Whether a power outage in your home is caused by grid failure or severe weather, you can take the following steps to prepare and respond. Include power outages in your family disaster plan, identifying alternate means of transportation and routes to home, school or work.
Keep extra cash on hand since an extended power outage may prevent you from withdrawing money from automated teller machines or banks.
Keep a supply of non-perishable foods, medicine, baby supplies and pet food, as appropriate, on hand. You should have a water supply of one gallon of water per person per day for a minimum of three days on hand as well. These items should be replaced every six months.
Avoid opening the refrigerator or freezer. Food should be safe as long as the outage does not last for more than four to six hours.
Have one or more coolers for cold food storage in case the power is prolonged. Perishable foods should not be stored for more than two hours above forty degrees Fahrenheit.
Have an emergency power supply for anyone dependent upon medical equipment requiring electricity.
Keep a supply of flashlights, batteries, and a battery-powered radio on hand. Do not use candles, if at all possible, as they can pose a fire hazard.
Connect only individual appliances to portable generators and never plug a generator into wall outlets.
Use gas-powered generators in only well ventilated areas.
When driving, be careful at intersections - traffic lights may be out, creating a dangerous situation.
Turn off any electrical equipment that was in use prior to the power outage.
Turn off all but one light. (one light will alert you when power resumes.)
Check on elderly neighbors, friends or relatives who may need assistance during the outage.
During a power outage, resist the temptation to call 9-1-1 for information - that is what your battery powered radio is for. Don't plug emergency generators into electrical outlets or hook them directly into your home's electrical system - as they can feed electricity back into the power lines, putting you and line workers in danger. Keep your car fuel tank at least half full (gas stations rely on electricity to power their pumps.) When power is restored, wait a few minutes before turning on major appliances to help eliminate further problems caused by a sharp increase in demand.