Most of the time, you won’t know when the power is going to go out. Nor will you know when it’s going to come back. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, U.S. customers experienced over eight hours of power interruptions in 2020. That’s why it’s always best to be prepared with the proper tools, safety measures, and emergency plans. This way, you’re never left in the dark when the lights go out.
When it comes to a power outage, there are actions you should take before, during, and after the outage to ensure the safety of you, your family, and your neighbors. Let’s dive into the ways to prepare for an outage.
Before the Outage
Sometimes, meteorologists can predict when large storms will hit an area enough in advance to allow you to get to the store for supplies or make last-minute emergency plans. Or, your power company will warn you in advance of a planned power outage. However, this isn’t always the case. Storms may appear very suddenly or the power may go out for no apparent reason. That’s why it’s always best to prepare ahead of time when there is no emergency.
Always monitor the weather reports given by your local news TV and radio stations. Most likely, you already do this. If so, great! You’re on the right track! However, severe weather can happen very suddenly or at a time when you’re not keeping an eye on the forecast. For example, night tornados are twice as likely to be deadly while people are sleeping and visibility is low. The study led by researchers at Northern Illinois University found that 27.3% of tornadoes occur at night. That’s why it’s so important to ensure that you are signed up for local weather alerts and are capable of receiving emergency alerts from the National Weather Service.
Take Inventory of Appliances
Oftentimes, it isn’t until a power outage that you realize just how many appliances rely on having access to power. That’s why it’s beneficial to take stock of these appliances ahead of time. Which items can you live without for a brief time? Which items will you absolutely need? Determine how to supply power to the necessities. For example, keep a backup power source, such as a bank, that can keep your phone charged.
Discuss with Your Medical Provider
As part of your appliance inventory, take stock of the medical devices that run on electricity and prepare a contingency plan for an alternative source of power. Also consider any medical prescriptions that you are taking. If they need to be kept at a colder temperature, go to your medical provider for guidance on storage and other concerns.
Prepare Emergency Supplies
Have an emergency kit at hand whenever the power goes out. This kit should include water, nonperishable food, battery-power radio, extra batteries, first aid supplies, mask, tape, and much more. Ready.gov has an excellent list of emergency supplies. They also recommend maintaining the kit once it’s made and storing it in key locations, such as work and the car. Lastly, make sure you have plenty of light sources. From candles to flashlights to glow sticks, you can never have too many options when the house goes dark.
Have a Backup Plan
Don’t make the backup plan once the outage has started. Have it ready and in your back pocket for the times when staying at home doesn’t seem like the best option. If it’s safe enough to travel, plan with friends and family near and far that are willing to host you during the outage.
During the Outage
Now that the power is out, there are actions you can take to stay safe. You’re going to want to be prepared for the moment it comes back, whether it’s sooner or later.
Handle Appliances Properly
First rule: Don’t open the fridge or freezer. We know how easy it is to do when it’s a habit. However, you’ll want the items in there to stay as cold as possible for as long as possible. If you open the doors, you’re letting warm air in and potentially compromising the food or medical supplies stored inside. A refrigerator can keep food cold for about four hours. Secondly, prepare for power overloads. It’s possible for the power to return with a sudden, strong surge of electricity that can damage devices. To combat this, unplug appliances and other electronics. Don’t forget to plug them back in later.
Avoid Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Without the power, you may turn to generators, camp stoves or the grill. If you do so, always use them outdoors at least 20 feet away from the windows to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. Make sure you have carbon monoxide detectors located centrally around the house.
Check on Your Neighbors
If it’s safe to travel, take the time to check on your neighbors during an outage. Older adults and young children are particularly vulnerable to the heat or cold. During these situations, they may not be properly prepared to handle an outage.
Stay or Go
Make the decision to put your backup plan in action or not. If your home is getting too hot or too cold, or you have medical supplies that need to be refrigerated, then it might be a good idea to leave.
After the Outage
The outage is over. Phew! It may be exciting when the lights return and the AC or heat kicks back on, but there’s a few more actions you can take to prepare for the next outage.
It’s a classic phrase: When in doubt, throw it out. Check all the food in your refrigerator and freezer. You’re looking for anything with an odd color, odor, or texture. Another good rule is to pitch any food that has been exposed to temperatures above 40 degrees for two hours or longer. This is where a thermometer is helpful. Bottom line is to not risk it.
Restock as Necessary
Take a look at your emergency kit. Did you use any of your supplies? Be sure to replace them before you forget about it. This includes batteries, nonperishable food, and first aid supplies. Recharge any power banks you used up and keep them charged.
If you’re searching for your next home, work with the builders at Brunswick Crossing to ensure your house features all the style, space, and appliances that fit your needs. Explore our models and take a virtual tour to discover all the opportunities that await you.