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Power outages

Serious storms often result in power outages. Here are some tips to prepare if severe weather is in the forecast:

  • Put together an emergency kit with nonperishable food, water and first aid supplies.
  • Make sure you have working flashlights and extra batteries.
  • Charge cell phones and other electronic devices.
  • Stock up on ice and coolers, which can be used to help keep refrigerated foods cold.
  • If your water supply could be affected by a power outage, fill your bathtub in advance. You can use this to fill pails of water that can be used to flush toilets.
  • Make sure you have extra cash on hand. ATMs may not work during an extended power outage.

If the power goes out:

  • Contact your local utility company, especially if power lines are down in your area. Do not go near downed power lines.
  • Turn off and unplug appliances and other electronics to avoid damage from a power surge when the power comes back on.
  • Leave on one light so you'll know when the power is back on.
  • Do not use a generator unless it has been properly installed and is properly ventilated, to avoid the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Avoid unnecessary travel. Traffic lights could be out and power lines could be down, making driving dangerous.

Here are some tips to determine if refrigerated food is safe to eat during a power outage:

  • If the power is out for two hours or less, refrigerated foods should be safe.
  • If the power is out longer, do not eat any perishable food that has been exposed to temperatures above 40 degrees for two hours or more.
  • A full freezer generally will keep food frozen for four hours before it will begin to thaw.
  • Do not re-freeze foods that have thawed.
  • Throw away food if it has an unusual odor, color or texture.

If the power is expected to be out for an extended period of time, consider staying with family members or getting a hotel room. Many communities also offer emergency shelters.