From snowstorms to tornados, hurricanes or fires – even a downed tree or maintenance that lasts longer than you expected – an extended home power outage can put you and your family in harm’s way. Getting through a long power outage is a challenge, but with a little preparation, you can increase your chances of remaining safe.
Prepare Supplies Before a Power Outage Occurs
There are a few steps you can take now that will make an extended power outage safer and easier:
- If you can safely burn wood in a stove or fireplace, ensure you have plenty of dry firewood available.
- Install battery-powered carbon monoxide and smoke detectors throughout your house and test them regularly.
- Keep a written list of emergency numbers and addresses where you may be able to get help or access power in an outage.
- Keep an analog thermometer in the freezer and refrigerator so you can monitor food temperature. Food in the freezer should be thrown out if it reaches 40 degrees or higher.
- Save batteries for radios, flashlights, lanterns and any other battery-operated items you may need in an outage.
- Store nonperishable food and clean water (at least a gallon of water per person per day) to have readily available.
- Keep plenty of blankets and warm clothes in an accessible location to ensure you stay warm if the power goes out during the winter.
- Keep your cellphone charged and keep spare batteries on hand, or purchase a portable battery pack.
- Make a habit of keeping your vehicle’s gas tank full.
- Make a plan with your medical provider for any medical devices that rely on electricity.
- Place flashlights with working batteries in offices, storage rooms, bedrooms and other easily accessible locations.
Each year, update and take stock of your emergency supplies to ensure food has not gone bad and batteries are still charged, etc. You can utilize your Annual Home Safety Audit to ensure these things are checked and updated yearly.
Be Smart During a Power Outage
When the power is out, be strategic about what you do and what you use. Try to keep the refrigerator and freezer shut as much as possible so items can stay cold.
- Refrigerator use. The refrigerator can stay below a safe temperature of 40 degrees for about four hours after the power goes out. Any refrigerated items that need to be cooked, such as raw meat, can be cooked on a gas stove or grill before 4 hours have passed. Minimize opening and closing the door to keep the cold in.
- Freezer use. A freezer can keep a temperature of below 40 degrees for up to two days if it is full and kept shut. Keep the freezer closed and save frozen food items for later – as long as they remain below 40 degrees. If you have extra food, share it with neighbors rather than allowing it to go bad.
- Using gas appliances. Cooking with gas is still possible during a power outage. However, if you are using an item that is meant to be used outside, such as a gas grill or camping stove, continue to use that item outdoors. Don’t use a gas stove to try to heat the house.
- Generator Use. Generators should also be used as safely as possible. They should only be run outside, at least 20 feet away from windows.
- Make Good Food Choices. Try to eat nonperishable foods during a power outage. Keep these foods stocked year-round, so you’re never at risk of running out of food.
- Cellphone Use. Your cellphone is an essential item in keeping you safe and getting you help if you need it. Put it in battery-saving mode and use it as little as possible to maintain your battery life.
Seek Out Locations With Electricity
If there is no way to heat or cool your home and weather becomes extreme, always seek shelter somewhere else where heating or cooling is available. Schools, churches and libraries are often used as shelters as they have generators in case of an outage.
You can also visit shelters to charge devices or get supplies. Take a power strip with you so you can charge multiple electronic devices at one time.
Protect Your Appliances and Electronics
Power outages can cause power surges and other damage when the power comes back on. To protect your appliances and electronics, either turn off the main circuit breaker or unplug all devices and appliances from the wall. Turn off all lights at switches.
You’ll be able to tell when the power comes back on when streetlights or other buildings near you have lights on.
Help Your Neighbors
In a power outage, keep an eye on others. Check in on neighbors and share food and supplies when you can. Help make sure everyone is safe and has the resources they need.
A prolonged power outage can be a dangerous situation, but with some advanced planning, you can make it through until the electricity returns. Connect with us for more information.
At General Insurance Services, we are a team of insurance professionals with an array of experience, backgrounds, and interests. We’re advisors with a mission to secure the future of the communities we serve. Share our knowledge through this blog allows us to get one step closer to achieving our mission.