How to Prepare for Major Power Outages

Three Methods:Emergency SuppliesProtecting Your FoodProtecting Electronics and Pipes

Disruptions to electrical service happens at least once somewhere every day. In most cases, these outages last anywhere from only a few minutes to several hours. However, there are times when these outages can last days or even weeks. This can occur from severe weather or failures in a power company's equipment. It is important to know how to prepare for major power outages, so read this article for tips on preparing, so you'll be ready should a major power outage occur in your area.

Method 1
Emergency Supplies

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    Have at least one backup light on each level of the house. Some good places to store these lights would be your living room, kitchen and at least one of the bedrooms.
    • These emergency light sources can include battery operated flashlights, hand cranked or rechargeable flashlights, or candles. Always be sure that you keep extra fresh batteries and/or matches on hand.
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    Buy an emergency radio and a battery or windup alarm clock for your home. The radio should have an alternate power supply such as hand-cranking or batteries.This way, you will be able to hear important weather updates, as well as know what the current time is.
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    Have a land line phone to notify the power company of an outage, and make emergency phone calls. Cordless phones only operate when electricity is present and extended outages can drain cellphones.
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    Stock a first aid kit with over-the-counter medications, bandages and antiseptics. Include a few days of prescription medications, if needed.
    • You should also include specialty items for infants or seniors. These items should include formula, extra diapers and extra battery packs for breathing apparatuses.
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    Have extra blankets and sleeping bags on hand. You might also consider a portable heater or firewood if you have a fireplace or wood stove. This is needed for a winter blackout, as once the power goes out, the heat won't work, so it is important that you try your best to stay warm.
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    Assemble a basic tool kit for any emergency fixes in the house that need to be done. This should include tools such as a hammer, screwdriver and duct tape. During the winter, it should also include, in addition to the tools, snow removal equipment and rock salt or sand for traction.

Method 2
Protecting Your Food

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    Stock at least 3 days' worth of canned and nonperishable foods. You should have the same in bottled water. A person needs roughly 1 gallon (3.79 liters) per day. Have a manual can opener on hand as well.
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    Use frozen cold packs or buy ice to keep perishable items cold. Find out where you can buy block and dry ice to replenish your supply.
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    Contact friends or family in another area to set up a freezer sharing plan before an outage.
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    Keep your freezer and refrigerator doors closed during an outage. A full freezer can keep food frozen for 36-48 hours. A half-full freezer can keep things frozen for about 24 hours.

Method 3
Protecting Electronics and Pipes

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    Purchase electronics with a backup power system, if available, and use surge protectors for sensitive equipment such as computers and TVs.
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    Turn off or unplug all appliances and sensitive equipment if an outage occurs. This will reduce the chances of damage from surges or triggering a secondary outage.
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    Insulate your pipes with newspaper or plastic. Allow faucets to drip slightly to prevent the pipes from freezing.
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    Leave a couple of lights switched so that you know when the power has been restored. Do this in rooms you are in often, such as the kitchen.

Tips

  • Consider having a fire extinguisher on hand, especially if you plan to use candles or portable heaters, in case a fire starts in your house from one of them.
  • If you decide to cook some of your frozen food before it spoils, cook it outside on a grill to prevent carbon monoxide fumes from building up.

Warnings

  • Do not walk into flooded basements, because the water can be energized with electricity from outlets and appliances.
  • Try not to use devices that emit carbon monoxide. Provide adequate ventilation if you must turn to alternate heating devices.
  • Do not attempt to touch or move downed power lines. Every downed line should be considered "live" and dangerous.

Article Info

Categories: Disaster Preparedness