How to Prepare Before a Power Outage
If you find out a big storm is about to roll through, here are some power outage tips and tricks to prepare your home for a storm.
How Long Do Power Outages Last?
Power outages can be over almost as quickly as they began, but some can last much longer — up to days or even weeks. This depends on the severity of the storm and what damage has been done to power lines.
What to Have in a Power Outage Kit
Create an emergency preparedness kit with enough supplies on hand to be self-sufficient for at least three days. Your kit should include water, food, medications, important paperwork, flashlights and more. If you live where it gets cold, it’s a good idea to have blankets and hand warmers available in the case of a winter power outage.
What Should I Stock Up on Before a Power Outage?
If you’re anticipating a power outage due to a storm, it’s a good idea to take inventory of your pantry to see what foods you have available in case you can’t use your appliances. Focus on stocking up on non-perishable goods that don’t require refrigeration and are edible without using an electric stove, microwave or oven.
What to Do During a Power Outage
The storm has finally hit, the lights are out and appliances have stopped running. Now what?
Should I Unplug Everything During a Power Outage?
Once the power is out, go around your home to turn off and unplug all unnecessary electrical equipment, including sensitive electronics. It’s also best to turn off or disconnect any appliances (like stoves), equipment or electronics you were using when the power went out. When the power comes back on, surges or spikes can damage equipment. Consider purchasing a battery backup to protect your electronic devices.
If you have enough time to plan or already own a backup generator, make sure to test it before use and follow the generator instructions on how to safely use it to power your home and appliances.
Do I Need to Turn off Gas When the Power Goes Out?
Natural gas can be left on and used during a power outage. Just ensure that you’ve examined the pipelines in case of any leaks or damage before using. During power outages, it’s possible for the carbon monoxide detector to go off. It’s important to treat this as if it were real and to evacuate your home until it’s safe to re-enter. Remember, carbon monoxide doesn’t have a smell or taste, so it’s important to take the situation seriously.
How Long Does It Take for Food to Spoil After the Power Goes Out?
It’s important to keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed during a power outage. Power outages can last for hours, if not days. Food is safe in a securely closed refrigerator for up to 4 hours. In a freezer it depends on how full it is — the fuller your freezer, the longer it can last.
A full freezer can last up to 48 hours, and a half-freezer can last up to 24 hours.
It’s important to keep non-perishable foods in the home during a power outage to reduce the amount of time the refrigerator and freezer is open.
What Not to Do During a Power Outage
We’ve provided plenty of advice on things you should do during an outage, but what are some of the things you shouldn’t do?
- Play on Your Phone
Going on your phone may seem like an appealing thing to do when you’re bored during a power outage, but it will quickly deplete your battery. Many phones have the ability to use the camera as a flashlight or at least have a bright screen to help you see in the dark if needed. It’s also a safety issue if your phone is dead and you have an emergency.
- Lighting Candles
It may be in all the movies and your first instinct during a power outage, but lighting candles is a fire hazard. The best alternative is to use flashlights.
- Unplug Everything
You may be confused since we just told you to unplug your appliances and electronics but it’s important to have something plugged in and turned on, like a nightstand lamp to indicate when the power does come back on.
What to Do After a Power Outage
After a storm, note any damage done to your home or property and go through your storm recovery checklist. If electrical power lines are down, don’t touch them. Report any downed lines to your utility company.
Is My Cold Food Safe When the Power Comes Back?
Throw out any unsafe food, particularly meat, poultry, fish, eggs and leftovers that have been exposed to temperatures higher than 40-degrees F for two hours or more.
Is My Home’s Equipment Working?
After a storm, it’s a good idea to go around your home to check all equipment is working properly. It’s possible for sump pumps to fail if affected by a storm so it’s important to check that right away to ensure the rest of your home is safe from flooding. If all appliances and electronics were unplugged, it’s safe to plug them back in after power has returned.
Consider meeting with a local agent to discuss how you can protect your home and property in case of a power outage.