Following the PUCO’s press release about electric outage preparation, we were inspired to provide you with more information about emergency electricity outage preparation. During extreme seasons—summer and winter—it is important to have a plan to beat the heat or cold, respectively.
How can you be prepared year-round for power outages?
First and foremost, it is important to be prepared for power outages before they happen. Putting together an emergency power outage kit and placing it somewhere safe is a great place to start. Here are some things you might want to include:
- Portable radio
- Manual can opener and bottle opener
- Non-perishable canned foods
- Water stored in clean, non-breakable containers
- Hygiene products
- Cell phone
- Camp stove or other source of heat
- Warm blankets
- Clothing appropriate for the seasons
- For example, you’ll want to have clothes that are appropriate for both hot summer temperatures and cold winter temperatures.
Aside from knowing where your emergency kit is stored, it is vital to learn how to get there in the dark, as well as knowing the location of your circuit breaker and main water shut-off valve. During a power outage, you may run into a situation that requires you to turn off your home’s circuit breaker or to cut off your home’s water.
For all of the above, practice doing these steps in complete darkness, with a flashlight as your only source of light.
What should you do during an outage?
The first thing you will want to do during an outage is report the outage immediately to your electric company. You may not get through to a real person on the phone (as many others are likely calling to report the outage), but there will likely be automated instructions for leaving a message.
Next, unplug all of your major appliances and electronics (such as desktop computers and TVs) to protect them from a possible power surge when your power is restored. If you have invested in surge protectors your devices should be safe, but it doesn’t hurt to unplug your surge protector from the wall just in case.
Remember to never run a generator inside of your home or garage. This will put you at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Check with local authorities to make sure that water is safe to consume. You may need to boil or filter your water, as water treatment facilities may be inoperable.
If any of your refrigerated food becomes hotter than 40 degrees Fahrenheit for more than 2 hours, throw it out. It may be unsafe to eat.
Tips for summer outages
Staying cool is vital in warm weather, and this is made especially difficult if your power is out. Normally, air conditioning or a fan can help to reduce your home’s heat, but during an outage this can turn into a serious problem.
Remember to drink plenty of fluids to avoid heat exhaustion; try drinking water every 15–20 minutes, up to a minimum of one gallon per day. Here are some more tips for staying cool that do not require electricity:
- Wear light colored clothes.
- Work during cool hours of the day only.
- Take regular cold showers or baths to stay cool.
If you believe your power will be out for a long time, consider going to a movie theater, mall, or other public building where you can stay for a significant amount of time and take advantage of air conditioning. If you must remain at home, go to the lowest part of your home (the basement, ideally) as it will be coolest there.
For more information about preparing for power outages, visit the resources below.