What To Do During a Power Outage

A power outage is an unexpected event that can happen at any time and can last for several hours or even days. When the power goes out, it can be a stressful and challenging time for anyone, especially if you are not prepared. Knowing what to do in a power outage can help keep you and your loved ones safe and comfortable until the power is restored.

The first thing to do when the power goes out is to check if the outage is widespread or just limited to your home. If it’s only your home, check the circuit breakers or fuses to see if they have tripped. If the outage is widespread, contact your utility company to report the outage and find out how long it might take to restore power.

In this article, we will cover everything you need to know about what to do during a power outage, including safety tips, essential supplies, and what to do when the power is restored. By following these guidelines, you can stay safe and comfortable during an unexpected power outage.

What To Do in a Power Outage

Here are key steps you should take when the power goes out.

  • Monitor alerts: It is crucial to monitor all alerts regarding the outage. For instance, watch local news, listen to the radio, and explore social media to see the latest about the outage. Utility officials might also visit your home and explain the power outage. Listen to them and know what to expect.
  • Get in touch with your loved ones: You should also contact your loved ones and let them know your condition. It would be best to ask how they are faring in the power outage.
  • Keep your food cold: Start by eating perishable foods. Preserving food at lower temperatures is vital to prevent it from going bad. If possible, don’t open your refrigerator or freezer to keep the temperatures cool. When you keep your refrigerator closed, it can freeze food for up to 4 hours. A closed freezer can keep food fresh for up to 48 hours if not opened. While preserving food is key for survival in a power outage, you should throw it out if it goes bad. This is vital for your health.
  • Avoid power overloads and fire hazards: Consider unplugging all electronics and appliances. This plays a key role in preventing power surges and overloads. It would help if you also used flashlights instead of candles. If you suspect any damages, you should turn off all utilities. Some of the sensitive systems in power outages are the gas lines. Only a qualified professional should turn it on.
  • Prevent carbon monoxide poisoning: There is a risk of carbon monoxide poisoning during power outages. Therefore, you shouldn’t use a gas stove to heat your home. You are also advised against using outdoor stoves indoors. Keep generators inside well-ventilated rooms to prevent carbon monoxide buildup.
  • Decide on leaving or staying: The last piece of advice on what to do when your power goes out is deciding whether to leave or stay. If your home is too cold or too warm, you should leave. You should also leave if you have medical equipment that needs power. If the conditions inside your house are habitable, then you can stay. However, you should be careful not to get caught up in system breakdowns.

How to Prepare for a Power Outage

Here is how to prepare for a long-term power outage:

  • Start by assembling an emergency preparedness kit.
  • Talk to your family and ensure they know how to get back in touch should they be separated during the power outage.
  • Create a contact list for your support network. This is a list of people you can call for help if things get out of hand. Have the list with you always.
  • Stay updated and connected. Do so by signing up for alert systems and notifications. If your communication devices rely on electricity to function, replace them with devices that don’t need electricity. This includes items like a non-cordless home phone and battery radio.
  • Stock food and water. Food supply is essential in a power outage. Store non-perishable food and water that can last for at least two weeks.
  • Plan for your medical and electrical needs — assess all your electrical and medical needs and know how to manage them. Knowing how to prepare for power outages in winter involves taking stock of your needs. This is key for survival.

Video guide by FEMA. 

Safety Tips for After a Power Outage

There are several safety tips for after a power outage. Some of them include the following:

  • Ensure you stay away from power lines. Stay 365 feet away from fallen power lines or anything within their environs.
  • Prevent electrical shocks in flooded areas. Avoid using submerged electrical devices because they might cause electrocution. If you doubt your electrical system, have an electrician check it out.
  • Avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. You should keep camp stoves, generators, and charcoal grills outside. This prevents the risk of carbon monoxide exposure and its effects.

What to Do After a Power Outage?

Here are some steps to take to ensure that your home and appliances are safe and functioning properly after an outage:

Check Your Appliances

When the power returns, it’s a good idea to unplug your appliances to avoid any potential damage from an electrical surge. Wait a few minutes before plugging them back in, and consider investing in power strips with surge protectors to prevent future problems.

Check Your Fuse and Circuit Breaker

If the power outage was caused by a tripped circuit breaker, try resetting it by turning it off and then back on. Avoid using tools or touching the electric meter, and call a professional if the power isn’t restored. Don’t overload your circuits to prevent blown fuses, and inspect your wiring and outlets regularly.

Check Your Refrigerator and Freezer

To prevent food spoilage, make sure your fridge and freezer doors are closed, and consider using coolers and ice packs for temporary storage. Use a food thermometer to ensure that your food is safe to eat, and create an emergency kit stocked with nonperishable items.

Check Your Basement

Power outages can be caused by severe weather, so check your basement for signs of flooding. If you notice any water, use a gasoline-powered pump to remove it and inspect your exterior walls for cracks to prevent future damage.

Check Your Garage Door

If your basement floods and you need to evacuate your home, you may need to manually open your garage door. Make sure it’s in the down position before pulling the emergency release cord, and call a professional for any necessary water damage repairs.

Check Your Pipes

In cold weather, power outages can cause water in your pipes to freeze and burst. Turn on all your faucets and allow the water to drip slightly to prevent this, and consider adding insulation to your attic and basement for long-term protection.

Check Your Security System

To safeguard your property, it is essential to check your security system after a power outage. Begin by checking that all cameras, sensors, and alarms are functioning correctly. Ensure that your backup power supply, such as a generator or UPS, is working as it should. Trigger the alarms, test the sensor triggers, and review the camera footage to ensure everything is in order.

Generator Safety Tips

It is vital to keep the generator safe during a power outage. Here is how:

  • First, you should keep the generator dry and protected from flooding or rain. Touching a wet generator can cause shock or electrocution.
  • It is vital to connect your generator to appliances using heavy-duty cords.
  • Before refueling the generator, let it cool.
  • You should also fully adhere to the conductor’s instructions.

What Happens To The Security System When the Power Goes Out?

When the power goes out, most security systems switch to backup battery power. If the security system relies on WiFi, it switches to cellular backup during a power outage. This is meant to maintain security even when the power goes out.

Power Outage Safety Resources

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