Short power outages are annoying; they cut off our lights, cable and internet, and disrupt our plans. Power outages lasting more than a couple of hours are more than just annoying—they are potentially very dangerous. The team at LG Insurance Agency wants to offer you a few tips, both on how to prepare yourself and your loved ones before an extended power outage, and on the best courses of action during one.
Here are some good pieces of advice to make sure you don’t lose power without being prepared:
- Stay updated. The first and most important thing you should be doing is keeping track of the weather. If a severe thunderstorm, nor’easter or hurricane is imminent, you should have at least a few days notice to prepare if you’re checking the weather reports daily. This is especially important if you live in a rural spot or know your area is prone to power outages.
- Have a supply of essentials. Remember that if you lose power, it’s likely that the businesses around you have too. Since we live in the digital age, most businesses rely on an internet connection to run their registers. If you lose power, you may not be able to buy gas, groceries, medications and other essentials until power is restored. It is a good idea to have an emergency kit with supplies to last a few days at any point, but especially if bad weather is coming, keep on hand:
- Non-perishable food
- Plastic or Styrofoam coolers
- At least a couple gallons of gas in your vehicle
- A battery powered radio so you can stay updated on the weather, power restoration and whether you need to be evacuated
Also, don’t forget food/medications for your pets!
- Have flashlights and extra batteries for everyone. Everyone in your family should have a flashlight in case of emergency. Keep extra batteries on hand as well. It’s also not a bad idea to have a camping lantern. It’s difficult to do anything with your hands, like prepare food, if you’re constantly having to hold a flashlight.
- Keep portable chargers fully charged. There are inexpensive portable device chargers on the market that will hold up to four charges for your cell phone or tablet. If you keep them fully charged in case of an emergency, it will prevent you from not being able to use your phone in the event you run out of juice during a power outage.
- In some cases, you may need a generator. Having a generator is not practical for everyone; they are expensive, need to be run outdoors, and you need a safe place to store gasoline. However, if you have a basement that will flood without a sump pump, are diabetic and need refrigerated insulin, or need to use an electrically powered medical device, having a generator may be a necessity in extended power outages. If you do have a generator, be sure to:
- Run it outdoors.
- To avoid electrocution, keep the generator dry and do not touch it with wet hands.
- Be sure it’s not too close to any windows. You don’t want carbon monoxide seeping into your home through a window.
- Have a battery-powered backup carbon monoxide detector in your home. If fumes do somehow get in, it is critical to get everyone out of the home immediately.
- Store gasoline in an approved container and away from children.
Here are some steps you can take to keep yourself and those around you safe during long periods without power:
- Keep your refrigerator and freezer doors closed. To maintain your food as long as you can, keep the cold air in by opening the doors as little as possible. Since food in the freezer will last longer than food in the fridge (about 2 days as opposed to 4 hours), it’s a good idea to get some ice out of the freezer and put some food into coolers.
- Check your food once power is restored. Be sure to check all refrigerated items with a food thermometer. If anything is above 40 degrees Fahrenheit, don’t eat it. If you’re not sure—when in doubt, throw it out!
- Disconnect appliances and devices. When the power comes back on, it can cause damaging, momentary surges.
- Avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. If you’re running a generator, be sure to follow the safety tips above, and never run a charcoal or gas stove to heat your home.
- Stay updated. Check the National Weather Service website if you can get a signal, or use a battery powered radio to check whether there are community centers near you with power.
- Check on your neighbors. Especially in the harsh winter months, seniors and families with young children are vulnerable during extended power outages. Be a good neighbor and check on anyone you think may need some help or supplies.
We hope you’ve found these tips helpful and that you, your family, friends, neighbors, pets and everyone else stay safe and healthy if the power goes out!