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When the weather is bad–rain pounding the roof, wind shaking the windows, thunder rumbling through the air, lights flickering off and on–you know the power could go out any minute. Other times the power goes out with no warning, and there’s no telling how long it will last.
Most people have a mini panic attack when this happens. They scramble around, looking for a flashlight or candles. Then they check their phones for news, nervously glancing at the battery life icon every ten seconds. Living without power is a huge adjustment. Even if it’s only out for a few hours, your whole routine is disrupted–no TV, no microwave, no dishwasher, nothing. But as long as you know what to do, it doesn’t have to be a major disruption.
When the lights go out, the following things should be done in order to stretch resources, keep your family calm, and make the power outage more tolerable.
1. Grab Your Lights Out Box – This contains things like flashlights, batteries, an emergency radio, and so forth. Keep it in a place you can easily find in the dark.
2. Fill Your Tubs And Sinks With Water – This is just in case the power outage is extensive and the water sanitation system isn’t functioning. The water you pull out immediately after the outage will be safe to drink.
3. Unplug Your Electronics – This includes your computers, laptops, gaming systems, cell phones, etc. Anything that has sensitive electronic components should be unplugged to protect it from a power surge when the power does come back on.
4. Go Outside And Look Around – This is to give you an idea of how widespread the power outage is. See if your neighbors have power or not.
5. Call The Power Company – If you’re not sure why the power went out, call the power company. They will often have a recording indicating why the power is out as well as an estimated time before restoration. It may take 15 minutes or so before the recording is put up. You can also check the power company’s website via your smart phone.
6. Turn On Your Emergency Radio – Your local stations will probably announce a widespread outage, but you may need to turn to an AM station for more information. You may also be able to get information from your cell phone if you have emergency alerts enabled.
7. Give Everyone a Flashlight – This way everyone can move around without fear of tripping over something. Glow sticks are also an option. Candles do not make good portable lights and should be left stationary.
8. Light Emergency Candles – Place them in Mason jars or on secure candle holders with a plate or tray underneath. Keeping the candle in a jar prevents it from accidentally being tipped over and keeps the wax in one place. Here are some other lighting options.
9. Keep The Refrigerator And Freezer Doors Closed – The food in the fridge will stay cool for 4 hours without power and the food in the freezer will last up to 24 hours. Once the food in the freezer has thawed, you only have a short while to eat it before it becomes a food safety issue.
10. Eat What’s In The Refrigerator, Starting With The Dairy Products – Save canned foods and non-perishables for last. Once the refrigerator food has been diminished, eat the food in the freezer. Don’t continuously open and close the refrigerator. Grab everything you think your family will eat at one time.
11. If It’s Cold Outside, Close The Doors To Rooms You Won’t Use – Cover the windows with blankets to trap in the heat as well. You may be better off huddling in a small room together with the family. The body heat will help keep the small space warm.
12. Lock The Doors And Bring Your Pets Inside – Sadly, power outages are the perfect opportunity for thieves to take advantage of the darkness. Make sure your home is secure.
13. Keep Your Devices Charged – You might need them for news alerts or communication with friends and relatives. You can use a car charger, or better yet get a solar device charger.
14. Get Your Portable Generator Up And Running – Remember, you should never run a generator in the house as the fumes can be deadly. Also keep in mind that portable generators can only run one large appliance, like a refrigerator, and a few lights at a time. That means you may have to switch back and forth between a refrigerator, a space heater, and so forth.
15. Check On Your Neighbors – Especially elderly neighbors who might not be as prepared as you are. Make sure they have a flashlight, water, and food. Pass along any information you have gleaned about the outage and how long the power is expected to be out. Make sure you check back every hour or so if you’re concerned about their safety.