Emergency Preparedness: During a Power Outage

When the lights go out make sure you and your family won't be left in the dark.

Are you in the dark on what to do during a power outage? You won’t after you read our tips on what your emergency preparedness plan needs to include when the lights go out in your home. Learn what to do – and what not to do – to keep yourself and your family safe during a power outage.

1. Light it Up

If the lights go out, the first thing you’re going to want to do is shed some light. Your emergency kit should include flashlights or battery-powered lanterns to use. These will be your safest bet. Do NOT use candles to light the home – they are an unnecessary fire risk.

2. Keep it Cool

Minimize opening your refrigerator and freezer while there’s no power. Perishable food will keep in a closed refrigerator for several hours while your freezer will keep food safe for about 48 hours. The less you open either the colder it will remain and the longer food will keep.

3. Keep Clean Water

Without power, some water purification systems may not function properly. Use only bottled, boiled or treated water for drinking, cooking and hygiene. Do not wash dishes, food or brush your teeth with contaminated water. If you don’t have bottled water from a trusted source, you can boil water if practical. Keep the water at a rolling boil for at least a minute to kill most organisms.

4. Beat the Heat

If the power goes out during hot weather, keep yourself cool. If you don’t head to a shelter or an air-conditioned public place that still has power (mall, movie theaters, etc.) and choose to remain home, head to the lowest level of your home. Keep yourself hydrated and wear loose fitting, light clothing. If you can, take cold showers or baths to stay cool. (Learn the warning signs of heat stroke.)

5. Fight the Chill

If, on the other hand, you lose power during a winter blizzard, you’re going to want to stay warm. Add on extra layers of clothing while you’re indoors to keep warm. If you do not have a heat source you can operate without power like a wood burning stove or kerosene heater, and the power is expected to be out for an extended period of time, you will need to leave and head to another location. Hypothermia can set in at just 60-degrees with susceptible individuals like the elderly and infants. (Learn the warning signs for hyperthermia.)

6. Power Up Safely

Turn off and unplug appliances so they won’t get damaged by a power surge if you don’t have surge protectors in place. If you have a backup generator, be sure you operate it safely. Never operate a generator in the home.

Your emergency preparedness plan needs to include supplies and a plan of action for extended power outages – especially if you live in an area where extreme temperatures are frequent. Having a plan and knowing it well ahead of time can make all the difference in safely surviving an emergency. Make sure you and your family is ready for anything during National Preparedness Month.

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