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Preparing for Power Outages

Before An Outage

  • Update your phone number and e-mail address with your electric company so you can be served faster in the event of an outage.
  • Make sure your Emergency Outage Kit is fully stocked and easily accessible.
  • Develop an emergency plan that addresses any special medical needs you or your family members have. Call your local emergency management office to discuss necessary arrangements.
  • Purchase appliances with built-in surge protection or install surge protectors to help safeguard valuable electronic equipment such as computers and home entertainment systems. Plug computers and other sensitive equipment into a separate, grounded circuit to isolate them from fluctuations caused when a major appliance restarts (such as your room air conditioner or refrigerator). Consider having a lightning arrester installed at your main circuit panel. 

If Your Power Goes Out

  • Report your outage immediately to your local electric company. Don't rely on your neighbors to report your outage.
  • Stay away from downed power lines, flooded areas, and debris. Treat all fallen wires and anything touching them as though they are energized. Immediately report downed lines to your local electric company.
  • Turn off all appliances, including your furnace, air conditioner, water heater, and water pump. Leave on one lamp to know when power has been restored. That way, you can avoid a circuit overload and another outage that may result when power is restored to all appliances at once.
  • Keep freezer and refrigerator doors closed. Food will stay frozen for 36 to 48 hours in a fully loaded freezer if you keep the door closed. A half-full freezer will generally keep food frozen for 24 hours. For refrigerated items, pack milk, other dairy products, meat, fish, eggs, gravy, and spoilable leftovers into a cooler surrounded by ice. Inexpensive Styrofoam coolers are fine for this purpose.
  • Follow safe operating procedures for generators. Never operate one inside your home or in an enclosed space, such as a garage.
  • Listen to the local radio station on your battery-operated radio for regular news and weather updates.
  • If using portable stoves, kerosene heaters, or lanterns, make sure that the area is sufficiently ventilated.
  • If you must travel, please help protect line workers and crews when you see them on the roadside making emergency repairs. Move over from the lane nearest the workers or slow down until you can safely pass the work site.
  • If it is hot outside, close drapes and blinds on the sunny side of your house, drink plenty of fluids, take your pets to a cool basement location, and go to an air-conditioned civic center, mall, or library if necessary to stay cool.
  • If it is cold outside, open your blinds during the day, cover windows with drapes at night, avoid alcoholic beverages, and gather in a central room where there is an alternative heat source, such as a fireplace or kerosene space heater. If the indoor temperature drops to 55°F or below, open your faucets slightly so they constantly drip to prevent pipes from freezing.
  • Do not hesitate to contact a physician if you have any health-related questions.

Restoring Your Power

  • Every electric company has a detailed plan for restoring electrical service after a power outage. Typically, one of the first steps a company takes - to prevent injuries and fires - is to make sure that power is no longer flowing through downed lines. Restoration then proceeds based on established priorities.
  • The first to be repaired are transmission lines and distribution substations, because they are the most important lines carrying power from generating plants to large numbers of customers over wide areas.
  • Next, electric companies restore power to critical community services such as hospitals, police and fire protection, and communications facilities.
  • The next priority is to restore service to the largest number of people as soon as possible. Service to neighborhoods, industries, and businesses is systematically restored, followed by single residences and small groups of customers, until restoration is complete.