive electronics.
  • Turn off or disconnect any appliances (like stoves), equipment or electronics you were using when the power went out. When power comes back on, surges or spikes can damage equipment.
  • Leave one light turned on so you’ll know when the power comes back on.
  • After a Power Outage

    Staying Safe After a Power Outage
  • If electrical power lines are down, don’t touch them. Keep your family and pets away. Report downed lines to your utility company.
  • Throw Out Unsafe Food

  • Throw away any food (particularly meat, poultry, fish, eggs and leftovers) that has been exposed to temperatures higher than 40° F (4° C) for 2 hours or more, or that has an unusual odor, color or texture. When in doubt, throw it out!
  • Never taste food or rely on appearance or odor to determine its safety. Some foods may look and smell fine, but if they have been at room temperature too long, bacteria causing food-borne illnesses can start growing quickly. Some types of bacteria produce toxins that cannot be destroyed by cooking.
  • If you are not sure food is cold enough, take its temperature with a food thermometer.
  • If food in the freezer is colder than 40° F and has ice crystals on it, you can refreeze it.
  • Conservation Tips

    Energy Conservation Tips

    5 Ways to Save Money and Help Reduce Blackouts

    Not all power outages are caused by storms – at peak usage times, electricity demand from homes, schools and businesses can overwhelm the system. Follow our tips to save electricity at home which can lower your electric bill and help keep the lights on for everyone.

    1. Hunt Down “Vampire Appliances”

    Did you know that as much as 10% of the electricity your household consumes is being drawn by appliances and devices that aren’t even being used? They draw power simply because they are plugged in. So unplug your phone charger when you’re not using it. Plug your flat screen TV and game console into a power strip with an on/off switch so it’s easy to turn them off overnight. (This doesn’t apply to your DVR which can’t record if it’s not plugged in.) Set your PC to automatically enter sleep mode or power down after a period of inactivity.

    2. Go Easy on the A.C.

    Set your thermostat at 78 or higher. If you have window units, only cool the rooms you spend the most time in, and keep the doors shut so the cool air can’t escape. Compensate by wearing light summer clothing and keeping a cold drink at hand. Shut your curtains and blinds against the sun during the day. If you have a deck, porch or shady yard, spend more time outside catching a breeze. And at mealtime, leave the oven off and opt for cool salads or grilling out.

    (Got electric heat? Flip this tip upside down in winter and keep the thermostat under 68. Wear warmer clothing around the house: a sweater, a hat, a down vest. Flannel sheets and a down comforter can help keep you cozy at night. And if you have little-used rooms that can be closed off, such as a guest bedroom, shut the heat vent and keep the door closed until spring.)

    3. Make Change in the Laundry Room

    Forget the 2 dimes and a nickel you once found in the bottom of the machine: you can create real savings on washday. Wash clothes in cold water when possible. Wash only full loads and clean the dryer's lint trap after each use. Better yet: get a drying rack or clothesline and let nature dry your clothes for free.

    4. Find Efficiencies in the Kitchen

    If you have an electric oven, leave it off and use the microwave instead: you’ll actually use less electricity. When using a dishwasher, wash full loads and use the economy cycle. When the wash cycle is done, open the dishwasher door to allow your dishes to air dry. Lastly, check the temperature settings in your refrigerator and freezer: your fridge should be 40 degrees F or cooler, and the freezer 0 degrees F or cooler.

    5. Be Lighter on Lighting

    Replace incandescent light bulbs with energy efficient halogen, CFL or LED bulbs. Think twice before turning them on: could you open a curtain and use natural light instead? And don’t forget to turn the lights off when you leave the room!

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