Surviving a Power Outage – 7 Tips to Keep You Safe
Power outages highlight our dependence on electricity and the necessity to prepare for unexpectedly living without it. With the threat of unexpected and storm-related power outages always looming, enact these measures to ensure you and your family’s safety.
Guidelines to Follow Before and During a Power Outage
Sometimes power outages are expected by the arrival of severe weather events such as hurricanes or ice storms. Once you determine the cause of the outage, you can minimize damage and loss by following a few simple steps.
If you know a power outage is likely to occur, turn your refrigerator and freezer to their coldest settings. Lowering the temperature before you lose power will allow the refrigerator to keep acceptable temperatures for food longer. Eat perishable foods first, conserving canned or other non-perishable items for the possibility of a long-term outage.
Once an outage has occurred, if your home is without heat, the water in your plumbing can freeze and create expensive repair problems. To help combat this, allow a small stream of water to run from faucets. The American Red Cross advises this action and says, “Running water through the pipe – even at a trickle – helps prevent pipes from freezing.”
If you own a generator, operate it safely. Never run a generator inside a home or garage, as they produce potentially deadly carbon-monoxide fumes. Always keep running generators in an open and ventilated area. Also, do not directly connect the generator to your home’s wiring. Plug all necessary appliances directly into the generator. When a generator is connected to a home’s wiring, it can create a “back feed” into utility lines which can injure or kill anyone who is working to restore the power.
To maintain refrigerated and frozen foods, keep fridge and freezer openings to a minimum. By not opening the door, you can keep the temperature lower for a longer period of time. Make a conscious effort before you open the fridge/freezer to plan what you will take out and close the door quickly. To increase the effectiveness of your powerless fridge, you can fill plastic containers with cold water and place inside the appliance. Not only does this increase your emergency water supply, it also helps keep the air cool inside the fridge to slow the spoilage of your food. Although it may seem sensible to put food outside in the cold air, this is not recommended. The Oklahoma State Department of Health says, “It is not a good idea to put food from the refrigerator and freezer outside. The temperature outside can vary hour by hour, and frozen food can thaw if exposed to the sun’s rays, even if it is very cold.” Conversely, food stored outside can become frozen during low temperatures.
Unplug all appliances and leave only one light switched on. There is an added risk of power surges occurring that can destroy your appliances. Leave one light on in your home so you know when the power has returned.
In case of extreme temperatures, plan on visiting locations and businesses that are likely to have generators. For instance, power outages are common during ice storms. Plan on visiting shopping malls or community centers that have generators to keep warm.
Keep at least ½ of a tank of gas in your car at all times. Many gas stations rely on electricity to power their pumps. While it may seem inconvenient to make more frequent stops at the gas station, if you have a near-empty tank during a power outage, you may lack the fuel to travel in an emergency.
Follow these essential tips to help ensure the safety of you and your family from the unpredictability of power outages.