There's nothing like a power outage to make you feel, well, powerless. Once you've listened to the power company's recorded message for the third time (they're aware of the situation and are working diligently to resolve it), there isn't a lot to do besides wait.
Still, a few common-sense precautions can help keep things safe and sane until the lights/air/heat come back on:
Emergency Preparedness Kit
Before an outage occurs, put together an emergency kit for your household, including:
If the power is out for less than four hours, food in the refrigerator and freezer will likely be safe to consume. While the power is out, keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible.
After four hours:
Extended outages can mean water purification systems aren't functioning fully. Check with your state, local or tribal health departments. You may need to turn to bottled, boiled or treated water.
Generators and Grills
Never use a generator, a grill or any other gasoline, propane, natural gas or charcoal-burning device inside a home, garage, basement, crawlspace or any partially enclosed area. Keep them outside in an open space and position them away from doors, windows and vents that could allow carbon monoxide to come indoors.
In the summer:
In the winter:
Staying indoors during a power outage, especially at night, is wise. Outdoors, you may encounter downed power lines, fallen trees and other circumstances that can make getting around difficult and dangerous. Also, be more conscious of locking your doors and ground-floor windows, as your security system may also be out.
Try to stay off the road during a power outage. Stop lights may be out, you may encounter storm debris in the road and, if you get into trouble, emergency personnel may be slower to respond. It is important, however, to know how to operate your automatic garage door without power, just in case you need to leave your home and seek emergency shelter. Also smart? Making a point to always keep your car’s gas tank at least half-full.
Of course, we hope you don’t have to take any of these more extreme measures to stay safe in a power outage.
With a little preparation before an outage occurs and a level head when it does, you and your family can support one another until the power hums to life again.
When inclement weather is on the horizon, a power outage may be, too. Learn about the different types of emergency alerts you may receive on your mobile phone.
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