Power Outage Preparation
Be prepared for a power outage by keeping necessary items centrally located in your home. Take the time to ensure that everyone in your family is aware of the "kit." Periodically check your kit to see that batteries operate properly. The following is a list of items that are suggested to keep on hand:
Flashlights for each family member
Battery-operated radio and clock
Containers of bottled water
Canned, freeze-dried or dehydrated food, powdered milk, baby supplies for infants
Non-electric can opener
List of important phone numbers
Know how to manually operate an electric garage door
Do not refreeze melted ice cream, yogurt, or seafood, food
that has thawed completely and been held above 40 degrees for
two hours or longer, anything with custard fillings, or any
foods with a questionable texture or odor. A general rule on
food spoilage is: If in doubt, throw it out.
If you have any questions about the safety of defrosted foods, you can call the U.S. Department of Agriculture's toll-free "Meat and Poultry Line" at 1-800-535-4555 weekdays, 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Electric garage doors may be opened by disengaging the
drive mechanism. Methods used to do this vary from manufacturer
to manufacturer. Please consult your operating instructions
supplied by the manufacturer. They will tell you how to disengage
the drive mechanism so that you can open the door manually.
If you do not have a manufacturer's instruction book, call the
company that installed the doors.
Keep your pipes from freezing by shutting off the valve
that allows water to come into your home. Then, open any drain
valves and all faucets and let them run until the pipes are
empty (it's helpful to identify these valves in advance). Next,
flush all toilets and pour denatured alcohol into toilets and
sinks to prevent water in the traps from freezing. Do NOT use automotive antifreeze in case there's trouble with your
water system; you don't want the antifreeze to contaminate your
drinking water. You may, however, use nontoxic antifreeze that's
made for winterizing motor homes.
Turn off the furnace emergency switch. Then drain your furnace boiler by opening the valve at the bottom (this looks like a garden faucet). Also, open all radiator vents. Be sure the boiler is filled with water again before it is restarted.
The tank of your electric water heater will keep water warm for the first few days after an outage. However, it can freeze after prolonged cold and should be drained after three days of below freezing temperatures.
Find out about local shelters ahead of time if you have
a medical problem. If you are ill or frail, consider staying
with relatives if the outage will be lengthy.
If a member of your household relies on electric equipment for a life-threatening medical condition, we suggest a back-up plan to provide the patient with alternative facility care in case of a prolonged outage.
If you have medication that requires refrigeration, check with your pharmacist for guidance on proper storage during an extended outage. You may want to keep a small cooler handy.
Smaller pets such as fish, birds and reptiles may be endangered.
Since many of these animals are fragile, we recommend that you
do not wait until an outage strikes to devise alternate arrangements.
Check with a reputable pet store to determine what steps you can take before and during an outage to ensure your pet's survival.
Before a storm you might set your refrigerator and freezer
to their coldest settings (remember to reset them afterwards).
It's a good idea to place plastic containers filled with water
in your freezer because ice helps maintain the cold during outages.
During a major outage try not to open the refrigerator or freezer doors any more than necessary. If the unit's door is unopened, food stays in a full refrigerator for up to 24 hours and in a freezer up to approximately 48 hours if it's well packed; approximately 24 hours if it's half packed. You might load up a cooler with ice and store food you'll need during the first day or so after an outage.
When an outage occurs, turn off most appliances to prevent an overload on the electrical system when he power is restored. You may choose to leave your refrigerator and freezer on.
There are approximately 5,000 house fires every year in
the United States...one out of eight of these fires is started
by faulty wiring or by household appliances.
If you don't have a family fire drill plan, get one! If you need help putting a fire drill plan together, call your local Fire Department. They can help you find the quickest and best escape routes from your home. Having a fire drill plan in place, and practicing it, can save your family's lives.
Other things you can do to be prepared are:
Put a fire extinguisher on every floor, and make sure everyone in your home knows how to use it.
Install smoke detectors on every floor, making sure there is one outside your bedroom doors.
Test your smoke detectors every month! Smoke detectors don't work if the batteries are dead!
There are electric smoke detectors available now that are connected to your household electrical wiring. Since they are operated by electricity, there's no need to change batteries. It's still a good idea, though, to check them each month to make sure they're working properly.