Power Outages

Power outages can cause a number of safety concerns. They can disrupt communications, utilities, transportation, stores, gas stations and ATM's, and prevent your ability to use electrically powered medical devices. Knowing the following information can help you prepare before a power outage and during a power outage. 

Preparing for a Power Outage

  • Register life-sustaining and medical equipment with your utility company. 
  • Consider buying a generator. Follow installation instructions carefully. Keep your generator outside. Be sure to use a carbon monoxide detector indoors. 
  • Have a safe alternative heat source and supply of fuel. Never burn charcoal or use a generator indoors. 
  • If you own an electric garage door opener, know how to open the door without power. 
  • Have an emergency kit ready to go. 

During a Power Outage

  • Turn off lights and electrical appliances except for the refrigerator and freezer. 
  • Even if it is dark, turn light switches and buttons on lamps or appliances to the "off" position. Leave one light on to know when power is restored. Wait 15 minutes to turn on other appliances after power is restored. 
  • Unplug computers and other sensitive equipment to protect them from possible power surges when the power is restored.
  • Conserve water, especially if you use well water. 
  • Never use gas ovens, gas ranges, barbecues or portable or propane heaters for indoor heating.
  • Using a kerosene heater, gas lantern or stove inside the house can be dangerous. Maintain proper ventilation at all times to avoid a build up of toxic fumes, and be sure to have a carbon monoxide detector. 
  • Stay away from downed power lines and sagging trees with broken limbs. 
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  1. Food Safety
  2. Generator Use
  3. Drinking Water & Wells

When food is not kept cold or is not fully cooked the food can make you sick. More than 250 diseases can be caused by bacteria bacteria found in contaminated raw or uncooked food, such as meat, milk, eggs, fish, or shellfish. Keeping foods cold and cooking them properly can be challenging when dealing with a power outage. 

Keep Food Safe

  • Use and store food carefully to prevent foodborne illness when power outages make refrigeration unavailable. 
  • Use foods first that can spoil most rapidly. 
  • Keep doors to refrigerators and freezers closed. 
  • Use an ice chest packed with ice or snow to keep food cold. Buy dry ice to save frozen food. Do not handle dry ice with your bare hands. Use blocks or bags of ice to save refrigerator foods. 
  • Use caution if storing food outside during winter to keep it cold. The outside temperature varies, especially in the sun. Frozen food may thaw and refrigerator food may become warm enough to grow bacteria. Food stored outside must be secured from contamination by animals. 
  • If in doubt, throw it out. Throw out meat, seafood, dairy products and cooked food that does not feel cold. 
  • Never taste suspect food. Even if food looks and smells fine, illness-causing bacteria may be present. 

What to Keep and What to Throw Out

If food is cold to the touch, and you know it has not been above 45 degrees Fahrenheit for more than an hour or two, it is probably safe to keep, use, or refreeze. Generally in cold weather, jams, jellies, butter/margarine, and condiments like ketchup, mustard, and relish can be kept if stored in cool areas. 

Throw away all meat, seafood, dairy products, or cooked foods that don't feel cold to the touch. Even under proper refrigeration, many raw foods should be kept only three or four days before they are cooked, frozen, or thrown away.