Take 10 Key Steps When the Power Goes Out
No matter where you live in the US, you and your family are likely to experience an average of one or two power outages a year. In most instances, outages are brief and power is restored in a few hours or less. Since it’s impossible to predict how long any outage might last, follow these steps when your power goes out:
- NEVER approach a downed power line. Immediately call 911 to report the emergency.
- Confirm routine outages by checking with neighbors. If they have power and you don’t, check your circuit/fuse box and reset any tripped breakers or replace blown fuses. To confirm this corrected the issue, turn on lights or other electric devices.
- Report the outage to your electric utility company. Use the phone number on the bill or report it online at the company website using your cell phone or other battery powered device.
- Turn off or unplug powered devices. To reduce immediate demand when the power is restored, turn off as many powered components as you can, including lights, ceiling fans, air conditioners, furnaces and heaters. Unplug electronic devices such as appliances, TVs and computers to prevent a voltage surge from damaging them when power is restored.
- Keep refrigerators and freezers closed. To slow the loss of cool air, add an extra layer of insulation by wrapping blankets around the appliances. Move bottled water and canned drinks to a cool location to minimize how often the refrigerator is opened. Refrigerated foods are generally safe to consume if they register 40 degrees or less on a food thermometer, and frozen foods are usually safe if ice crystals are still present.
- Retrieve your emergency kit. If you’ve planned ahead, you have a basic emergency kit stocked with flashlights, a battery-operated radio, candles, matches, extra batteries, first aid supplies, extra water and food.
- Disconnect power to basement sump pumps and all electric devices if there’s a risk of flooding. Never wade in a flooded basement unless you’re certain the power is disconnected. If primary power is restored, submerged components put you at risk of electrocution.
- Relocate to the most comfortable room in the house. In the summer, choose the coolest room with the best ventilation. In the winter, opt for the warmest one with the fewest windows or one with a fireplace or heat stove.
- Check on neighbors, particularly the elderly, ill or disabled who are at greater risk during any outage.
- Monitor local news or your power provider’s website to learn more about the situation such as how extensive the outage is and when power is likely to be restored, then adjust your plans accordingly.