Power outages routinely occur and require planning and safety precautions until power is restored. Short-term power outages can be a minor inconvenience. A long-term power outage can cause a major disruption to daily life. Interruptions in electric service vary by frequency and duration across the many electric distribution systems that serve the country. When a storm strikes or an accident knocks out electric power lines or other infrastructure, it may take much longer for power to be restored. During a power outage report the power outage to the power company if it seems localized; otherwise, wait for updates to see who is affected.
It’s important to know how to handle a power outage to keep everyone safe and comfortable until power can be restored.
Invest in a generator
If you live in an area that is affected by frequent power outages, a power generator may prove a worthwhile investment. Generators come in two basic types. A portable generator can be rolled into place and uses gasoline as fuel. Plug in a set number of household items, depending on the amount of power the appliance can accommodate. A whole-house generator can be hard-wired to a home’s electrical system and automatically engage should a power outage occur.
Prepare in advance
• In anticipation of a power outage, stock up on battery-powered devices like flashlights, lanterns
• Charge mobile phones and other devices so they’re at 100 percent power.
• Purchase books, board games and puzzles to have activities to pass the time until power resumes.
In general, if the refrigerator or freezer loses power for two hours or less then the food inside will be safe to consume. However, it still helps to keep the keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible. When the power is out for longer than two hours, different rules apply. If the freezer is half full, food will be safe to consume for 24 hours. If the freezer is full, then the food will be safe for 48 hours.
Items in the refrigerator should be stored in a cooler surrounded by ice. Milk, additional dairy products, meat, fish, gravy, and anything that can spoil should all be packed in a cooler of ice if the
power is out for more than two hours. When cooking, use a food thermometer to check the temperature of food before cooking and eating. Any food with a temperature greater than 40 F should be discarded.
The water supply might also be affected during a power outage. It’s always a good idea to keep bottled water on hand in the event of a power outage to avoid consuming any contaminated water, which might be a byproduct of water purification systems not fully functioning because of the power outage.
Avoid using potentially contaminated water when doing the dishes, brushing your teeth or preparing food. For parents of young children, it helps to have formula on hand that does not require the addition of water. If tap water must be used, bring the water to a rolling boil for at least one minute. That’s enough time to kill most organisms, including harmful bacteria and parasites.
People who take refrigerated medications should only ingest drugs that have been at room temperature until a new supply is available, advises the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
An extended power outage could cause chronic hypothermia, which occurs from ongoing exposure to cold indoor temperatures (below 60º F). The elderly are especially susceptible to chronic hypothermia during a power outage, but there are steps everyone can take to stay safe.
Family members with elderly relatives who live alone should make every effort to contact those relatives and ensure everything is alright. Make sure the elderly or the ill have adequate food, clothing, shelter, and sources of heat. If necessary, insist elderly or ill friends and family stay over until the power comes back on.
In poorly heated rooms, be sure there are enough blankets for everyone. And wear layers of clothing as well as a hat, even when indoors. Older adults and children are especially vulnerable to extreme temperatures- pool resources by having everyone gather in one room of the house. It also helps to stay as active as possible, as physical activity raises body temperature.