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What To Do in a Power Outage: A Do’s and Don’ts Guide

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Many events can be the cause of a power outage. Some events include hurricanes, windstorms, wildfires, and more. Even beyond extreme weather, any accident involving an electrical pole can leave the neighborhood and even a whole town without power. In 2020 alone, utility customers saw over 1.33 billion hours of a power outages. It is critical to know what to do in a power outage, and what not to do.

In the event of a power outage, what should, and should you not do? You want education to lead the way. You never want to guess about the right course of action when you sit in your home with no lights on and extreme weather happening outside. Taking steps to understand what to do in a power outage, and what you should not be doing, can help put you in a better place to ride out the storm before the lights are back on.

Good Things to Do During a Power Outage

What are some things you should be doing when there is a power outage? What to do in a power outage you ask? During a power outage, you need to practice safety and also conserve heat, as well as cool air, where necessary. Here are some of the things to practice routinely to keep yourself safe.

  • Be sure you are keeping freezers and refrigerators closed. You likely have food that is perishable within them. Keeping them tight will help to keep the food and beverages good for as long as possible. As long as they are tight, the cold air will remain within.
  • If you have a generator, only use it outside. Never run a generator inside of the house. Also, in the event, it backfires, keeps it away from windows.
  • Unplug everything from outlets in your home. This includes appliances as well as any electronics. You want to avoid an electrical surge when the power comes back on and if the plugs are out, the risk is minimal.
  • Avoid using your gas stove to heat your home.
  • Use your mobile phone to check with local officials to see if heating and cooling areas are open near you for shelter.
  • Call your insurance company if damage occurs. Your home insurance provider should be aware of any damage, as soon as it strikes.

A power outage is not a time to panic. Instead, a power outage is a time to protect yourself as well as the rest of your family. Take care of your home, your pets, spouse, kids, and more. The more precautions you take, the easier it will be to get through the outage.

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Preparing for a Power Outage

It is one thing to know what to do when the power goes out, but it is a whole different story to prepare. You need to have a plan to know what to do in a power outage. You never want to be in the pitch black trying to find batteries, look for that flashlight you had a decade ago, etc.

Take an Inventory of Necessary Items

The first step in preparation for a power outage is to take inventory of necessary items. Batteries and flashlights are the first two things that come to mind. Any alternative power source should be something you have on hand and available for when you need it. Portable chargers for devices such as smartphones or power banks are also helpful.

When it comes to flashlights, you want more than one. A best practice is to have one flashlight for each member of the house, with enough batteries to get you through 24 hours.

Have Nonperishable Food Ready

You need to have enough water as well as non perishable food in the event you are out of power for more than a day. With the refrigerator and the freezer kept shut, you are relying on other types of food. A full freezer will allow temperatures to remain stable for up to 48-hours with a tight seal. Use nonperishable foods for consumption and be aware of food in the fridge that may go bad.

Be Ready for Medical Care

You may have medicine that requires refrigeration, or medical devices that need electricity. Work with your medical provider to have a power outage plan for these medical items. If you need storage for medicine, have a backup not requiring electricity. The same goes for medical devices if they are essential.

Install Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors

You need to know if you have carbon monoxide in the home or if there is a fire. Having these detectors in place with battery backup at every level of the home is essential. Generators, stoves you may have at a camp, charcoal grills, are all tempting for light as well as heat. Keep them away from the home.

Things to Do When the Power is Back On

What are some things you should do when the power finally comes back on? The immediate reaction is to flip on the television and be all smiles. You want to methodically return to normal though following an outage.

First, you can go back in and plug in all the appliances and such you took out of the walls. Be sure that all electrical outlets continue to function as you would expect.

The next thing that you should do is check the refrigerator and freezer. If the temperature inside was over 40 degrees for more than two hours, you want to throw all the food away. You also want to check for any food that has a weird odor, texture, or color composition.

Another answer to what to do in a power outage is to check on is your medication. When you have had the power gone for more than 24-hours odds are medication requiring refrigeration was not kept cold enough. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist to get replacement medication rather than taking it to go forward.

What Not To Do During a Power Outage

Now that you know what to do in a power outage, what are some of the things you should not do? Dealing with a power outage is bad enough. When you compound the problem by living dangerously, it can make matters much worse.

Assume The Outage is Known

The worst thing you can do during a power outage is to assume your electrical company is aware of the problem. If just one power line is down, it could be impacting your home. If you never make the call to the electrical company, it will lead to your power being out that much longer. You do not want to assume or delay calling in the outage. Let the company know as soon as possible.

Use Unsupervised Candles for Light

Candles are a common thing that many go to when the power is out. You never want to leave a candle ignited without supervision. They are extremely dangerous, can tip over, and cause a fire without anyone noticing until it’s too late.

Play Games on Your Phone

Let’s go straight to it: you’re going to need your cell phone in the event of an emergency. If you need to call 9-1-1, call the power company, or check in on a family member, your phone is your lifeline. The landline will not work in a power outage most likely. You do not want to waste battery time playing games on your smartphone. Save the phone until you need it and conserve the battery.

Avoid Walking Around Outside

If there is a power outage, chances are something went wrong outside. There may be a power line on the ground, trees down, or other issues you could run into. You do not want to walk around outside as it could be a dangerous environment. The safe place is for you to remain within your home and wait for the power to return.

Drive to the Gas Station Around the Corner

Many times folks will fear that gas will run out due to a power outage. You have folks leaving town, maybe fueling up a generator, etc. Drive a few miles up the road where there is power still, and you will likely find gas with no problem.

a close up of a flashlight on the ground during a power outage

Trust ONIT Home For All Your Needs

What to do in a power outage is as simple as being smart. You need to have an awareness of the surrounding elements. Take action, prepare your home the best you can, and do not put yourself or your family in any type of unnecessary danger.

Work with the team at ONIT Home to help prepare for the unthinkable. Our home services inclusive of smart technology, solar, insurance, concierge, water treatment, and roofing can help you be ready no matter what the elements throw your way. Whatever you need, we’re ONIT. 

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