A power outage is inconvenient, whether it lasts a second or an hour. Because you never know when a power outage will strike, you can minimize the problems and safety hazards of a power outage by following these simple suggestions to protect your family and home.
Don’t wait for a power outage to buy emergency supplies, be prepared and have everything you need on hand. If your power goes out, it’s likely you could find the store shelves raided and empty during a power outage. It is a good idea to purchase emergency home kits and store them in a general area in your home so you won’t be searching for needed supplies in the dark in an emergency. While most power outages are short-lived, but some may last days. Here are some things to consider for a long-term outage.
Stock up on:
• Matches and disposable lighters.
• Flashlights and extra batteries. It is recommended you not use candles unless necessary to avoid fire risks.
• Battery operated radio and extra batteries
• Canned goods and dry food mixes. Water and juices. Don’t forget the hand-operated can opener
• Special items for infants, the elderly or family members with special needs and prescription medications
• Paper plates, cups and plastic utensils.
• First-aid kit
• Fire Extinguisher
What To Do During An Outage
• Turn off or disconnect any appliances, equipment (like air conditioners) or electronics you were using when the power went out. When power comes back on, it may come back with momentary "surges" or "spikes" that can damage equipment such as computers and motors in appliances like the air conditioner, refrigerator, washer, or furnace.
• Make sure the oven and stove are off; this will prevent fires if the power comes back on while you’re away. Do not set dishes, towels, or paper on the stove; these may catch on fire if a burner is on when the power comes on.
• Never touch downed power lines or attempt to remove trees from power lines. Contact with power lines may result in serious injury or death. Report any downed lines to your power company and leave the clean up and repair work to the professionals
•Leave the doors of your refrigerator and freezer closed to keep your food as fresh as possible. If you must eat food that was refrigerated or frozen, check it carefully for signs of spoilage. See the Red Cross brochure called, "Help The Power Is Out" for more information on food safety during an outage.
•Use the phone for emergencies only. Listening to a portable radio can provide the latest information. Do not call 9-1-1 for information -- only call to report a life-threatening emergency.
Specific Information For People With Disabilities
• If you use a battery-operated wheelchair, life-support system, or other power-dependent equipment, plan ahead and call your power company before an outage. Many utility companies keep a list and map of the locations of power-dependent customers in case of an emergency. Ask them what alternatives are available in your area. Contact the customer service department of your local utility company(ies) to learn if this service is available in your community.
• If you use a motorized wheelchair or scooter, have an extra battery. A car battery also can be used with a wheelchair but will not last as long as a wheelchair's deep-cycle battery. If available, store a lightweight manual wheelchair for backup.
• If a loved one is blind or has a visual disability, store a talking or Braille clock or large-print timepiece with extra batteries.
• If you are Deaf or have a hearing loss, consider getting a small portable battery-operated television set. Emergency broadcasts may give information in American Sign Language (ASL) or open captioning.
Additional Preparedness Tips
• Protect sensitive electronic equipment, such as computers, televisions and other devices, with surge suppressors.
• Make sure you know how to safely reset your circuit breaker or change fuses. Keep extra fuses on hand.
• If a well is your source for water, plan ahead to determine how you will get drinking water. Store containers of water for cooking and washing.
• If you have an electric garage door opener, find out where the manual release lever is located and learn how to operate it. Sometimes garage doors can be heavy, so get help to lift it. If you regularly use the garage as the primary means of entering your home upon return from work, be sure to keep a key to your house with you, in case the garage door will not open.
Power outages are one of the most common emergencies that occur. They can be caused by storms, accidents in which power lines are knocked down, circuit overloads, etc. Power failures can last for an extended period of time or for a brief moment, but no matter the length of time, they cause a disruption in everyday life. Take the time to prepare for a power outage and to gain the knowledge needed to respond safely and effectively during the emergency. A few simple preparations can greatly reduce the inconveniences caused by a power outage.