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EDEN's Ready Tips > Posts > What's Your Plan if the Power is Out?

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I don’t know about you, but I depend on electricity for nearly everything I do. It powers all sorts of appliances around the house, from the electric fan that blows cooled or heated air throughout the house to the oven used to roast vegetables. Electricity is the power I use to operate the television, charge batteries for laptops and cell phones, and to turn on the lights. Electricity is also the power supply for any special medical equipment. Away from home, we also depend on electricity. Traffic lights, fuel pumps, ATM machines, restaurant kitchens, and store registers operate on electricity.

 Power outages may occur following storms, but they may also be planned (utility work) or a result of an accident. They may be short- or long-term. What will you do if the power is out? Here are a few tips from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Before

  • Build your emergency kit and make a family communications plan.
  • Keep your car tank at least half full.
  • Know where the manual release lever of your electric garage opener is located and how to operate it. Will you need help lifting it?
  • Keep a key to your house with you if you regularly use the garage as the primary means of entering your home.
  • Keep an extra propane tank if you have a gas grill. Never use the gas grill indoors.
  • Call your power company if you use a battery-operated wheelchair, life-support system, or other power-dependent medical equipment to learn what options are available to you.
  • Keep a battery-operated talking or Braille clock or oversized timepiece with extra batteries if you have visual disability.
  • Consider a small portable battery-operated television set if you are deaf or have a hearing loss. Emergency broadcasts may give information in American Sign Language (ASL) or open captioning.
  • Plan alternate ways to evacuate if you live in a multi-story apartment building or condominium. Elevators will not work if the power is out.
During

  • Use flashlights for emergency lighting. Do NOT use candles; they raise your risk of fire.
  • Follow energy conservation measures.
  • Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible. For extended power outages, consider using coolers to store food you will need during the day. Refill the cooler from the refrigerator or freezer at night when the air temperatures are cooler.
  • Fill plastic containers with water and place them in the refrigerator and freezer if there’s room. Leave about an inch of headroom in each one, because water expands as it freezes. Chilled or frozen water will help keep food cold during a temporary power outage.
  • Turn off or disconnect appliances, equipment, or electronics in use when the power went out. Power may return in momentary surges that can damage computers as well as motors in appliances like the air conditioner, refrigerator, washer or furnace.
  • Do not run a generator inside a home or garage. Be sure the generator is adequately ventilated away from the house. Carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning can result if the generator is not adequately ventilated. CO is colorless and odorless. It may be hard to gauge your level of exposure. Symptoms typically begin with headaches at about a 10 percent level of CO in your bloodstream. Levels of 50 percent to 70 percent may result in seizure, coma, and death. If you know you have been exposed to CO, have a headache or feel sick, turn off the source, warn others, and consider going to the hospital.
  • Take steps to remain cool or warm, depending on the outside temperatures. Consider going to another location to stay cool or warm.
  • Eliminate unnecessary travel, especially by car. Traffic signals will stop working during an outage.

After

  • Throw out unsafe food: any refrigerated or frozen food that has been exposed to temperatures 400 for two hours or more or that has an unusual odor, color or texture. When in doubt, throw it out!
  • Decide what you needed that you didn’t have during the blackout and plan for it for the next time the power is out.

We’re well-connected to the power grid most of the time. Plan to conserve energy to help avoid blackouts and be prepared for those times when there is a power outage.

 

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