Watt, Why & How e-Newsletter

Be Prepared: Making It Through a Power Outage


While your electric service is generally very reliable, extreme weather conditions and other factors can lead to a temporary loss of power. To make sure your family is safe and comfortable during an extended outage, it is best to be prepared. The following checklists will help you be ready before the power goes out, as well as guide you on what to do during and after an outage.


Before an outage

  • Keep a battery-operated radio handy for news and weather alerts.
  • Store flashlights around the house in readily accessible areas, and maintain an adequate supply of candles.
  • Keep a supply of fresh batteries for radios, flashlights and other electronic devices.
  • Maintain supplies of healthy and filling snacks that do not require refrigeration, such as dried fruits, nuts and protein bars.
  • If you have an alternative heating source, such as a wood stove or fireplace, keep an adequate supply of fuel on hand.
  • Cordless phones will not work when the power is out. Keep a corded phone or fully charged mobile device available.
  • Have heavy blankets and quilts available in case an outage occurs during cold weather.
  • If a family member requires access to powered medical equipment, coordinate an emergency plan with your doctor.
  • Maintain backup generators according to manufacturers' recommendations and store an adequate supply of fuel in a safe place.

During an outage

  • Monitor local radio stations and mobile devices for reports about power restoration activities.
  • Disconnect or switch off appliances and electronic equipment that are running when the power went out. Leave a single light on so you know when power is restored.
  • Avoid opening refrigerators and freezers to save cold air and to preserve food longer.
  • Keep candles away from furniture, window treatments and other flammable materials.
  • In cold weather, wear extra layers of clothing to stay warm, and put extra blankets on beds.
  • In warm weather, open windows to keep the house cool and drink plenty of fluids.
  • Operate backup generators safely by following manufacturer's instructions. Do not attempt to connect your generator to the electrical system; it can back feed to outside utility lines and injure or kill utility service personnel. An automatic transfer switch—installed by a qualified electrician—will help to ensure safe operation.
  • Make it fun. Without access to television or computers, a prolonged outage can be difficult in this media-driven age. Keep the entire family entertained by playing games, telling stories or reading aloud by candlelight.

After an outage

  • After power is restored, wait 10 or 15 minutes, then gradually turn on appliances and equipment; this will protect your devices and avoid overloading the power system.
  • Do not enter a flooded home unless you are sure the power is shut off. Avoid using any flooded appliances or equipment unless they have been inspected by a qualified technician.
  • Food safety. A refrigerator keeps food at a safe temperature for up to four hours during a power outage if it is unopened. A freezer maintains its temperature for 24 to 48 hours depending on how full it is. Discard any perishable items that may not be safe to consume.

With some careful preparation and a little attention to detail, you and your family will stay warm, safe and comfortable until power is restored. 

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