Sometimes a power outage is a temporary inconvenience; in other situations, it’s a major problem that accompanies natural disasters. Regardless of their cause or duration, power outages can be prepared for in advance using the following tips:
Stock your WaterKeep two weeks’ worth of purified drinking water on hand, preferably bottled water. During prolonged power outages, water purification systems may not be functioning correctly and tap water could therefore be contaminated. Potentially unsafe water should be treated with water purification tablets or thoroughly boiled before use. If you don't have power, boiling may be difficult, so it's best to have some water on hand.
Food StorageKeep a week’s worth of non-perishable food on hand. Due to the risk of microbial contamination during prolonged power outages, refrigerated perishables should be discarded after four hours. Perishables in a freezer – or refrigerated perishables immediately transferred to an ice-packed cooler - can be kept for up to 24 hours.
Emergency KitMake sure to have the following essentials:
- A first aid kit containing bandages, gauze, and disinfectant
- Flashlights with extra batteries
- Sanitation items and prescribed medications
- A battery-operated or self-powered radio
- A fully charged cell phone
- Extra pocket money
- A manual can opener
Protect your ValuablesProtect your electrical appliances by installing surge protectors. In the event of a power outage, disconnect all electrical appliances. If you like, leave one light on to tell you when power’s been restored.
Emergency DetectorsInstall carbon monoxide detectors near bedrooms. Carbon monoxide detectors can warn you of electrical fires, which are almost impossible for homeowners to extinguish. Since most electrical fires occur within a building’s walls, the fire may appear smaller than it actually is. Know the location of the closest exit and call 911 as soon as you and your loved ones are safe. Be sure that your detectors have back up batteries if they are the type you plug into an outlet.
Back up PlanConsider purchasing a backup generator. This generator must have a transfer switch installed by a licensed electrician before it can be used to power your home. Never plug a portable generator directly into a household outlet. Operate gas-powered generators outside, away from doors and windows. If you aren't sure why your power went out, it's best to contact a specialist to come check on your home electrical wiring. If your neighbors power is still one, you most likely have a wiring problem.
Well-prepared households have a written safety preparedness plan that covers what to do in the event of a power outage and where critical supplies are kept. Since natural disasters often accompany power outages, the two can be integrated to prepare your family for a worst-case scenario. If necessary, make sure this plan accommodates the needs of young children, pets, and the elderly. This way, your family can be kept safe and comfortable even when the power is out.
Kandace Heller is a freelance writer in Orlando, Florida. She studied Communications and loves to read and write. Kandace loves doing research and sharing what she learns to help others.