What to do during a Power Outage

At one time or another everyone experiences a power outage. When it happens the first thing you’ll want to do is check with the neighbors. No, you don’t have to call them, you have to look to see if their lights are on; check the street lights, too. If your house is the only one without power, then you need to check your circuit breakers. Occasionally, when there is a power surge, circuit breakers will flip causing loss of power. If you flip all of the circuit breakers without any change, contact your electric company.

If you aren’t the only one out then you’re likely in the middle of a power outage. Many times the reason for a power outage is logical – the weather is a popular culprit – but if it isn’t logical call your electric company to report the power outage or to find why the neighborhood and beyond are in the dark.

In the event of a power outage, you’ll need to utilize your emergency plan.

Planning Ahead
Preparation is always the first step of any emergency plan. It’s essential to build an emergency kit and keep it stocked. By answering a few questions, you can determine what should be in your kit.

• What will you use for light? Flashlights with several battery back-ups or battery powered lanterns can meet this need. Candles should not be used as emergency lighting.
• How will you stay on top of the situation? A battery powered radio fits the bill. Also, a telephone that does not require electricity, such as a cell phone or phone that plugs directly into the wall without an electrical base.
• How will you handle emergency fires? During a power outage, fires are actually more of a risk, particularly if the problem is downed power lines. Keeping a working fire extinguisher can alleviate this concern. Check the fire extinguisher yearly to make sure that it works properly.
• What source do you have for water? If you have an electrical water pump, be sure to have plenty of water stored in containers for cooking and washing. Even if you don’t have an electric pump, water can become contaminated during emergencies and back up water sources are always wise.
• What source do you have for food? Store food that is not perishable and does not require cooking. For canned food, be sure to include a non-electrical can opener.
• How will you deal with minor medical emergencies? Keep a full first aid kit on hand.
• Should you purchase a back up generator? If you can afford one, a generator is an excellent investment during a electrical outage. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s directions carefully when using the generator.

If you have someone in your household on electrical life-support equipment, you should contact your electric company to plan on the procedure for emergencies.

During a Power Outage
When cooking, don’t use an open flame inside your house. If you are using a grill, be sure to cook in the open air. Some appliances, such as computers and televisions, need to be unplugged during a power outage. All major appliances should be unplugged so that the power doesn’t surge once it has returned. If your water heater is electrical, flip off the circuit breaker. Finally, leave your freezer and refrigerator closed as much as possible. Freezers can keep food for several days if they remain shut.

After a Power Outage
Leave a light switched on outside so that the electrical company can easily note that your power is back on. Wait a few minutes before turning major appliances back on because a surge could cause another power outage. Finally, be sure to restock any of your emergency supplies used during the power outage.

It happens to all of us and with a little emergency planning a power outage can be close to just another day.

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